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30 October 2007

The First Savour Kilkenny Festival

The confident culinary chutzpah one expects of Kilkenny was fully in evidence during the Bank Holiday weekend, when the first Savour Kilkenny Festival brought markets, producers, restaurateurs and punters to Ireland's most handsome, Italiante city.
Pride of place goes to Mary Shortis and Chris Wong, who were awarded the first Savour Kilkenny Award. Their shop sells everything you could possibly imagine, not to mention the best street food in Ireland – this was a richly deserved prize.
The Festival wisely embraced everything from Polish and Lebanese cooking – see the post on the wonderful Tabbouleh competition – along with an inspired cheese tasting by Mark Gaffney, luminary chef of the Ormonde Hotel, balsamic vinegars, sushi, kid's cooking, and rugby ledge Mick Galwey getting intimate with a ball of baker's dough. Garret Byrne of Chapter One came back to his home city to cook the gala dinner, and the energy in the town was only mighty. Other local culinary legends, Eugene and Breda McSweeney of Lacken House, were in fit, fine form – Mr McSweeney is on the look out for new challenges, so anyone who needs a great, skilled culinary Mr Fix-It need look no further – and the restaurants pulsed with energy. We would like to see a situation next year, however, where only the produce of local producers is featured on the menus – if you have local artisan cheeses like Lavistown and Knockdrinna, why on earth serve anything else? – but this was a mighty impressive debut, and promises another annual festival for the city that already does festivals better than anywhere else.