With the theme of food and the community back-boning the programme of over 100 events, the entire festival is very much about a return to the fundamentals of food and how it brings us all together.
Breaking Bread (at the Spanish Arch, Easter Monday) celebrates the diverse Galway community groups, united by a love of food.
Halla Bia, in the old Connacht Tribune printing works, will host an indoor market of more than 40 indigenous producers and suppliers from the west but those determined to truly stretch their legs can avail of a multiplicity of food tours including a Seasonal Food Foraging Walk and Talk or one of the Galway Food Tours.
The Menu is a huge fan of Kai Restaurant and will endeavour to include Go Ferment Yourself (April 15 and 16, 1pm to 4pm, booking essential from email@example.com), which will see The Cultured Club present an introduction to the wonderful world of fermented foods and how you might set about doing same in the domestic kitchen.
Plenty of the stars of Ireland’s hospitality sector will be stirring their stuff, including demos from: Domini Kemp, Wade Murphy (1826 Adare), Mark Murphy (Dingle Cookery School), Lily Ramirez-Foran (Picado Mexican), and Galway restaurateur and chef JP McMahon.
The Talk Series always throws up interesting discussion points and the whole shebang concludes on Easter Monday with highlights from the final day including a community BBQ and The King’s Head Galway Food Festival Table Quiz
The Menu can’t decide whether it would be better to use a Clear Out the Cobwebs package to prepare for the Galway festival or recover from same but either way a midweek stay in the lovely Gregan’s Hotel, in Co Clare, includes a complimentary half-day’s guided Burren Walk followed by tea and cake by the fire on return.
The Menu’s sweet tooth is set to be tickled into a state of chocolate-inspired submission as the very wonderful Trish Deseine, now based in West Cork, cooks her own books, beginning with I Want Chocolate (April 13), a one-off chocolate-themed four-course dinner, in Killeena House, Baltimore, home of the West Cork Literary College.
Savoury dishes will include a rich and chocolatey meat ragout with olives and creamy gratin and dessert will feature a troika of white, milk, and dark chocolates, followed by yet more chocolate nibbles and coffee around the fire, with all recipes available to recreate at home.
The Menu is always delighted to lever some vegan options into his daily diet and Cork Vegfest (May 13), taking place in Cork’s City Hall will feature the stalls of local and national vegan food producers as well as demos, talks, and much more besides.
Sadly, The Menu wasn’t in a position last week to make more mention of the ongoing Cork Whiskey Festival www.festivalcork.com but you are highly recommended to catch the tailend of the extravaganza and head into The Cornstore www.cornstore.ie on Cork’s Coal Quay for a historical Journey Through Irish Whiskey (April 10).
The Menu shall never tire of a loaf of freshly baked bread straight from the oven and has been, for some time, meaning to make mention of Mosse’s Little Mill Company, in Kilkenny, and their range of stoneground flours, in particular, their Strong Seeded Wholemeal flour, which makes for an especially fine loaf indeed, including as it does wholemeal wheat flour, brown linseed, hulled millet, buckwheat, golden linseed, and poppy seed.
This grain ‘gathering’ makes for a deliciously textured bread with a deeply nutty flavour, especially fine when toasted and slathered in some excellent, melting Cuinneog butter.