Select: food to keep body and soul together in festival season

Body & Soul kicks off tomorrow, and we’ve found some tasty treats to keep you going throughout the weekend

Body and Soul begins on Friday, kicking off this year’s festival season with a bang… and a slurp, a crunch and a chew. We’ve rounded up some of the best foodie happenings and refuelling options if you’re heading to Ballinlough Castle this weekend.

On the Wunderlust stage at 1pm on Sunday, Aoife McElwain will host a discussion on "Feeding your Body & Soul", looking at how we can be kind to our bodies through what and how we eat. Aoife will be joined by Anne Marie Downey and Claire Gardiner of Kickstart (, a programme that focuses on how what we eat affects our moods, energy and health. Chefs David and Stephen Flynn from The Happy Pear ( will also join the discussion with what they've learned from Happy Heart classes: crash courses in how to get healthy through what you eat.

Another weekend-long event worth looking out for is the Festival Food Awards. John and Sally McKenna of McKenna's Guides are bringing a team to the festival, including Caroline Byrne of Euro-Toques, and Euro-Toques Young Chef-of-the-year Ian McHale, from Chapter One, to hunt down the best soul food on offer. Keep an eye out for them as they face the mammoth task of testing the 45 or so food and drink vendors throughout the weekend. They will be handing out a number of awards, including The Judges Award (for great food), a Best Dressed Award (for the best-looking van or stall) and a Green Award (judged for the least environmental impact). Festival goers can also have their say. You can vote for the Soul Food Award by tweeting your thoughts on the best food you try down there to @McKennasGuides with the hashtag #bodysoulfood15.

As for what you’ll be eating on site, the festival ethos is to keep food organic, fair trade, locally sourced and unprocessed where possible. So the only thing that will be chipper at the food stalls will be the staff…


For that head-clearing, belly-prepping breakfast fix, there are cold-pressed juices from Sprout & Co. Their Supergreen juice (kales, spinach, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, pear, lemon and ginger) is crammed with antioxidents and will help even the most persistent hangover. Here at The Ticket, we subscribe to the bacon butty/sausage sambo school of recovery, so a trip to The Market Burger for a breakfast bap is a good idea – they're serving them stuffed with bacon, sausage, pudding and relish. There are loads of coffee options (all Fairtrade), including The Brew Crew, Little Rascal and Brunels (who will be serving iced frappes - good if the weather does as it promises and Sunday is a scorcher).

Later in the day, or night, there's a wide variety of fresh options and a relatively healthy line-up in terms of festival food. The ubiquitous falafel will make an appearance at a number of stalls. You can get traditional Palestinian falafel at Suha's blue falafel stand. Hers come wrapped with hummus, tabbouleh, red cabbage, tomatoes, hot sauce and pickles. You can also add slices of chewy grilled halloumi cheese.

Or try the Eco Bus Café, (you can't miss it, it's a double decker bus), which serves falafel in a wrap with leaves, tomato, peppers, hummus, parsley and a rather questionable dollop of sweet chilli sauce (you can ask for it without this).

Speaking of buses, the guys from the Big Blue Bus (of Bernard Shaw fame) will be at the festival, pizza ovens at the ready, to dish out their great thin-crusted pizzas, including the Molly Malone (fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomato, oregano and basil) and the Bus Bianca (sun dried tomatoes, parmesan, parma, rocket and buffalo mozzarella).

One of our favourite festival dinners – if you can stand the queue – comes from Pieminister, whose pies with mash, mushy peas and gravy will fill you for the night. We like the Matador (beef steak, chorizo, olive and butter bean) or for vegetarians, the Heidi is great, stuffed with gooey goats cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion.

Kanum is another familiar sight at festivals and can be relied upon for massive portions of Thai favourites, such as peanutty pad Thai rice noodles, creamy Massaman curry or spicy green chicken curry. The heat is also high at Kerala Kitchen, where a Keralan cocounut curry and naan is a great Sunday afternoon lunch with a beer. Or for something even spicier, the Wing Bar does lip-tingling buffalo wings (think the best of Frank's sauce, but in a field) and decent skinny fries. There's one of the best selections around for vegetarians and vegans, with The Happy Pear and The Fat Wrap doling out salads and wraps, while Home Fries does roasted baby potatoes, served as Patatas Bravas and with other veggie toppings (they also do meaty chorizo and roast red pepper ones for carnivores).

For dessert, try some freshly made churros - the moreish Spanish doughnuts with chocolate sauce - from Angel Churros, or there are handmade ice creams from Goldenhill Farm in Wicklow – we've got our eye on their tiramisu flavour.

And finally, to add some crunch to your weekend, keep an eye out for King Crisps who will be serving up nostalgic crisp sandwiches on site throughout the weekend.

You’ll need to do some serious dancing to work it all off.