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The first snail farm in Ireland to produce an onsite escargot range will be showing how to combine them with traditional Irish food at the second annual Bite Food Festival in the RDS between November 18-20.

Bite 2016 is a major food festival, showcasing the best of Ireland’s artisan food and drink producers to huge audiences in the run-up to the Christmas season.

Shamrock Escargots in Ballycowan, Co. Kildare is less than a year old and has already harvested 250,000 snails from some 10,000 originally imported from France.

The farm is one of only four in Europe to sell escargot liver and has Ireland’s first licensed escargot processed kitchen to make luxury caviar, escargots with garlic butter, marinated escargot liver and escargot fillets.

The venture was started by Czech Republic native Marek Pokorney who swopped a career as a civil and environmental engineer for a much slower paced life.

“I came to Ireland as a plumber 11 years ago and went to college to study first civil and then environmental engineering.

“However when my work contract ended last year, I decided to take a risk.

“I imported 10,000 snails from France and because of my background, I was able to design and built my one-acre farm, including a 50ft breeding unit, hibernation unit and the kitchen.

“I have to keep them well fenced in. They may be slow but they can travel up to 50m a night.

“It takes about 18 snails to make enough eggs for a 75g pot of caviar and each snail only breeds once a year.”

Marek will be demonstrating how to cook escargots at Bite and promises a lovely dish together with Irish staples bacon, garlic and brussel sprouts.

The Festival will feature top chefs and food experts as well as a huge range of producers, who are there to sell, sample and educate people about their unique products.

Bite 2016 will feature a range of winners from the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards, the biggest competition for quality Irish produce.

The Main Stage at Bite 2016 will feature a superb menu of many of the country’s top chefs and food producers demonstrating interesting ways to cook with the best of Ireland’s artisan food products.

There will also be free cooking classes led by Cook’s Academy which will allow adults and children alike to get creative in the Hands-On Kitchen.

The extremely popular Bite Cook Along will see participants making such diverse dishes as pan-fried venison, shakshouka, pappardelle with cockles and mussels, kung pao cauliflower, healthy cookie dough balls and bruleed cider braised apples.

There will also be craft beer, cider and prosecco bars along with an array of demonstrations at the Drinks Masterclass with experts on wine, spirits, coffee brewing, cocktail and smoothie making and vegetable juicing amongst others.

Bite 2016 takes place at the RDS Main Hall from November 18-20. Full details and booking can be found at www.bitefoodfestival.ie.

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