2017 Burren Slow Food Festival Overview
The annual Burren Food Festival 2017 in Lisdoonvarna was a celebration of the “Best of Irish GIN and Irish RAW MILK CHEESES” …
A celebration of Ireland’s best gins and raw cheeses were two of the highlights of the Burren Slow Food festival, which took place in County Clare in May 2017.
The Burren Slow food festival, organised by Slow Food Clare, brought together food producers, chefs, buyers and writers for a weekend of talks, demonstrations and workshops in Lisdoonvarna.
“The Slow Food Festival gives us a platform to promote the best of the Burren’s produce, which is now recognised as some of the finest in Ireland and internationally”, said Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, founder member of Slow Food Clare and Chairperson of the Burren Slow Food Festival.
Irish Gins Galore
“This year our theme was Irish gin and cheese and we were showcasing the best of Irish gin; a market which has grown enormously in the past couple of years. There were a range of gins to try, including Blackwater Gin and Drumshambo Gunpowder Irish Gin. We were also fortunate to have Dublin’s leading mixologist Oisin Davies, who talked about one of the most important ingredients, the tonic,” Birgitta says.
Raw Milk Cheese Presidium
For the first time, Ireland’s Raw Milk Cheese Presidium was attending the event, hosting workshops and tastings of raw milk cheese, many of which are not widely available nationwide. The presidium, which is made up of eleven artisan dairies, work with their own distinctive style and techniques and share a common commitment to producing a safe, high-quality product using raw milk from their own cows or goats, or milk from nearby herds.
Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith from St Tola Goat Cheese, who were giving a talk at the event said: “It was an opportunity for members of the Presidium to meet the public and educate them on the importance of raw milk and cheese. There is a growing demand for naturally produced food and people want to meet the producers and see where their food comes from. “
The cheeses from the following Raw Milk Cheese producers were represented at the festival:
Coolattin Farmhouse Cheese, Bellingham Blue, Durrus Farmhouse Cheese, Mike’s Fancy Cheese/Young Buck, Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese/15 Fields, Corleggy Cheese, Carlow Farmhouse Cheese, Killeen Cheese, Cloonconra Cheese, St. Tola/Inagh Farmhouse Cheese, Dingle Peninsula Cheese.
The last tasting event of the weekend was held on Sunday afternoon and comprised a surprising combination – Póitín and Oysters. First, Pádraic Ó Griallais from Micil Irish Poitín talked about his distillery which has been in his family for five generations.
Then, two oyster producers were giving an insight into oyster farming. These two talks were accompanied by a tasting of poitín and oysters!
The festival was officially launched by John Mulcahy, Head of Food Tourism, Fáilte Ireland and Darina Allen from Ballymaloe on Saturday May 13th at midday at the Pavilion Theatre. This was followed by a series of talks and demonstrations by chefs and food industry specialists. As a special guests, we had executive chefs Jonathan Keane from the Lodge at Ashford Castle and Peter Jackson from the Armada Hotel in Co. Clare doing a cookery demo – special treats for foodies!
The list of speakers included Seamus Sheridan from Sheridans Cheesemongers, Fingal Ferguson from Gubeen Cheese and Lesley Williams, Irish Examiner wine and drinks columnist.
One of the attendees for this year’s event was Bruce Langlands, board director of Food and Hospitality at Selfridges in London. “We were honoured to have Bruce Langlands at the festival this year. As always, he was on the lookout for new and unique food products which he can bring back to Selfridges. This is a great opportunity for our local food producers to impress one of the world’s leading retailers,” added Ms Hedin-Curtin.
We had lined up two fantastic cookery demos. It was quite a coup to have been able to secure Jonathan Keane‘s participation in the festival, aided by his junior sous chef Alexander Jaromin. Jonathan is not only the executive chef of the Lodge at Ashford Castle, Cong/Co. Mayo, but also a staunch foodie, forager in the vast park around the castle, and promoter of Cong as a foodie destination. Very much the same can be said about Executive Chef Peter Jackson from the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point, Co. Clare. Peter just loves wild food and growing what is needed for the kitchen if possible. Last year, he won the inaugural Cono Sur Chef Challenge! Peter also had his “sous chef” – his father – with him, who was kind enough to help out!
The two-day event featured the aforementioned Artisan Food Producers’ Market, tastings, foraging, the traditional Burren Slow Food Banquet as well as a Seafood Picnic in a boat under the Cliffs of Moher. Have a look at our Festival Gallery to get an impression of the wonderful atmosphere!
Photography: Karin Funke