Bairbre Power... Out and about
Our resident diarist calls into the best parties and events around the country
So, we're going to have to wait until 2019 for another Ballymaloe Litfest, but based on the success of last weekend's fifth festival, it will be well worth waiting for. Hat tip to (1) Rory O'Connell, festival manager, pictured with London chef Jacob Kenedy (whose recipes featured in Weekend this month) and Rory's sister Darina Allen, who needs no introduction.
Rory's eye for detail was awesome, from the calibre of the guest speakers to the Big Shed events, right down to getting a chef to walk around the Saturday morning symposium with a pan of sizzling rashers to get our taste buds going.
Brian McGinn from Netflix's Chef's Table was on site with Tim Magee of Host PR, who had brought Brian on a whirlwind tour of Ireland. On Sunday, Brian joined David Prior, international editor of Condé Nast Traveller, for a fascinating chat, given they are two of the most widely travelled, respected commentators on the global food and travel scene.
Things were chilled and celebratory on Saturday evening. Craigie's launched their new Vintage cider, which we sipped in the Big Shed while welcoming on stage the next generation of the Allen clan to step into the spotlight: Willow, daughter of Darina and Tim's son Toby, is a stunning teenage singer/ composer/guitarist and one of Myrtle Allen's 28 great-grandchildren. Name to watch!
The Lens & Larder girls, Imen O'Donnell and Cliodhna Prendergast, above, shared tips from their photographic food storytelling site at a 9am workshop on Saturday. I chatted with Cliodhna's husband, Patrick O'Flaherty, general manager of Ballynahinch Castle Hotel in Connemara, who lapped up his busman's holiday of a foodie weekend in East Cork. @bairbrepower
Leading women from the Irish grocery industry gathered at Dublin's InterContinental Hotel, Ballsbridge, for the second Today's Women in Grocery (TWIG) 'Growing Connections' networking lunch. Guests included Sharon Yourell Lawlor and Aoibheann O'Brien, above.
Pianist John O'Conor posed for a snap with student Antonia Huang and The Westbury's general manager, Vincent O'Gorman, above, at the hotel's Dublin International Piano Competition Summer Evening Recital, at which John performed with Ireland's premier young virtuosi in The Westbury's Grafton Suite. As artistic director of the Dublin festival - which is 30 years old next year - John is a very busy man, but when he does manage to grab some free time, he likes to read, play bridge and catch up on some TV shows. Top of that list is The Fall, set in Belfast, in which his actor son, Hugh O'Conor, appeared as a doctor.
Foam, skid marks and bubbles: Darina Allen left us in no doubt about what doesn't need to find on her plate! The single biggest 'trend request' from visiting chefs to the Litfest was for 'banana shallots'. Turns out they are slightly sweeter, and milder, than regular shallots.