If you’re around Dublin on Sunday 14 December, Slow Food Dublin are planning a pre-Christmas, open air roast at Meeting House Square in Temple Bar with chestnut-stuffed roast pig on a spit, mulled wine, hot cider and live music. They will also have a number of stalls from food producers around the square and are looking for any new producers in the Dublin area to contact them if interested in participating. More information below.
Tuesday was not a nice day. As I drove down to Kilmackillogue pier in Kerry in the morning, the rain rarely stopped beating against the windscreen as the wipers battled to give me a view of the road. It was not the perfect day to go out on a boat yet that’s exactly where I was heading, off harvesting mussels with Paul Kelly, who is a part-time mussel farmer as well as being a gold and silversmith. On a brief stop in Kenmare – Jam was calling for morning tea – I took a moment to admire Paul’s rings, which combine gold, silver and both precious and semi- precious stones, in the window of his shop, before hitting the wet road again for the extra half-hour drive to Kilmackillogue.
Any excuse is a good one to visit Dingle and when it involves a Food Festival and an invitation to participate in the judging of the inaugural National Irish Food Awards, also known as Blas na hÉireann, how could anyone resist? Certainly not me and Saturday found my tastebuds at the ready to sample some of the enormous variety of foods entered into a series of blind tastings. Without the context of packaging and placement, it was a real opportunity to see what was out there on the Irish market. And it wasn’t all, ahem, work. I also got to meet fellow bloggers Val and Ollie, catch up with my former teacher Rory O’Connell, wander around the variety of food stalls scattered around the town, eat a first class meal at seafood restaurant Out of The Blue have several afternoon affogatos and sample a variety of the Mexican flavours on offer at Murphy’s Ice Cream (the Guacamole was a very surprising hit.)
Sadly URRU missed out at last night’s Good Food Ireland Awards – we were nominated in the Top Regional Member category for the south of the country, along with The Blue Geranium Café at Hosfords Garden Centre, Café Paradiso, The Farmgate, Hayfield Manor Hotel, QC’s Seafood Bar & Restaurant, The Poacher’s Inn, The Tannery and the eventual winner – The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore.Still, there was more than enough good food, wine and company to keep us entertained in the Shelbourne Hotel and I got to catch up some old friends, including Anthony from Ummera Smokehouse – his award-winning organic gravadlax was on the menu, alongside Geraldine Bass’ (Old Millbank Smokehouse) rich smoked salmon pâté – and Louise from Sowan’s Organics, with her new spelt brownies. More information on the nominees and winners, highlighted in bold, below.
It’s into the West for me this weekend as I’m heading out the door on Friday after work in URRU and straight down to Kerry with the Husband for this year’s Dingle Food Festival. It all kicks off that night with a launch at the Dingle Bay Hotel from 10pm. If you’re about on Saturday and Sunday there are a series of cookery demonstrations, taste trails (watch out for the Mexican Fiesta at Murphy’s Ice Cream!) and farmers’ markets throughout the town. And don’t forget – at 5pm on Sunday the inaugural Blas na hÉireann/National Irish Food Awards ceremony will take place at Benner’s Hotel. Now, just got to make sure that my accomodation is sorted out!
A short trip to Kenmare earlier this week unearthed plenty of good food. Dinner at the Lime Tree was worth waiting for, as we arrived late, stepping into the lively, convivial atmosphere of the restaurant from a cold, damp night. There was plenty to choose from on the menu but my eye didn’t go too far and I gladly devoured a dish of the sweetest Kilmacalogue mussels, steamed open in a in a lemon, garlic, ginger and corriander broth. Tempted though I was by the Kerry lamb on offer, I stuck with the seafood and enjoyed the monkfish instead. A portion of well-flavoured pea and chorizo risotto surrounded medallions of the fish, in a rosemary butter sauce, topped with long, curly parsnip crisps. There wasn’t a lot left on the plate by the time the friendly waiting staff came to clear and I didn’t even get to touch the, for me, superfluous side dishes of vegetables and potatoes. After all that, desert didn’t even get a look in and I finished with a pot of peppermint tea.