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Hive of activity expected for Derry’s Slow Food Festival

06 October 2016

Guildhall Square will literally be a hive of activity as Derry City and Strabane District Council welcomes butchers, bakers, artisan makers and beekeepers to its Slow Food Festival this weekend.

There will certainly be a real buzz about the city for what will be Northern Ireland’s first Slow Food Festival on Saturday, October 8th and Sunday, October 9th, from 12 noon until 6pm, supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) NI Regional Food Programme.
The Mayor, Alderman Hilary McClintock said she was delighted that the Council was once again leading the way with the latest in a jam-packed programme of activities which have put the city and district firmly on the international food tourism map.

She added: “We are very proud to be leading the way as a Council in promoting our local food provenance through the commitment of dedicated producers and suppliers which has contributed hugely to our rising reputation as a food destination of note.”

Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to the city for the two-day free admission event celebrating good, clean and fair food from across the north west which co-incides with Slow Food Week and this month’s ‘Harvest’ theme during Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.

The family-friendly Festival will feature a Harvest Market, Street Food Zone, Family Fun Zone, free demos, tours and tastings showcasing some of the finest local producers in the north west and wider region including Co Donegal who subscribe to the guiding principles of Slow Food, a global, grassroots movement founded in Italy in 1989 which promotes true enjoyment of good food, and food production systems with a commitment to community and the environment.

Shane Holland, Head of Slow Food in the UK, praised Derry City and Strabane District Council for organising the event which he believes will leave a lasting legacy for local tourism and employment.
He said: "Slow Food in the UK is delighted to support the first Northern Irish Slow Food Festival in Derry. This Festival, which brings together producers and consumers, showcases the very best of food and drink in the region and beyond.  The support of the Council has been instrumental, and will leave a lasting legacy on tourism and employment, as well as the sheer pleasure of tasting new products which visitors to the Festival may not otherwise have tried.”

Mary Blake, Head of Tourism with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said they were very excited to be hosting the Festival fresh from the city’s recent ‘two in a row’ success as Ireland’s second top Foodie Destination 2016, awarded by the Irish Restaurants Association.

Centred in the festival marquee in Guildhall Square, the culinary gala will feature a Harvest-style market showcasing award-winning cheese and charcuterie specialists, freshly caught fish, handmade sauces, seasonal pantry foods and much more including Pennyburn Playtrail’s new FabFarm project and Roe Valley Beekeepers’ Association who will have a selection of local honey for visitors to sample.
Popular local celebrity chefs Paula McIntyre, Director of Slow Food NI, and Brian McDermott, who is also a Slow Food ambassador, will be hosting special cookery demos using locally grown and sourced food, as well as the Head Chefs from award-winning Oysters restaurant in Strabane, Niall Gorham, and Stephen Forbes from Pier 59, Derry’s specialist seafood restaurant which won Best Seafood Restaurant in Ulster at the ‘Yes Chef’ Awards in Dublin this week.

Foodies will also be spoiled for choice in the Street Food Zone where traders will be offering a selection of mouth-watering Slow Food cuisine including Emmett McCourt’s award-winning Irish Food Heritage, Scarpello & Co Craft Bakery, Amara Dexter Beef, Hog Roast Company, South African Kitchn and Morelli’s Ice Cream.

The Family Fun Zone will include children’s vegetable planting workshops with Northern Ireland’s ‘Edible Gardener’ Jilly Dougan, and a Petting Farm, while the Festival’s Fringe events include free walking and cycling food tours, an exciting talk at St Columba’s Heritage Centre by Inishowen-based eco-tourism company Wild Strands, a Harvest and Foraging Day at Butterlope Farm near Plumbridge, and specially themed food and drink menus at the Guildhall Taphouse and Warehouse No 1 Bistro and Cafe.

Ivan Taylor of Warehouse No 1, who has been involved in the restaurant business for 30 years, has created two exciting new soups using locally produced Northbound beer for a winter BBQ on the terrace. Local craft brewers will also be taking part in the Festival programme, with talks in the marquee and at Guildhall Taphouse.

For full details of the Slow Food Festival programme including a list of all the producers and cookery demo times, visit www.derrystrabane.com/food