Monday 23 October 2017

The pleasure list: Festival of food and words

Jack Monroe
Jack Monroe
Dylan Crab Benedict
Sculpture by Orla ds Bri
Greenes Florists

We guess it's no surprise that the people behind one of Ireland's biggest food and hospitality brands, who have had a significant hand in the revival of the best culinary traditions in this country, would know how to pull off a really top-class literary festival.

The Kerrygold Ballymaloe LitFest, now into its third year, has previously attracted audiences of 8000, and speakers such as Thomasina Miers, Skye Gyngell, Nick Lander and Tom Parker Bowles. This year, the stellar line-up includes Allegra  McEvedy, Alice Waters and Jack Monroe - the latter's blog A Girl Called Jack began life as a response to a local councillor who claimed that 'druggies, drunks and single mums are ruining the High Street,' and has led to a stellar career as a food writer and social commentator.

The festival runs from May 15 to 17, spread out around the estate grounds, and attracts chefs, foragers, educators, wine experts, gardeners, publishers, TV presenters, bloggers , journalists and of course swathes of the generally interested, for three days of talk, music, dancing, delicious food and drink, in the magical setting of Ballymaloe.

Wake up and smell the coffee at the Dylan

Bright mornings and lazy days mean one thing for most of us - the brunch season is well and truly upon us, and the Dylan hotel are offering a particularly fine example of what just might be the nation's favourite meal. Served every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday Monday, 11-4pm, the menu is by head chef Mark Bodie. It includes a delicious array of possibilities, including Flamenco eggs (egg 'cocotte', chorizo, black pudding, tomato concassée), the eggs Royale (poached egg, organic smoked salmon, Hollandaise sauce), freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, a croque monsieur, goat's cheese salad and Irish sirloin steak sandwich, all locally-sourced where possible and cooked with love. Add a bloody Mary, a bellini  or margarita, take your place on the terrace or inside, and get ready to while away the day in style.

Sculptor Orla De Bri: Life and nature in a state of flux

"All is flux, nothing stays still', a quote by Heraclitus of Ephesus, is the creative starting-point for sculptor Orla de Bri's latest exhibition, Flux, at the Solomon Gallery until May 16th. The exhibition, opened by Moya Doherty, is full of graceful, intriguing horned or antlered figures, or those mysteriously growing branches from their limbs and torso. Beautiful but unsettling, almost primitive in appearance - evocative of hunting, the chase and the struggle to defeat nature as well as reflections on gender - this is the stuff from which myth and legend are created. Orla works with a variety of materials including bronze, steel, stone and fibreglass, bringing together subjects and materials that initially seem incompatible, and yet seamlessly work within her unique style. Here, she has created pieces that are as tactile and visually satisfying as they are beguiling. With six major solo shows and over 20 public sculptures to her credit, de Bri is a skillful and thought-provoking sculptor at the top of her creative form.

Flowers and some fashion

Greene's flower shop in Monkstown was started 18 years ago by Emer Greene and her husband David, and has since led the way in beautiful, seasonal bouquets for all types of occasions. Five weeks ago, feeling  a desire for "a different concept, something to make life more interesting, for us as well as the customers," Greene's began stocking Judy Blennerhassett's No Tomorrow fashion label. "People are nicely surprised when they walk in," says Emer. No Tomorrow is composed of trans-seasonal basics, tops, shirts and, recently added, trousers and knitwear, in gorgeous colours with pretty details. "I design the collection, and work closely with small, family-run businesses in Portugal and Turkey to get it made," says Judy. "We sell around the country and into the UK, but we wanted a platform to show the collection in its entirety. The reaction has been so positive. The shop is beautiful, and has such a nice atmosphere, with the smell of flowers on one side and the clothes on the other. We hope this will start a trend, to share shops and space."

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