The insider’s guide to the Westport Food Festival

Posted in Connect on June 21, 2017.


There are a whole lot of good things going on at this weekend’s Westport Food Festival, and one of the best is that clever timetabling means it’s possible to do just about everything.

It shares a date with the adventure race, Gaelforce West, so the whole town of Westport is bound to be buzzing again from Friday right through until Sunday evening. “We’re really looking forward to this year’s Westport Food Fesitval, it’s going to be the best ever,” said festival chairman Eoin McDonnell.

“Running from Friday, June 23 to Sunday, June 26, it’s jam packed with things to do, see, try and buy. Most events happen in or around the Fairgreen Food Village on Saturday from noon, but make sure you don’t miss the outlying events. Foraging, fishing, kayaking and gin tasting are some of the rather tasty offerings. There’s plenty of choice on the ‘menu’ (if you’ll excuse the pun),” he said. Here’s a quick preview to what’s happening and where:

FRIDAY, JUNE 23 A GALA START – IN SALUBRIOUS SURROUNDINGS

WHAT better way to begin a food festival than with a Midsummer Banquet in the spectacular setting of Westport House? That’s the tempting evening on offer from Westport Food Festival. It’s going to be the social event of the season, with a very strict limitation on tickets.

Can’t you see yourself walking up those historic steps all dressed up to the nines? The Midsummer Banquet takes place on Friday night. It will feature a seven-course tasting menu with three wine pairings from Cabot’s of Westport.

Needless to say it’s a black tie event – in perfect keeping with the stylish surroundings. Numbers are strictly limited to 120 guests and tickets, costing €100 each, are available through Hotel Westport on 098 25122.

SATURDAY, JUNE 24TH

IT’S full on festival time all day Saturday and The Fairgreen is the centre of activities.

FORAGING FIRST

FIRST up on Saturday is the ever popular mushroom foraging event. The expert guide is Will Williams who certainly knows his ceps from his crepes. Learn identification techniques and points to watch out for when collecting them. The group meet at Knockranny Woods at 10am. It costs €12.50 if booked in advance on Eventbrite or €15 on the day.

FAIRGREEN FOOD VILLAGE

THE Fairgreen returns to its roots, hosting a busy fair, as the Food Village moves in for the day. From noon The Fairgreen will be transformed into a bustling outdoor market choc-a-bloc with market stalls and tasty street food. You’ll see some familiar faces such as Mescan Brewery and Killary Mussels and some new kids on the block too. Expect some interesting lunch options! Bring the shopping basket – it’s a great chance to stock the larder with delicious goodies. Admission is free but be warned – the early bird gets the choice of worms!

THE MARQUEE

TAKING centre stage at The Fairgreen is a large, bright marquee which will host a programme of cookery demonstrations. These start at 12 noon with the ever popular Stephan Matz of Executive Chef Services. Michael Henaghan of Knockranny House Hotel takes to the stage at 1pm followed by award winning students Lynda Rodgers and Michaele Gorman of Bare Necessities at 2pm. Anthony Printer, Head Chef from the Idle Wall takes over at 3pm, and finally Matthew Loftus from The Grow Truck who will share the secrets of Vegan cooking at 4pm.

FAMILY FUN

WESTPORT Food Festival always has plenty for families and children to do and see. This year the popular workshops will take place in the Marquee, keeping everything in one spot. The cupcake decorating workshop is first up at 1.15pm and it will be led by none other than Catherine Leyden of TV3 and Odlums fame. The workshop costs €5 and can be booked through Eventbrite. ie. Places are limited.

At 2.15pm it’s time for a new event, the Fast Food Race. This is a combined obstacle race and balancing act for children and promises to be fast, fun and possibly furious as well! Children will race with others of a similar age and will complete the obstacle course balancing food items on a plate. It’s all under the watchful eye of Pat Staunton from Westport Athletics Club. Entry is free and will be taken on the day.

Pizza Making takes place in Marquee at 3.15pm. Children from 3-12 years can become mini-chefs at this Pizza-making-master-class in the new setting of the Fairgreen Food Village. It’s a hands-on workshop experience with Eoin McDonnell, head chef from the Wyatt Hotel. Cost is €10 and booking is through Eventbrite.ie. Places are limited.

CATCH ‘N’ COOK

GET out on a fishing boat from the Quay, catch your fish and head back to the Idle Wall restaurant for a fish cookery lesson and dinner. Delicious! It takes place at 4.30pm on both Saturday and Sunday, the cost is €75 and booking is through Eventbrite.ie

GINTASTIC!

FINISH off a perfect day with ‘Gintastic! – A Gin Appreciation Session’. Foody Tours is delighted to welcome the experts from Ireland’s first gin school to this year’s festival. Listoke Distillery and Gin School are bringing their mini-copper pot stills to Mayo, where they’ll make two different styles of gin for tasting and teach you all about the history of gin and the brilliance of botanicals. Gintastic takes place on Saturday at 7pm and again on Sunday at 3pm. Both events are in Hotel Westport. Booking is through www. eventbrite.ie (over 18s only).

SUNDAY, JUNE 24

IF you’ve any energy left after Friday and Saturday, you could just find something on Sunday to tickle your tastebuds. Gintastic (3pm) and Catch ‘n’ Cook (4.30pm) make a second appearance – and there’s more!

SEAWEED FORAGING

WILL Williams is a seaweed foraging expert and will introduce you to a new and wonderful seashore world. He will teach you how to identify, harvest and use the different types safely and in a responsible manner. It takes place on Sunday, June 24 at 11.30am. Booking is through www. eventbrite.ie.

KAYAKING PICNIC

CLEW Bay is well-known for stunning scenery and where better to see it from than from the water? This guided sea kayaking trip includes a gourmet picnic sourced from local and artisan suppliers. The kayaks will draw up on a beach on one of the hundreds of ‘drowned drumlin’ islands. The feast will be prepared using traditional bush craft cooking techniques. The group size is strictly limited to 12 people so reservations are essential. All equipment will be provided – no experience is needed. Booking is through Clew Bay Bike Hire, phone 098 24818/37675 or Eventbrite.ie

WINE TASTING

TO close the festival, what could be more appropriate than a relaxing wine tasting. ‘Wine 101’ from Foody Tours and Tom Ramwell of The Gallery takes place at 5pm. Enjoy some wonderful wines, nibbles and learn the basics on what’s sure to be a night to remember. Wine 101 is for over 18s only and booking is through www.eventbrite.ie.

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