THE inaugural Eat Cork food festival is on from Thursday to Sunday, September 23 to 26, 2010. It is founded by food writer Dianne Curtin, and food events manager Rose-Anne Kidney of Goldiefish Events.
Thursday sees the whole thing kick off with the judging of the second Grow Bake Cook awards in The Farmgate Café.
Friday and Saturday feature EATcork Nights Out, a pub and restaurant trail supported by Murphy’s [when you're planning what you're up to, don’t forget that Friday is of course also Culture Night].
Saturday includes the Foodies On Foot walking tour through the streets of Cork’s food culture past and present led by one of my heroes, food historian Regina Sexton.
Sunday is the big day, with The English Market open for a pretty impressive list of Free Food Workshops and demonstrations, while the Grand Parade will be abuzz with Cork’s first dedicated Street Food Market, with the focus firmly on locally-produced grub, and plates priced at €3 and €5.
As any festival-goer will tell you, the only way to finish is with a gala. The exclamation mark at the end of Eat Cork is Sunday night’s For One Night Only in Cork School of Music when Ross Lewis of Chapter One restaurant joins forces with Pat Kiely and Soizic Kiely of Les Gourmandises to present a one-off banquet. (I was delighted by the way to see their choice of venue – the beautiful award-winning building is a testament to Gerry Kelly and fellow campaigners without whose work it would never have been built). Get a summary of Eat Cork on Goldiefish or see complete details on the event’s Facebook page.
While I have your attention (you are still there, right?) I think that, apart at all from the other festival elements, Grow Bake Cook is a significant date on the calendar in its own right. Supported by the Community and Enterprise department in Cork City Council, the aim is to seek out, reward and encourage potential new commercial food producers from among amateur enthusiasts.
It’s an excellent initiative, blending the best parts of traditional country fair competitions with the roots-up food enterprise culture celebrated variously by Dianne Curtin in her book The Creators, and by John and Sally McKenna in their Bridgestone Irish Food Guide.
The breadth of the award’s scope is, I think, hinted at in the examples of entrants cited by Dianne on her website:
…these included Alan Tennyson, a special needs social worker who makes a variety of breads in his spare time, and sells them via a stall at Bandon Farmer’s Market, Carol Aherne, a student on UCC’s Speciality Food Production course, who makes yogurt products from the milk of her husband’s dairy herd, and Sherkin island resident Chris Dobbin, creator of speciality beers and wines from locally grown vegetables and wild fruits gathered from the island’s lanes and hedgerows….
I do like the concise name, Eat Cork. It condenses the activity and its whereabouts into just eight characters – or seven in their logo where it’s rendered EATcork.
The name reminds me of an apocryphal story about Brendan Behan. Arriving in Canada, the frequently congested writer was asked what he planned to do while there and replied, “well, I saw an advertisement in Dublin saying ‘Drink Canada Dry’ so I said I’d come over and give it a shot.”
Don’t forget, as I’ve already posted, On The Pig’s Back is organising a French Food & Wine Festival centered mainly in Douglas. ♦