Embassies set out their stall

Pictured: Some of the delicious food on show at CATEX.

February at the RDS saw another edition of Ireland’s largest annual trade show for foodservice professionals, CATEX, roll out an appetising flavour of what’s happening in the growing €6 billion foodie market.

Front and centre amongst the more than 200 exhibitors at the three-day event were representatives from three foreign embassies, Poland, Austria and Brazil, all vying to promote their food and drink offerings amidst stiff Irish competition.

Although this wasn’t a full-on culinary contest, there is no doubt that supermarket shelf space is at a premium these days and more grub is being produced than empty stomachs require. But for those gourmet gobblers in attendance who were a little more desperate to have their competitive itch scratched, they were surely pleased about the barista and cocktail championships or various cooking competitions which catered for and judged everything from cold tapas to hot dessert.

Pictured: Tempting hams and cheeses from Poland and Austria.

On the subject of international produce, Robert Bak of the Polish Embassy in Sandymount pointed to the more than 150,000 Polish people who live in Ireland and the various speciality shops that supply their favourite home sourced nosh, some of which has successfully crossed over into a typical Irish shopping basket.

Popular Polish fare would include their range of sausages, hams and cheeses, an area where they face stiff competition from the good folk at Advantage Austria, a branch of the Austrian Embassy on Ailesbury Road. It surely would take a cultured set of taste buds to tell the difference between a Polish and Austrian cold cut, but therein lies the fun.

Pictured: The ever-popular pizza.
Photos by Kevin O’Gorman.

The Brazilian stand, sponsored by their national embassy, had an altogether more eclectic mix of delights, ranging from the punchy spirit ‘Cachaca’, made from freshly pressed sugar cane, to ‘Acai’, a sort of purple ice-cream made solely from the pulp of the famous and potent Acai berry.

If this food fair is anything to go by, there certainly is no let up in the Irish consumer’s appetite to find new and different ways to tickle our national palate.

By Paul O’Rourke