This weekend Taste of Cavan will be looking to build on seven years of excellence as it brings the annual food fiesta back to the Equestrian Centre. The culinary extravaganza has an expanded offering of the best local and regional food, craft produce, and a star-studded line-up of Ireland’s top chefs. Thomas Lyons previews all the action.
Commencing on Friday, August 10, patrons will experience up close the cookery skills of luminaries such as Richard Corrigan, Rachel Allen, Neven Maguire, Gearóid Lynch, Simon Delaney, TV chef Adrian Martin, pastry maestro Shane Smith, ‘My Donegal Table’ author, chef and hotelier Brian McDermott, Bord Bia’s Máire Dufficy, and many more in the Ulster Bank Chef’s Kitchen.
Taking the event beyond the traditional two-day format, this year’s Taste of Cavan also features a ‘Taste of Cavan Food Trail’, running on Saturday and Sunday throughout Cavan Town, where participating restaurants will offer customer the opportunity to sample a delicious taster dish at a reduced price.
“The introduction of the ‘Taste of Cavan Food Trail’ is an exciting innovation that will bring Taste Of Cavan,” Conor Harrington of Cavan County Council said.
“There are 20 restaurants in Cavan Town and beyond who will take part in Taste of Cavan on the Saturday and Sunday by offering fantastic taster dishes featuring lovely local produce for five euro. It is a chance to sample a wide variety of restaurants that you may not have tired before. It is great opportunity to try something different,” Conor told the Celt.
The Food Trail will run from 1-4pm each day with plenty of mouthwatering dishes to choose from. Barduccis Italian Restaurant offer a Margherita or signature pizza; Latte Da have a smashed avocado on rye bread; The Oak Room's Baked Alaska is on offer; while the Chilli Lounge have two dishes to try. Murph’s Bistro at the Derragarra Inn, The Big Apple Restaurant, Chapter 1, The Melbourne Bakery & Coffee Shop and a host of others will be offering fine food for just a fiver.
“Cavan has been named as one of the top 10 Foodie Destinations in the Country, the ‘Taste of Cavan Food Trail’ will allow people to see why,” the council communication officer said.
Conor explained that the reputation ToC has garnered over the last seven years has wide reaching advantages: “It is not just about the direct benefits of the two days it takes place. It's about showcasing one of Cavan's greatest assets. It brings the work of food producers from right across the county to the 25,000 who walk through the ToC door. They are employing people in Cavan. Its indirect benefits continue long after the event is staged,” he told the Celt.
“The focus of Taste of Cavan has always been on local produce, local producers and local chefs. That stays the same every year. We have evolved the format this year. We have a more participatory element."
Following the huge success of last year’s event, ‘Cook Along With Neven’, sponsored by Dunnes Stores’ Simply Better, will be expanded with a new parent and child ‘Cook Along’, under the guidance of Ireland’s favourite chef.
All the chefs will use specially selected local produce – available at the show - during their demos, providing a real Taste of Cavan. Over 120 exhibitors will be displaying their wares at this year’s event, including the SuperValu Food Academy, showcasing the best in small artisan food products.
'Cooking for College'
This year’s event offers more opportunities than ever before for visitors to join in the fun with a variety of hands-on workshops with the country’s top chefs. Additionally Chef Adrian Martin, author of ‘Fakeaway - Fast Food Made Healthy’ will deliver special ‘Cooking for College’ classes for students: “This is vary valuable as a life lesson for young people who may be facing coping with feeding themselves for the first time heading to college, but also a fun thing for them to do,” Conor said.
The two-day extravaganza will see coffee master classes with J&B Hope and JJ Darboven, sports nutrition discussions with Jeeny Maltese and Tom Coleman. Wines Direct will once again pair up with top Cavan restaurants The Oak Room and People’s to provide wine and food matching classes.
For the little ones, the Taste of Cavan Fun Zone will have lots to keep them occupied including Margaret’s ‘Fun on the Farm’, Agri-Ware Animal Farm, Cavan County Museum exhibition, fossil fun with the Geopark, giant slides, and much, much more.
The icing on the cake for our junior visitors will be a cake-topping class with Cavan’s very own ‘Cake Boss’, Shane Smith of Airfield Estate.
The adults’ playground that is the craft beer, cider and gin corner will feature an expanded line up of exciting local beverages sure to set tongues wagging. Gin – lovers will enjoy the gin masterclasses with Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, currently taking the gin world by storm.
People will have ample chances to immerse themselves in Cavan Food Culture.
Conor says the location of the 2018 event could not be more appropriate: “We have a world class venue in the Equestrian Centre. It happens to be on the outskirts of the town, but it hosts an event that showcases what the county as a whole has to offer. The feedback from visitors is that it is a fantastic venue. We are also conscious of linking in with the local chamber who are very supportive in the provision of entertainment and events to link in with the weekend.”
“Every year we sit down and have a review of the event. We analyse what has been successful and if there are any areas that could be improved. We [the council] have a food strategy and part of that is reviewing Taste of Cavan. We do a root and branch examination of it. There are potential for more on-street activity and it is something we will be looking at in the coming year. So far we have been lucky in that the public have been very supportive of it, in Cavan and beyond.”
One of the new developments is the introduction of a 'drop and collect area' where buyers can drop the items they purchase. This is a free service get to allow people enjoy more of the event.
To facilitate traffic there is a local link bus service departing from Cavan Bus Station hourly and later opening on Friday evening.
Further programme details will be announced as the summer progresses. For more information, visit www.tasteofcavan.ie or email email@example.com
Taste of Cavan is presented by Cavan County Council in partnership with Local Enterprise Office, Cavan and Fáilte Ireland.