Taste of Dublin 2012
June 15, 2012 Chris Caldwell 0 Comments
PastieBap headed to Dublin for the weekend to attend Taste of Dublin (a foodie fest). Visitors to the Belfast Taste and Music Fest which has been held in Botanic Gardens for the last few years will be familiar with the set up: local restaurateurs set up tents and sell tapas size dishes of their best and newest creations to willing punters for the in-house currency of florins.
Day 1 – Thursday
It was dry as we arrived in Dublin after a swift two hour journey from Belfast, but then the rain came and as we all know in Ireland – when it rains, it pours! As we began queuing to get into Taste of Dublin we soon discovered that a bit of rain certainly doesn’t put the people of Dublin off a day out and some good food.
As close as PastieBap could get to Jamie Oliver!
As we arrived on the Thursday we are greeted by probably the world’s most famous (and certainly the richest) chef, Jamie Oliver. We then watched as he performed a cooking demonstration (shoulder of lamb) for the crowd before we headed off for our first gourmet experience.
Becks Vier Masterclass
We tasted 4 beers and 2 ciders and accompanying foods that went with each as our hilarious Belgian beer master took us on a voyage of discovery.
One doesn’t usually associate beer being paired with foods, the way wine is. But here he showed us how different foods can definitely be enhanced with certain beers. How a sweet food can enhance an amber ale and how a pear cider can help soften a strong cheese. For being such good pupils we all got a free pint of Becks Vier as well.
Some of the food and drink they served us at the Masterclass
Upwards of 20 restaurants were represented at the food fest which was situated in Iveagh Gardens, St Stephen’s Green in Dublin and it was hard to decide where to eat first. My dad bought some Beef Peng Curry from the Taste of Thailand stall, which was delicious. I sampled Chang (A Thai beer), followed by ciders, cheese, yogurt, sausage and prosecco. We eventually wound up in the Volvo tent, where it was nice and dry, doing some Virtual graffiti!
Kanchi Dine in the Dark
Next up we were booked in for Kanchi ‘Dine in the Dark’ where you are served by visually impaired waiters, in a pitch black room and with your vision impaired your taste buds are able to fully waken up. This was excellent, we had 3 courses and a glass of wine. Each course was a dish with 4 tastes and as we sat there in the dark we tried to pick out all 4. Afterwards in the cold light of day, the Chef revealed all to us. We got most of them right! This gives you a real insight, although brief, on how your life would be affected if something were to happen to your sight. A challenging but brilliant experience, and the food was second to none.
A Duck Confit and Smoked salmon and Mackerel
The San Miguel bar was open where you could watch the European football and sample some of Spain’s most famous dishes – tapas (starter size portions of any dish). There was a barbecue master class for when (if) the weather gets better (more about that later) and of course live entertainment – with live bands such as the upbeat Spring Break, and Smash Hits playing throughout the four days. This wouldn’t truly be an Irish festival without a little bit of drink and with West Coast cooler, O’Briens wine, Rekorderlig cider and the aforementioned San Miguel and Becks beer on hand, the crowd’s thirst was certainly quenched.
We finished the day off with a wine tasting class run by O’Briens wines, where we tried a presecco, a white and 2 reds as the owner of the wine company, who had flown from Italy, talked us through each one.
I have to say that the organisation of this whole event was excellent. We were given free ponchos on the way in, so that even though it rained it wouldn’t stop us. Numbers looked high and everyone seemed to be having a great time.
We were lucky enough to attend the food fest on the Friday also, with a couple of tickets won from a competition run by Hi-Life (thanks), who also had a stall on hand for anyone wanting to pick up the foodie’s favourite two for one dining card.
Day 2 -Friday
As we arrived for day 2 perhaps a little bleary eyed, thanks to the Becks Vier the day before, we notice something different than the previous day: the sun had come out! We went to the 12pm-4pm session and wondered what we had left to do, because we had done so much on the Thursday. We needn’t have worried as there was still plenty to do.
We watched (and tasted) the chefs at the Knorr stand prepare asparagus risotto and chicken, rice and peas before leaving with a wee sample of their new stock pots to attempt it ourselves at home. We sampled the new Tropicana range, with orange and lime proving to be the favourite. We had free samples of cheese, orange and ginger Crabbies ale, Spanish wines, cured sausages, pizza, beers, chicken and yoghurt!
Derry Clarke and Kevin Dundon
Our highlight of the day was watching Ireland’s own top chefs Derry Clarke and Kevin Dundon taking us through a BBQ master class. You could tell that these guys are friends and enjoy working together because the craic was mighty at this demo. They jibed, joked and poked fun at each other for the full hour. The whole time giving endless genuinely great tips on how to BBQ properly, the correct use of smoking, the best types of BBQ and of course cooking some food! They produced barbecued salmon, cabbage and bacon and flambe banana. The taste of each was simple but beautiful.
As this finished we managed to nip over and catch the last half hour of Super Chef Jean Christophe Novelli’s demo were he was making all kinds of delicious fish dishes. He was on fine form as well, even joking when someone’s phone went off “I think that is my mother checking that I arrived safely in Ireland”.
Chef Jean Christophe Novelli reaches for the Herbs
I’m starting to think that the typical view of Chef’s as hot heads is a total myth. He brought a friend of his on stage, an Irish Chef who’s name I didn’t catch and he gave an impassioned speech about how Ireland needs to re-capture it’s food heritage and outlined steps he was taking to help ensure this. A great speech that was rightfully greeted with a round of applause and I hope that in future years we’ll be seeing more Irish food stalls at festivals such as this.
Massive Parmesian cheese wheel
After assessing how many florins we had left we stopped off for a cone of steak and chips (yes really) and the most amazing Parmesian risotto I’ve ever seen or tasted. It’s prepared in the traditional way and then put into the most massive Parmesian cheese wheel where the cheese melts into the risotto. It’s then scooped off and served.
As we all travelled home in the car with perhaps a little more weight than when we arrived, we agreed that it was a great way to spend a day or two and we couldn’t wait to return next year. After seeing the popularity of this years’s Taste of Dublin we look forward to August when the Belfast Taste and Music fest returns to Botanic Gardens and tasting some more local fayre.