What do Kanturk haggis, cured pig jowls, smoked cheese oatcakes, Sichuan-spiced tofu, whey-fed pork salami, fish-fragrance pork, and green tea and coconut panna cotta have in common?
Each one featured on the menu at one of two For Food’s Sake events at the beginning of the month. The first was in a balmy, clear-skied Dublin on Thursday night, when we watched the gorgeous Eat Drink Man Woman and stuffed ourselves silly on delicious food from China Sichuan.
Aoife Carrigy, Giana Fergusson & Jack McCarthy
The second was in a balmy, rainy Dingle on Saturday, when our five-course Tasting Menu of Food Talks and Screenings was part of an action-packed two-day programme for the annual Dingle Food & Wine Festival. Food critic Ross Golden-Bannon acted as the amuse bouche for the event, whetting appetites by talking us through some of his favourite food writers (current bedtime reading includes Deborah Cadbury’s Chocolate Wars, Niki Segnit’s Flavour Thesaurus, and Ruth Riechl Garlic & Sapphires). Next up the lovely Sarah Fleming from GIY Ireland provided the ‘starter course’, getting everyone inspired to grow their own, even if it’s just a pot of parsley to start with (apparently GIY founder Michael Kelly kicked off his growing journey with a decision to become fully self-sufficient in garlic). After a little palate cleanser of short food films (including the beautifully shot Street Food Kolkota: Why Not), Jack McCarthy of Kanturk and Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen provided the ‘main course’ and ‘cheese course’ respectively, and left the audience with plenty to digest – and I’m not just talking about the amazing charcuterie and cheese samples! And because no five-course meal should be served without some fine wines, Wines Directgallantly supplied us with some delicious wines to accompany the full menu: a spritely Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine de Millet in Côtes Gascogne; and ‘Les Garrigues’, a fulsome GSM blend from Domaine Clavel in the Languedoc.
Other highlights of our weekend included tasting the dark ale from West Kerry Brewery and theDingle Brewing Company’s new Tom Crean’s Lager; the pork and black pudding sausages from Ashe’s of Annascaul served up in Foxy’s back room with a trad session in full swing; lobster bisque and seafood chowder in The Half Door; beef carpaccio from The Bull’s Head; insights into coffees from around the world fromMark Kingston of Golden Bean; and of course creamy pints in Dick Macks (my current top vote for Best Snug in Ireland – we squeezed over a dozen drinkers into a snug made for four!).
And, like at any great festival, there was so much we missed: the over-subscribed Dine with the Penguins pop-up restaurant in the aquarium; workshops in ice-cream making, pickling, cheese-making, hen-keeping and chocolate-making; free cookery demos from some of the great local chefs including the team from Global Village and Out of the Blue; and a ‘catch and cook’ boatride out into a mist-covered Dingle Bay.