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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A TASTE OF DONEGAL FOOD FESTIVAL

After being fully booked for the summer we finally got a break ourselves in Daisy Cottage on the last weekend of August before our first September guests arrived.

And what a weekend ~ the sun shone and there was so much to do in the area including the Dunkineely Town Fesitval and in nearby Donegal Town the very successful 'Taste of Donegal' Food Festival.

Stalls at the Taste of Donegal Food Festival
The 'Taste of Donegal' Food Festival runs for 3 days on the last weekend of Augusts, from the Friday to the Sunday and this year attracted many thousands of visitors.  We went along on the Saturday afternoon and the place was very busy.  After we got parked down on the pier, we walked back up the pier to marquee which housed the Festival. I was delighted to see that the entrace fee was kept to a minimum (€2) and that it was free entry for children and disabled people.

Inside the marquee at the Taste of Donegal Food Festival
The Festival is a celebration of fine foods and drinks with lots of stalls packed with foods from artistan producers, local hotels take stands to show what they offer their diners, there are small bars serving Guinness and the like, little areas with tables and chairs where one can sit and sip a drink or enjoy some food from some of the vans on site.  At the various stands visitors to the event can sample the food and drinks being offered, and judging by the crowds around some of the stands this was a very popular activity!

Neven weaves his magic ...
In a smaller marquee inside the main marquee there are cooker demonstrations with celebrity chefs taking the stand to show their skills.  On the Saturday afternoon Neven Maguire, the Irish celebrity chef was there.  He had a attracted a large crowd to watch him produce his excellent foods in his signature relaxed and simple style.  All the seats were taken, as was any standing room available so I stopped off only for a minute to grab a photo of Neven at work.  (Neven owns and runs the very popular McNean House and Restaurant in Blacklion, County Cavan).

Of course we had to do a bit of food shopping and had a great time going from stall to stall, sampling, and deciding on what we would buy for later back in Daisy Cottage.

Lots of nuts at the Taste of Donegal Food Fair!
There was one stall with lots of different olives and I bought a tub of very black, very salty olives.  From the same stall we purchased chili cashew nuts and a big back of pistachios.  That was the 'snack' element of our shopping done.

Stilton and organic grapes ~ a match made in culinary heaven!
From one of the cheese stalls we bought a big chunk of traditionally made Stilton ~ a cheese we both love.  And to go with the strong cheese, we bought a big bunch of organic grapes from the organic fruit and veg stall.  Good grapes and good Stilton are a match made in culinary heaven!

Cupcakes ... lots and lots of cupcakes
There was a veritable beauty contest of cupcakes!  For the cake lover this was probably their idea of heaven, that and the chocolate fountains around the place.  Normally we never buy cakes as neither of us are generally interested in sweet stuff but so pretty were the cup cakes we ended up buy one each from one of the stalls.  We paid €2.50 for each one but found later we could have bought 4 for €5 from another cupcake stall!  I later ate half of my (chocolate) cupcake and himself ate his entire (lemon) cupcake and the bit I did eat was indeed delicious.

Chocolate fountain
The chocolate fountains, as one might expect, had continual queues of people wanting to sample the indulgent taste of liquid chocolate with one stall offering skewers with strawberries and marshmallows to dip into the chocolate fountain.

Marshmallow and strawberry skewers, ready for dipping
There were also stalls selling all manner of sweet product in the most vibrant of colours and I would imagine the vivid colours would certainly do their work and capture the attention of the small children there with their parents.

"I want them!!!"
For the children too there was a stall offering pottery painting.  The stall holder had lots of little ornaments, plates, mugs and so on for the little artists to paint and take home.

Pottery painting
Along with the grapes, Stilton, nuts, olives, ciabatta and filo slices we also bought a bottle of Boozeberries, an Irish made liqueurs made with a choice of berry: cranberry, blueberry, or blackberry.  We sampled each of them and I would have chosen the blackberry one as it tasted of Ribena, which I love, but himself chose the blueberry one and as he will probably be the only one drinking it we bought that one.  THEIR SITE

Boozeberries
At one of the meat stalls we got chatting to the butcher there, a local butcher with a shop in Donegal Town and after sampling various sausages with additions including cheese, which I hated, and spring onion which we both loved and bought together with some good bacon for the following mornings breakfast in Daisy Cottage.

I was speaking to one of the organisers and he told me that the festival would run again next year over the same weekend, that is the last weekend of August.  A perfect time for food lovers to book Daisy Cottage!

To view more photographs of the Taste of Donegal Food Festival, click HERE

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