Burren Food Festival to celebrate the best of Irish gin and cheese

Jp McMahon and Birgitta Hedin-Curtin at last year's Burren Slow Food Festival.

Jp McMahon and Birgitta Hedin-Curtin at last year's Burren Slow Food Festival.

A celebration of Ireland’s best gin and cheese will be one of the highlights of this year’s Burren Slow Food Festival, which will take place in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, this May.

The 11th annual Burren Slow Food Festival, organised by Slow Food Clare, will bring together food producers, chefs, and writers for a weekend of talks, demonstrations, and workshops in Lisdoonvarna from May 12 to 14.

“The slow food festival gives us a platform to promote the best of the Burren’s produce, which is now recognised as some of the finest in Ireland and internationally," said Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, founder member of Slow Food Clare and chairperson of the Burren Slow Food Festival.

“This year our theme is Irish gin and cheese and we will be showcasing the best of Irish gin, a market which has grown enormously in the past couple of years. There will be a wide range of gins to try, including Blackwater Gin, Drumshambo Gunpowder Irish Gin, Dingle Gin, and Shortcross Gin. We are also fortunate to have Dublin’s leading mixologist Oisin Davies, who will be making unique cocktails with wild and foraged ingredients.”

For the first time, Ireland’s raw milk cheese presidium will be at the event, hosting workshops and tastings of raw milk cheese, many of which are not widely available. The presidium is made up of 11 artisan dairies which work with their own distinctive style and techniques and share a common commitment to producing a safe, high quality, product using raw milk from their own cows or goats or milk from nearby herds.

Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith from St Tola goat cheese, who will be giving a demonstration at the event, said: “It is an opportunity for members of the presidium to meet the public and educate them on the importance of raw milk and cheese. There is a growing demand for naturally produced food and people want to meet the producers and see where their food comes from."

The festival will be officially launched by John Mulcahy, head of food tourism, Failte Ireland, on Saturday May 13 at midday at the Pavilion Theatre in Lisdoonvarna. This will be followed by a series of talks and demonstrations by chefs and food industry specialists. One of the speakers confirmed for this year’s event is Bruce Langlands, board director of food and hospitality at Selfridges in London.

“We are honoured to have Bruce Langlands give a presentation this year," Ms Hedin-Curtin said. "As always, he will be on the lookout for new and unique food products which he can bring back to Selfridges. This is a great opportunity for our local food producers to impress one of the world’s leading retailers.”

Other speakers announced include Seamus Sheridan from Sheridan's Cheesemongers in Galway, Fingal Ferguson from Gubbeen Cheese, and Lesley Williams, wine and drinks columnist with the Irish Examiner. Previous years' participants have included Darina Allen, JP McManus from Aniar restaurant, Derry and Sally Anne Clarke of L’Ecrivain, and Donal Skehan.

The two day event will also include a farmers' market, tastings, foraging, children’s activities, the traditional Burren Slow Food Banquet, and a champagne and seafood picnic in a boat under the Cliffs of Moher.

For more information visit www.slowfoodclare.com or find slowfoodclare on Facebook.

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