Saturday, July 2, 2011

My Taste of Dublin 2011

Listen, I know it was nearly a month ago but I've been a busy little bee for the past few weeks what with Take That (swooning over Jason Orange...), the never-ending birthday celebrations for The Hubs and work has been ever so busy as well - this juggling of two jobs is really eating into my blog writing time!  But I mustn't complain, I do love both of my jobs and will be very very sad when my contract comes to an end in September because I work with a great bunch of people who now all have a newly-discovered love of food.  Feeding them on a Monday morning certainly encourages their interest!!

Yes, VIP baby...

So anyway, myself & The Hubs toddled off for our 4th visit to Taste of Dublin, this time as guests of Superquinn.  Baby Brother dropped us to the Luas and off we hopped at Harcourt Street for the epic 300m walk down to the Iveagh Gardens.  It was warm, it was sunny and the skies were blue - perfect conditions for wandering around eating, drinking and nattering.  We were truly spoiled this year with VIP tickets which gave us access to the Appletiser VIP suite, complete with complimentary cocktails and champagne (don't mind if I do...) and private portaloos!.  Seating in the tent was a bit of an issue - too many people, not enough chairs -unless you were a VVIP like Ryan Tubridy with a specially reserved area - but my eagle eye kept an eye out and we soon grabbed a seat beside the door where we could peoplewatch and giggle at inappropriate outfits and badly applied fake tan - yes, I know I am very pass-remarkable but it was fun...

Our first stop was at Artisan du Chocolat where we were practically forced (I may be exaggerating a teeny amount) to taste the Guinness Salted Caramels.  Gerard Coleman is a chocolate genius & having done a workshop with him at the Dublin Cookery School, I knew his special Dublin creation would be fabulous.  I wasn't disappointed.  As we rounded the corner, we saw the Patron Tequila stand with a gorgeous Airstream caravan.  We sampled the Patron XO Cafe liqueur which I loved and The Hubs couldn't put down quickly enough - spirits aren't his thing at all...

The Patron Airstream 

At this stage, I could smell something delicious - a quick sniff in the air revealed the Weber BBQ Experience Roadshow.  We met the charming Dan Cooper who was busy preparing Beer Bum Chicken for the BBQ (a dinner dish which my Dad has been doing for many years & is hugely popular chez Babaduck).  He also was making pizzas and garlic & herb flatbreads on the BBQ using a pizza stone.  These were phenomenal and I couldn't stop picking at them.  Dan made his dough from scratch - using a 50/50 mix of 00 flour & strong bread flour which he believes works better than the usual total 00 flour mix that I'm used to for my pizza dough.  Having tasted his, I think I just might be converted...

 Beer Bum Chicken

 Divine Garlic & Herb Flatbreads
Pizza with Roasted Vegetables

Eventually we had to move on because there was so much to eat & drink and only a limited time to do it all... We met up with my friend Timmo and started to sample some gorgeous wines from Paco & Lola Albarino, Arrogant Frog & Beziers Mediterranee before heading over to the food stalls to spend our Florins.

First up was Dylan where myself & The Hubs shared Cod in Lemon & Thyme Batter with Chips & Tartare Sauce.  This was gorgeous - the batter was crisp and light, the fish was moist, the chips were yum and the sauce was just right.  Timmo was granted a small taste in return for a large forkful of her Braised Beed Shin au Jus with Creamy Mash

               Fish & Chips - Dylan Style               Braised Beef Shin from Dylan

Three dishes from The Exchange:
Shredded Duck Confit, Sticky Toffee & Date Pudding, Cannon of Irish Lamb

We had great plans to wander over towards the other area when suddenly there was a gust of wind, a rumble of thunder and whoosh... the heavens opened.  I have never seen people grab a drink and run so quickly in my life.  Hopes that it was just a shower were soon put in jeopardy when the lightning and hailstones arrived.  Imagine, hailstones... in June!

Here comes the rain (and hailstones) again...

Eventually we made a dash for the other side of the area because I knew that Ashford Castle was the visiting restaurant for Friday night only and I wanted to try their dessert which was entitled "A taste of Dark and White Chocolate, Spearmint Scented".  Usually, we avoid the desserts at Taste of Dublin because they tend to be of the meringue/pannacotta/easy to serve variety but this was something that you would be thrilled to try in the actual restaurant.  It was a long bar of mousse with a smaller bar of white chocolate mousse hidden in the middle, set on a crunchy chocolate biscuit and topped with a mint macaron, tapioca and a chocolate circle.  I can't begin to describe how utterly delicious it was - the Ashford Castle pastry chef is a genius and I am in awe of her work.  It was so amazing, we had one each!

 Perfection on a plate

Some of the dishes we tried never made it to the photo stage because we ate them before we remembered the camera - top of this category was the Black Angus fillet steak with Portobello Mushroom from Wilde at the Westbury and the Beef, Pine Nut & Sundried Tomato Ragu from Town Bar & Grill.  Just delicious.

One exhibitor I was really pleased to see at Taste was Red Dog Foods - I saw them at Georges Market in Belfast when I was at the Irish Blog Awards in March and meant to go back to buy some of their sauces... but Miss Like Mam Used To Bake distracted me.  This time, I was focused & grabbed a jar of their gorgeous Southern Sauce - a handmade mustardy sauce with a great kick  Hopefully they start selling their fantastic range of jellies & sauces here very soon.

So, what did I really think of Taste of Dublin 2011?  Apart from the rain which stopped play for far too long, it was much better than last year with many more free sampling opportunities for visitors and a great range of companies, food producers and retailers showcasing their wares.  One thing that does need to be addressed is the very high cost of dishes from the participating restaurants - €8 for a tiny tapas-sized plate is really too expensive and I've no doubt that this area could be made far more pocket-friendly with a bit of thought and consideration.


  1. Great read x Love Emer B

  2. Hey Mama (to) B - we missed you this year - Ru kept say "is that Emer over there"... bless him!

  3. A great recap! I missed out on a lot of the tastings this year but I agree with you that the price from the restaurants is crazy expensive. Also there wasn't really anything suitable for little ones to munch on! Still a really enjoyable event! {note to self-must get babysitter for next year!}

  4. Nice work! There are a few other recaps on the event and overall the message is the same. Good event, good food but pricey.
    Hopefully the organizers will take note for future events.