Food File: the weekly food news round-up

Ballymaloe Litfest, a special year in Scotland, Little Christmas in Limerick

 Fringe Festival at the Big Shed at last year’s Ballymaloe Litfest. Photograph:  Joleen Cronin

Fringe Festival at the Big Shed at last year’s Ballymaloe Litfest. Photograph: Joleen Cronin

 

Ballymaloe Litfest continues its ascent
If you haven’t yet been to Litfest at Ballymaloe, you’ve been missing out on one of the most important global celebrations of food writing and food culture – as well as a chance to meet your favourite writers and restaurateurs in person, hear them speak, and maybe even eat something delicious cooked by them.

This year’s event takes place on May 15th-17th, and the line-up of participants is as star-studded as we’ve come to expect. Chefs and restaurateurs Alice Waters and April Bloomfield are due to travel from California and New York.

London’s multi-cultural food scene will be represented by Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop, Southern Mediterranean by Sam and Sam Clark of Moro, and Middle Eastern by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co.

Other big names from the UK who are expected to attend are restaurateur Mark Hix, and food writers Allegra McEvedy and Jack Monroe. Paris-based food blogger and writer David Lebovitz has signed up, and wine writer Jancis Robinson MW and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery head the line-up of beverage experts. JP McMahon and Kevin Thornton are among the Irish chefs taking part.

As well as panel discussions and cookery demonstrations, there will be a series of eating and drinking opportunities and these sell out fast. Belfast restaurant Ox is doing the Saturday night dinner in the cookery school – billed as OX South, and Honey & Co are hosting lunch at Ballymaloe House as well as doing a cookery demonstration. Fingers, and credit cards, at the ready: booking opens at 3pm next Wednesday, January 7th at litfest.ie.

TeaTea for Little Christmas
Little Christmas or Nollaig na mBan, was traditionally the day when the women of the house were thanked for all their hard work over Christmas and New Year by the menfolk taking charge of all things domestic. Times may have changed, but it’s still a good excuse to get together with a few female friends and give the festive season a final hurrah.

At No. 1 Pery Square in Limerick, the Little Christmas afternoon tea on January 6th will beserved by ‘Lord Barrington’, in a tribute to the man who built the original Georgian house. His lordship will be chief waiter,serving tea in the drawing room while guests listen to a harpist by the fireside and enjoy a glass of bubbly. Little Christmas afternoon tea, served from 3pm to 6pm next Tuesday January 6th, costs €25 per person including the sparkling wine (€19 without).

The menu will include smoked salmon with beetroot mousse; cinnamon, apple and apricot scones with Chantilly cream and homemade preserves; chocolate nut and berry brownies and homemade rice pudding with winter berries. A croissant filled with brandy butter, mincemeat and cream is a French take on the traditional mince pie. Bookings can be made by telephoning 061-402402, see oneperysquare.com.

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Scottish year of food and drink
If a trip somewhere not too far away, but offering excellent food and drink, might help lift the January gloom, tourism body Visit Scotland has nominated 2015 as “The Year of Food & Drink”. Among the highlights of its culinary events guide are the West Coast Seafood Trail, which takes in some of the country’s top seafood restaurants, and the Chocolate Trail which pinpoints 78 small scale Scottish chocolatiers. Other events include a chilli festival in Perthshire in September, a porridge nmaking championships in October, and, at the end of this month the Big Burns Supper Festival (January 23rd- 31st) at venues across Dumfries. See visitscotland.com

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