Wednesday 22 November 2017

The Diary: Food festival goes down well in City of the Tribes

Rugby ace Ronan Loughney enjoyed the Galway Food Festival
Rugby ace Ronan Loughney enjoyed the Galway Food Festival
Stephen Skrynka and Karen Phillips at the Wall of Death at RUA RED in Tallaght. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
Maura and John Kiely at the Coast dining celebration at the Kitchen Café Galway City Museum
Joe Bergin and Aoife Kiely at the Coast dining celebration at the Kitchen Café Galway City Museum
Sarah Kelly and Pat McCabe at the Coast dining celebration at the Kitchen Café Galway City Museum
Kendall Jenner with sister Kylie
Pip Todd Warmoth and wife Tanya Baxter at his exhibition at the Molesworth Gallery in Dublin.
Lucy Moller
Chef Kevin Thornton

Kirsty Blake Knox and Bairbre Power

I now fully understand the meaning of 'The West's Awake'. Do they ever sleep in the City of the Tribes? Such industry, interest in food and love of the craic!

We had it all at the fourth Galway Food Festival and the highlight was the Coast menu served by Michelle Crehan Kavanagh, chef and founder of the Kitchen Café at Galway City Museum on Saturday night.

The Café opened just weeks before the first ever Galway Food Festival which is located at the Spanish Arch, where we sat in sunshine. Michelle's inspiration for Coast @theKitchen came from the Galway Bay coastline, right on her doorstep, and she told me how she liaised closely on the menu with Stephane from Gannet Fishmongers and used Kelly oysters from Clarinbridge and sea urchins and sea lettuce from Mungo Murphy's Seaweed in Connemara.

But with Michelle there's always a twist and sexy international flavours so we had tempura oysters, Takoyaki octopus, Portugese Salt Ling, Brazilian Moqueca (a fish soup using lots of lime and coconut milk) packed with Galway Bay Prawns and local surf clams.

Enjoying the night were former Galway and All Ireland Winning footballer, Joe Bergin, business development manager at Ulster Bank and his fiancée, Dr Aoife Kiely, a GP Registrar and they attended with Aoife's parents, Western circuit barrister John Kiely and his wife Maura.

Among the other guests on the night were Galway architects Sarah Kelly and her husband Pat McCabe, who've designed many of Galway's most iconic buildings and are just fresh from completing a warehouse conversion for restaurateur Aoibheann Mc Namara of Ard Bia at Nimmos as her new private home close to the city centre.

Meanwhile, at the other end of Galway City in the Grande Dame of Eyre Square, Hotel Meyrick's GM Cian O Broin hosted a full Gaslight Bar and Brasserie where guests were treated to an Easter delight of A Taste of Chocolate Supper Club with Hazel Mountain Chocolatiers from Kinvara.

Heather Flaherty, chairperson of Galway Food Festival and Executive Chef at McCambridge's Grocery, Deli and Restaurant on Shop Street was thrilled with the energy around the place and the increased crowds.

On Friday night Heather hosted a Hunter Gatherer Feast where she cooked alongside Berlin chef and restaurant owner Rodrigo from the world's first Paleo restaurant.

It was lovely to bump into Connacht prop, Ronan Loughney and his fiancée, Finn Dillon, a Kerry native and a NUIG Law Graduate who met Ronan, a UL Business graduate, in Galway. Finn is following her dream and has given up law to open her own business, Roots and Greens, with ingredients from Beechlawn Organic. She is a mine of information about quinoa, matcha, chia seeds and Ronan vouched for the merits of her beetroot juice before a game.

- BP

Wall of Death leaves ballet dancers and bikers all shook up

Good news if you're a fan of Pat Kenny, Elvis Presley, and the tangy smell of industrial strength petrol. And let's face it - who isn't?

Arts centre Red Rua's latest installation piece - Is Art Worth Dying For? - combines all of the above. Huzzah!

The exhibition pays homage to farmers and brothers-in-law Connie Kiernan and Michael Donoghue who, having sat through Elvis Presley's largely forgettable 1964 film Roustabout, constructed a giant motorcycle Wall of Death in a field near Gubadorris, Co Leitrim back in 1979.

The duo fast became talk of the country; a fresh faced Pat Kenny interviewed them for RTE and director Peter Ormond penned feature film Eat the Peach about them.

And now, British artist Stephen Skrynka has picked up the mantle constructing not one, but two, Walls of Death in Tallaght.

One wall caters for wannabe Evil Kenevils while the other is made of 250 cardboard carpet rolls and records Skrynka's many failed attempts to take a spin around the Wall of Death himself.

"Connie and Michael's story is completely and utterly bonkers but in a way it sort of makes sense," he said at the grand opening.

"My time on the Wall of Death was a disaster - not to mention extremely painful. People may think it's all leather jackets and exhausts but there is a real ballet to flying around the walls."

Speaking of high octane dance moves, on Thursday I headed along to Ballet Ireland's latest show Tutus & Beyond at the Project Arts Centre.

The show was a mish mash of demi-pliés, Bob Fosse side-steps and modern dance.

Publisher Kathy Gilfillan, Director of The Gate Theatre Michael Colgan, sculptor Patrick O'Reilly and Bill Whelan all sauntered through the doors.

Before the show I caught up with Royal Ballet dancer-turned-choreographer, Ludovic Ondiviela, who was showcasing his work Lost. "It's all about myths and ancient legends with leg lifts and jumps," he said.


Kendall + Kylie line is headed this way

NO wonder I was sitting beside model Kendall Jenner (pictured below) at the Topshop show at London Fashion Week. The fact that she wasn't walking, and neither was Cara, confused the guests, but now it all makes total sense as Kendall had her designer hat on.

The teenager Jenner sisters - who shot to international fame through their family's Keeping Up With The Kardashians reality show on E! - are teaming up with Topshop and the girls' clothing collection, Kendall + Kylie, will be sold exclusively at Topshop stores worldwide and on their website from June. I had a sneak preview of their capsule summer wardrobe, characterised by the girls' LA lifestyle and their eclectic design aesthetic, and it includes vintage shapes in Hawaiian prints and a fabulous white duster coat.

The collection was the talk of the Arcadia press day held at the Morgan Hotel in Temple Bar on Thursday. Lisa and Paul Fitzpatrick's gleaming silver Airstream trailer gleamed like a silver bullet on the roof of their hotel and it was the most perfect place to take breakfast with Arcadia's team of nine who travelled over from London. The views of Dublin's skyline were equally impressive from Peter Marks' penthouse on South William St where the Council of Irish Fashion Designers rolled out their SS15 collections.

- BP

Pip sure goes the  distance for his art

Following on from the success of her BBC adaptation of Esio Trot, director Dearbhla Walsh is busy working away on her next feature film Napoleon and Betsy.

The period drama tells the story of Elizabeth Balcombe, who struck up a relationship with a melancholic post-Waterloo Napoleon on the isle of Saint Helena.

"The script has a Lost in Translation feeling to it," Walsh said. "It's a great story and told from a female perspective - which is fantastic."

The film is still in development stages so it may be a while before it hits the silver screen. Still - good things come to those who wait.

Which brings me nicely to the opening of Pip Todd Warmoth's exhibition An Artist's Journey at the Molesworth Gallery. Pip - named after the tangy Cox's Orange Pippin apple - has spent years flitting about the globe painting picturesque landscapes.

"I go for four-month trips with 40 boards and follow my nose and stop where I like," Pip said. "I've watched the sun rise on the Blasket islands, slept in yurts in Mongolia, have travelled all around Tibet. It's a lot of time and travel for a painting but I couldn't do anything else," he said.

Nice work if you can get it.


How a great great grandmother can spark a fashion hit 90 years later

The fashion student design season is upon us and there were special celebrations this week to mark the 12th year of the River Island bursary with NCAD students .

I caught up with the 2006 winner, Lucy Moller (pictured right), and our fashion chat swiftly moved from 2015 hemlines and key trends to back a century, when I heard the fascinating story of the mould-breaking woman who inspired Lucy's winning collection nine years ago.

"My collection was inspired by Molly Childers, my great great grandmother and that's where I got my idea for women wearing mannish clothes," explained Lucy.

It's quite a tale as Molly and her husband Robert Erskine Childers were at the centre of the 1914 Howth gun running drama onboard their Asgard yacht which had been a wedding gift from her family, the Osgoods in Boston.

Lucy describes Molly as "a fascinating woman. She was actually paralysed from the waist down after falling into a lake as a child and wore leg braces."

The fearless Bostonian took the helm of the Asgard, strapped onto the deck with harnesses so she could navigate the rough waters with a hold full of Mauser German rifles for the Irish Volunteers.

The bit I liked most from Lucy's story was how Molly had some guns hidden under her big skirt which, in turn, inspired Lucy's idea for mannish silhouettes.

Molly Childers' husband, Erskine, who wrote The Riddle of the Sands, was executed at Beggar's Bush barracks in 1922 and their son, Erskine, became president of Ireland in 1973.

River Island's PR Emma Bolger told me that she is excited about announcing the 2015 winner at House Hotel at noon next Wednesday.

- BP

Thornton's bash turns into a theatre of food

Not many Irish restaurants can claim to have turned away snake-hipped scientologist, John Travolta, from its doors. But then again, not every restaurant is Thornton's.

The Michelin-starred gem celebrated its 25th year in business this week with a bang and a party full of chat about toques and tall orders.

"The Travolta thing was unfortunate," Muriel Thornton said. "But we were booked out. We're not big into the celebrity thing. We think of all our guests as VIPs."

That's made a bit easier given the restaurant's impressive guest list. Over the years they've wined and dined Hollywood A-Listers including Gregory Peck, Martin Scorsese and Jack Nicholson.

The anniversary bash turned into a sort of theatre of food as Thornton's chefs moved out of the kitchen into the dining room, whipping up tasty treats in front of guests.

"We wanted the kitchen to take centre stage," Kevin explained.

"To give people the chance to see what normally happens in the wings."

Kevin, who had spent the morning foraging for wild garlic and primroses in the Dublin foothills, looked proud as punch as he flitted about the room.

Bona fide foodies sipped champagne as trays filled with canapés of Inis Mór sea urchin, chocolate-covered venison and bite-sized macaroons did the rounds.

Derry and Sally Ann Clarke, Oliver Dunne and Domini Kemp all popped in during the night. "It's hard to believe it's been 25 years," Kevin said. "The time has flown by."


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