There was a heightened air of excitement in Dingle this year. The two year hiatus has produced an energy and feeling of gratitude which was palpable in everyone you met. Mind you, Dingle Food Festival always has its own unique energy, in part because its Dingle, and also because its a coming together of Irish food, drink and hospitality people to celebrate what we do. One of the things I love about this food festival is that it's all about small, independent producers, there's no big corporate sponsorship.
All the restaurants, bars and food outlets in town set out their stall, and offer a taster of their specialities, be it oysters and Bloody Marys at Fentons, raclette at The Little Cheese Shop, or any number of tasty morsels picked up streetside. Of course, a fine drop of wine is also essential to add to the experience, that's what we're there for. We were so happy to set up in the beautiful, calm space which is Carol Cronins art gallery. Her immersive seascapes, some from an underwater perspective, draw you in and give a deep feeling of peace. What better environment to enjoy the wines of Jo Landron, imbued with the salty tang of the Atlantic. Another joy of Dingle Food Festival is bumping into chefs, food and drink producers and fellow workers in the Irish hospitality scene, and it can take quite a while to walk through town. The girls from Valentia Island Vermouth came to our wine and tapas night at Random restaurant, and we enjoyed an exclusive Vermouth tasting as well as plenty of laughs. Micheál Begley gave us free reign in his restaurant for the night, and craic was had along with great wines and a cheese and salami selection from Mark Murphy of The Little Cheese Shop. There was more wine and cheese on Sunday afternoon when Mark and I did a tasting at the Courthouse Pub for a lively and inquisitive crowd. All weekend there's music in the streets and the pubs, cookery demos in St. James' Church, and the Blas na h-Eireann awards which bring hundreds of small producers to town. Dingle is a special place. It's remoteness gives it an other-worldliness and independence, and the people who live here have a fierce love for the place, be they born and bred locals, or those who have chosen to live here and are very pleased with their decision. Did I mention the pubs? Dingle pubs are surely deserving of Unesco World Heritage status, so if you need one more reason to come, there you have it...an embarrassment of reasons!