A weekend to Savour in Kilkenny

Foodie fans from across Ireland flocked to Kilkenny over the bank holiday weekend, October 27 – 30 for Savour Kilkenny in what proved to be one of the festivals biggest events to date. Over 100 events, 100 stallholders and a host of Ireland’s best known culinary personalities from Neven Maguire to Darina Allen, featured in the jam-packed programme of events, which were held across the City and County.

The festival, now in its 11th year, was kick-started in fine fashion at the Hibernian Hotel on Friday evening as Japanese Chef Takashi Miyazaki delighted guests with an interactive cookery demonstration of exciting fish creations.

Goatsbridge Trout Caviar and Highbank Gin and Tonics were served before dinner in Harpers Restaurant which featured a menu inspired by recipes from Mags Kirwan of Goatsbridge Trout Farm’s Fishwives Cookbook. Food writer John McKenna then interviewed some of the other fishwives included in the award winning cookbook.

Pembroke Kilkenny also delighted diners with their four course dining menu of fresh, wholesome, autumnal Irish produce cooked with care and imagination by Head Chef Chris Metzger. The experience was completed with a selection of wines that were carefully chosen by Eno Wines who were also on hand to introduce each wine and offer helpful tips on how to make the best wine pairings with food.

On Saturday, for the first year ever, a second demo stage was added to the city’s Parade where Chefs such as Celebrity MasterChef contestant, Simon Delaney; food and travel blogging duo, The Gastro Gays; Master Pastry Chef Shane Smith; Oliver Dunne (Ireland’s youngest chef to receive a Michelin star) and MasterChef Winner and Olympic sprinter, David Gillick, all made their festival debuts.

National treasure and Chairperson of the National Ploughing Association, Anna May McHugh proved a popular draw for visitors as she demonstrated some delicious wholesome dishes and joined TV Chef Edward Hayden in conversation speaking about her incredible life experiences.

Festival favourites Neven Maguire, Rory O’ Connell, The Happy Pear, River Cottage’s Steven Lamb and Stuart O’ Keeffe, were all back by popular demand over the course of the weekend, with standing room only being the name of the game as crowds flocked to see these culinary geniuses whip up mouth-watering delicacies .

A firm fixture on Kilkenny’s and Ireland’s culinary calendar and a major attraction for visitors, Savour Kilkenny was organised by Marian Flannery, Festival Manager, assisted by Roisin O’Brien who worked with the Festival Committee of Marie Langton, Ian Brennan, Anne Marie Hogan, Martin Rafter and Ger Mullally, Festival Chairperson.

“This year’s festival success and hugely positive  response from leading Irish and UK Chef participants and the attending public confirms  that Savour Kilkenny has established itself in the top three food festivals in Ireland” says Ger Mullally, Festival Chairperson.

There was plenty for kids to savour as well with MacDonagh Junction hosting the always popular Young Foodies Indoor Market on Saturday (October 28th) and Aisling Larking and Louise Lennox bringing their ‘Heston Blumenthal’ inspired ‘Foodoppi’ workshop to the festival in what proved to be an exciting demonstration combining food and science in a multi-sensory, hands-on learning experience.

Along with this, the winner of the Little Mills Annual Junior Baking Competition was announced and saw the following star bakers duly awarded; Under 12’s category, 1st place; Eimear Phelan, 2nd Place; Hannah Cuffe, 3rd place; Aaron Doyle. In the Under 18’s; 1st place; Sarah McEvoy, 2nd place; Lauren Hennessy, 3rd place; Rebecca Murphy.

Hero Buyer Award Winners which gave a nod to venues and retailers that support local producers included; Anocht Restaurant, Glasrai agus Goodies and Supervalu Loughboy.

Lovers of history and food were served up a real treat as Kilkenny’s new Medieval Mile Museum presented A Medieval Food and Craft Village which gave a ‘step-back in time’ glimpse to medieval food and craft making.

Beer buffs delighted in the largest ever Craft Brewers and Distillers Pavilion, which was situated along the Parade and featured an array of craft beers, ciders and spirits from across Ireland, including Kilkenny’s Highbank Orchard Gin, a Wine Makers Tasting Table and local craft brewers O’ Hara’s Brewery, Costello’s and Sullivan’s Brewing Company. Ballykeefe Distillery premiered at the festival with master-distiller, Jamie Baggot, giving an exclusive insight into how he started with the humble potato and went on to win ‘Best Gin in the World’ award in San Francisco last year.

Some of the city’s newest and most popular restaurants who also held special festival events included the Michelin starred Lady Helen Restaurant at Mount Juliet, Anocht and Butler House and Gardens ‘Tea Rooms’.

Maria Raftery of Kernel Kitchen took diners back to the 1920’s on Sunday with a delectable three course meal inspired by the prohibition era, luckily for the gangsters and molls in attendance, cheeky 1920’s inspired cocktails featured on the menu. Petronella delighted music lovers, in what was a sold out event, as Mary Coughlan gave an intimate live performance while diners enjoyed their specially created festival menu.

In what was one of the largest Savour Kilkenny Festivals to date, festivities were wrapped up with a finale event in Thomastown on  Monday, October 30TH . The main Festival Sponsors for 2017 were Kilkenny County Council, Kilkenny LEADER Partner, O’Brien’s Renault, Glanbia, Ulster Bank, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny, Pallas Foods, Dawn Meats, OPW, O’Hara’s Brewery, MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre and Market Cross Shopping Centre.