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The weather gods smiled down on the third Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine, as 8,000-plus visitors from more than 30 countries streamed through the gates of Ballymaloe House, in East Cork, over the weekend to watch Irish and international stars of food and wine strut their culinary stuff. With more than 60 speakers from home and abroad flitting between multiple venues in Ballymaloe House and the Ballymaloe Cookery School, Shanagarry, there was an almost overwhelming programme of events to choose from, including panel discussions and public interviews, cookery demos, readings and tastings, formal evening dinners, and casual dining events as well as an extended fringe festival programme. And nobody minded occasional turns in the weather, taking it as an excuse to cram into the Big Shed, the social hub of the festival, a giant barn housing food stalls, a craft beer bar, a large eating area, and plenty of space for dancing, beginning with the opening party on Friday night. The festival proper opened on Saturday morning in the Grainstore venue with a public interview with renowned American chef, restaurateur, and culinary pioneer Alice Waters of the legendary Chez Panisse in California, a popular event that set the tone for the weekend. The pop-up bookshop featured regular queues as festival-goers queued to purchase more than 1,000 books, many signed by the renowned authors popping along between events including chef April Bloomfield, the English-born superstar chef of New York’s Michelin-starred The Spotted Pig, and David Tanis, whose Platter of Figs cookbook was nominated as one of the 50 best cookbooks of all time by the Observer Food Monthly. Irish stars included Michelin-starred chef Kevin Thornton, Darina Allen, and RTÉ’s John Bowman who compered the opening ceremony and stayed on. Jeanne Kelly, of sponsors Kerrygold, said: “The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Lit Fest is an unrivalled opportunity to share with an international audience what we do so well in Ireland — we produce pure and natural food and ingredients that have a unique taste and quality. It’s been a really fantastic weekend.” ----------------------- This article was originally written by Joe McNamee and appeared in the Irish examiner: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/foodies-get-their-fill-at-packed-lit-fest-331198.html

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