Toastie festival returns to Bray this weekend

Food File: New course in Kilkenny aims to answer all your seasonal cooking conundrums

The Toastie Festival, a celebration of all things cheesy, which attracted 3,000 visitors last year, returns to the Harbour Bar in Bray, Co Wicklow, this weekend.

The O’Toole Toastie van will be joined by market vendors, Topped Toast, so there will be a choice between classics such as the classic ham, cheese, onion and tomato, and something a bit more out there. There will be gluten-free options available, and a Toastie Tipples bar menu including hot toddies and mulled gin.

Christmas cooking class

What turns pork into ham, and how do you cook a juicy turkey? These and other seasonal conundrums will be answered at a one-day course at Croan Cottages in Co Kilkenny on Sunday, December 2nd.

The team at Croan, who also run courses in setting up a smallholding and home butchery, promise that the tips you will pick up on from this course will help you make “the best Christmas dinner you’ve ever enjoyed”. They will demystify brining the turkey, demonstrate how to wet cure a ham, and home-smoke some trout as an alternative to smoked salmon. Ham glaze and preserves will be cooked and potted up too, and there will also be time for a home-cooked lunch.

Places on this course cost €175, which includes all course materials and some edible goodies to take away. It will run from 9.30am to 5pm. Croan Cottages, which is in Dunamaggan, also has self-catering accommodation available for €50 per person. See croancottages.com.

A taste of Spanish cuisine

Some luminaries of Spanish gastronomy will be in Dublin on Monday, November 5th, for a trade fair run by the Spanish Commercial Office and Foods and Wines from Spain. London-based Spanish chef José Pizarro, Catalan chef Rafael Pena, owner of Gresca and Gresca Bar in Barcelona, and Ferran Centelles, who was a sommelier at elBulli for 13 years, are among those taking part in the event at the Hotel Riu Plaza The Gresham, in Dublin 1.

There will be meet-the-maker tasting sessions, masterclasses in olive oil and in jamón ibérico, and a Chef's Table demonstration area where cookery school directory Blanca Valencia will cook with ingredients supplied by the 25 exhibitors who are taking part.

It is a trade-only exhibition, open to those involved in the hospitality industry including restaurants, chefs, hotels, culinary students, cookery schools and retail. It is free to attend, but it is necessary to register in advance on Eventbrite.ie.

If you don't qualify for admission, there is still a chance to soak up some Spanish atmosphere at a wine tasting with Ferran Centelles in Cliff Townhouse tomorrow. The tutored tasting accompanied by canapes prepared by head chef Sean Smith starts at 6.30pm, and tickets, €25, can be booked by telephoning 01-6383939.

Murphy’s kitchen takeover

New Irish Times food columnist and owner of Kai Café and Restaurant in Galway, Jess Murphy, is doing a one-night kitchen takeover at the Tannery in Dungarvan on Thursday, November 15th. Her winter-warmer menu of cheesy dumplings in coq broth; salad of salt baked root vegetables, red onion puree, toasted buckwheat; pheasant schnitzel; aged venison faggot, winter vegetable and barley broth, pomme puree, and yellow snow, pumpkin foam, rye tuile, will cost €55 and bookings can be made by telephoning 058-45420.

The wine women from Mayo

Roisin Curley and Sinead Cabot are Irish women, from Co Mayo, making wine in Burgundy and in eastern Slovenia. Next Friday, November 9th, they will be introducing their wines and talking about them at No 1 Pery Square in Limerick city. The wine tasting, talk and a communal supper of shared plates of local seasonal dishes costs €69 (plus booking fee) and can be booked at Eventbrite.