Tag Archives: September

Word of Mouth: Inspiration aplenty at the Waterford Harvest Festival

A last minute notion struck my Mam and I to head down to Waterford for the weekend for their annual Harvest Festival, that was in conjunction with Grow it Yourself (GIY) International.

A celebration of food heritage and culture aimed to suit all tastes, the harvest festival has been around since pagan times acting as a way for the community to celebrate the fruits of their labours.

Pairing up with GIY to form GROWfest, the organic and gardening aspect of the festival, it was described as a weekend that would educate “people in the appreciation of good, clean, fair food, showcasing all the gastronomic delights the region has to offer”. A promising statement indeed!

Taking about two hours on the train, I arrived down to the city of Vikings to rain that poured from the heavens and soaked everything in sight. I was so glad to hitch a lift to the hotel off the Mammy!

For the weekend that was, we were booked into the Waterford Marina Hotel tucked away from the bustle of the centre overlooking the River Suir. Nestling into a twin-bedded room that was quiet and clean, we soon freshened up, off-loaded our bags and set sail in search of food.

On recommendation of the hotel receptionist and feeling a bit on the lazy side, we strolled down to the local Thai restaurant Pa Pa where we ordered the perfect comfort food: curry (more on that soon!)

Up early for breakfast and looking forward to the day ahead, we headed down to the hotel restaurant which had a mix of continental and hot food on offer.

Now I’m a sucker for the Irish fry so you can guess what I got.

Though overall a good filler for the morning, I definitely wished that a bit more care went into their eggs. The scrambled completely lacked flavour and were watery, and plastic comes to mind with the fried one. A real shame for such a great food.

Onto the festival itself, and we headed off to the GROWfest, which had a particular focus on growing your own food, cooking it, looking after it and general gardening advice.

Just €10 for the each event in the tent and €47.50 for a weekend pass, we opted to pay per event and headed into where Ella McSweeney was speaking to Joanna Blythman.

For those who don’t know, Joanna is an award-winning investigative food journalist from Scotland who has covered everything from intensive pineapple production to the causes of obesity.

She broadcasts and writes frequently on the “secret food industry” that we’re expected to trust, and it was such a pleasure to hear her share her findings.

Among all of the fascinating things she talked about, one of the biggest things that struck me was when she was talking about “clean” labels and what actually goes into commercial products.

Ella had brought in an unnamed carrot cake that she had bought from a shop, and well, let’s just say a basic carrot cake really only needs to contain six ingredients: sugar, oil, flour, egg, a raising agent and carrots.

Have a listen to this snippet (which by the way isn’t even the start of the list!):

Despite some minor sound issues, Ella McSweeney did a great job and kept the ball rolling!

With a bit of time on our hands to explore the festival in its entirety, Mam and I sauntered around and waded through the crowds.

From sheep shearing and food stalls, to a real outdoor flower bed and historic re-enactments – one of the things that really gets you at the Harvest Festival is actually how family-friendly it is. One honey producer Déise, actually brought in bees and explained the process to curious children and adults alike.


Popping into the tent again for a panel discussion on “hospital food: it’s enough to make you sick”, we got to hear a variety of opinions from experts in the field.

The biggest issue that came up in the discussion was procurement, with the emphasis that hospital food should be of a standard that would speed up and aid recovery, rather than making us feel worse.

Would you believe that a survey of hospital patients in Ireland found 80-85% satisfaction with the quality of food? I was stunned!

Topping off the night and what could possibly be described as my favourite event from the weekend, was the GIY dinner in Momo Restaurant. Treated to fantastic meal using local, fresh produce (with even a few bits and bobs grown in the GIY HQ), it was a dinner that sparked excitement and exhilarated the palate.

With things like cucumber beer, stuffed savoy cabbage, beetroot ice cream and a salad with fresh strawberries, it truly was a feast at €40 a head.

Kicking off our Sunday, while Mam zipped off to the GROWtent, I headed to see Johann and Tom Doorley cook up fresh food in the GROWHQ Kitchen.

With a splash of delightful humour we were shown how to make some great but simple dishes like braised lettuce and peas and fried courgettes in garlic and vinegar. You can definitely tell that they have fun when they’re cooking!

Seeing Holistic grower and horticulturist Fiann Ó Nualláin in action was to be our final event of the weekend, and he shared with us just a snippet of his wealth of knowledge with regards to healing potential of plants (unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the full talk).

Slipping out of the tent and nabbing a falafel roll from the Lebanese food stall, I dashed off to grab my train back to the Big Smoke.

I was surprisingly restrained with the bits and bobs I brought home, the only two things that I forked out on was an exquisite bottle of heather-infused vinegar (€10) from Wild Wood and a wedge of honey comb (€6) from Déise.

All in all, the festival is definitely something that’s worth heading to and I’ll be keeping a note of it in my diary for next year. Apart from a few hiccups, it really is a jam-packed food-fuelled weekend with people that inspire you to take up a shovel and grow it yourself.

Tips for those thinking of heading next year:

  • If it’s on, book a seat at the GIY dinner. It’s fabulous – no more words needed.
  • Bring some toilet tissue when you’re roaming the festival – though there are portaloos, the tissue disappears quite quickly.
  • Might sound obvious, but definitely carry a small umbrella around with you – the chance of rain is always very high.
  • For the producers’ sake, try and have small change if you can and small notes. It can be pretty tough to deal with €50 notes on a stand!
  • The Waterford Marina Hotel is a nice hotel to book into if you’re looking for somewhere that’s quiet – I was only able to hear the bare murmur of music from the bar from where our room was. As I said, the breakfast offerings aren’t perfect but I found their staff to very, very pleasant and accommodating when it came to leaving our car in the carpark (which is very secure) for a few hours after checkout.

Love Irish Food launches €70,000 Brand Development Award

Love Irish Food has partnered with Exterion Media to offer €70,000  to one of their members, in order to help them promote their business.

The Brand Development Award will see one luck brand receive €70k in advertising space, scheduled across Exterion Media’s retail six sheet portfolio and across their premium digital network.

The extensive out-of-home campaign will appear nationally for two weeks and includes print production and digital animation for broadcasting on Exterion Media’s digital network.

The companies will also work with the winning brand to plan the campaign and optimise their business objectives.

“Through this Brand Development Award we are providing one of our member brands with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get their message to their target audience and help bring their brand to the next stage in development.” said Kieran Rumley, Executive Director of Love Irish Food.

“The judging panel will be looking for the brand for whom the prize will deliver the greatest return. As the success of most brands is dependent on passion we would also like entrants to demonstrate the drive and passion they have for their brand in their entries and to show this with the addition of a 60 second video”.

The judging panel comprises of Kieran Rumley Executive Director, Love Irish Food, Antoinette O’Callaghan, Marketing Manager, Exterion Media and Barry Dooley CEO Advertising Association of Ireland.

A shortlist of competitors will then be interviewed by the judging panel with the winner announced on Monday 3rd November.

The closing date for applications is Friday 10th October.

To enter, Love Irish Food member brands must register at www.loveirishfood.ie by Friday 19th September 2014.

(Image via Love Irish Food)

Pre-panic: More preparation underway for Ballymaloe Cookery School

It’s been a crazy few days, so I apologise for the lack of updates on site.

I’m currently doing mountains of research for Ballymaloe and trying to do some extra studying. I have this intense fear that I’m going to make an arse of myself during the first week of the course so I’m desperately trying to do some more practical work (why do I own so many cookery books?!).

Aside for experimenting in the kitchen, I’m reading a lot of blogs from past students and overall it all sounds very intense (but awesome). Some of the blogs are incredibly detailed and give some fantastic lowdowns, including forkandfizz, The Seasonal Kitchen ad Borrowed Salt.

I’m actually getting more nervous by the day and despite the school exam element to it – about 3 hours practical, with 6 hours written, mid-terms and wine exams – I’m looking forward to pushing myself and soaking it up (plus, people who know me, know that I’m most at ease at home in Kerry in my wellies, so this should be very enriching!).

It’s a strange feeling but there’s no way in hell that I’m backing out now.

Hopefully will get back to updating things soon. If you did do the course, I’d love to hear from you! And if you’re heading along this year I’d also love to get in touch with you.

Dublin’s Food and Hospitality event aims to help businesses maximise profit

For businesses, the ability to produce and maintain profits is of the utmost importance – not only to sustain moneyflow but also to retain employment.

This year’s Food & Hospitality Ireland event will see the food, hospitality and retail sectors examined under the spotlight with a focus on helping businesses maximise their profits in the upcoming months and in 2015.

Taking place on the 17th and 18th of September in Citywest Events Centre, the event is hoping to have thousands of visitors make their way to the expo.

“We have worked with our show partners to create show features that we believe will add real value to visitors’ businesses” said Toby Wand, Managing Director of Fresh Montgomery – organisers of Food & Hospitality Ireland.

“We’ve been working with the CSNA, the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland and Maria O’Neill Designs to create our first-ever ‘Profit Shop’, and we’re confident that this feature will be one of the most popular at the event over the two days”.

Food & Hospitality’s Profit Shop will showcase how retailers can make the most of their floor space to add value to their businesses, with a fully interactive area using effective signage and new technologies.

One for budding chefs and food lovers, a new addition to the event is The Skillery which will see eight of Ireland’s top chefs demonstrating techniques that attendees can use in practice.

For those looking for a less practical approach, included in the line-up of speakers are Insomnia’s Bobby Kerr and Superquinn’s Eamonn Quinn who will be speaking about their successes in Ireland.

There will be over 100 exhibitors at the event who will be launching the latest products and services in Ireland and hoping to make new contacts – with 50% of 2013’s businesses returning, one of the exhibitors will claim the title of Product of the Show, highlighting the best of what’s being offered to visitors.

Exhibitors include Armagh Bramley Apples PGI, Montgomery Food Consulting, Pathos Continental Foods, Rosie & Jim Gourmet Chicken Products and Hugh Jordan.

Aside from exhibits, the annual Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland’s most prestigious awards are also set to take place at the event and the finals of the National Sausage & Puddings Competition.

Below, highlights from 2013 – to find out more about the event and to book tickets visit www.foodhospitality.ie

National Organic Food Fair takes place this September in Marlay Park

In the capital this September and looking for a food-filled day out? This year’s National Organic Food Fair is to take place on Sunday, 14th September in Marlay Park, 10.30am to 4.30pm.

This public event is free for all and is a collaboration between the Organic Trust and the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association, and is supported by the  Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine.

The organic festival will house lots of outdoor stalls and marquees showcasing the best in organic Irish products, from soups, yogurts, burgers, cider and apple syrups.

Apart from the food attraction, the fair will have many other different things on offer for families such as face painters, balloon makers and a pet farm.

Now in its second year, Chef Clodagh McKenna will return to host cookery demonstrations using organic produce (12.30pm and 2pm).

For those who’re interested about producing an organic product, a range of producers will be giving practical talks on the day. According to organisers:

“The aim of this years National Organic Food Fair is to strengthen and promote the message that organic, local and seasonal foods offer the best quality ingredients for home cooking, combined with the added advantage of supporting jobs, economic growth and local development”.

To find out more from the event, visit http://www.nationalorganicfoodfair.com/

(Image via National Food Fair on Facebook)

Saba’s Lobsterfest is returning this September

Clarendon Street’s Vietnamese and Thai restaurant Saba is once again hosting their annual shellfish shindig in house this September.

Lobsterfest, running from Thursday 18th to Sunday 28th September will see diners tucking into lobster fresh from the shores of Inisboffin, along with freshly shucked oysters from Carlingford Lough.

Throughout the fest they’ll have a special menu, combining seafood with cocktails, wine and beer to match each dish.

Saba, 26-28 Clarendon Street, Dublin 2, is open seven days a week from 12 noon.

See www.sabadublin.com for the menu. Call 01 679 2000 or visit the restaurant to make a booking.