Dingle Food Festival – Taste of success for a thriving food culture”
It didn’t quite compensate for the recent failure to bring back Sam to the Kingdom, but there was great local delight at the crowning of Cahirciveen company Quinlan’s Seafood as supreme champions at the Blás na hÉireann Food Awards as part of the annual Dingle Food Festival that took place in the Kerry over the weekend.
The festival, now in its ninth year, is a celebration of a vibrant food culture in the town and its hinterland with local producers and restaurants to the fore servicing enormous crowds who came from all over Ireland and abroad to soak up the atmosphere. Every available space is turned into a venue for tastings, demos, talks, debates, with quirky pop-up bars and restaurants in boutiques, shops and galleries supplementing the permanent venues, all offering a dizzying range of dishes.
The weather remained dry and warm enough for the crowds to take to the streets for a spot of al fresco wining and dining, most especially outside the myriad Taste Trail venues throughout the town that saw punters sipping fine wines in An Siopa Ceoil music shop, shucking Glenbeigh oysters down by the waterfront or even joining the brave souls prepared to clock up the cholesterol with a deep-fried Mars Bar.
Two of the most popular events of the weekend were cooking demos from an established master, Rory O’Connell, co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School with sister Darina Allen, and from rising young star, Mark Moriarty, the young chef who recently beatfro global competition to win the hugely prestigious San Pelligrino Young Chef of the Year competition in Italy, representing Ireland and Britain.
Following hot on the heels of Quinlan’s Seafood’s recent inclusion in a select band of Irish Gold Medal winners at the British Great Taste Awards, there was no doubt in local minds that this accolade, awarded for their fresh crabmeat, was a triumph of equal merit. Liam Quinlan, son of founder Michael, said: “We are absolutely thrilled. This is the biggest award and honour we have ever received and I hope it shows that quality always shines through.”
The Blás na hÉireann Awards is far and away the largest competition for Irish food produce, with chairman Artie Clifford confirming yesterday that once again, entries were up on the previous year.
“They are bigger than ever,” said Mr Clifford, “there was over 106 categories with 2,500 entries.”
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