Easter Saturday I attended the Galway Food Festival. The festival showcases the best in Irish produce and it just celebrated its 5th year. This years theme was 100 Years of Irish Food. I was really looking forward to this festival and it was my first time going. The festival ran from 24th-28th March and the programme was choca-block with workshops, tours and demonstrations stretched out over the five days and of course there were three designated areas dotted throughout the city for food stalls.
The day started off with a coffee workshop by Badger & Dodo run by Aussie, Brock Lewin and his father-in-law. They’re third-wave artisan coffee roasters based in Fermoy, Co. Cork with a café in Galway City. The story behind the name is a clever one. Brock is Badger of Badger & Dodo, as broc is Irish for badger and his father-in-law is Dodo, which was a childhood nickname of his 😊
When I arrived for the workshop, I was glad to see a nice size group waiting as well. Brock began by introducing himself, the work he does and how the business was set up. His baristas were hard at work whipping up an espresso tonic for everyone. I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same; how is cold espresso and tonic water going to work?! But it did and it was delicious!
The second drink to be sampled was a cold brew coffee. But isn’t that just the same as an iced coffee? Actually no; there is a difference between cold brew coffee and iced coffee. With iced coffee you brew the coffee with hot water and let it cool down. Cold brew coffee you brew the coffee with cold water. The cold brew was nice but I enjoyed the espresso tonic more.
The third sample was a coffee based dessert called coffee granita. The coffee is brewed and cooled in such a way that the coffee crystallises and then it’s topped with crushed amoretti biscuits and cream. This was delicious and light and I devoured it in seconds. Me and my sweet tooth 😊 The workshop ended with pastries and a bag of coffee and a tote bag with the Badger & Dodo logo on it to take home.
Next on my itinerary was a food tour around the city. Sheena was our tour guide for an hour or so and we kicked off the tour with an amazing scone from Griffin’s Bakery. Griffin’s Bakery is situated on Shop Street and is an award-winning artisan bakery, established in 1876. It was a good thing I didn’t eat breakfast that morning, with all the food I was about to eat ☺
Next stop on the tour was the Galway Market, which is a permanent fixture in the city, near St. Nicholas’s Church. We passed by The Bean Tree to sample their famous madras pea and potato curry. The Bean Tree is a vegetarian, family run business and they’ve had a spot at the market for 20 years. The curry was really warming and perfect food for a rainy day walking around the city.
We then moved onto Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. Sheridan’s is run by brothers Kevin and Seamus. It was established in 1995 and they started off selling Irish cheeses and soon expanded into European cheeses. We sampled their goat’s cheese and a type of cheese with cummin. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of cheese unless it’s melted on a pizza or as a cheese toastie. However, I did enjoy these cheeses. The goat’s cheese was creamy and there was peppery kick to the cheese with cummin.
Passing the oyster stall, we were greeted by Michael Brown. He gets his oysters from Clarenbridge and if you remember my must go to festivals post, Clarenbridge is famous for their oyster festival. We were told that the longer the oysters are left the chewier the meat is and stronger the taste. And seemingly oysters can change genders. Who knew! None of us were brave enough to taste the oysters, apart from Sheena of course ☺
We got very excited when Sheena told us the next stop was doughnuts. We were like giddy school girls ☺ Boychik Doughnuts is run by Danny a native New Yorker. If it is one thing that New York does well it’s doughnuts. I have never tasted doughnuts like these in my life! You have a choice of plain sugar or a sprinkle of cocoa or cinnamon. It was lovely to have a taste of New York in the heart of Galway City. I will definitely be returning to this stall.
We had more sweet treats in store with Le Petit Delice on Mainguard Street. It’s a little bit of Paris in Galway run by Alex and Frederic since 2010. We picked up our strawberry tartlettes to be eaten in Tigh Neachtain.
Tigh Neachtain, established in 1894, is one of THE places to go to in Galway for craft beer and live music. Situated on Cross Street; it was once the home of Richard Martin, a prominent animal rights activist. We sat down at the back of the pub to taste our tartlettes and wash them down with a half-pint of Galway Hooker ale. I don’t drink beer, I’m more of a cider and alco-pop type of girl, but I really enjoyed this it. It was light and smooth.
I was so happy to see that we were heading towards Cupan Tae, my favourite place to eat in Galway. I’ve been to Cupán Tae many times and they’ve never disappointed. They have a wonderful menu of savoury meals for breakfast and lunch, a mouthwatering selection of cakes (their courgette and lime cake is just to die for!) and the piece de resistance…their menu of black, white and green teas (I dare you not to love their Earl Grey Blue Flower tea!) They base their food menu by what’s in season and source their food locally. You can check their menu on the website and buy tea from their online shop.
Onwards to the food village, by the Spanish Arch and to Wa Cafe’s stall. Wa Cafe is a Japanese cafe and restaurant, situated on the New Dock Road and has a stall at the Galway Market every Saturday and Sunday. Owner Yoshimi is extremely passionate about Japanese food and sushi. To gently introduce people to sushi who have never tasted it before, she uses turnip instead of fish. It’s to get those used to the taste and texture. She had some prepared for us to sample. All I can say that it was delicious!
Last stop on the tour was Kai Cafe & Restaurant. Situated on the Sea Road, it’s run by couple, David and Jessica. They pride themselves on using fresh, local produce and you know the sign of an excellent cafe or restaurant is when there’s a queue of people out the door waiting to be seated. We sampled an amazing pear and goat’s cheese lentil pate.
After the tour, I went back around to the places Sheena took us to so I could get photos for this post. I took a stroll back to the food village near the Spanish Arch to check out more of the food stalls. There was so much delicious food to sample and fine products to buy. It was wonderful to see local businesses working together – The Dough Bros, Cong Food Village, BiteClub, The King’s Head- selling their food and products.
I tucked into a delicious Indian boxty from Boxty’s Load It. To explain to you what boxty is if you don’t know, it’s a traditional Irish potato pancake. Boxty’s Load It had three different fillings you could stuff your boxty with, Irish stew, Texan, and Indian. Afterwards I treated myself to a much needed mocha from Le Petit Delice as I got a voucher from Sheena.
Every hour on the hour there were demonstrations going on in the demo’s tent. I was holding out for the 4pm demo, Sweet Moments Of The 90s demonstrated by Brassiere on the Corner. I entered the tent feeling excited for the demo, when out pops JP McMahon from Aniar, with hay and a tray of lamb chops. Now don’t get me wrong, JP McMahon is a well-known and wonderful chef here in Ireland. However, cooking lamb isn’t what I attended the demo for.
I thought I might have got the time wrong so I checked the programme. No I got the time right. It can only assume that the demos were swapped. I have to admit I didn’t stay for the demo as I’m a vegetarian. I was a little disappointed but despite this I had a wonderful time and will definitely attend again. The highlight was definitely the food tour with Sheena. Sheena is trying to set the Galway Food Tours up on a full-time basis, so if you’re ever in Galway definitely take her food tour. Oh and don’t eat anything beforehand ☺
Have you been to the Galway Food Festival before? What are your favourite food festivals?