I’ve begun to wonder if the organisers of Savour Kilkenny have a direct line to whoever is in charge of our weather, as I have come to associate perfectly crisp cool days & blue skies with this autumnal foodie feast!
Though food may be the star of the show here, the location right in the the heart of Kilkenny city, with the castle and it’s park & gardens as the back drop, adds to the special atmosphere that returns here, every October bank holiday weekend.
Each year, the line-up is bursting with a great cross section of activities for all ages and food related interests. There are free events, paid events, events you can walk into and events you have to book in advance – well in advance as I found out this year! Then there are so many demo’s and talks that overlap, that you may find yourself like me, wishing you could splice yourself in two and somehow manage to go to them all!
This year I began my day out watching Foodoppi, where Louise Lennox made a cooked breakfast with ingredients that alot of grown ups’ and children would never have associated with breakfast before! She had no shortage of volunteer assistant chef’s to help her make sherbet and learn the magic of molecular gastronomy. I’m sure they returned home looking for ways to introduce the magic of this science to their baking endeavours!
Next up was a visit to the Global Kitchen where demo’s took place throughout the weekend showcasing food, culture and people’s stories. Some of the demonstrators are from the area originally, and some who have now made Kilkenny their home. My favourite was catching Nicola and Dvir telling us about how they make hummus in Israel and their favourite mezze to serve along with it.
As I was looking at the stalls and trying to narrow down what I was going to have for lunch, a troupe of Lithuanian dancers infiltrated the crowd. As they took up their positions, all attention soon transferred from the food stalls and for some time, we were mesmerised by the music and composure of this beautifully turned out ensemble.
By then, I had worked up an appetite! There was so much choice; the wood fired pizza’s looked great, Loving Salads had a seriously impressive & colourful stall, burritos, crepes, thai curries, Irish Piedemontese beef burgers, the Bula Bus with their insanely good bean patties and pulled pork rolls, but I settled for my favourite free-range chicken from Butler’s farm in south Kilkenny at the Street Feast and then took my absolutely favourite Kilkenny treat of them all- the Truffle Fairy’s hot chocolate to-go as there was demo’s starting that I did not want to miss!
Ken Harker & John Kelly came in from Mount Juliet to showcase dishes from menu’s across the estate. Steve Lamb had travelled from River Cottage HQ in the UK to talk about home curing & smoking methods. Lynda Booth packed out her demo tent as the aroma from her Lamb Kheema wafted down the Parade! And finally, to close the festival for 2017, Anna May McHugh very graciously joined Edward Hayden as he cooked her a 3 course meal in the company of a packed out Black & Amber stage. Lynda Booth may have brought the crowds in with the tempting aroma’s of her dishes but Edward Hayden must have emptied the stalls of their customers when they heard all the laughing & carry on coming from the marquee!!
I ran out of time to see all that I wanted to experience at Savour Kilkenny 2017… there was the bike & walking food trails, mushroom hunting out in Castlecomer, apple pressing, brewery tours & the Young Foodie’s market at MacDonagh Junction. Other highlights that stand out from previous years festivals include foraging walks & talks in the Castle Park & wine tasting through the theatre of Susan Boyle’s “A wine goose chase” show.
With food festivals dotted around the country throughout the year, I do hold a soft spot for this weekend because of the variety of value it offers to the visitor. There are plenty of exhibits and demo’s that are free of charge to attend, interactive activities for younger guests, lots of outdoor based events (so come dressed for the weather!), opportunities to get glammed up and have a night on the town – in a town that is well-known for it’s great nightlife! But for me, what sets Savour Kilkenny apart, is that it brings together all that is unique to his medieval city; the castle, park & gardens, historical buildings and streetscape through our modern love of celebrating of food – at a time that the city is dressed head to toe in the colours of autumn!
You can read the story of my original Food Heroes’, Butler’s Free-Range Chicken here: