By Charlotte Okonji
Sunday the 20th of November saw the conclusion of the second annual Bite Food Festival, and I was lucky enough to be there to review some of the best of Ireland’s artisan food and drink producers.
After a successful weekend, Sunday evening saw the crème de la crème of the country’s artisan producers call it a night, wrap up their wares, and head home. The 2nd annual Bite Food Festival proved to be even more of a triumph than last year’s inaugural event, with fine food fans from the length and breadth of the nation descending on the RDS for 3 days of cooking demos, food tasting, interactive classes and more.
The line-up for 2016’s event was every bit as impressive as the previous year, including exhibitors as diverse as ice-cream producers, wineries, cheesemongers, confectioners and bakers. While each and every one was worthy of praise, there were a few whose produce really stood out in my opinion:
Longueville House Beverages (http://www.longuevillehouse.ie/artisan.html): Primarily known for the stunning, historic county house hotel of the same name, the O’Callaghan family branched out into craft cider production some years ago. Their cider boast the distinction of being a completely natural brew, free from additives and preservatives, as well as being refreshingly delicious. Their Apple Brandy was a revelation to me, as I’ve never encountered a brandy that didn’t leave me spluttering and gasping for water…until now.
Chef Sham Sauces (http://chefshamsauces.com/): Originally from Malaysia, Chef Sham opened the award winning The Cottage Restaurant in Jamestown in 2008, where he and his team have been delighting the diners of Leitrim ever since, with their unique Irish-Asian fusion menu. Developed and handmade in the restaurants kitchen, Sham’s diverse range of sauces include a versatile One For All Sauce, a Smoky Hoi Sin Sauce, and a Tomato and a Sweet Chilli Sauce, which I very wisely took home with me.
Bakers Lane (http://bakerslane.ie/): A home run business specialising in sweet treats for every occasion imaginable, Bakers Lane was set up in 2011 by baker Elaine Redmond. After gaining valuable experience in both a well-known Scottish bakery and a Michelin starred restaurant, Elaine returned home to go it alone, and share her signature and bespoke cakes, delicious cupcakes and mouth-watering cookies with the people of Dublin and beyond.
Móinéir Fruit Wines (https://www.wicklowwaywines.ie/): Wicklow Way Wines is Ireland’s first fruit winery, home to Móinéir Fine Irish Fruit Wine. Founders Pamela and Brett discovered the joys of fruit wine while in California, and after falling in love with its unique flavours, brought the concept home to Ireland. Their limited edition strawberry wine was launched earlier this year, followed by the October launch of their Blackberry Wine with Elderberries. The perfect accompaniment to a variety of foods, Móinéir Fruit Wines are available to buy from the Wicklow Way website, from a number of stockists across the country, and from Fortnum and Mason in London.
So Prosecco (https://www.soprosecco.com/): This Irish-Italian company aims to share the quality Prosecco that Italians take for granted with fans of the bubbly beverage in Ireland. The most renowned types of Prosecco come from the famed Conegliano-Valdobbiadene area in the Veneto region, from where founder Annamaria sources their high-quality Prosecco. Their DOCG Cuvee Extra Dry is wonderfully crisp with a delicious peachy flavour- the perfect choice for your festive celebrations.
Old Irish Creamery (http://www.oldirishcreamery.com/index.html): Founded in 1992, this family run cheesemongers produces a range of speciality cheeses which have earned recognition and numerous awards both at home and abroad. Aside from the traditional and ever popular Extra Mature and Vintage Cheddars, there is also the Guinness infused Irish Porter Cheddar among others. The avant-garde Organic Wine cheddar will take those cheese and wine receptions to a whole new level!
Wild Salmon Char-Qui By Jack Gold (www.salmonjerky.ie/): Last but not least I stumbled upon this treat shortly before heading home. Salmon Jerky isn’t something I have experienced before, but I certainly hope to again. Designed as a healthy snack alternative, the jerky is packed with protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Spicy, perfectly seasoned with a meaty texture and best of all, it’s good for you.
For information on upcoming RDS events, see https://www.rds.ie/Whats-On