You know that feeling when you eat amazing food and every mouthful is just perfect, bringing a huge smile to your face? Well I had a whole weekend of that at the Waterford Festival of Food in Dungarvan recently. Four fabulous meals out in two days. I have said before that we are very spoilt in this area with the great restaurants on our doorsteps and even wrote a post about them.
I wasn’t alone on this culinary weekend. Through the power of Twitter I had been chatting to Ginger Aarons @gingerTT from Portland, Oregon and as Ginger was over this side of the big pond scouting out special places for her Time Travel Tours she joined me for some extra special eating out. Ginger isn’t a stranger to Ireland bringing tours over for the last 14 years and therefore had lots of friends in this area too.
On the Friday night we were at The Tannery for the special guest chef over from the UK – Angela Hartnett MBE. Tickets had sold very fast and I was very excited as I had long been a fan of Angela’s on tv’s Hell’s Kitchen and This Morning. The atmosphere in the Tannery was buzzing. Everyone was there for the same reason – good food and company in a stunning setting. And Máire Flynn had it all under control as always.
As you can see from the menu it was all just gorgeous. Some of the dishes may seem diverse and odd to put together but wow did it work. Especially if you got every ingredient of the dessert on your spoon in one go…..just heaven. After the service Angela and Paul Flynn came and chatted to us all and the mingling started from table to table. The mood was definitely party-time and yet again I met people I have been tweeting with but never chatted to in real life. It was a brilliant night.
The Saturday morning cliff walk in Ardmore had to be cancelled due to a couple of sore heads however we weren’t going to cancel lunch at The Cliff House Hotel. For Ginger, the Tannery and the Cliff House are like coming home as she has brought so many tours to them every year. Living just up the road from both I like to think of them as my locals – how lucky am I?
We just had a couple of (big) starters and whiled away a few hours in the luxury of the bar overlooking the bay of Ardmore chatting to the General Manager, Adriaan Bartels, Deputy Manager Siobhan Ryan and Michelin Starred Executive Chef Martiyn Kajuiter. Oh the company we keep I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Mr Bartels recently for TweakYourBiz.
So on to meal three and this wasn’t in a restaurant as such. The Brewer, The Blogger and The Baker aka Claire Dalton, Niamh Sheilds and Eunice Power created a wonderful setting in the local council offices. It was transformed from a canteen into a “pop-up” restaurant with a jazz band and funky partitions to mask the fact it was an actual office space – and it worked brilliantly. Wine and Dungarvan Brewing Co ales were free flowing and the food amazing.
Now in my past life – as I like to call the social London years – fillet steak was my staple diet. Even further back than that I’d order a “blue fillet” from the chef in my father’s hotel that I mostly grew up in from the age of 8. Since moving to a cattle farm I went off beef for a few years, however, luckily about a month ago I had a craving for beef so I’m back eating it again now. And my goodness the steak that Eunice Power did for us that night was amazing; on a par with all the great restaurants I’ve eaten in over the years (and that was quite a lot in my past life). The beef was supplied by Waterford’s Dawn Meats and their Paul Nolan gave a great speech about Ireland’s local produce and exports to improve the economy.
Aside from the steak the potato and wild garlic soup was stunning – here’s the recipe – from Eunice Power and Niamh Sheild’s bacon jam was mouth watering. It was 5 courses in all; fantastic food and great value at only €50 a head including the wine and ales. And all cooked in the canteen of the local council offices! Amazing! I’ll definitely be booking again if there is one next year. As tickets sold out rapidly it’s best to book straight away.
So Sunday, the last day of the Festival and the huge Farmers Market in Dungarvan Square. Ginger and I headed to White Horses in Ardmore for Sunday lunch first – mainly because it was somewhere Ginger hadn’t been before. Needless to say there will be a tour party heading there on their next trip over. Three courses with coffee for just €28 – brilliant value. We both had prawns and avocado to start – may sound old fashioned but it was lovely. Again we had beef as a main course and there was a lot of it with all kinds of vegetables on the side – really tasty.
Finally the pièce de résistance, the dessert. In The White Horses they have a counter displaying all the desserts available – I think I counted ten and they are all homemade. The waitress suggested we choose two each and there was me thinking they’d half the portions therefore but no chance. The Banoffee pie was delicious – I can still remember the taste.
I was fit to burst leaving there so when we got to the Farmers Market in Dungarvan we didn’t need any more food although the smells from all the wonderful and colourful stalls were very tempting. The town was packed full of people enjoying the food and entertainment through the streets, cafes, bars and restaurants. Even the Town Hall was full to the rafters to see a cookery demonstration with Paul Flynn and Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy. Kinsale.
So the 5th Waterford Festival of Food was a resounding success and growing stronger every year bringing great attention to Dungarvan and the surrounding villages and towns. I only saw a snippet of the festival as there was a lot more going on throughout the area which you can see here. For me, after seeing Ginger off on the rest of her tour of Ireland I headed back home to my normal happy hibernation and a strict diet.
Well done to everyone involved in the Festival and thank you to David Clynch Photography, The Tannery, The Cliff House Hotel, Time Travel Tours and Waterford Festival of Food for the photos.