Islands, offal and a bicycle buffet on the menu for West Cork food festival

Jam-packed programme for 10-day celebration of food and drink

A Taste of West Cork runs for 10 days across the region this autumn. Photograph: Emma Jervis

A Taste of West Cork runs for 10 days across the region this autumn. Photograph: Emma Jervis

 

There’ll be a lot of eating, drinking, foraging, cooking and barbecuing being done in west Cork this autumn. The Taste of West Cork food festival has a whopping 230 events between September 8th and 17th, spread across 36 towns and villages and on eight islands, so it’s a truly inclusive community festival.

The programme runs to 36 pages, and these are some of the events that caught my eye.

The West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen is holding a conference on September 8th about the future of fairs and markets in Ireland. Given the growth in both of these around the country, it sounds like a timely discussion, as top of the agenda is the complex relationship between casual traders and local-council officials. Speakers include Darina Allen of Ballymaloe House; the solicitor Conor Murphy; the market stallholder Gerald Kelleher; and the council official Macdara O’Hici.

On September 9th the chef Derry Clarke will be barbecuing at the Islander’s Rest, on Sherkin Island, as a fundraiser for the RNLI’s Baltimore lifeboat station.

The same day, at the Chestnut Tree in Ballydehob, there will be a Japanese tasting menu and ramen-noodle-making workshop. It’ll be headed by Brian Donnelly, who has a ramen start-up in Belfast, with the rather wonderful name of Bia Rebel.

A Taste of West Cork: the festival will conclude in Skibbereen with a big street food market, with lots of tastings
A Taste of West Cork: the festival will conclude in Skibbereen with a big street food market, with lots of tastings

On Sunday 10th you can go kayaking, and discover where to forage for seaweed and “sea vegetables”, that presumably you won’t find on offer in your local Spar. That’s from Reen Pier, near Union Hall village.

On Monday 11th Danni Barry, chef at the Michelin-starred Deanes, in Belfast, will be cooking at the Glebe Gardens in Baltimore.

On Tuesday 12th the best-named event of the festival takes place at Killeena House, in Skibbereen. “Ovid and Offal, Keats and Kidneys”, hosted by the artist Sonia Bidwell, is billed as a mixture of literature and livers. There will be poetry and “tips on how to cook the lesser-known bits of beasts, with meaty nibbles served”.

On Wednesday 13th there’s a river cruise from Baltimore up the Ilen River to Inish Beg House. There will be a tour of the gardens, and afternoon tea.

Or the same day you can get on your bike and go out on the Incredible Edible Bicycle Buffet, leaving from Russagh Mills, in Skibbereen. Cyclists will be guided to two mystery locations where pop-up food venders will be waiting to feed them.

On Thursday 14th you can see Ireland’s only “milking water-buffalo herd”. These beasts produce the milk for all that delicious Irish buffalo mozzarella now on sale, and as well as admiring the beasts you can eat the cheese their milk produces.

The same day you can “step back in time to the Roaring Twenties” at the Eccles Hotel, in Glengarrif. Its head chef, Nick Davey, will be joined by visiting chef Robbie Krawczyk, winner of Best Chef in Leinster 2016. They will be re-creating a menu from the 1920s – minus the Prohibition laws of the time. There Will Be Wine.

A Taste of West Cork: the festival will conclude in Skibbereen with a big street food market, with lots of tastings
A Taste of West Cork: the festival will conclude in Skibbereen with a big street food market, with lots of tastings

On Friday 15th, at Brown Envelope Seeds, in Ardagh, Syrian food will be served by Nisreen Youssef, followed by a barn dance.

On Sunday 17th, the final day of the festival, the chef Carmel Somers, of Good Things in Skibbereen, will be making lunch at the Island Retreat on Heir Island.

Back in Skibbereen the festival will conclude with a big street food market, with lots of tastings, live music and even “a special seating area” for those with small legs or old legs.

All details at atasteofwestcork.com. Many events require booking

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