Midleton and East Cork Gear Up For East Cork Food and Drink Festival

DC 13/07914 - REPRO FREE FREE PIC Dara Birdthistle, aged 6, from Midleton pictured enjoying some a slice of pizza at the Midleton Food & Drink Festival on Saturday. Pic: Diane Cusack


Feast Cork 2018, the East Cork Food & Drink Festival, runs from September 2nd to 9th, again based in the market town of Midleton with its rich food heritage but with a strong focus on the wider region, and will once again be a food and drink festival with a sure sense of place. 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, markets, foraging, mixology, produce, producers, landscape, heritage and storytelling.


Beginning with the official opening on Sunday night, September 2nd in the Jameson Heritage Centre, with a performance from Mundy, the week of Feast Cork 2018 has food-focused events every night, leading to the big day out, the main event on Saturday September 8th, when the entire town of Midleton is animated by this vibrant and exciting festival from early in the morning to late in the evening.


Bringing together a host of hardworking, innovative food producers from all over this landscape that is largely defined by food production and food heritage, Feast Cork 2018 is a celebration and showcase that mixes the old and new, the traditional and the innovative.


Some of the events scheduled for this year’s Feast Cork are designed to introduce those producers in the most enjoyable way. Whether it’s sampling cheese, seeing behind the scenes in a boutique chocolate factory, expert-led mushroom foraging or searching for edible seaweeds by the seashore, Feast Cork promises an up close and personal take from the people who make and produce some of the region’s most distinctive foods.


On Monday, 3rd September, immerse yourself in the tastes, scents, sights and sounds of the Wild Atlantic bounty with Ingenuity and the Bounty seafood celebration tasting dinner atThe Bayview Hotel in Ballycotton.


Meet the cheesemakers – on Tuesday, September 4th explore the range of artisan, handmade, natural Ardsallagh Goats’ Cheese made by the happy goats of the Murphy family over a glass or two of wine. In the evening, indulge in A Ballycotton Feast with Pier 26 celebrating the local, wild and organic produce that features on the menu of Pier 26 Restaurant in the beautiful surroundings of their 200 year old church.


On Wednesday, September 5th, meet Dutch native Stephen Bender and his wife Michele Cashman, the couple behind Ballinrostig’s fine gouda-style goats’ cheeses, in their dairy and their permaculture-inspired homestead, with a trip to the pub afterwards. Meet Jameson’s Head Cooper Ger Buckley and Blender Dave McCabe at the Cooperage pop-up at Wallis’ Bar, Midleton during the day and in the evening there is lots to do too -  Indulge in an evening of exquisite food and culinary insight at Ballymaloe House, enjoy a night at Ferrit & Lee for East Cork Small Plates Night or embark on a culinary fish and shellfish adventure in Samphires Social Eating Space at The Garryvoe Hotel.


On Thursday, September 6th deep dive into the workings of the Jameson Distillery with the Irish Whiskey Academy – Distiller’s Apprentice Tour with a Distiller's Apprentice course on the grain to glass production process as well as the heritage of Irish whiskey and more insights. Ballyvolane House will be hosting Bertha's Revenge Gin Distillery tour & tasting followed by a long-table lunch in the dining terrace. There will be family fun in The Square featuring Mick "The Lobsterman", Jack from the Granary Foodstore and Susan from Crafty Hands - try your hand at making a wood-fired pizza or indulge in Ireland’s best lobster rolls. Enjoy a different perspective in the evening with a Fiesta at Farmgate celebrating 35 years in the community with an informal evening offering a one-off special tasting menu of their most popular dishes over the years. Alternatively,  Eat – Drink – Smile, with The Pepperstack with a menu delicately influenced by Jameson, explore and experience in good company.


Spend the day on Friday, 7th September, at Ballymaloe House with the FEAST Irish Distillers Cocktail Workshop followed by lunch. A unique workshop featuring head gardener Mags Coughlan and bar manager Traford Murphy in the Ballymaloe walled garden starting with foraging for seasonal cocktail ingredients and garnishes followed by learning tricks of the mixologist's trade with Traford in a cocktail making and tasting workshop. In the evening explore the cocoa bean in the beautiful East Cork countryside in the company of the folks behind delectable artisan chocolates, Rostellan Chocolate, or attend an exciting dinner-  ‘Straight from the Cask’ -  SAGE Long Table Dinner where award winning chef Kevin Aherne will team up with 2017 World Bartender of the Year, Andy Ferreira for an evening of food and drink with a four-course meal outside by firelight with matching Jameson whiskey cocktails.


Go down to the woods on Saturday September 8th for an exploration of the fungi to be found with Mark Cribbin from award-winning mushroom specialists Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms. Learn about identifying and using sustainably harvested seaweed and then forage for some with marine biologist Frances Gallagher on Sunday, September 9th, then linger over East of East, a leisurely Sunday lunch on the last day of the festival in Sage created by Kevin Aherne and guest chef Takashi Miyazaki who has two much-lauded Japanese restaurants in Cork city.


The big day out at Feast Cork is on Saturday September 8th, with the street market, farmers’ market and gardening workshops running all day from Midleton Community Garden and GIY, the not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to supporting people to grow some of their own food at home, school, work or in the community. With an East Cork restaurant tent packed with chef demos, and a Future of Food dialogue & lunch in Sage, there’s plenty for people to get their teeth into, and town will be buzzing.


Kicking Saturday morning’s events off Jameson Distillery Midleton are hosting a special extended tour of the famous distillery for those who want to discover a deeper understanding of Irish whiskey. The tour will take guests across the grounds, with behind the scenes access to the Micro-Distillery, Cooperage, Maturation Warehouse A1 and the Distiller’s Cottage followed by a tutored tasting of the distillery’s premium range of whiskeys.


At Feast Cork they 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. In East Cork in general, and within the 40-minute drive from their home hub in Midleton, Feast Cork believe they can make a fair claim to being the food capital of this island. Here they have producers who have been making delicious things with exceptional provenance for longer than most and with obsessive attention to detail.


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 that has become a global force of nature that can be felt in the best kitchens from Sydney to San Francisco, East Cork resounds with a genuine sense of celebration of the local, the seasonal, the real. Feast Cork capitalises on and magnifies that shared ethos and those shared values in the most celebratory way.


Jameson Whiskey and Midleton Whiskey’s meteoric rise in the US and world-wide over the last decade all comes from the historic handsome distillery that the festival team pass on the way to work each day in Midleton. Irish Distillers’ own real connection with the East Cork landscape around them explains their significant support for the festival – 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.


Feast Cork has grown from the strong roots put down by the Midleton Food Festival over the past fifteen years, and now 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.

Media sponsors the East Cork Journal.

For the full programme and details and prices of booking dinners and events, see https://www.feastcork.ie/