Thursday, March 10, 2011

Inishfood - good food, enthusiasm and one hell of a celebration

What started off as online chat about a few food bloggers heading up to Harry's Restaurant in Inishowen has turned into a Glastonbury of food; a mash-up of partying, eating, food skills and hanging out in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

What began as essentially a get-together of a few food enthusiasts grew force as twitter and facebook suggestions came in about what could be added on to a night of dining in Donegal. 'Inishfood' became reality - a two night event with additional dining experiences, venues, accomodation, and workshops with food producers - a mini food festival.

As enthusiastic foodies, bloggers, and those in search of a bit of craic put plans into action, it grew even more legs. Information about the event began to feature in mainstream media. At this stage it seems half the country who are in anyway interested in food, write about food, produce food or in fact, eat it, are all heading up to Donegal this weekend. All credit to Donal Doherty from Harry's Restaurant in Inishowen, and food bloggers Caroline Hennessey from and Kristin from the for putting it all together, it really is testament to what enthusiasm, passion for food and simple collaboration can achieve.
What's particularly lovely about it is that unlike most festivals of any kind, it is not run by an entertainment company or money-making enterprise but a group of like-minded people who wanted to do something positive and celebrate what's great about rural Ireland and local food at a lacklustre point of the year.

Here's a run down of the programme -

Friday, 11 March; get-together at Linsfort Castle B&B
Darren Bradley is making pizzas in his wood-fired pizza oven (check out the photo sequence of the oven being built on Darren’s blog) and Donal Doherty will be providing food as well.
Seaneen and Collin from L. Mulligan. Grocer will also be conducting a beer tasting.
Rambling House storytelling and music will then take place

Saturday, 12 March is a busy, hands-on day - the fee for this day is €40, which will cover lunch and the Taste of Inishowen dinner (drinks will be extra). Donal will be donating €10 from this fee to iCARE, the local autism charity; any extra donations would be welcome.
9.45 Coffee Angel and Bailie’s Hand Roasted Coffee will demonstrate how to correctly brew coffee at home. Feel free to bring something to share with coffee.

10.30 Intro and welcome by Donal Doherty of Harry’s Bar & Restaurant and Caroline Hennessy and Kristin Jensen from the IFBA

10.45 – 12.00 Masterclass with butchers Ed Hick, TJ Crowe and Jack McCarthy making fresh black pudding – bring an apron! (hands-on participants for this will be limited)

12 – 12.45 Imen McDonnell will be demonstrating modern farmhouse butter making

12.45 – 1.15 A light lunch
1.15 – 1.45 David Tiernan will talk about how he started making his amazing Glebe Brethan cheese and will provide samples

1.45 – 3.00 Ed Hick, TJ Crowe and JackMcCarthy will show us how to cure pork (the Quality Mark pork has been kindly sponsored by Bord Bia!). Participants for this will be limited to 16 and you’ll need to bring a 2 litre container with a lid that you won’t need to use for 5 weeks while your pork cures in it!

3.00 – 4.00 Inishfood think tank and chat – an informal discussion on what we can do for Irish food to promote it and send a common message.

4.00 – 4.45 A visit to Harry’s new walled garden project and a talk with GIY Ireland about The Pledge. Gareth Austin, BBC Radio Horticulturist, will also be on hand with practical DIY help as part of GIY Week

5.00 – 7.00 Break for everyone to freshen up for dinner

7.00 A Taste of Inishowen feast at Harry’s, all made from local produce

9:00 Raffle of hampers and gift bags full of amazing Irish food as well as other prizes, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Barnardos charity. In addition, Georgina Campbell has generously donated a copy of her book, Ireland for Food Lovers, for everyone in attendance at Inishfood!

On Sunday, 13 March; a coastal walk at Malin Head, a boat ride around the Garvan Isles and a fresh seafood lunch.
An alternative is Donal Doherty's 1-hour shore walk on Lough Swilly, weather permitting, to take in the beautiful countryside around Inishowen.

If you like the sound of the above events but can't participate, book the date into your diaries for next year (do you hear that Donal, Caroline, Kristin?) or an even better idea is to enter the Inishfood charity raffle to win a plethora of great food prizes

There is a selection of prizes specifically for the non-attendees who donate via THIS LINK on the Barnardos website (please note that you must donate via this link only for your donation to be counted towards the raffle). Tickets are €5 each.

This online option is for the people who can’t make it to the event itself and delivery is limited to residents of Ireland (including Northern Ireland). Closer to the event, we’ll announce the prizes that will be raffled off in the three raffles, but they’ll be chosen from the list below.

It's a great scheme as the donors get to put their produce out in front of some of Ireland’s top foodies and food bloggers, Barnardos will get a donation towards their valuable work and some very lucky people will go home with some amazing prizes.

If you’re a food producer, cookbook publisher, restaurant or café or other food business and would like to donate something to be included in the raffle at what’s been described by the Bridgestone Guides as ‘THE foodie event of the year’, then email the organisers at for more details. You can follow events on twitter at #inishfood and all I can say is... Inishfood folks - please make it an annual event! Below is a list of the wonderful raffle prizes -

Bailies Handroasted Coffee – award-winning coffee
Burren Smokehouse – Irish Smoked Organic Salmon
Café Novo at the Westbury Hotel, Dublin – voucher for dinner for 2, including a bottle of wine of your choice
Carluccio’s - a signed copy of one of Antonio Carluccio’s cookbooks and chocolate truffles
Chocolate Here - a few bars of Gillian’s artisan chocolate
Country ChoicePeter Ward is parting with a magnum of Chateau Fontarache from his personal stash as well as a bottle of their own extra virgin olive oil
Dungarvan Brewing Company – craft beer
Dunhill Castle Sparkling Spirit – hand-blended fusion of Irish spirit (13% vol) and unfermented apples
Eilis Boyle – an apron from her forthcoming home wear range
Georgina Campbell - copies of her book, Ireland for Food Lovers
Glebe Brethan – award-winning cheese and David Tiernan’s renowned raw milk
Glenilen Farm – 2 hampers of their products (and congrats to them on winning Best Food & Drink award at the Small Firms Association National Small Business Awards 2011!)
Goastbridge Premium Irish Trout – smoked trout
Greenside Up Veg – a garden consultation or voucher for a workshop
Headland New Media – a week’s stay in Breasty Bay Cottage, the last home in Ireland
Inchhouse Black Pudding - traditional black pudding
J&G Seafoods – £50 voucher
James Whelan Butchers – a copy of An Irish Butcher Shop cookbook by Pat Whelan and a voucher for their shop
Kevin and France McGuinness – a bottle of Moët champagne
L. Mulligan. Grocer. – a €50 voucher
La Cucina – a three-course dinner for two, including a bottle of wine
Le Presbytère – dinner and one night’s free stay for 2 people at their B&B in Languedoc
Lynda McFarland (Athlone Nutrition Clinic) – nutrition wall charts
Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants – a bottle of Green Spot whiskey, cited in “100 Whiskies to Try Before You Die” by Ian Buxton
Mourne Seafood Bar – voucher for their new cookery school due to open this summer
Nutritious Nibbles – gourmet gluten-free cookies
Patchwork Veg – herb boxes
Pure Sushi – a voucher for a sushi platter
Red Nose Wine – a magnum of Anges Domaine des Red Archange 2007, an Irish-owned, Irish-made organic wine in Provence
Slated Ireland – handcrafted slate tableware
Tastefully Yours – gourmet artisan chutneys, relishes and pickles
The Bombay Pantry - 2 vouchers
The Bridgestone Guides – copies of their 100 Best books and Pizza Defined
The Cloister Restaurant and the Queens Hotel- dinner for two plus a cocktail & canape reception and one night’s accommodation in the Queens Hotel in Ennis
The Garden Kitchen Rowallane - their last jar (!) of chutney and jars of marmalade as well as a place at their baking workshop on 9 April
The Green Apron Artisan Preserve Company – artisan preserves
The Little Coffee House – a free gig where they will attend a party/event of the winner’s choosing and serve their selection of teas, coffees and hot chocolates for up to 200 guests
The Tannery – copies of their cookbook
TJ Crowe – organic ham, organic rashers and free-range sausages
Uluru Bistro – copies of the Cook for Ulster Yes Chef cookbook
Viewmount House - a tasting dinner for 2 people plus 1 night’s B&B accommodation
Williams’ Honey – jars of their two-time World Honey Cup winning honey, produced in Cahir, Co. Tipperary


  1. Great post - just packing my bag now - see you there!!

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  3. I so love this- a wonderful event & ethos, and an inspiration- especially to those of us in other rural communities(we are in Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny) who are trying to generate awareness & excitement -and visitors!- for what we have to offer. I couldn't make it to Inishfood this year, but next year- here's hoping!

  4. It's a great event and I agree - something that could be done really easily in other parts of Ireland just by local food producers and foodies getting together, bringing together the swapping of skills and of course eating! It shows how festivals do not need to have big budgets to generate big word and inishfood will probably now become an annual event so fair play to everyone involved

  5. At the moment in the Marlborough region of NZ they are grubbing out the Sav' Blanc vines they planted ten to fifteen years ago. This for two reasons, 1, after the first few harvests the grape changes and gets harsher, 2, the profit is not there anymore. They had first mover advantage. But now every landowner in the Vine band is planting.
    We in Ireland have had income protection for food producers since the late 30's. And what have we gotten. A group of people that are risk adverse. A finance system that only sees the huge. And a retail sector that will import from Zambia rather than Dunamaggan. Import IS the correct word btw. I'm from Tipperary.

  6. Well done to the organisers of this event - unfortunately I am away that weekend but I would certainly be there if I wasn't! It sounds like an idyllic few days for a foodie like myself. Heading straight to the raffle site now to get some tickets...those prizes are mouth-watering!
    Agree with other comments about replicating this model throughout Ireland -bringing local & artisan producers together like this will create a compelling and truly locally-grown event.

    Will do my best to help promote this, and hopefully cover it if I can
    Lorraine (Food writer/Food enthusiast)