The Daily Spud

...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

Spud Sunday: Close But No Spaghetti

“You mean to say I went all the way to Waterford and missed the potato spaghetti? Sheesh.”

That’s pretty much what I was thinking when I heard (courtesy of Alex Meehan) about the potato spaghetti machine – a contraption for turning an unsuspecting four inch spud into eight or nine inch lengths of ‘spaghetti’. Yes, I missed said spaghetti and the monkfish around which it was wrapped at Martijn Kajuiter’s Michelin-starred restaurant at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore. Oh well.

Still, never mind. I found much else to delight in west Waterford last weekend while on a flying visit to the Waterford Festival of Food. Though whirlwind in nature – and the absence of potato spaghetti notwithstanding – the trip served up a well seasoned taste of a region less travelled by, with a Friday bookended by a killer breakfast at Nude Food in Dungarvan and a joyous dinner at O’Brien’s Chop House in Lismore, and a Saturday that included a fine lunch back in Dungarvan at the Tannery. There’s no denying that you can eat very well in this neck of the woods and, better still, you don’t need to wait for the next food festival to enjoy it.

O'Briens Chop House

Dinner at O'Briens Chop House in Lismore, which included the
wonderfully animated Norman waxing lyrical on the art of salmon fishing

Lunch at The Tannery

Lunch at The Tannery:
Crab crème brûlée
Sea bass with mussel broth (and, yes, potatoes as well)

Of course there were special festival events too. Inspired by last year’s foodcamp in Kilkenny, there was a similar, albeit lower key version included in the program here. It proved an excellent opportunity to learn about (and eat) the gloriously soft and pleasantly chewy bread roll that is the Waterford blaa, which local bakers are hoping will be granted PGI (protected geographical indication) status.

Waterford Blaa

The rather wonderful Waterford blaa. All it needs is now some butter and a bag of Tayto...

Blaas and butter were followed by much needed coffee, served with a generous helping of coffee education, from Brock Lewin of Badger and Dodo. Brock, an Aussie by birth, is another one of those souls engaged in the business of bringing a better cup of coffee to the Irish punter and, for that, I can only say good on ya, mate.

Coffee from Badger and Dodo

Some very welcome coffee from Badger and Dodo

Foodcamp concluded with a panel discussion lead by Peter Ward of Country Choice in Tipperary and which included broadcaster Ella McSweeney, food blogger extraordinaire and Dungarvan native Niamh Shields of Eat Like A Girl, Eileen Bentley from Bord Bia, Jim Power, economist and founder of Love Irish Food, and Anike Tyrrell, acting CEO of the Waterford Enterprise board. There was much said on the challenges facing small producers in getting their wares to market, and while there may be issues with everything from regulation to consumer education, it seemed to me that the biggest asset any producer can have is a can-do attitude.

Certainly the folks at the Dungarvan Brewing Company, which we visited on one of the festival’s “Bus Bia” tours, have that attitude in spades. Barely a year old, their Black Rock Stout, Copper Coast Red Ale and Helvick Gold Blonde Ale – fine drinks all – have made quite an impression. The Harty family, whom we met at their oyster farm in the Gaeltacht area of Ring as part of the same tour, are also can-doers. Producing top quality oysters for export on a commercial basis since 1985, Jim Harty was immensely proud, not only of a business built from nothing, but also of the fact that it was one in which four of his children were also able to find employment.

Bus Bia tour

On the Bus Bia tour:
Jen and Cormac at The Dungarvan Brewing Company; Harty's Dungarvan Bay Oysters;
Fish dished up by Naoise O Cathasaigh

For my part, I didn’t object to sampling said oysters with a drop of muscadet, which followed an even earlier morning sip of DungarvanBrewCo’s finest. As with all else I had tasted over the weekend, it confirmed that there are many more reasons to come back to Waterford above and beyond the peculiar lure of the potato spaghetti.

10 Comments

  1. Now I know what the perfect present for you would be…

  2. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    No, wait, Aoife, don’t tell me, bit it rhymes with confetti, right?

  3. Also rhymes with machete and it would certainly get interesting if you tried to use one of those to make it!

  4. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Ouch, Aoife, all I can say is ouch 

  5. Why don’t I go to Waterford more often. That’s what I’m asking myself.

  6. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    It’s a good question, CM. I’ve asked myself the same one.

  7. Great round up! It was lovely to meet you all again, look forward to the next one somewhere soon I hope.

  8. Potato spaghetti – I didn’t hear about that one either! Nice post and really lovely to meet you at the Festival. Certainly was a fab bus tour – had myself some sneaky Black Rock stouts later : )

  9. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Niamh: thanks a mill’, it was great to meet you again (and on your real home turf too!)

    Ailbhe: ah yes, a fab bus tour indeed and all the better for your lovely company – hope we’ll manage to run into each other again sometime!

  10. Too bad about the potato spaghetti, but I’m thinking I would’ve been more than consoled by that lovely, soft pillow of blaa. 8-) Such fun events you attend – I’m so very envious…

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