Seaweed farming in Ireland might be in its early stages compared to Asian countries, but it’s growing in popularity every year. Consumers are getting more and more aware of the health benefits - and the added taste bonuses in gins, for example!
Seaweed, or sea vegetables, is a fat-free, protein-rich food that is good for our health and delicious in all types of cuisines and dishes.
Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, chairperson of the Burren Slow Food Festival (and owner-manager of the Burren Smokehouse of course), saw the good timing of the motto of this year's festival, and got together a wide variety of speakers and chefs who showed off the healthy marine food in very different ways. Takashi Miyasaki from Ichigo Ichie, Cork, and Sally McKenna from McKenna's Guides gave a cookery demonstration together. Oonagh O'Dwyer from Wild Kitchen held a workshop about seaweed and its uses. Evan Talty from Wild Irish Seaweed talked about his seaweed gathering and processing business. Gareth Mullins from the Marker Hotel in Dublin demoed using Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon and made brownies with seaweed. Just some of the highlights on the busy festival schedule.
Food to be enjoyed on the spot was of course at hand as well. Stonecutter's Kitchen provided wonderful cakes and warm dishes like soup and quiches. Bia Rebel's owner Brian gave a demo showing us how to cook Japanese ramen which is a very flavourful and ingredients-rich noodle dish. They also sold (out) their different ramen at the festival. Other foods to be got were gourmet crêpes, sausages, lobster and seafood, and burgers.
At the artisan market, we had an amazing choice of different stalls. The quality of the products were incredibly high, and there were happy faces all around. From peated wines, locally produced honey, beautiful and useful pottery, a vast array of balsamic vinegars, jams and preserves, cheeses, woodworks to even jewellery - the offer covered a lot of ground!
This year's festival also featured a few off-site events, like the much anticipated seafood journey to Inis Oírr which has kicked off the festival for two years in a row now. After a short but beautiful ferry trip with Doolin2Aran Ferries, we arrived at the smallest of the Aran Island and walked to Tí Ned where a generous buffet with lobster, crab, Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon and different salads as well as sophisticated desserts waited for us. For those who were culturally curious, we had organised a visit to Áras Eanna Arts Centre where volunteer and islander Úna McDonagh told us the story of the most famous Irish ship wreck, the Plassey, and showed us the fashion of days gone by.
On Saturday night, we had our Burren Slow Food Banquet with a twist. We invited the only Irish female Michelin-star chef Danni Barry from Northern Ireland, and she cooked up a storm! What a delicious treat we had.
On Sunday afternoon, we invited for a late lunch, family buffet-style, cooked by executive head chef Gareth Mullins and Anna from the Marker Hotel, Graham Neville from Dax, Alberto Rossi from the Intercontinental Hotel – all members of the prestigious Euro-Toques organisation.
Still bathing in the afterglow of this festival, we are already looking very much forward to the next one which will take place from 15 to 17 May 2020. Mark that weekend in your diary!
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