With sustainable, locally-made goods in high demand, the best Cork and Kerry food producers are coming together to showcase their products as Munster’s largest indoor food market returns to Cork CIty Hall, writes Ciara McDonnell.
CORK and Kerry Food Market returns to Cork City Hall on November 1 and 2, and foodies are in for a treat as the best food and drink producers from Cork and Kerry come together to showcase their products.
The market is coming at a good time for Irish shoppers. In a time of global uncertainty, we want to buy locally and sustainably, according to research carried out on behalf of the food market. Allison Roberts, founder of Clonakilty Chocolate and Exploding Tree, tea made out of cocoa husks, says that her customers are more discerning than ever.
“I think that most of us are seeing a huge enthusiasm for locally produced goods,” she says from her chocolate factory in Clonakilty. “In terms of chocolate, there is so much competition, and marketing and packaging can be so slick and targeted, that it can be hard to figure out who is producing ethically or not.”
Unique, both because of its bean to bar production in West Cork and also because of the natural ingredients that Allison uses to flavour her chocolate, Clonakilty has carved out a portion of chocolate market that demands excellence.
Whether you are dairy free or want chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar, Clonakilty has an option for you. Fancy chocolate with a natural salty aftertaste? Salt & Seaweed is the bar for you.
Education is the cornerstone of their success, says Roberts, and that’s why events like the Cork and Kerry Food Market are so important for small producers like her.
“My main customer base comes to this market,” she points out.
The market is spread over two days, aimed at two specific customer bases. Friday’s event is for the over 18’s, with craft drink food pairings, cocktail demonstrations, and conversations with Master Brewers, MC’ed by Joe McNamee.
Saturday is family day, with over 70 local producers in attendance and demos from the regions’s top chefs, presided over by The Happy Pear twins and Kevin Dundon.
Events like Cork and Kerry Food Market showcase how food and drink go hand in hand, says Rupert Atkinson of Longueville Beverages, the producers of natural ciders and apple brandy.
“People are very concerned about what they are eating these days,” he says.
“Then, you find that nine times out of 10, people will forget about what they are drinking.” Atkinson and his team are keen to educate people about cider and how delicious it is when made in a natural way.
“Real cider is more like wine,” he explains.
“The same principle is used in making cider as is used in making wine. If you look at the wine producing regions of Europe, you’ll notice that where the vineyards stop is where the orchards start. Cider is very much the wine of the north, but here in Ireland we’ve only really associated it as an alternative to beer in the summer time.”
In a drinks market flooded with mass production, events like this are more and more important for artisan producers, and meeting other producers of the same mindset is especially invigorating, says Atkinson.
“Events like this give us the chance to meet other producers like ourselves. The smaller artisan producers are the ones we want to associate ourselves with because they are like-minded people, who have the same ethos and much the same thinking as ourselves.”
Like Allison Roberts, Atkinson and his team want to educate people about their product.
There will be over 70 producers at the market, all passionate about their product, and all willing to share their story. This, says Allison Roberts, is the true beauty of food markets.
"People are always surprised that I actually make the chocolate and I’m not just a salesperson. We are making the chocolate in a small factory at the back of our house. I think people are really looking for stories like ours right now. They are looking for inspiration and permission to do weird and wonderful things, and we are so happy to give it to them.”
The Cork and Kerry Food Market takes place on November 1st and 2nd. Friday’s event takes place from 5pm -10pm and Saturday’s market is open from 10am – 6pm.
The Cork and Kerry food market is supported by a partnership including the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) Cork and Kerry, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Kerry County Council, SuperValu and Bord Bia.