Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kenmare Food Carnival - Post Mortem

There are plenty food festivals out and about at the moment. It seems every village has one these days. Some are good, some you hardly notice that food is involved and then you have some extremely well done ones and Kenmare Food Carnival is one of the best festivals I have been in a long time. It has been a long time coming as Kenmare has more restaurants per square feet than New York - or so it seems to me. I have had amazing food in Kenmare over the years. Jam, Lemon Tree, Park Hotel and of course Pakkies have put smiles on my face more than once.

So I think it was about time that Kenmare jumped on the bandwagon and had their very own festival. And to make it stand out - they called it a carnival. Nice touch!

I drove up to Kenmare on Saturday, having missed already the Traditional Afternoon Tea, the Vineyard Affair, Carnival Parade on Friday. Saturday's program just looked as good with the Taste Trail, workshops for kiddies, forums, lectures, food art exhibition, wine tastings, producer market and and and....the list is endless.

It was great to see the whole town involved. Shop windows had displays of food related themes from afternoon tea to break the bread. Restaurants had tables outside their door and offered amazing tasting plates for €3 or €5 - I had only 3 tasters and was stuffed - the quality and the quantity was outstanding. Purple Heather, Pakkies, Jam, The Breadcrumb, Nom Nom, Wild Garlic Truffle Pig are just a few of the restaurants and food stores involved in the taste trail.

The producer market was buzzing with activities and portions were generous. Mr T had oysters for €1 each and mussels cooked in wine with herbs and garlic for €5, panfried mushrooms on toast from Ballyhoura Mushrooms put a big smile on his face - especially when we bought a jar of their marinated mushrooms (which was finished off the very next day). The Craft Beer & Cider tasting was a bit of a downer as only Stonewell Cider and 8Degree made it to the Park Hotel but they were kept busy withe the people being there - for all brewers who didn't come - you missed a great opportunity to extend your profile.

We skipped the Pop-Up restaurant as well as the Chef's Dinner (thought €95 was a bit steep although you would have gotten 7 courses). We actually went back to Cork the same day as my friend Linda invited us for a lovely BBQ - which was a nice ending to a great day.

I was planning to go back to Kenmare the very next day to join Emer Fitzgerald on her foraging walk but woke up with a stiff neck and never made it over. Would have loved to sample more plates from the taste trail and pay Lemon Tree a visit for a wine tasting - Next year I will stay overnight and make sure not to miss a single thing.

 Congratulations to the organisers of this really fantastic event - I would even say, the best I have been to. Can't wait for next year - I really hope they repeat it in the same way.

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