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The Road to #inishfood – Part 1

March 16th, 2011

The old song says that it is a long way to Tipperary, except for those who are lucky enough to live there. However the tables were turned on a few brave Tipperary souls who ventured out on the even longer road to Bridgend in Donegal. This border village is a gateway to the beautiful Inishowen peninsula but also home to the much celebrated Harry’s Bar and Restaurant.
As the song might have sang, “It all started with a tweet”, and in this case the tweet turned into the hashtag #inishfood ( copyright fued pending between Donal Doherty and Ella McSweeney ). A modern foodie miracle happened and on the weekend of March 11th to 13th the Irish online gastronomic world converged to this little corner of Ireland.

The Road to Donegal

I had met Donal Doherty a number of times and was following his success online. As a member of the Tipperary Food Producers and a regular Tweeter, I was very interested in going. TJ Crowe ( of Crowe Farm fame ) was one of the early headline acts secured, but myself and Pat Whelan felt he needed company. In the name of Food and the #TippFood movement in particular, myself, Pat and TJ headed north. The word RoadTrip was not mentioned once, but I think myself and Pat were both thinking about a book.

Without boring you with the early parts of the trip, we ended up driving via Belfast ( otherwise known as the long way with the good road ). We needed food and a quick call to Jane Boyce MW ( who was part of the Tipperary Food extravaganza in November ) drove us in the direction of Hillsborough and a gastro pub she recommended called The Parsons Nose. Jane consults with some of the best restaurants in Northern Ireland so we knew she would know where to go.

The Town I Loved So Well

This is about #inishfood so I won’t dwell on our dinner in The Parsons Nose, but for anyone heading north, it is a great place to stop. Great value, service and food. I will be back. Onwards to Belfast as the snow started to fall, and then the road to Derry via the ear popping Glenshane Pass. We sang “The Town I loved so Well” as we crossed the River Foyle. We arrived in Bridgend and dropped (Red Nose) wine and (Crowe Farm) pork into Harrys and then headed for Buncrana and the hotel. Donal had a taxi waiting and after checking in, we headed for Linsfort Castle where the foodies were in full swing. We had unfortunately missed the pizzas but it is hard to get two butchers to drive 6 hours without a meat laden food stop.

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The Rambling House

A few drinks sorted out the shyness and we all started to mingle and introduce ourselves. There was one gang in the kitchen and more in the Rambling House ( there is a great video on The Bridgestone Guide Facebook Page ) where songs and stories are the order of the day. I was bursting to sing but couldn’t leave the Dungarvan Brewing Company Beer or the wine in the kitchen. The fact that I can’t really sing rarely enters my thought process at these times.

I caught up with Donal and stole some of his very expensive wine ( because I left all of mine in the hotel – misunderstanding about BYOB ). I also chatted to Caroline and met Kristen for the first time. The kitchen was abuzz and in the chocolate room I met up with Yvonne from Hey Pesto and nearly tripped over a strange looking dog about eight times. The lady of the house told me why my hotel was called the Lake of Shadows and my earlier assumption about it being haunted and the scene of many a mystery was destroyed. It has a very Scooby Doo name and I was concerned about the caretaker, as he usually ends up being the villain. In our case, the night porter was a gent, but more on that later.

After more beer, wine, chocolate cake and introductions, a bus collected us after midnight to take us away. Could we find somewhere that would offer a band of weary travellers’ shelter from the storm? All my blogs and articles must have a Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen reference so now that it is out of the way, it was another way of saying that we wanted late drinks. Ask and you shall receive and we drifted into the Inn, The Drift Inn ( boom boom ).

Smoke machines and Karaoke

A great little bar complete with smoke machines for the karaoke. Among the revellers were @Pat_Whelan @crowesfarm @the_tastytart @harrysdonal @mccarthykanturk, chef extraordinaire Raymond Moran and many more. I’d like to say that was the end of it, but as I said, the night porter in the hotel was a very nice man. I won’t name and shame or reveal the finish time or the nature of the absurd conversations that took place. It would make a fascinating AudioBoo. I was wrecked and InishFood hadn’t even started.

This was Day 1 and the best was yet to come ( with photographic & video evidence ) … tune into www.rednosewine.com/blog or #inishfood on Twitter for the follow up piece.

Lucy (http://lola-luskitchen.blogspot.com/) writes:

That was an odd looking – it resembeled a lion!

Caroline@Bibliocook (http://www.bibliocook.com) writes:

That explains quite a few of the sore heads on Saturday morning – I was wondering why Yvonne looked so tired!

Caroline@Bibliocook (http://www.bibliocook.com) writes:

Oops, getting mixed up between Tara and Yvonne now – and haven’t got the beer or wine excuse at this stage!

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