• Cyril McAree

14th Burren Slow Food Festival Sails To Success

The 2018 Burren Slow Food Festival literally set sail last Friday with a sold out voyage to Inis Oírr. In keeping with the 2018 theme “Taste the Atlantic – A Seafood Journey,” those lucky enough to secure tickets for the opening event were ferried across the Atlantic to enjoy a seafood supper in Tigh Ned’s with many items on the menu caught by the owner. On Saturday the Pavilion in Lisdoonvarna took centre stage with the market providing the perfect platform to showcase artisan food and craft producers, including many Burren Food Trail members. The morning highlight was a presentation by Dr Bill Schindler, UCD visiting professor, who officially opened the festival. His subject “The Human Diet – Learning to Eat Again” enthralled the audience and generated much engagement during the question and answer session.

Cookery demonstrations were very well supported thanks to the draw of seafood aficionado Niall Sabongi, fresh from his cookery slot appearance on Friday’s Ireland AM, chef Brianna Turner from Pot Duggan’s in Ennistymon, Oonagh O Dwyer from the Wild Kitchen, and cookbook author Trevis Gleason, whose “Dingle Dinners” has been shortlisted in this year’s World Gourmand Cookbook Awards. Trevis also hosted a whiskey workshop at which he announced, to rapturous applause, plans for his next cookbook “Burren Dinners.” At the annual Burren Slow Food Banquet in the Burren Storehouse on Saturday evening, diners were spoilt with a menu by chef Viv Kelly that featured ingredients from the locality such as Flaggy Shore oysters, Clare beef and St Tola’s goat’s cheese.

Tastings were plentiful over the 2 days, in particular on Sunday at “Breakfast with Blas” during which award winning producers outlined the benefits of entering the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards. In addition, Niall Hughes from Sea View House in Doolin and Brian O Briain from Anam Coffee highlighted the power of collaboration by using an abundance of locally sourced in season ingredients to host a delicious Burren food experience. Sunday’s highlight was an “interactive happening” with Kevin Thornton. Regarded as one of Ireland's best chefs and the great philosopher of Irish food, Kevin talked about the ritual of filleting and demonstrated his expertise with a whole salmon from Clare Island before cooking it with sea spaghetti he had foraged on the Clare coastline that morning.

The seaweed theme concluded the weekend programme of demonstrations thanks to Oonagh O Dwyer from the Wild Kitchen in Lahinch who shared her passion for cooking with this incredible superfood.

Birgitta Hedin Curtin, chair of the organising committee, extended her sincerest thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the festival including the hardworking and dedicated committee, local businesses, visiting traders, sponsors, volunteers and the public who supported the event, some of whom had travelled from as far as Italy and the US. She expressed her delight that everyone had embraced the festival motto “come hungry, leave happy!”

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