Focus on local ingredients provides food for thought at Kinsale festival


AFTER MORE than 30 years as one of Ireland’s headline food events, the biggest change to Kinsale’s gourmet food festival since the early days has been the move towards locally sourced food, according to festival co-ordinator Maria O’Mahony.

The festival, now in its 36th year, began yesterday and runs until tomorrow. The set-piece events have already sold out.

Ms O’Mahony said Irish food had come full circle in the last few years. “People want to eat and source locally produced food. That goes for the likes of beef and fish to the herbs and berries which would complement a meal,” she said.

“It is all about sustainability. People are supporting Irish markets because they realise that the food is fresher, will last longer and there are no chemicals. It might seem like the more expensive option at the time, but it is better in the long run.”

One of the festival’s attractions is the “50 Mile Meal” award for the best dish prepared using ingredients produced within 50 miles of Kinsale. Ms O’Mahony says ingredients are sourced much closer than that.

“The 50 Mile Meal award was launched at the 2007 festival and has featured each year since. A lot of the time though, it is won with food from around five miles around the town.”

The festival always attracts a large number of international tourists, according to festival director Roman Minihan.

The main event last night was “A Taste of West Cork Dining Experience”, a black-tie ball with broadcaster Derek Davis acting as master of ceremonies. The €85 tickets for the “feast of west Cork delicacies over an eight-course dinner accompanied by champagne and fine wine” were all sold in advance.

Tickets for this morning’s “Mad Hatter’s Taste of Kinsale” event cost €90, and it has also proved to be a sell-out. It is an escorted tour of the 10 members of Kinsale’s Good Food Circle who are promising to present “spectacular dishes” from their kitchens.

Tickets for a “fruits de mer” event at lunchtime tomorrow cost €75 each.