West Waterford Festival of Food
Most non-Irish don’t realize this, but Ireland truly is the land of festivals come spring and summertime. When you’re planning a trip to Ireland, you’re thinking you’ll spend your days drinking in quiet pubs and seeing the Cliffs of Moher. You should definitely still do those things, but also, take a minute and check out festivals.ie. More than likely, there will be some kind of food, music or art festival happening during your visit.
With that in mind, this past Sunday Pat and I packed up our baby and headed to Dungarvan for the West Waterford Festival of Food. The festival began last Thursday and ended yesterday, featuring demos from some of Ireland’s most iconic chefs, a massive farmer’s market with hundreds of vendors and lots of great discussion events about food and food culture.
It’s safe to say the weekend was successful. When we arrived yesterday afternoon we were extremely lucky to find a convenient place to park. Grattan Square, in the centre of town, was absolutely chock-full of people, vendors, dogs, babies and stuff.
What kind of stuff? Well, some people were selling plants. Others were selling their baked goods and confections (my favourite were the homemade marshmallows from Cloud Confectionery – Pat tried their lime and ginger crumble while I stuck with vanilla bean). There were entire pigs being roasted on spits, two trucks churning out Butler’s Ice Cream on different ends of the square, a Belgian frites truck (only my favourite all-time kind of frite) and lots of hand-made crafts and art pieces.
Some familiar artisanal products being sold included Badger & Dodo Coffee, Corleggy Cheese, Ballyhoura Mushrooms (I spent all my money on shrooms; I don’t see these guys enough!), Tastefully Yours Chutneys and Wild About Foods (their nettle syrup is one of my most favourite things). We had a great time eating and buying things at the market; it was crowded but still relatively easy to navigate (I was so glad we had Maeve in her sling instead of the buggy).
There were a few events this weekend I really wish I’d been able to attend. There were seaweed foraging walks on Clonea Beach and hikes out into the Comeragh Mountains. There were so many great kid’s programs that we’ll be taking advantage of when Maeve is older. There was a Middle Eastern Feast hosted by Eunice Power. And there was a Sunday Demo with Rachel Allen featuring the new generation of Irish chefs – all fabulous women (Jessica Murphy, Aoife Noonan & Grainne O’Keefe, to name a few). Next year I’ll have my priorities straight and arrange for some childcare!
As we drove back toward Waterford City, Patrick and I agreed that there couldn’t have been a better host town for a festival featuring County Waterford cuisine. Dungarvan is a hotbed of great restaurants, pubs and people and the festival was all the more special for that reason.
I’ve said this a few times, but I can’t believe more tourists aren’t coming to Waterford during trips to Ireland – we’ve got the beaches, the scenery, the history and the food. Although if you come to Waterford from Newfoundland you may feel like you haven’t left home.