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Editor's Choice 2016 - Eamon Barrett

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Harvest Food Festival, Waterford City, September.
 
2016 is the year that the Harvest Food Festival in Waterford found its mojo. A new team came in, engaged heavily with local stakeholders and produced a festival that was chock full of memorable events. We cruised the river Suir on a traditional wooden sailing ketch, being served great tapas and cocktails by the crew from The Olive Tree restaurant; watched Guatham Iyer from Cork receive sustained applause and shouts of ‘come back again’ for his magical pop up lunch in the beautiful surroundings of Eric and Christine Theze’s La Boheme and had our socks knocked clean off by Peter Fowler and his team at The Granary Harvest Brunch – heck, even Gay Byrne turned up! As long as Waterford Council do the sensible thing and allow this event team to continue I have high hopes for future Harvest festivals.
 
The day after LitFest 2016.
 
2016 was my third year working on the transport end of the Ballymaloe LitFest and it’s an event I love being a small part of. Every year there are memorable moments created during LitFest: driving Alice Waters around the wilds of East Cork in search of her accommodation while not giving away the fact that I was completely lost was certainly not one of my finer moments.  This year’s memory though, is of sitting for dinner in Tim and Darina’s beautiful home, on the evening after LitFest finished, and eating food that had been cooked by a group including Eric Werner and Mya Henry from Hartwood in Tulum, Nick Balla and Courtney Burns from Bar Tartine in San Francisco and David Tanis, ex Chez Panisse – it was one of those ‘pinch me, I might be dreaming’ moments.
 
Dinner of the year.
 
For some reason, Conor Dempsey’s Amuse restaurant slipped below my radar for too long but an early morning flight to the UK provided the opportunity to stay in Dublin the evening before and meet two of my dearest friends for dinner there. When I think back on that dinner now the words that come into my mind are grace, elegance and most of all, precision. Precision in the cooking, precision in the presentation and precision in the service. The combination of Mr Dempsey’s classical training, matched with the Japanese influences he has embraced, produces food that manages to be deeply satisfying but wonderfully light. Value is extraordinary for this quality of cooking – the three course set dinner is just €39.00

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