Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Where’s my eatin’ trousers?

Simply Irresistable serving up food at the Omagh Food Festival.

Apart from the words ‘beer’ and ‘tangled’, these are my two other most favouritest:‘Food’ and ‘festival.’ But it’s when they’re used in tandem that they really come into their own: Food festival. Can there be a better term in the English language? OK, I suppose the expressions, ‘freebeer’ or ‘bank holiday’ would give it arun for its money.
As you might have alreadyguessed, I’m in Omagh Food Festival mode this week. My taste buds are on standby and I’ve made sure myeating trousers are washed and ironed. I might even bring a bib. Back this weekend (Saturday and Sunday), this year’s food festival holds a particular appeal for me this year, seeing as how I missed last year’s event due to unforeseen circumstances, which is to say, I didn’t expect to be under the weather following
the launch night on eve of the festival at the Silverbirch Hotel. Ahem…
On that occasion – the launch gig – I met one of the stars of the show in celebrity chef Paula McIntyre and with whom I chatted at length over several glasses of wine at the ‘Birches. Turns out, she’s arguably into her food even more than I am. Arguably.
But after missing out on last year’sinaugural gig – the compulsory mental anguish over what was undoubtedly an epic weekend of gastronomy – the worst part for me was having to listen to other people tell me for weeks afterwards how brilliant it was.
“Awwww, you missed out there, fatty,” one friend so succinctly put it. “You’d have been in your element. There was a man cooking buffalo
meat and everything!”
Thankfully (for me at least), Ballyriff Buffalo are back this year for a return fixture, alongside a whole host of edible delights: Erne Larder Preserves (I’ve tried the bacon jam but their salt and chilli pepper chutney is a world beater), Il Carro Della Pizza, Kennedy Bacon, Baz and Ed’s artisan breads, Long Meadow Cider and – some of you might know them from St George’s Market in Belfast – Tom and Ollie (pestos, olives, tapenades and cheeses). With this kind of attendance on the horizon, I might have to forgo the trousers altogether and wear a toga or maybe dungareeslike Grandpa Walton.
From previous experiences, I think you have to take your time with food festivals. There’s no point landing early and running through. I like the more languid approach, where you soak up the atmosphere as well as the drink. It’s on for two days, so there’s no point rushing, notif you want to make the most of things.
Land early, of course, but then go round everything and everyone and nibble as you go. Strike up conversations with the buffalo man, for example. Ask about his animals. Ask about the process of making Long Meadow Cider. Ask Mervyn Kennedy about bringing home the bacon. Take in the cooking demos. Have a drink. Haveanother one.
This festival only comes round once a year, so you might as well savour it while you can. That’s my plan, anyway. Savour being the operative word.
And just in case you were wondering, I’m not sure why ‘tangled’ is a favourite word. Maybe I like its quasi onomatopoeic value.

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