Ahead of the inaugural Taste of Kildare festival at the Curragh Racecourse this month, Into Kildare CEO Áine Mangan shares her highlights
In partnership with Into Kildare
For great style, thrilling racing, and excellent food, a day at the races really delivers. Make a date in your diary for the Autumn Festival at Curragh Racecourse in Co Kildare, on the 24-25 September.
Into Kildare, the tourism board for the county, is introducing Taste of Kildare, a foodie celebration of local food set against the backdrop of gripping races. We sat down with Áine Mangan, CEO of Into Kildare to find out more about Taste of Kildare.
Kildare is known for its racing tradition and great food scene, what inspired you to bring these two elements together with Taste of Kildare?
Kildare is known as ‘The Thoroughbred County’, there are countless stable yards and breeding and training operations peppered all around the county and of course Kildare is home to the Irish National Stud, where some of the world’s top stallions stand. We are lucky enough here to have three fantastic racetracks in the county, Naas Racecourse, Punchestown Racecourse and The Curragh, the home of the classics which is one of the most famous tracks in the world. This year Taste of Kildare will be held at the Curragh Racecourse over the same weekend of The Autumn Festival which promises to be a very exciting weekend of racing. The first day of Taste of Kildare, Saturday 24 September will run on the same day as the prestigious Goffs Millions, Europe’s richest race for two-year-olds.
What can racegoers expect from Taste of Kildare?
The first day will be themed ‘Born and Bred in Kildare’ and will feature food stands and food trucks who will showcase the best locally produced products. Racegoers will have the chance to sample and purchase artisan products while also having the opportunity to taste signature dishes prepared by Kildare’s best known food outlets.
On day two, a unique opportunity awaits racegoers and food lovers as the premier Leger Suite will set the scene for a magnificent culinary experience. Guests can enjoy a truly memorable lunch as some of Co. Kildare’s best known and loved restaurants will prepare an 8-course tasting menu.
Each of the dishes will reflect the personality and style of the food outlet and will offer guests the chance to sample dishes created by multi award winning chefs. Located on the 3rd floor of the iconic Aga Khan Grandstand, The Leger Suite enjoys superb views of the parade ring, finish line and panoramic views across the Curragh track and famous Curragh plains.
Why is the Autumn Festival at The Curragh a good setting for Taste of Kildare?
The Curragh Racecourse is a magnificent venue, there are wide open spaces offering spectacular views across the Curragh plains and the facilities are incredible.
The Aga Khan Grandstand itself is fabulous, most of the suppliers and stands will be located in the ground floor, called ‘Champion’s Hall’, it’s a really large, contemporary space. The Leger Suite on the third floor of the Grandstand enjoys panoramic views right across the Curragh plains and is located just above the Parade Ring and the Winning Post, that’s where we will serve a magnificent 8-course tasting menu on the Sunday of the festival. Lots of food trucks offering an eclectic mix of food will be parked all around the grandstand and there are also some suppliers located in the historic Queen’s Room which was built in honour of the visit of Queen Victoria to Ireland in 1861.
What will be the highlights of the festival?
There are so many great things happening it’s hard to pick! For an unsurpassed culinary experience, guests can purchase a premier ticket where they can feast on an 8-course Taste of Kildare menu in the Leger Restaurant. Each course features a signature dish from one of Kildare’s restaurants to ensure you really and truly experience a Taste of Kildare. Participating restaurants involved in the seven-course tasting menu include Firecastle, Killashee Hotel, Barberstown Castle, Glenroyal, Hotel, The K Club, Fairmont Carton House, Fallon & Byrne, Las Radas, Harte’s of Kildare and Two Cooks.
Are there any hidden gems or innovative local businesses that you’ve discovered that you’re excited to showcase at the event?
I think people will be really interested in some of the more unusual suppliers who will be at Taste Of Kildare this year. There will be a supplier there called ‘My Tea Workshop’ who teach people about tea selection and the technicalities of what I now know is the ‘not so humble ‘cup of tea! Beara Bitters, based in Naas, make aromatic and botanical infused alcoholic drinks, their bitters are made from natural fruits, nuts and seeds infused with alcohol and it’s all organic. I also can’t wait to try some of the quirky street food that the food trucks will be offering, we will have everything from organic ice cream to spicy and authentic Asian food.
What is the race not to miss at the festival?
There are two feature races running over the weekend. Saturday is the Goff’s Millions, its Europe’s richest race for two-year-olds. Sunday 25th is when The Friends of the Curragh Irish Cesarewitch race day takes place, that race carries a prize fund of €600,000, so we expect to see some pretty exciting runners over the full weekend.
Tickets for Taste of Kildare cost from €15 each (early bird) and are on sale now see www.tasteofkildare.ie for more details and to purchase your ticket. Tickets for the Leger Suite Taste of Kildare experience cost from €175 per person. All tickets include entry into the races as well as into Taste of Kildare.