Dalkey festival to serve up more than 6,000kg of lobster

Food File: Seafood festivities, a showcase of Irish cuisine and a food and travel book by Cerys Matthews

Welsh musician and broadcaster Cerys Matthews, founder of Catatonia and now a BBC radio presenter and organiser of the Good Life Experience Festival, has turned her lifelong love of cooking and travelling into a book, Where the Wild Cooks Go.

Part travelogue, part recipe book, it covers 15 places that have made a big impression on her, from the American south to Japan, and Ireland makes the cut, too. There are recipes, stories, poems, and a suggested musical soundtrack to listen to as you cook.

It is out on September 5th, published by Particular Books, and on the 24th of that month Matthews will be in Dublin for a Penguin Live event at Liberty Hall. There will be singing, poetry reading, and of course a chat about the book. Tickets are available from penguin.co.uk/events, and cost €20, or €45 with a copy of the book.

Ashford Castle

"Every time I taste it, I smile." It's fair to say that Paula Stakelum, executive head pastry chef at Ashford Castle in Co Mayo, is delighted with the results of a two-year project she has been working on with the French chocolate firm, Valrhona.

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Legend is a 55 per cent cacao milk chocolate, made with African beans from sustainable sources, that has become the estate’s own-blend. The 500kg that has been produced will be used in desserts, patisserie, mignardises and in-room amenities at the hotel and at The Lodge at Ashford.

"We describe it as a rich milk chocolate; the first taste offers slight fresh milk notes, followed by hints of sweet vanilla and biscuit, enhanced by floral and honey aromas. It has a strength that is not overpowering and lingers delicately," she says of the couverture chocolate, on which she collaborated with Beatrice Tollman, founder of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection that now owns Ashford.

“The chocolate works really well with the delicate aromas of the woodlands of the estate and during the creation process we kept this in mind. I wanted to bring Ashford and our chocolate together,” says Stakelum, who last year reached the final eight in a biennial Valrhona worldwide patisserie championship, qualifying in Paris and travelling to the finals in New York.

Showcase

Taste the Island, a 12-week showcase of Ireland's food and drink offering which runs from September to November, is the first step in a three-year plan to raise awareness of the quality and variety of culinary experiences available here. It is a joint initiative involving Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Northern Ireland and Tourism Ireland.

There are more than 500 food and drink experiences taking place during the campaign, from food festivals and events, to hands-on access to food and drink producers, gourmet trails and masterclasses and tasting sessions. The full programme of events, some of which are well established and many of which are completely new, is online at discoverireland.ie/taste-the-island.

Dalkey Lobster Festival

More than 6,000kg of lobster is expected to be served during the Dalkey Lobster Festival, which takes place in the south Co Dublin village on Saturday and Sunday (August 24th-25th). As well as lobster and seafood specials in the pubs and restaurants, there will be cookery demonstrations on the main stage in the Lobster Village, and a chowder cook-off between Dalkey and the neighbouring village of Glasthule. Caviston's of Glasthule has roped in TV chef and restaurateur Martin Shanahan to perfect its entry, while Dalkey is represented by Raouf Djeffal of Ouzos, and judging takes place at 4pm on Saturday, just ahead of a demonstration by spice expert Arun Kapil. Sunday's line-up includes chef Karan Mittal of Ananda restaurant and broadcaster Bobby Kerr.

September is lobster month at the Saba restaurants in Dublin, with a Thai twist being put on not only lobster but also mussels and oysters. Between the 9th and the 22nd of the month, a seafood platter for two is on offer for €56.95, and it comes with a whole grilled lobster, squid, tiger prawns and swordfish, along with stir fried vegetables and fried rice.

Oysters (€14.95) will be served with Thai herbs, chilli, lime sauce and crisp shallots, and Kilkeel half lobster (€29.95) steamed with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and birds eye chilli, with a chilli lime dressing. Lobsterfest is taking place at both the Clarendon Street and Baggot Street Upper venues.