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Savour Kilkenny Open For Business

Savour Kilkenny Food Festival

Savour Kilkenny Food Festival - Starts today and finishes bank holiday Monday October 31st

The 2011 Savour Kilkenny Food Festival gets underway proper from today before the big demos and food market take over from tomorrow right across the weekend. I’ve been busying myself looking after some of the online elements of this year’s festival (including a revamped SavourKilkenny.com) but come the weekend I’ll be on the ground throwing myself into anything and everything the festival has to offer.

Two events taking place today include the Feast Of Chefs (sold out) and the first of the weekend’s seminars, this one on Nutrition For Sport and a Healthy Lifestyle.

For the feast of chefs event, five chefs will cook five courses at Garrett Byrne’s Campagne where he is joined by Mark Gaffney (Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel), Will Fitzgerald (Springhill Hotel), Neil McEvoy (Pembroke Hotel) and Maria Raftery (Zuni Hotel) to create a mouth-watering feast using the best of Kilkenny ingredients. The evening is tied into the Rockfall Festival, also taking place in Kilkenny this weekend and so all proceeds from the night will go towards Enable Ireland / The O’Neill Centre in Kilkenny.

At the seminar later tonight (8pm at The Pembroke Hotel), Noreen Roche (sports dietician and advisor to Kilkenny hurling team), Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny hurling team) and Glanbia’s Claire McGartland will look at sports nutrition, dietary regimes in the world of sport and what sports people and athletes should be eating and drinking for optimum performance.

The seminar is what’s called a ‘wristband event’. Where tickets had to be bought for the food market and a number of other events last year, the bulk of them have been rolled into a festival wristband. You pay €10 for your wristband and you are covered for entry to any wristband event across the entire weekend (today through Monday). Wristbands are available to buy online on SavourKilkenny.com or from the box office at The Maltings, James Street (beside CBS Secondary School, 1 minute walk from Market Cross Shopping Centre on High Street).

The Parade Plaza is almost complete and ready to roll and while you won’t find me at either event above tonight, you will find me at Foodcamp tomorrow in the Newpark Hotel. If you haven’t registered for Foodcamp yet, you can do so at SavourKilkenny.com/foodcamp. There is a community lunch on tomorrow as well so if you are coming along to Foodcamp (free), consider bringing enough lunch for yourself and one other, it all gets shared out and lunchtime which makes for a great fun lunch experience.

The full Foodcamp Speaker Schedule is now available. If you spot me there, do say hello, I promise not to be too grouchy (unless I’m starving)!

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Kid Size Me? Yes Please

Chicken Nuggets

Earlier this morning, myself and John Morton (wearing our festival hats as we’re both working on three festivals simultaneously) were on air on KCLR 96FM to discuss the morning papers. One of the articles I picked up on also landed in my inbox yesterday highlighting a new initiative from the Nutrition and Health Foundation and the Restaurants Association of Ireland aimed at tackling the country’s growing level of child obesity, dubbed Kid Size Me.

The initiative aims to ensure children have access to healthier food options when dining out by making child size portions of adult meals available as an alternative to ordering from the standard children’s menu. Participating restaurants will carry the new ‘Kids Size Me’ symbol on their menus and over the coming weeks consumers can log on to www.wheretoeat.ie to see a list of participating venues.

New research entitled ‘Eating Out With Children’, commissioned by the NHF, indicates the scale of demand for child size portions of adult meals with 98% of parents surveyed supporting the move. 80% of parents state they have dined in a restaurant or café where child size portions of adult meals were available in addition to the standard children’s menu. However, 3 out of 5 (58%) of those surveyed only became aware of this option by requesting it from restaurant staff as the offering was not advertised.

Personally, I think something like this is long overdue and I really hope to see more and more restaurants get on board offering half portions / child-size portions of adult meals, firstly as a means of controlling or regulating portion size for the younger eaters at cafés, bars and restaurants but more importantly – and this is more the side that I’m aiming at – as a way of allowing young people to be cultured towards more than just chicken nuggets and chips or sausages and chips.

Notes from the papers and press release suggest that 52% of parents bring children out for meals once a month with a further 18% once a fortnight. Growing up I can remember being brought to restaurants, likely once a month, both locally and moreso when on holidays. While chicken nuggets and chips were the staple of my brother for years, I was delighted to have the freedom to choose anything from the menu but, of course, it would be an adult portion for a child which sometimes meant the napkins or tinfoil would be coming out to bring home anything left. Paying full whack for a half eaten dinner because you “want what Daddy’s having” can’t be good for the pocket in the long run.

If the Kid Size Me initiative takes off, I think it will be more a great way for young children to learn about and experience good hearty Irish food and dishes from other cultures orwalks of life at a portion size that suits their young appetite and a price point that suits parents. If and when I find myself raising children in the future, you can be sure there won’t be a hint of chicken nuggets and chips coming to the table if you’re sitting in an Italian restaurant.

I agree that I don’t think it’s going to put too much of a dent in the level of obesity amongst young people in Ireland but hey, every little helps, right?

You can read the full release from the RAI here.

Chicken nuggets photo above via my_ami on Flickr (Creative Commons)

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Getting Back To Juicing

Carrot & Cucumber Juice over Ice

Carrot & Cucumber Juice Over Ice

IF THERE IS one thing that goes against me when cooking at home it’s that I’m not a massive vegetable eater. My vegetable intake is sporadic at best, either all in one go when doing a veg stir fry or if and when they’re on the plate while eating out. You’d think with herself being a vegetarian that I would have changed my ways after a few years, but no.

About this time last year (summer time anyway) I made the move to buy a juicer (hence the ‘juicing’, the process by which you get all the juice, with none of the solids, from fruit and vegetables). It was great at the time, lasted about all of a month, I spent a blind fortune on fruit and veg but it soon made it’s way to the corner of the kitchen with the blender and toaster to start gathering dust. Once there was a sufficient amount of dust on there, it made it’s way to the press in the corner of the kitchen where good appliances go to die. Literally.

Flash forward almost a year, the latter part of which has included me working all kinds of mad office hours, seven days a week and fitting in three productions at the same time – with a fourth and final production getting underway – and everything has gone to hell. The porridge breakfasts have gradually stopped, due largely to the weather or forgetting to replace the near empty bag of porridge oats in the press. The 30-day-detox-that-became-a-22-day detox in March did pay some dividends, though the half stone that was shed in March has actually crept its way back due to lack of exercise, working late, rekindling a love with the takeaways on John Street and generally not taking enough care of things. Slap on the wrist well delivered.

So, in an effort to

  • increase my vegetable intake (and actually have veg that’s more than a chopped pepper going into a curry)
  • increase my fruit intake (which at the moment consistens of 2 x 1000mg vitamin C tablets spread over the day)
  • get a nice fresh start to the mornings before work

I have returned to juicing. I spent some time on Saturday scrubbing the bejaysus out of the juicer to get it back in a healthy state, made the trip to Lidl (where given the opening of Aldi at the weekend, they ran a half price frut-and-veg promo) and loaded up on carrots, cucumber, bananas and anything else that caught my eye. The result on Sunday, and again this morning, being a lovely pint (over ice) comprising

  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 banana (am fond of the flavour more so than the actual banana)

and that’s me sorted for the morning. It’s a refreshing start, has a bit of an earthy taste but it’s more vegetables and fruit in one glass than I’ve had in the past fortnight. And long may it continue. I’ve got one or two juicing books to go through and, having gone through the cook book collection at the weekend, have come across a few more recipes and suggestions for blending all kinds of fruit and veg. I’m not going to go nuts on it by any means. One could spend a fortune (as I have done in the past) buying all manner of fruit and vegetables so this is going to be a juicing run, for the month, that will very much be done on a budget. A 2 euro large bag of carrots would last me the week, similar with the celery, add a few cucumbers, and I reckon I could get the lot in the supermarket for a tenner for the week, a well spent portion of the weekly shopping budget.

In the meantime, if you’re considering getting into juicing, here’s some handy links.

If you have any suggestions for a good juicing recipe, believe me, I’m all ears.

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