You won't want to miss these Cork on a Fork festival highlights

KATE RYAN looks ahead at the highlights of the Cork On A Fork Food Festival, which gets underway today - and at the strong female presence
You won't want to miss these Cork on a Fork festival highlights

Claire Nash, owner, Nash 19, Princes Street, Cork. Picture Denis Minihane.

FOOD festivals are making a welcome return in 2022, and Cork is building upon the success of its ability to deliver great outdoor dining experiences city-wide with new food festival, Cork On A Fork.

Starting from today, August 17 to Sunday, August 21, there is a jam-packed schedule of events showing off the very best of Cork food, hospitality, art and culture.

More than 50 events spanning four days cater to the informal and informative, including a welcome return of the famed Long Table Dinner, this time on Princes Street.

It was the business owners of Cork’s self-proclaimed ‘foodie street’ that set the standard for how outdoor dining in Cork can be a success. Other streets followed that example: Beasley Street, Caroline Street, Union Quay, and Pembroke Street. All will be participating in Cork On A Fork, hosting events during the day and evening.

Just like the city itself, the festival programme is eclectic, inclusive and diverse. There is much to unpack – check out the helpful guides below of key events by theme.

Most events are one-offs while others will run each day of the festival. One such daily event is Cork On A Fork Special Trail, a walking trail of 50 city venues to pick up a special festival-themed bite, proving that Cork really is on a fork!

One of the architects of Cork On A Fork is Claire Nash of Nash 19. I asked her why this festival was important for Cork this year, and what people can expect from the Taste of Princes Street long-table dinner today.

“Working together makes everything so much easier, and collaboration is always fun. 

"Cork On A Fork will be a huge boost to the city’s night-time economy and will put the city right back in people’s minds, a reminder of our great producers and the food we have in the region.

“The diversity of our traders in the city has changed hugely in the last five years – Cork is a city with an international flavour now, and we want to celebrate that through the diversity of the food on offer and be inclusive with it too. Many of the events are free of charge or cost only a small amount of money, so no-one is prohibited from coming in and experiencing the festival.

“The Taste of Princes Street long-table dinner is the biggest ticket item on the festival programme, but people were screaming out for an experience like that, and I was just dying to do a smart dinner again! The menu reflects the flavour of our street, the different nationalities, style of cuisine, and all with Cork food and drink at the heart of it all.”

At €125 per person, Claire is confident all 200 tickets will sell out, and sees this as Princes Street coming together to give something back to Cork City Council, who backed and funded its transformation into a vibrant, pedestrian hub when businesses needed it most.

The menu for the dinner will be a feast indeed!

“The menu for the dinner will be a feast indeed with flavours of the season across the menu. 

"Nash 19 will be joined by Burnt Pizza and Oak Fire Pizza, Quinlan’s and Rossini restaurants to create, cook and serve a six-course menu, plus welcome cocktail and old world wines to the awaiting diners.”

And what else is Claire looking forward to during Cork On A Fork?

“I’m really looking forward to the Cork On A Fork Tasting Trail; walking around the city and just really soaking up the atmosphere!”

Yasmin and Maxine Hyde, Ballymaloe Foods Pic Joleen Cronin
Yasmin and Maxine Hyde, Ballymaloe Foods Pic Joleen Cronin

The Women Putting Cork on a Fork

There is a strong female presence to Cork On A Fork, a tradition that the region continues to support. From pioneering women, Veronica Steele and Myrtle Allen, Cork women have been the driving forces behind the region’s exceptional food credentials.

Cork On A Fork is no different, representing the full spectrum of careers and passions in the food industry. From restaurateur Claire Nash to distillers Bhagya Barrett of Rebel City Distillery and Kate Dempsey of Kinsale Mead, and wine expert Beverly Matthews of L’Atitude 51. Female chefs, too. Orla McAndrew is having an exceptional year with her catering business, and Ali Honour who, after closing her restaurant Ali’s Kitchen, has now taken up the role of Executive Head Chef at the Imperial Hotel.

Food producers galore: Yasmin Hyde of Ballymaloe Foods, Isabelle Sheridan of On The Pig’s Back, and Dr Fanny.

Leenhardt-Cohalan, who is leading the trend in heritage grain production with Wellbread.ie – iconic brands alongside those who are creating a new vision for Irish food.

Cork On A Fork is about culture too. 

From Yoga, with Hazel from The Yoga Tree to lunchtime opera with rising Cork star, soprano Emma Nash. The thought-provoking exhibition at Crawford Art Gallery, Meat and Potatoes, is curated by leading Irish culinary historian from UCC, Regina Sexton, and journalist and broadcaster Ellie O’Byrne, working with a female-led team of curators.

Joleen Cronin mixes her love of podcasting with her passion for photography and shows us how both are perfect for telling food stories.

No-Cook-Cooking with Orla McAndrew is due to take place today, 12 and 2pm outside the Grand Parade entrance to The English Market, Orla will lead a fun and exciting cookery demo inspired by the wonderful foods available in the English Market.

Orla McAndrew of Orla McAndrew Catering.
Orla McAndrew of Orla McAndrew Catering.

“I’ll be using goodies from as many of the traders in the English Market as possible to create dishes for light and delicious home dining,” Orla says.

“The twist is that every dish for the whole meal will be made without having to go near a cooker – the English Market does all the hard work for you!”

From cheeses to breads, smoked fish and cured meats, fruits, vegetables and more, Orla’s dishes will ensure you can create the wow factor this summer without getting hot and bothered in the kitchen.

“I’m so honoured to be asked to do this demonstration for Cork On A Fork. 

"I always use local producers in my catering business, and many of the ideas I’ll be making are dishes I use in my business and at home too.”

Orla says she is looking forward to taking her three girls to the Bread and Butter Making Workshop at the Butter Museum, and Quay Co-Op workshop, on spicing up vegetarian meals, both also running today, and are free.

Cultural Cork on a Fork

Cork On A Fork is much more than just food. Jazz of all kinds can be heard all around the city from different festival venues, including ShowThyme at Thyme at Seventy-Six on the Mall from 5pm or the Jazz Jam Session at 115 Café from 9pm on Thursday.

DJs will get all the parties started at the Brazilian Celebration Party at Cyprus Avenue and Bites and Beats Afterparty at Coqbull on Friday.

Get your art fixes at the Crawford while soaking up a free tour of the Meat and Potatoes exhibition or attend Neighbourfood Podcast Live Wednesday from 11am where host Jolene Cronin will interview founder of multi-award winning Ballymaloe Foods, Jasmin Hyde.

If you can’t get through the festival without a yoga fix, Stretch at Sketch on Sunday from 11am, or enjoy yoga followed by a feast of sushi at the Boardwalk @ Electric with Sarah Daly from Alchemy School of Yoga from 11:30am on Saturday.

Culture is child’s play at Cork on a Fork! 

Let kids be kids as they take part in Play Lunch on Caroline Street, Friday from 2pm; enjoy a family BBQ on Beasley Streety on Saturday and Sunday or take part in a family pizza making class with Oak Fire Pizza at the Marina Market on Thursday from 11am.

We Are Cork!

Cork on a Fork programme embraces the diversity of Corkonians, and the food culture shared with the city.

Expert pizzaioli from all corners of Italy will be on hand to demonstrate the art of the Neapolitan pizza, fermenting, stretching and cooking including those all-important toppings at Oak Fire Pizza, Princes Street on Friday from 11am (free, adults-only).

On Friday, fall in with Cork’s Brazilian community to celebrate this rich culture through food and drinks from Golden Bites Brazilian Snack House and music at Cyprus Avenue, from 11pm.

Make and taste three unique coffee roasts at celebrated Palestinian eatery, Izz Café. Learn to roast green coffee beans and make three different coffee styles: espresso, Turkish (or Palestinian) and Arabian and the different cultures they represent. Sunday, 11:30am.

Bhagya Barrett, Co-founder of Rebel City Distillery. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Bhagya Barrett, Co-founder of Rebel City Distillery. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Enjoy an elegant Afternoon Tea at The MET inspired by the story behind Rebel City Distillery, their Maharani Gin and the Keralan’s Women’s Co-operative in India from where they source botanicals to distil their gin. Head chef, Vasil Baci, will take the best of Cork to create a taste of India over three plates. Sunday, 1pm at The MET Tea Rooms at the Metropole Hotel.

Cork Uncorked 

Wine, whiskey, mead, beer and gin all brewed and distilled across city and county are represented well at Cork on a Fork.

Wine lovers should head to L’Atitude 51’s Guerilla Tasting pairing fish and wine Leeside on Friday from 5:30pm or enjoy a selection of organic biodynamic wines from MacCurtain Wines at Harley StrEAT BBQ on Saturday from 4pm.

If whiskey is your weakness, head to the Whiskey and Cheese Tasting Masterclass at The Shelbourne on Wednesday at 6pm where Isabelle Sheridan of On The Pig’s Back will delight your senses with exceptional cheeses.

Mead is Ireland’s oldest drink made from fermented honey, and the once-off four-course dinner at Bookshelf at The Elysian Cork on a Fork dinner will be paired with a range of Kinsale Mead honeyed elixirs from Ireland’s only commercial meadery.

Cheers for beers! 

Visit Ireland’s smallest brewery at Elbow Lane Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to showcase its limited-edition range of award-winning beers, tutored beer tastings, and take away an Elbow Lane t-shirt to treasure. (€30, book online at www.elbowlane.ie) The popularity of gin is showcase by not one, but three, distinctive gin events. In addition to the Afternoon Tea at The Met with Maharani Gin, also enjoy a cool Bertha’s Revenge every day of the festival at the Cornstore Restaurant for their drop in Tapas on the Terrace event between 2-6pm. Or get into the swing of gin with Kinsale Gin’s pop-up event at Dwyer’s of Cork on Thursday between 6-8pm to sample Kinsale Gin creations for a special festival pop up bar (and it’s FREE!) Rebel Heart Cork isn’t known as the Rebel City for nothing – we like to do somethings differently here!

Everyone should pick up a Cork on a Fork Café Dis-Loyalty Card from any of the five participating independent café operators in the city. 

Visit them all, and your fifth coffee is free! Market Lane, Filter, Greenwich, The Bookshelf, Orso and The Castle Café are all taking part.

Cork City Library will have a cargo bike set up outside on Grand Parade, Wednesday to Saturday, where Corkonians can come and exchange old cookbooks for one that’s new-to-you!

Ciara Murphy (4) Upper Glanmire and Laura Sullivan (8) Glanmire with Executive Chef of The Imperial Hotel, Ali Honour at the launch of Cork on a Fork Festival. Picture: Clare Keogh
Ciara Murphy (4) Upper Glanmire and Laura Sullivan (8) Glanmire with Executive Chef of The Imperial Hotel, Ali Honour at the launch of Cork on a Fork Festival. Picture: Clare Keogh

The folks at Market Lane are also leading the example of what good social engagement looks like by working with their local food bank to ensure Cork on a Fork is “A Food Festival for All.” “We feel very privileged to continue Market Lane's involvement with the Lower Oliver Plunkett Street Food Bank for this new city center festival,” said Market Lane Group director, Conrad Howard.

“We feel it is particularly appropriate that everyone has access to nutritious meals via the food bank at a time when the city centre is celebrating its considerable food offering."

The Market Lane Group encompasses Market Lane, Elbow Lane, Goldie, Orso and the Castle Café, representing some of Cork’s most diverse dining experiences always striving for better sustainability and stronger connections with fellow Cork businesses.

Cork on a Fork Tasting 

Trail Last but not least and running all festival long over 50 venues across the city, the Cork on a Fork Food Trail combines all the sites of the city with delicious stops along the way. Look out for the Cork on a Fork special menus at participating venues for specials, tasting plates or events for you to enjoy.

Take the advice of Cork on a Fork architect, Claire Nash, visit as many as you can and enjoy the festival buzz of the city!

For full listings, including details of events costs and ticket bookings where applicable, visit www.corkcity.ie/cork-on-a-fork-fest

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