28 September 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Veronica Corr

THE LAUNCH of the Taste of Monaghan Festival took place in the Market House, Monaghan Town, on Monday evening last.
Sponsors, restaurateurs, public representatives and interested parties turned out in force to welcome for the fourth time, what has become an annual event.
The honour of launching the festival was shared between Monaghan Town Mayor Seamus Treanor and County Mayor Hugh McElvaney.
Monaghan County Council, Monaghan Town Council, Mallon’s Butchers, Silver Hill Foods, Castle Leslie Estate and Fleming’s Department Store proudly sponsor this initiative.
The launch which took place upstairs, was preceded by a wine reception, to which Damhnoit McKenna and Nicola Sherry provided a classical live soundtrack. There was also an impressive display of local produce.
Jenny Blackburn, Chairperson of the Taste of Monaghan committee kicked off proceedings by explaining that the theme of this year’s festival was Bigger and Better, and judging by the schedule of events, organisers plan to deliver on that mission statement.
Ms. Blackburn explained that the aim of the festival was to support local producers, retailers, growers and manufacturers. She also felt that it was no accident that Monaghan was known as the self-sufficient county.
She alluded to that fact that Catherine Fulvio, celebrity chef will kick off the festival in the Four Seasons Hotel on Thursday, October 4th.
Jenny added that over twenty demonstrations would take place over the course of next weekend, in addition to the fifty exhibitors selling their wares.
Four hundred pipers will descend on the town and the first Taste of Monaghan 5k walk will also take place.
This year the festival has moved venue to the Courthouse Car Park, as it has grown and is befitting of the bigger and better theme.
Restaurants will also have a presence in the marquee this year, another new development.
In conclusion, Jenny wished to thank the hard-working committee, in particular Riona Carroll, Secretary, for her trojan work in preparation for the festival.
Mayor of Monaghan Town Seamus Treanor welcomed the participation of celebrity chefs, suppliers, trade stands and participants.
Monaghan had been long renowned for its fresh food production, he said, adding that Mallon’s and Silver Hill Foods were major suppliers to the retail and catering trades.
He congratulated local producers, retailers and restaurateurs on producing, selling and serving top quality foods at competitive prices too.
Mayor Treanor also claimed that 80% of Monaghan produce was exported and that one German supermarket had recently decided to stock Irish meat exclusively.
He also alluded to how tastes had changed, only last week he was in Geel, Belgium, where he was served horse, which he enjoyed immensely.
In fact, it reminded him of an anecdote about his first job – such was the nature of heavy work that people used to joke “strong boy or young horse required!,” the Town Mayor recalled.
One thing his cold meat horse salad also demonstrated to him was that new products are coming on the market all the time. If producers were lucky enough to get their product on the retail ladder, they had it made, he added.
Mayor of County Monaghan Hugh McElvaney was his jovial self as he joked that he was starving and “could do with a Taste of Monaghan!”
However, he said that he had never eaten horse, although he admitted to having backed plenty of them!
On a more serious note, he said that he was delighted to represent Monaghan County Council, one of the sponsors of the event.
He went on to compliment Jenny and her team, also thanking local eateries and retail outlets for using and stocking local produce.
Jenny then spoke on the Farmers’ Market Food Village, which will compliment Catherine Fulvio’s cookery demonstration, the non-profit festival’s main fundraiser.
A representative of Silver Hill Foods also said a few words on how the festival had put Monaghan on the culinary map and how the food industry was the key to economic recovery.
Riona Carroll then gave a run down of the four days of events, outlined in full on www.tasteofmonaghan.com

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