Promising a weekend of delicious food, tasty tipples and much more, The Harbour Bar Toastie Festival will take place in Bray, County Wicklow again next week.
The Third Annual Harbour Bar Toastie Festival will take place from Friday, 1 November until Sunday, 3 November, with an all-new range of toasties on offer, as well as a brand new coffee area and even a dog show set to take place. To find out more about this year's festival, we spoke to festival organiser Aisling Byrne.
Bringing Bray Together
Well-known for its innovative, flavoursome toasties, The Harbour Bar Toastie Festival is a major event in our calendar of food festivals. We absolutely love the simple idea of celebrating toasties and it seems that nearly the entire town of Bray has come together for the 2019 Festival.
Bray's new eco-friendly coffee shop Catalyst has come on board as the coffee supplier for the 2019 festival, selling top-notch Imbibe brews and a range of reusable products, like Chilly bottles and Huskee coffee cups, as well as a range of massively popular vegan treats.
"The team is so excited to get out more in Bray and do something different," said Aisling. "They’re going to use the opportunity to explain their mission, which is so eco-friendly."
A revamped version of The Golden Toaster Competition is back again for another year, which will see the best toastie in Bray awarded a glitzy golden toaster. According to Aisling, last year's process was far more complicated, but it's been streamlined this year.
"This year will be a real spectacle as the whole competition is going to be in The Harbour Bar. Local businesses will create toasties, finish them in the bar and give them to the judges to be blind tasted. Each entry will be judged on bread, cheese, seasoning and presentation. We've had lots of new entries this year, the young businesses are really into it. The winner gets the Golden Toaster so it's all very exciting. Businesses can enter until next Monday by a form on The Harbour Bar website."
While some elements of the festival remain the same as last year, there will be a range of new festivities this year, including new sponsors, a new singalong and even a new dog show competition!
There truly is something for everyone this year and, as always, the festival is completely family-friendly, which is where the dogs come into the equation. "There are always so many dogs running around at the festival, so we've been joking about introducing a dog show since the very beginning and this year we decided to finally go through with it," Aisling said. "There will be a corner of the bar with a pedestal where you can take a photo of your dog, then post it on Instagram or Twitter with one of our hashtags. The winning pup will receive an amazing hamper from Bray's newest pet shop, Barks'n'Bubbles, and I'm going to make up a great Harbour Bar hamper for the dog's human. I think it’s going to be a hit, could be a festival itself."
Wine Lab has also come on board as the festival's wine partner. Throughout the weekend, it will be matching the toasties with a variety of exciting wines, providing a new take on cheese and wine pairings. The ever-popular Toasty Tipples bar will also be onsite again, serving up a range of warm cocktails like Irish coffees and hot toddies.
New Irish brand Clintons Crisps have come on board as the official crisp sponsor for the weekend. As well as selling its wares throughout the event, each classic toastie will come with a handful of crisps, allowing you to try the delicious flavours - we highly recommend the salt and vinegar.
As for live entertainment, The Harbour Bar has you covered with music and more throughout the weekend. We're most excited about Sing For Your Dinner, which is a new venture from the team behind Bingo Loco, which will take place on Saturday night at 6.30pm.
"Sing For Your Dinner should definitely be a bit of craic," Aisling told us. "It's really theatrical and dance-focused, like Bingo Loco, so there will be lots of dancing and karaoke. Bingo Loco is all about prizes, so there will be lots of vouchers for drinks, restaurants and more given away during the evening."
Of course, The Harbour Bar Toastie Festival wouldn't be complete without a menu full of delicious toasted sandwiches. This year, some old favourites have been brought back, alongside a range of new flavours.
There will be more than 10 toasties available, including old favourites like ham and cheese and cheese and onion, as well as more extravagant additions, like smoked chicken with pesto and mac and cheese.
So far, we have our eye on three new toasties - the Cubano, the Bombray, and beetroot with goats cheese - as well as our old favourite, the PBJ toastie, which includes crispy pancetta with strawberry chilli jam, peanut butter and The Harbour Bar house cheese blend.
While some tweaks are still being made to the sandwiches, we can exclusively reveal the flavour profiles of the new toasties, which Aisling says will be massive crowd-pleasers.
"The Bombray is one of our new vegan toasties. It's a taste of India in a sandwich, perfect for the vegan that loves a bit of spice. It has a chana chaat filling with chickpeas, chutney and pickles." Aisling told us. "The Cubano is all-new too. At one point, we were trying to put loads of new sandwiches on the menu, so we had to narrow it down, but we decided to keep this one. It's a huge sandwich and something a bit different, with a classic flavour of pickles and French mustard. If you liked the movie Chef, you'll love this sandwich!"
The menu of souped-up toasties, which will be available alongside a range of regular toasties, is as follows:
- Mac & Cheese: Macaroni, béchamel sauce, house cheese blend.
- Smoked Chicken Pesto: Smoked chicken, pancetta, mozzarella and basil pesto.
- Cubano: Ham, prosciutto, pickles, Edam, cheddar, mustard and spring onions.
- Bombray: Chickpeas, pickles, chutney.
- Beetroot & Goats Cheese: Beetroot, local goats cheese, sage and caramelised walnuts.
- PBJ: Pancetta, strawberry chilli jam, peanut butter and cheese.
Many of the toasties are vegetarian, with several vegan options also available, plus gluten-free bread. All of the toasties are served on yeast-free, vegan sourdough, so there is definitely something available for everyone.