Food file


MARIE-CLAIRE DIGBYdiscusses food matters

Racy read from Slow Food

You’ve got to love a magazine that manages to reproduce a copy of Roman Abramovich’s $47,221 itemised bill for lunch for six people at Nello’s, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan – but you mightn’t expect it to be Seilide, the online magazine of Slow Food Ireland. Seilide is a terrifically diverse publication, and an engaging read, free to browse through or download at

Sadly, Seilide editor Graham Stone feels that Slow Food members are not engaging sufficiently with the publication, and his editorial in the current issue makes an impassioned plea for more reader involvement. So if you’ve ever been tempted to dip a toe into food journalism, here’s your chance.

That bill, by the way, makes fascinating reading, but although there was a small truffle mountain consumed, $35,000 of the total was spent on some very fancy wines. And the tip? A generous $7,328.

Food festival line-up

Celebrating good Irish food has become a national pastime, with food fairs and festivals springing up all over the country. Waterford’s recent Harvest Festival (September 10th-19th) had the city en fête for a full 10 days, and the Taste of West Cork Food Festival, which also finished last Sunday, was only 24 hours shorter in duration.

Earlier this week, the towns of Kanturk, Rosscarbery and Newport played host to Pudding Parades, which saw 30 members of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Pudding, from France, parade through the towns in their gastronomic societies’ costumes, to honour three Irish pudding makers. Father and son Jack and Tim McCarthy from McCarthy’s of Kanturk, Willie Allshire of Caherbeg Free Range Pork in Rosscarbery, and Newport butcher Seán Kelly, were winners of the gold, silver and bronze medals in the Brotherhood’s annual challenge.

There are plenty more food festivals coming up, and between now and Halloween you could eat your way around the country with ease:

EAT Cork (this weekend): Foodies on Foot tours, English market workshops, and a competition to find the best toasted sandwich, are the highlights of Cork’s food festival.

Galway Oyster Festival (this weekend): It’s the 56th anniversary of the festival celebrating the native Irish oyster, and there will be a parade and free tasting sessions in the city centre today.

Leenane Food Festival (this weekend): Drive on to Connemara for a chance to buy some wonderful Connemara hill lamb in this magical village, and watch chef Derry Clarke cook it in the festival marquee. While you’re there, pick up some of Graham and Saoirse Roberts’ Connemara Smokehouse smoked tuna, as served in Rick Stein’s restaurants.

Dingle Food and Wine Festival (October 1st-3rd): The third annual Blas na hÉireann food awards are the main event of this weekend of taste trails, cookery demos, symposiums – and eating, of course.

Bollinger Kinsale International Gourmet Festival (October 8th-10th): The daddy of them all, Kinsale’s food festival has an action-packed programme, including Sunday’s highlight – the renowned Fruits de Mer, a four-course seafood lunch in Acton’s Hotel including lobster, crab and prawns.

Savour Kilkenny Festival (October 22nd-25th): Four days of Bank Holiday fun in the Marble City kicks off with a new concept on Friday, October 22nd – a food camp at which anyone can have their say, as long as they’re not selling something. Food professionals such as chefs and food producers, food bloggers, journalists and agency staff from Bord Bia and Bord Iascaigh Mhara will be taking part, along with members of the public, and the agenda is driven by what the participants want to talk about. Book your place in advance online at

Virginia Pumpkin Festival (October 22nd-25th): The Co Cavan town of Virginia will bathe in a warm glow from hundreds of pumpkin lanterns as Halloween fever combines with an artisan food fair and carnival. For further details of these festivals, see

Bord Bia winners

Mossfield Organic Farm, where Ralph Haslam (right) produces a variety of farmhouse Gouda-style cheeses, won the top prize in Bord Bia’s National Organic Awards. Bruce Springsteen is a big fan of his cheese, which is made at the family-run 300-acre farm which won Bord Bia’s organic sustainability award, before being named the overall winner for 2010. Other award winners were St Tola Goats’ Cheese (best organic retail product); Beechlawn organic farm seasonal vegetable boxes (local product); Ballybrado Junior Muesli (new product); and Murphy’s Irish Seafood whole fresh organic salmon (export product).