Today was spent in the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin city centre for the annual Taste of Dublin festival. Now in its tenth year, it’s a well-established event. I hadn’t been since 2012 so I was really looking forward to going back and checking it out all over again!
There were two sessions held every day, over four days. We were booked in for the 12-4pm session and we arrived promptly at midday, along with a pretty big crowd of eager foodies!
The setting was as gorgeous as I remember with a large waterfall, fountain and stretches of green space. We were handed guidebooks as soon as we arrived which were really helpful in showing what was available as quite a bit happens across the site throughout the day.
A number of successful chefs were at Taste of Dublin every day to share skills and secrets in different forms. Almost immediately after arriving, we found ourselves at a demo by UK Masterchef champion Tim Anderson who taught us about cooking pork and sweet potato mash sous-vide. It was interesting and what I really liked was that the demo was held in its own little tent and limited to about twenty participants per session. It gave it a more intimate feel where anyone could ask a question, everyone could stand right by the station to see the food being prepared and then we all got a delicious sample afterwards (always a bonus!).
We then joined in on an interactive cooking demo hosted by the Dublin Cookery School. Chef and Michelin starred restaurant owner Oliver Dunne was in charge of our session. In pairs, we were set up at cooking stations and we followed along as he prepared a dish from scratch. The necessary ingredients were set out for us and they included sea bass, clams and mussels…all of which I’m completely unfamiliar with!
We gave it a go anyway and it was pretty fun…although a bit stressful too, I have to say! I’m used to cooking at my own pace and being relaxed about everything whereas this was so different and fast-paced! We managed to put something on our little serving plates by the end of it though and that has to count for something! I don’t eat seafood but my sister tried it and said it was actually pretty good!
After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon browsing all the various stalls and kiosks. As always, a selection of the capital’s best restaurants were on-site with an array of offerings.
Some of the sample-sized dishes available included Irish Organic House-Cured Salmon from Brioche; Dublin Bay Prawns from Chop House; Wicklow Lamb Massaman from Saba; 28 Day Dry-Aged Sirloin Steak from FX Buckley; Crispy Pork Croquettes from The Old Spot…
For all of us with a sweet tooth, there was plenty to keep us happy too with desserts such as Snickers Parfait from Pichet; Beetroot Chocolate Brownie from The Exchequer and Barry’s Tea Cake from Chapter One.
I opted for a steamed bun with Chinese roast duck, Asian salad and hoisin from Soder & Ko. It was honestly one of the most delicious things ever! I love duck and this was cooked so perfectly. I also got petits fours from The Hot Stove which consisted of a strawberry jelly, salt caramel truffle and Bailey’s Coffee macaron. The nice man that I bought this from assured me that it would be the best macaron I’d ever have…I’m a huge fan of macarons and this was really beautiful (but I still prefer Cocoa Atelier, sorry!).
As well as the restaurants; there were over seventy exhibitors selling a huge variety of snacks, sweets and savouries. You could pick up some samples along the way and purchase cupcakes, pastries, chocolates, wine, whiskies and much more. Looking back through the list, I’m so disappointed to see I actually missed quite a few! I do find that often tends to be the case with these type of events though — especially when there are so many people about and distractions at every turn!
Overall, we had a really lovely day. I have to say the weather really makes a difference to this event. I know I didn’t enjoy Bloom as much this year largely because of the frequent rain showers. Today, however, was all blue skies and sunshine so it was immediately more appealing.
Just like Bloom last month, Taste of Dublin can be an expensive enough event. I’m going away during the week so I really didn’t want to splurge a lot today. I still enjoyed myself but I think it would’ve been even better if I didn’t have to be so cash-conscious (or, you know, if some things had been more affordable…ahem!).
I said the same thing about Bloom and that is that I couldn’t say for definite that I’d go back to this event next year but I would be interested in attending it again at some point. It is a good day out and definitely a fun experience for all ages. We stayed for most of the four-hour session and by the end of it, I was kind of exhausted! We did so much walking around, I’m fairly sure we burned off most of the food we tried out — or at least enough to justify the extra few little treats I brought home ;-).