Food File: The weekly food news round-up

Come Dine With Me in Westport, lunchbox inspiration from Irish chef in London, picnic ideas and recipes


Mystery dinner date in Westport
Come Dine With Me, with a twist, comes to the Westport Food Festival (September 5th-7th). Tickets are on sale for a five-course dinner to mark the closing night of the festival, but restaurantgoers who will have paid €35 for their ticket won’t know where they will be eating until a pre-dinner restaurant lottery at a drinks reception in the Clock Tavern decides their fate. After dinner, participants are invited to attend the festival wrap party, where they can rate their evening’s dining experience, and the highest scoring venue will win the Michael Ruane memorial chefs’ challenge. There are 15 restaurants taking part. See

Lunchbox inspiration
Former HR manager Laoise Casey upped sticks and left Dublin for London two years ago with the aim of pursuing a career in cooking. She did a professional cooking course at Leith’s School of Food & Wine, and is now chef de partie at The Dairy in Clapham, where they grow veg on the rooftop and have their own beehives. Not content with forging a new career, Casey has also been writing a weekly column on Mondays in the London Evening Standard, in which she takes signature dishes from restaurants around the city and reconfigures them as lunchbox fare. So if your Tupperware meals could use some inspiration, take a look at

Picnics to go
Online shop has some stylish picnic equipment and accessories, including the traditional Coolmovers “Secret Garden“ Picnic Basket which costs €69.99 and has everything you’ll need for a romantic picnic for two. More pragmatic picnicers might prefer the stackable Aladdin Bento lunch boxes (€24.99), which mightn’t look as stylish, but can keep your lunch on the move hot or cold for up to five hours. Orders over €50 are delivered free of charge anywhere in Ireland.

Take it outdoors
If you are thinking about eating in the great outdoors, then A Perfect Day for a Picnic, by Tory Finch (Ryland Peters & Small, £16.99) might inspire you with suitably stylish props and adventurous food. There are 10 outdoor events catered for in the book, from a teddy bear’s picnic to a beach barbecue, with a vintage garden party and a Provencal picnic along the way. The menus veer from the wildly ambitious – buckwheat blinis with horseradish cream, porchetta with salad of truffled French beans, and raspberry and chocolate ganache tart, which might work as a garden party lunch but won’t travel well, to more robust favourites such as sausage and squished tomato rolls, pork pies and frittata Lorraine (quiche without the soggy pastry).

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