THE programme for the fEast Cork Food Festival 2019 brims with the kind of confidence one would expect from a festival ten years’ old — not three!
It’s a testament to the energy and enthusiasm that has taken hold in the East Cork food community and shows no signs of abating.
East Cork has always been a beacon for good food, and at the festival’s beating heart, Midleton has long held a reputation as a foodies’ paradise for great dining out. Ballymaloe, Ballycotton Seafood, and of course those famous New Potatoes and Midleton Distillery earned their loyal following decades ago forming the bedrock of the region’s food reputation.
In more recent times, Arun Kapil of Green Saffron has become an impassioned ambassador for East Cork Food; and the festival’s co-founders Kevin and Réidín Ahern have earned plaudits and a compelling reason to visit with their restaurants SAGE and The Green Room and the 12 Mile Menu.
That vibe and buzzy atmosphere has created a food festival that some of Ireland’s top chefs want to be a part of: Paul Flynn from The Tannery in Dungarvan; Sunil Ghai of Pickle Dublin, Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy Kinsale and Argentinian Chef Mariano Sosa are all visiting to cook up a storm with their distinctive styles, while revelling in the cornucopian larder of East Cork food.
The newest addition to the festival programme is the An Chistin Tent where, on Sunday September 8, from 11am, a panel of some of the most influential voices in Irish food today will gather to have a ‘Conversation around the Kitchen Table.’ Two Michelin-starred chefs: Takashi Miyazaki of ichigo ichie in Cork and Enda McEvoy of LOAM in Galway, Jess Murphy (chef proprietor of Kai Restaurant in Galway and Irish Times columnist), JR Ryall of Ballymaloe House and recent recipient of World Restaurant Award for their dessert trolley; Food Writers Catherine Cleary and Joe McNamee, as well as a veritable roll-call of chefs and thinkers. All will bring valuable points of discussion forward as to where and what next for Irish food.
fEast of course has its roots in the Midleton Food Festival, and has never lost its sense of community. To that end, families will be delighted with the variety of family and child-friendly events scattered liberally across the programme. From Chocolate Lollipop Making, to touring the home of Joe’s Farm Crisps to learn how their deliciously moreish potato and vegetable crisps are made, to hanging out for the day with Cully & Scully on Sunday September 8 to learn about bees, making seed bombs, storytelling, treasure hunts and more besides.
I should tip my glass in recognition of the array of opportunities during this years’ fEast to imbibe a drop of the good stuff. Whether it’s Whiskey from Midleton, Gin from Ballyvolane or Wine tasting or pairing the programme has you covered, leaving me soberly to remind everyone to “drink responsibly”.
The full programme can be downloaded for free from www.feastcork.ie but here are my recommendations for your shortlist.
Monday September 2: Ingenuity & The Bounty, Bayview Hotel, Ballycotton, 7pm, €65
Enjoy a five-course menu from head chef Ciarán Scully with Rias Baixas Spanish wine tasting lead by wine-writer Leslie Williams of the Irish Examiner.
Tuesday September 3: Food to Nourish Your Gut, Ballymaloe House, 7pm, €6 - €8
Darina Allen and Penny Allen unfold the magic and mystery of fermented and fresh foods and how including them every day can improve overall health and vitality.
Wednesday September 4: Coopering Demonstration with Whiskey & Wine Masterclass, Hunted Hog, 7pm, €15
Join head cooper at Midleton Distillery, Ger Buckley, for a masterclass on coopering and learn why aging Irish Whiskey in wood is so important to the finished flavour. Joined by Britt Frost, Midleton Distilleries Wine Ambassador, and with canapes by Hunted Hog head chef Owen Davidson.
Thursday September 5: Make it a Day of Gin… Bertha’s Revenge Gin Distillery Tour, Tasting & Lunch, Ballyvolane House, 12 noon, €39.50
Tour the distillery, enjoy some Bertha’s Revenge G&T’s and a seasonal lunch in the beautiful grounds of this grand country estate.
Method & Madness Gin Masterclass, JJ Coppingers, 7:30pm, €10. Meet the distillers who experiment in the Micro Distillery at Midleton to create the Method & Madness range. Learn about the botanicals and the distilling process of this newly launched gin.
Friday September 6: Fire & Fusion Dinner with Guest Chef Brian Murray, Ferrit & Lee, 7:15pm, €65.
Soon to be opening Cork’s latest restaurant, The Glass Curtain, on McCurtain Street next door to the old Thompson Bakery, Ferrit & Lee welcomes Brian Murray to serve up a feast of dishes reflecting the style of cookery soon to be flying over his own pass.
Saturday September 7: Meet the Producers: fEast Midleton Market & Restaurant Trail, €60pp
Start off with a coffee and scone in Sage before being guided through Midleton Market with Maire Ni Murchu of ActivityDays.ie to shake the hand that feeds you.
Then proceed onto a three-course seasonal lunch with each course served in three of the towns best loved cafes: The Farmgate, Ferrit & Lee and The Granary. Finish with a drink in Walls’ Bar.
Sunday September 8: Spend the day wandering Midleton town taking in the Street Market and the events at the An Chistin Tent, among many others.
All daytime events are free in with no booking required!