My visit to Sheridans Irish Food Festival 2013

One of the highlights of my recent visit to Ireland was the Sheridans Cheesemongers' 4th Annual Irish Food Festival near Virginia. Getting there was a treat in itself - just over a two hour drive through the lush countryside of Tyrone, Monaghan, Meath, and Cavan. 

The setting was perfect and the weather obliged as well for the more than 80 Irish food producers who provided samples of beautiful food and chatted with folks about their products and processes.  

This year's festival included the first National Brown Bread baking competition - so I decided to enter! 
Here are a few photos and notes from the day. 

dyptich of Seamus Sheridan of Sherdidans Cheesemongers and close up of jellies from Killycoony House; irish food
Séamus Sheridan getting the judges started at the first National Brown Bread competition; delicious looking jellies from Killycoony House Preserves.  
close up of Corleggy cheese and a sign reading "Cavanbert"; Irish food
Silke Cropp's (Corleggy Cheese) Cavanbert which I tasted and thoroughly enjoyed.
This cheese was awarded a gold star in the Bloomy Rind Cheese category at the 2013 Irish Cheese Awards at Bloom in the Park recently. 
Close up of Elizabeth McNally's Irish brown bread; Irish food
These are the two loaves that I entered in the Brown Bread competition! Although I didn't win a prize, it was great fun participating. 
breads entered in the Sheridans Irish Food Festival Brown Bread Competition; Irish Food
Altogether, there were more than 50 entries from all across Ireland. 
Pauric White's cooking demo at Sheridans Irish Food Festival; Irish Food
Pauric White of the nearby restaurant, The Forge, lead brown bread baking demonstrations with school children. 
Corleggy Cheese; Irish Food
More divine Corleggy cheeses. 
musicians playing the spoons and fiddle
Our strolling was accompanied by beautiful music of these two talented youth. 
Burke's Farm Ice Cream; Irish Food
We had a triple scoop of ice cream from Burke's Farm Ice Cream. The number of people lining up for this ice cream was mighty, but it was worth the wait. We sampled a combo of apple crumble, caramel, and honeycomb ice cream.
Irish Food
We couldn't resist the smell of this beef & onion cooking - lunch! I've misplaced the card I picked up for this producer, so if anyone reading was there and knows, please tell me in the comments. 
Brown Bread Competition judging at Sheridans Irish Food Festival; Irish food
Judging continues...
quail eggs; Irish food
More gorgeous produce. 
Sheridans Irish Food Festival; Irish Food
You have to love Lilliput Foods who traveled not only with their goods, but with their own fireplace. They were just lighting the fire here. 
dunk tank at Sheridans Irish Food Festival; Irish food
Lastly - and what made this feel even more like a real country food fair to me - was the fundraisers being staged for local football teams. This one was perhaps the most heavily visited - the dunk tank (or dunk "chair" as they called it). These guys raked in the Euros - and for a great cause. I tried my hand, but no luck!

I so enjoyed this day. While strolling around, I met Nessa Robbins, Lisa McGee, and Imen McDonnell - three fantastic women of the Irish food world. Nessa's book, Apron Strings, is newly published (and currently being shipped to me!), Lisa's the force behind Isle Magazine (eager to see Issue 3!), and Imen's Farmhouse Films will soon be releasing Small Green Fields - over a year in the making and highly anticipated. Imen's bread took the runner-up prize in the competition!

I can see myself planning next spring's trip to Ireland around this festival. If you're thinking of going to Ireland and are a food enthusiast, this festival is for you.

Come again!


elizabeth said...

Oh after seeing your photos I so wished I had gone -maybe next year if we are still here -I would have loved the brown bread tent - this is huge coming from a girl who never ate wheat bread in the states -
So cool you were able to meet Imen - we've exchanged emails and stuff and would love to meet her someday
Hope your settled back in nicely - back in October???

Elizabeth said...

hi Elizabeth! I think you would have really loved it. I'm sure it'll be on again next's a great way to spend a day.

Yes, I met Imen, Nessa, and Lisa...all lovely ladies!

Hope to be back in September...plotting and planning now!

Thanks for stopping by! =)