fEast Cork 2019, the East Cork Food & Drink Festival which takes place from 1st to 8th September in the market town of Midleton, have confirmed their biggest and best line-up to date – blending the area’s rich food heritage with the wider Cork region, and adding a number of very special guests into the mix. A festival that happens at harvest time – appropriately for a gathering up and bringing together of the best of what the area has to offer – fEast Cork is a fresh blend of conversations, dinners, produce, markets, foraging, mixology, producers, landscape, heritage and storytelling.
For families, the fEast Cork festival schedule is awash with a variety of indoor and outdoor events to keep all ages entertained. Enjoy Sunday lunch with a difference and dine alfresco while on the hunt for mischievous fairies at the Producer’s Picnic at Castlemartyr Resort or take time out later in the week for an evening of Indian Food & Film at The Ballymaloe Grainstore with Arun Kapil of Green Saffron serving a feast of incredible Indian dishes. On Saturday 7th September go along to Meet the Producers of Joe’s Farm Crisps with a behind-the-scenes tour of their crops and award-winning crisp production HQ, with a chance to munch on some delicious combinations. There’s also lots of activities to enjoy on market day, the finale of this year’s festival, with a special Cully & Sully family zone with campfire cooking, planting workshops, seed-balling, bee education, music and much more!
For visitors and locals who love any occasion to dine out, fEast Cork definitely delivers, partnering with some of the finest chefs, restaurants and innovators in the region. The perfect coastal combination of Spanish wine and Irish seafood will be served to lucky guests at the Bayview Hotel, Ballycotton in partnership with Rias Baixas Wines. There’s also a Ballycotton fEast to savour with guest chef JP Walsh from Dublin’s One Pico, returning to his Ballycotton hometown for one night only to cook with the Pier26 kitchen team with dancing until late. Chef Kevin Aherne of SAGE is preparing an al fresco long table dinner called ‘Keeping Things Natural’, serving a four-course menu from East Cork’s larder alongside a selection of unique natural wines from La Caveau Waines.
For those who can only venture out over the weekend, the schedule is still brimming with choice. Chef Brian Murray and his team from Cork’s newest restaurant opening The Glass Curtain have planned an exciting collaboration with Midleton’s Ferrit & Lee for an exclusive night of fire and fusion together. The four course menu, with expertly paired wines from Liberty Wines, will give lucky guests a sneak peek at this exciting new restaurant venture before it opens to the public.
On Saturday 7th September you won’t want to miss a Taste of Ballymaloe: Garden to Table Experience which includes a welcome cocktail and guided tour of the incredible gardens at Ballymaloe followed by a three course lunch with the team – a wonderful opportunity to ask questions and enjoy the seasonal delights of the award-winning Ballymaloe Dessert Trolley. Back in Midleton, the team from Dublin’s award-winning Pickle Restaurant will have arrived in Cork for the very first time to create an incredible lunch of North Indian vegetarian dishes, with head chef Sunil Ghai joining Kevin Aherne at the pass in SAGE restaurant. Later that evening, a talk and tasting entitled ‘Feats of Clay – wines made in Amphorae’ will showcase wines from Georgia and Italy with Pascal and Colm from Le Caveau, hosted by Susan Herlihy in her beautiful Crafty Hands Pottery Studio – the perfect pre-dinner drink event!
This year’s fEast Cork schedule has also included events to showcase local producers and food champions in the most enjoyable and educational way. Highlights include a coopering demonstration and whiskey masterclass with Ger Buckley a fifth-generation master cooper at Midleton Distillery, searching for edible seaweeds by the East Cork seashore with Aquatic Biologist Frances Gallagher and ‘Seafood Stories’ over dinner with local fishermen at The Maltings Restaurant. There’s also a fEAST Lunch Restaurant Trail through Midleton Farmer’s Market meeting East Cork producers before tasting their fare with a three-course lunch, each course served in a different Midleton restaurant.
All these events lead up to the big finale on Sunday, September 8th, from early in the morning to late in the evening the entire town of Midleton is animated by the vibrant and exciting market day which includes an all-day farmers’ market, gardening workshops, live music, local food stalls and a variety of dining and social events. One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the new An Chistin tent which includes live cookery demos, drinks masterclasses and an educational series called Appetite Talks hosted by Irish Times Food Writer Catherine Cleary focusing on topical food trends and innovations. Some of the biggest names in Irish cooking will be dropping by An Chistin throughout the day including Takashi Miyazaki from Michelin starred restaurant Ichigo Ichie, Martin Shanahan, Enda McEvoy, Jess Murphy, Sunil Ghail, Ali Honour, Paul Flynn and Kevin Aherne.
Early on Sunday afternoon, Paul Flynn (The Tannery) and Martin Shanahan (Fishy Fishy) will take over the kitchen at SAGE restaurant for an epic Sunday lunch. Think comedy, more comedy and a unique opportunity to dine with these two legends of the Irish food scene. Another truly unique dining opportunity that day is the SECAD culinary exhibition ‘Celebrating Multiculturalism Through Food’. This free event will showcase over 15 different nationalities from around the world, all working together to provide tastings of their individual cuisines. Visitors have an opportunity to learn their culinary techniques, be inspired by their ingredients and discover the diversity of cultures living in East Cork today.
In addition to all the great food events happening throughout the week, there is also a strong focus on local drinks highlighting the strong tradition of brewing and distilling in the area. For whiskey lovers there’s a Powers Whiskey Masterclass in The Maple Leaf showcasing the variety of blends that have been created down through the years and another whiskey event called ‘Jameson, Ginger & Lime’ which tells the story of the Jameson family, the local distillery and offers a tasting of four different Jameson whiskeys. The Irish Distillers Distillery, home to Jameson, Powers and many others, has a strong connection to the East Cork landscape around them. Barley grown by East Cork farmers and East Cork river water are ingredients that have helped put their whiskeys on the map, and now they in turn help raise the profile of the producers of the entire region through their generous festival sponsorship once again this year.
Gin enthusiasts are also in for a treat, the Mad Hatter returns again this year for another Mad Hatters Gin Tea Party at JJ Coppingers, this year showcasing Method & Madness Irish Gin, distilled from the new micro distillery in Midleton. Meet the makers of another local gin, Bertha’s Revenge Gin with a distillery tour, chat and long table lunch served in the idyllic Ballyvolane House hosted by the distillers of Bertha’s Revenge Antony Jackson and Justin Green.
The team at fEast Cork, led by husband and wife duo Réidín and Kevin Aherne, believe that all food festivals are a good thing – that anything that gets people into their towns, villages, cities and communities to eat together is important. From the individual and small-scale but crucial producers, farmers, fishermen and cooks in the region that add layers of authenticity and history to the community, to the ethos originally created by Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House and Cookery School. East Cork resounds with a genuine sense of celebration of the local, the seasonal, the real.
This harvest celebration holds out its arms to the wider region, creating new coordinates for this vibrant young festival. Coordinates that they hope will shine brighter each year on the food festival map of Ireland – coordinates that are pure fEast Cork.
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