Head west for food festivals and fun

Food File: Restaurants extend their menus to include a little wellness and design

Two great reasons to head west next month: the Connemara Mussel Festival in Renvyle, Co Galway (May 3rd-5th), and the Burren Slow Food Festival in Lisdoonvarna (May 10th-12th).

It is the 14th year of the mussel festival and it has a strong historical slant, with talks from archaeologist Michael Gibbons and historian Seán Gannon, as well as cookery demonstrations, outdoor activities such as a 5km run and a dawn walk, and popular children's cookery classes that fill up quickly and can be booked through the event's website.

In Lisdoonvarna, the weekend kicks off with a boat trip to Inis Oírr for a seafood buffet in Tigh Ned's pub, prepared by local fishermen. There are also guest chef pop-up dinners in The Burren Storehouse, with Danni Barry of Balloo House in Co Down cooking on the Saturday, and Gareth Mullins of The Marker hotel in Dublin on the stoves on Sunday.

Tickets for these three events go on sale tomorrow on the festival website, slowfoodclare.com.


Free cookery demonstrations will take place in the festival pavilion and chefs taking part include Takashi Miyazaki from Ichigo Ichie and Brian Donnelly of Rebel Ramen. Donnelly will be creating a Burren ramen made with local ingredients.

Dual-purpose spaces

Restaurants becoming dual-purpose spaces seems to be a developing trend, if news from Galway and Limerick is anything to go by. In Galway, Tartare Cafe and Wine Bar is hosting a series of monthly Wine & Design evenings, starting on May 1st. In Limerick, Copia Green is running a series of wellness workshop brunches, beginning on Global Wellness Day, June 8th.

On the first Wednesday of each month, from 7-8pm, Tartare will give a platform to a local designer or artist to talk about their work, and the gathering will also taste and talk about organic, natural and biodynamic wines.

Peter Bradley, co-creator of the Grey + Ginger wearable art clothing brand, will speak at the launch event, which is free to attend, but reservations to 091-567803 or food@tartaregalway.ie are recommended.

Other artists lined up for the series include Noeline Kavanagh, artistic director of Macnas, photographer Anita Murphy and stylist Zania Koppe of Ginger and Sage Photography, and Sandra Lovern of Lovern Leather Goods. Tartare is at 56 Lower Dominick Street.

In Limerick, Copia Green in Castletroy is a healthy food, sustainability-focused, zero waste restaurant – it even takes your order with a 100 per cent compostable pen and recycled paper. This venue has three workshops coming up that will appeal to those who like a side of gentle exercise and mindfulness with their morning vegan agave turmeric chai.

The first, on June 8th, combines wellness, yoga and meditation. The following day, the theme changes to Pilates and nutrition, and on June 15th, it will be all about breath work, meditation and essential oils. The workshops run from 10am to 1pm and the €40 fee includes a two-course brunch. Places can be booked by telephoning 061-423901 or emailing taste@copiagreen.ie.

Cake lessons

If you want to up your cake game, Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery in London, who made Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding cake, is doing a half-day course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday, May 11th (2-5pm; €120). Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, from London restaurants Honey & Co and Honey & Smoke, bring their Middle Eastern flavours to the school on Saturday, June 8th, when they will do a day-long course (9.30am-5pm; €295). Bookings can be made online at cookingisfun.ie.

Mood food book

Dietitian and author Paula Mee will be in conversation with Prof Ted Dinan of UCD, in Eason on O'Connell Street in Dublin 1, on Tuesday, April 30th, at 6.30pm, to celebrate the launch of her book Mediterranean Mood Food.

The ticket price of €20 includes a copy of the book, as well as an opportunity to taste some of the dishes it features. They can be booked online at easons.com.