In the news: Aoife Qualter
The West of Ireland has long been praised for the quality of its food and produce and, in celebration of this heritage, the city will play host to the first Galway Food Festival next weekend.
Central to that celebration of our culinary prowess will be Attymon native Aoife Qualter, who will be run off her feet in a dual role of festival deputy chairperson and manager at ‘The Kitchen’ restaurant at Galway City Museum.
And, while the anticipated increase in custom at The Kitchen means that Aoife won’t be able to sample much of the copious delicacies available, she plans to venture away from the stove on occasion.
“Just looking at the programme of events, there is so many things that I’d love to be able to go to. I’ll just have to make some time to get out there,” she says.
“It is going to be flat out for sure and in year one I’ll definitely have to spend a lot of time in the background, but, if it all goes well, then maybe next year I can enjoy the festivities a little bit more.”
It has often been thrown at Galway that it is a city overrun with festivals, however, the opposite must be true, if there is an appetite for a four-day food festival with over 60 events already pencilled in.
But credit must go to the event organisers who have invented a unique weekend of food, which encompasses everything that is good about Galway’s food industry.
It is not all about the restaurants either and, central to the festival, will be the celebration of our local food producers. “We aim to produce food with a conscience. People now want to know everything about the raw materials we use, so why not try and promote indigenous food. Buying local is the least that people can do; it is the small things that can have a huge effect.”
Aoife says the first year of the festival will be all about changing people’s minds and showing them what Galway food is all about.
“The fact that good food has exploded in the town and the fantastic efforts of the suppliers needs to be recognised. Hopefully, Easter weekend will become synonymous with the food festival in years to come,” she says.
On the first three night of the festival the town will come alive with the special food trails laid on by the festival participants. A number of restaurants around the city will take part in the themed evenings, giving their customers the chance to sample their wares.
“On Friday, in keeping with the Good Friday tradition, fish will be the theme for everyone. All the restaurants will produce their finest fish dishes, all made with fresh, local produce.
“Saturday’s theme is dishes built around locally grown vegetables, which will enable us to help our local farmers, while Sunday will be a celebration of the lamb, especially for Easter Sunday.”
Another major part of the festival will be the fresh food markets introduced especially for the weekend. Fisherman’s Square will be transformed into a food-lovers paradise, with vegetable markets, a cookery tent, seminars and debates springing up throughout the weekend.
“All through the weekend, the markets will be there to highlight the produce we are using. The Galway Market in St Nicholas’ does such a good job. The organic vegetables available there are fantastic and they do so much to promote Irish food. There is such diversity available, everyone should get out and enjoy it.”
The Galway Food Festival runs from Friday 6 April to Monday 9 April. For more information on the events, visit galwayfoodfestival.com.