The sun shone when IFWG members gathered for our recent summer outing to Wexford. We chose Wexford as a destination because the county has been working on developing a food tourism offering and, in terms of location, it was also to facilitate members who wished to join us for the day. I worked with local food and travel expert Anthony O’Toole on developing the tour and he put together a very well organised showcase of food and producers, focusing on the area around Gorey.
With Anthony and Lorraine O’Dwyer from gallivanting.ie as our hosts and tour guides, we first visited IFWG Award Winner and Blás an hEireann Supreme Champion Wild About to meet with Fiona and Malcolm Falconer, where we were also joined by Marisa Roche of Meadowfield Goat Cheese. After learning all about the value of nettles and other overlooked wild foods, we made a quick visit to see where the waste nettles get reused: Dots Plots Donkey Rehoming Hub.
We travelled a short distance to Salt Rock Dairy where Catherine Kinsella showed us the travelling vending machine that enables her to sell her own pasteurised, unhomogenised milk direct to local customers. We enjoyed a banquet lunch at Catherine’s kitchen table, catered by Anthony, and featuring her milk, butter and yogurt, vegetables from Anthony’s garden along with a selection of foods from other local producers.
After lunch, we visited Tara Hill Honey, donning bee keeper suits alongside Michael and Anne Wildes to harvest wildflower honeycomb. That certainly was an experience, as was getting to eat the honeycomb while it was still warm from the hive. Sticking with the sweeter side of Wexford, our stop at Bean and Goose saw us learn about their sourcing from Original Beans, check out some other kind of bean experiments that they’re working on and taste some of the original flavours that sisters Karen and Natalie Keane produce.
Members who were booked in for the night at Ashdown Park Hotel, had the opportunity to relax over a tasting of locally produced Jackford Irish Potato Gin with Poachers tonic while we learned about the hotel’s sizable farm to fork operation from GM Paul Finegan, horticulturalist Andrea McCann and head chef Andrew O’Gorman.
It was a quick turn around after that to make the producers’ dinner at Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant Table 41 under the careful eye of chef Andrew Duncan. He cooked a superb meal using many ingredients from producers who joined us for dinner, in a neat upstairs room where seasonality and local were key.