The bank holiday weekend draws to a close and I get up this morning knowing I’ve safely eaten enough in the past three days to kick start the hibernation for winter. What began with a local food feast at Foodcamp on Friday at the Ormonde Hotel was stepped up in droves by a trip to the food plaza on The Parade yesterday.
I’ve been watching the food festival grow over the past few years but this year’s addition of the food plaza was a landmark step in the right direction. The day for me yesterday began with a seat at Catherine Fulvio‘s 50 mile meal demonstration, extended by a few miles to bring in some Wicklow blue cheese. The sights were one thing but the smell drove me to pick up her Italian Kitchen cookbook. With the first session over it was on to the real fun of the day – a few hours walking, eating and drinking my way around the plaza.
First port of call was lunch and after a quick scout I joined the queue at Green Saffron for their Chicken Madras & Red Lentil Dahl (with basmati rice and spiced banana riata) served, quite nicely I thought, with wooden cutlery and recycled napkins. The topping in the photo is a coriandor yoghurt and all in for a fiver the dish was more than enough to warm the body in advance of strolling the stalls. No sooner had I finished lunch than the Kilkenny Design Centre put a free sticky toffee apple in my hand (still wrapped in its bag downstairs).
Keith Bohanna had tipped me to Badger & Dodo for a coffee and the wait in line was worth it for the Macchiato (a double as it would be a shame to waste a half, like) with the coffee packing the right amount of punch and flavour to follow on from the curry.
Joining me on the walk was a 12-year-old with a sweet tooth so we got to hit the likes of The Truffle Fairy (one of my regular haunts for a brownie at the Farmer’s Market on Thursdays), A Slice Of Heaven (see the photo below of her egg box cupcakes), Tara’s Cookie’s, Emily’s Icecream but not before grabbing a bag of chips (for lunch) from one of the traders. All the cheese, bratwurts, noodles, thai, chicken, lamb, pork and more that a person could want and only chips would suffice for lunch.
I ducked back into the marquee to catch some of the Master Chef final before continuing the walk around, picking up some of Tom Watt’s Secret Recipe Company Cucumber Pickle mix. After spotting the man-size jar at Foodcamp on Friday I couldn’t let the day go without taking home a jar with me and for €3.50 for a brand new product (which should be available in one or two shops locally in the next few weeks) I wasn’t surprised when he told me that folk had been coming back to him on Sunday having bought a few jars on Saturday. The recipe is secret, that’s for sure, but the taste is all there and worked a treat with some of Mag Kirwan’s Smoked Trout Paté for dinner last night.
A second lunch was had with a Lavistown gourmet hotdog complete with onions, ketchup and mustard in a demi baguette. I’d walked past the stand three or four times before giving into the smells only to find some of the family and a few friends in the queue as well. I got away with being diagnosed coeliac (as in, I’m not) but living with one and coming from a family full of them, I was happy to be informed that there’s no rusk in the sausages and they’re completely gluten free and coeliac friendly, another item for the shopping list this Christmas.
Then came the Goatsbridge Trout. I had told myself I wouldn’t be going home without something from their stall for the dinner and popped down to Mag to say hello (you could swear we’re old friends but only met for the first time, in person anyway, on Friday) to get the lowdown on some of their new products and pick myself up some of their new Smoked Trout Paté and two small trout & veg quiches that, when added to with some of Tess’ brown soda bread and the cucumber pickle mix, made for one hell of a dinner last night.
I have to thank Mag again for the gift of the food and I’m only sorry I didn’t get to swing back and try the fresh cooked trout off the grill.
In the windup, I think I spent about 60 quid, walked away with a cookbook, a dinner, three lunches, cupcakes, coffee, chocolates, fresh bread and enough food photos to keep me drooling for a few weeks to come yet.
I had heard a few people grumble about the five euro admission for the day (or eight for the weekend) but when you consider there’s street entertainment to be had, the Forgotten Skills pavillion running demos all weekend, the talks, demos and cook-offs in the marquee, the Master Chef event and more, the price of admission was very much worth it.
Of course I should also say that I got a weekend pass to the plaza as I was working on Foodcamp in a professional capacity on Friday, the podcasts of which I hope to have ready in the coming days.
There’s still a few activities happening around the county to wind out the festival but I’ll be putting the feet up for the day with a cookbook, a brownie, a bottle of stout held over from the Dungarvan Brewing Company and maybe some more warm brown bread with smoked trout paté. Figure if I’ve come this far into the weekend I may as well keep eating…