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Westport Food Festival a resounding success

Westport Food Festival a resounding success

Michael Duffy

Foodies gazed and grazed over the weekend and ensured that the second Westport Food Festival was a resounding success.
The festival opened with ‘Recipes for Success’, a day of talks by leading food producers, restaurateurs and food companies. Food writer John McKenna, who facilitated the day, spoke of the success of Mayo’s food credentials. Ahead of the publication this week of his Irish food guide, he commented, “Four years ago I struggled with entries for the Mayo section. Today I could make a whole series for RTÉ on Mayo food”. The line-up of speakers reflected the many local food success stories: Kelly’s Butchers; Carrowholly Cheese; The Gourmet Greenway; Café Rua; Cuinneog Ltd; Sol Rio; An Port Mór and Red’s Sauces, amongst them.
‘The Come Dine with Me’ dinner on Friday night was sold out weeks in advance. MC was Donegal man Noel Cunningham of TV3’s Ireland AM, who told the story of the Donegal flags being taken off his car by young fans when he stopped at a petrol station in Mayo on Friday evening!  Diners had the opportunity to vote for their favourite course at ‘The Come Dine With Me’ event and the winner on the night was course three,  ‘Trio of Hot and Cold Inishturk Crab’ jointly prepared by Eoin McDonnell, head chef at the Wyatt Hotel and Johnny McGough, head chef at Cronin’s Sheebeen. 
There was a steady line of visitors to the Festival Food Village at the Octagon and the Foodie Fringe at the Clock. Filleting fish, cooking pork, celiac cooking, cooking shellfish were amongst the topics presented at the Foodie Fringe. Every stall at the festival village was sold-out by the end of the day. The demonstrations in front of the town hall drew a crowd. Newport chef Áine Maguire prepared an array of beautiful dishes, all using wild and foraged ingredients: cluaisins with homemade dilisk bread, lemon posset with wild froghan berries and wild mushroom soup. Druid Chef Rory Morahan presented  “The Art of Cooking Salmon”.  Jack & Eddie O’Malley discussed farm to fork meat cuts followed by a Pig on a Spit demo that was shared amongst the crowd. Danny Coleman, GMIT discussed molecular gastronomy and Cormac Langan gave a demo on Square Food Gardening - How to grow your own garden in a small space.
The quay activities and outdoor screen for the All-Ireland final drew the crowds on Sunday and while the end result was a disappointment, the barbecue of sausages, burgers, chowder, fish and sparkling wine and the children’s events proved a big hit. RTÉ filmed the supporters at the quay for the evening news that included Wyatt Hotel GM and proud Donegal man Barney Clarke getting a soaking in the lake from a group of Mayo fans!
“Our thanks goes to our sponsors, hard-working committee, all festival participants and supporters who ensured that the second Westport Food Festival was a success,” commented Sinéad Lambert-Barroso, chairperson, Westport Food Festival. 

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