Blogs | Litfest A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe

Last Sunday night Katherine O’Leary was still ironing. Such madness of disorganisation was the result of ‘swanning’ off to the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival.

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Start stockpiling dried Iranian limes Ottolenghi fans. They are one of the ingredients Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi will champion in Plenty More, his new book due out in September.

The man who put sumac into supermarkets wowed an audience of Yotamites yesterday morning, talking about Middle Eastern food at the Ballymaloe Litfest. On Saturday night, he and fellow chef Sami Tamimi cooked a €110 a head meal for 70 people.

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Large scale agriculture is not the only way to feed a growing world population, US food activist Sandor Katz told a panel at the Ballymaloe Litfest yesterday.

“Less than one per cent of the US population is involved in the direct production of food,” he said. And this was a direct result of labour-saving large scale agriculture.

People have been sold the seductive idea that there is “no need to toil in the soil” he said. Instead we are “encouraged to think of ourselves primarily as consumers, which is an infantalising role”.

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WILD beach roses, spruce shoots and March violets are not ingredients that can be found in any supermarket - but they are part of the dazzling new palette of flavours served up by world-famous chef Rene Redzepi.

So when the Danish maestro, who heads the kitchen at the world’s best restaurant Noma, offered to give a workshop on foraging at the inaugural Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine, it was bound to unearth some delicacies the rest of us might have dismissed as mere weeds in the undergrowth.


The second Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest of Food & Wine ended last night where it all began just 48 hours previously, in the ‘Big Shed’ at Ballymaloe House in East Cork.

A crowd of revellers made up of performers, audience members, and festival staff whooped it up into the wee hours at the closing party for the world’s only literary festival dedicated solely to food and drink.

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“The world is edible” ~ René Redzepi, Ballymaloe , 2014

Stepping into the grounds of Ballymaloe House, you instantly get a feeling of genuine, refreshing, Irish countryside.

The fields surrounding the house were dashed with flushes of greens and yellows, with trees and birds all finding their place amongst the people. The house, an impressive building, was covered with the most beautiful purple flowers draping the windows and walls and gave off an image of pleasant grandeur.


René Redzepi’s presence in Cork is a coup for the Litfest food festival.

René Redzepi was impressed. “This is the most organised farm I’ve ever seen,” he told Darina Allen yesterday afternoon, arriving wide-eyed out to the sunny kitchen garden at Ballymaloe.

The Dane, who was renamed world’s best chef last month, was giving his eldest daughter Arwen a piggy-back, her foot in a cast after a bicycle accident.


‘I love the build-up to it,’ says Darina Allen Chefs as writers and food experts arrive

No one told the weeds in the kitchen garden at Ballymaloe to stop growing so staff could set up for the thousands of people expected to arrive at the Cork farm this morning for the annual Litfest. So there was an element of business as usual yesterday as the gardeners were quietly weeding the herb beds.

“I think they’re growing even more vigorously,” one of them muttered as she passed with a full barrow.


Looking for a food focus for your weekend? Make the pilgrimage to Ballymaloe for The Ballymaloe Lit Fest.

This weekend sees the return of the Ballymaloe Lit Fest to The Allens’ food haven in Shanagarry, Co Cork on the 16th, 17th and 18th of May.

Darina and Rachel Allen will be welcoming food enthusiasts from around the country and around the world to their cookery school to celebrate the best in food and wine writing.


We want you to have a safe visit to the Kerrygold Ballymaloe LitFest, that you get to see the events you have booked, and that your trip goes according to plan.

We do expect to the roads to be very busy over the weekend though, with traffic delays unfortunately likely at various times, so we strongly advise that you leave in plenty of time to get to Ballymaloe or Ballymaloe Cookery School, so that you can find the location & venue of your chosen event(s).  


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About Litfest

Litfest - A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe is a weekend filled with fascinating facts, inspirational stories, intriguing discussions, incredible knowledge, fantastic music, fabulous dancing and of course, delicious food and drinks.
It is the only festival of its kind in Ireland and has created an important hub for food and drinks enthusiasts worldwide to meet and share ideas with each other.

Check out the video of Litfest 2016

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