The Taste of Dublin festival is any foodie's delight! What you get is a concentration of some of the best restaurants that Ireland has to offer all in one place. I'm talking Michelin Star offerings all within the space of a garden. Ok, it's a rather large "garden", but nothing is more than a very casual 5 minute stroll away.
Tasters from these amazing restaurants aren't all that's on offer. There are plenty of "every day" sorts of food to enjoy, as well as sweets and treats, couverture chocolates, gelato and ice-cream, artisan preserves, jams, cheese, cured meats, plenty of drinks and so much more.
One of the stalls that I came across had an amazing range of olive oils and balsamic vinegars from an unlikely source; Australia.
I've never thought of Australia as an olive oil producer, but this range of oils had me oh so happy! Last year I walked away with an incredible lime infused olive oil that I've been using on everything from salads to roast veggies to stir fries. This year I picked up a bottle of vanilla & cinnamon balsamic vinegar. It sounds a little odd, but as soon as I tasted it I thought, Christmas, so it will definitely be used when I glaze my ham this year!
Apart from the offerings of delicious food - not just from Ireland but also from around the world - another great attraction of the festival are the chefs who visit and give live demonstrations in the Electrolux Taste Theatre. All the chefs that I watched were fantastic. There was friendly banter between them and the crowds and a chance to ask questions after the demonstrations, sometimes even during.
This year, among some of the chefs giving masterclasses in the Taste Theatre, were two fantastic young and fun chefs, Jonray & Peter Sanchez from Michelin star Casamia, who gave us a sneak peak of a new dessert item soon to be on their menu; peaches and cream. I know, what's so special about peaches and cream? Let me tell you, this was Michelin Star peaches and cream! It wasn't just about learning how to make this dessert, they also gave us chef's tips and tricks to use at home.
If you're a hands-on person, I'd definitely recommend that the first place you head when you arrive is straight to the Electrolux Chefs' Secrets tent and sign up for one (or all!) of the cooking lessons (it's first come, first serve, and free!). I signed up for a cook-a-long lesson with chef Oliver Dunne, chef-owner of the Michelin Star "Bon Appetit" here in Dublin.
In about 40 minutes, we'd all made a lovely trout dish and I picked up a few tips from chef Oliver which I'll certainly use.
Not only was the lesson free, but we got to eat our own dishes and keep the aprons. Something I also enjoyed was getting to use the Electrolux induction stove.
I've used another brand of induction hob once before but found it a little temperamental as it would turn off completely if the pan or pot was taken off the surface. The touch control took a little getting used to on the Electrolux model but it was fantastic (the hob and heat setting stays on if you lifted the pot away).
I'm thoroughly fascinated by this newish kitchen technology! I still can't get over how quickly it heats the pan, and only the pan, without giving off any other heat like a normal stove. I know this isn't a kitchen appliance review blog but I just had to mention how fun it was using these hobs.
In amongst all the foodie goodness, the vibe and atmosphere was enhanced by solo musicians, bands and even a massive choir. Kids ran around in the sun and adults nosed around from stall to stall sampling everything from sushi to risotto, lobster to steak and chips, wines, beers, cocktails and everything in between.
When I went to Taste last year, I'd seen a few people sitting down with their booklets and circling the dishes they wanted to try as well as the other events they wanted to see. I thought that was a little over the top, until I got to the end of the session and realised I'd missed a whole lot of things!
I was better prepared this year, and of the 6 dishes I'd highlighted, I tried 4, as well as 3 other on-a-whim dishes that I spotted as I was walking around.
I'm not much of a drinker, but I also tried a watermelon and basil mojito mixed with plenty of flair, a rather refreshing palate cleanser! (And made a very short and simple video of the process just for fun ;) )
Sadly I missed Neven Maguire and Darina Allen's masterclasses in the Taste Theatre as I was too busy running around enjoying the food. This makes me think that either I should have walked a little faster between each tasting or I should have gone to two sessions. I even missed buying a few things that I'd wanted to take home like yoghurt and bread because before I knew it, it was nearing the end of the session and all the stalls were closing up and getting ready for the evening session to begin. Oops!
It really is a great day out if you're a foodie and want to sample incredible dishes. Most of the tasters that I tried were €7 each (that's 7 Florins, the tokens used as currency on the day) and that would be the most a dish would cost. But there were also dishes available from €4. Then there were vendors selling donuts, chocolate, olive oil, coffee, cheeses etc. from €2 - €30 (again, using Florins bought on the day from kiosks dotted around the grounds). I tried 8 things for 40 Florins, and then spent another 30 florins on things to take home, like my curiously cinnamon balsamic vinegar ;)
But not everything costs money. Most of the vendors hand out small samples to try, and the Electrolux Taste Theatre, Chefs' Secrets and Chefs' Skillery tents are all free. Just be sure to head straight to the Secrets & Skillery tents to sign up as places are limited and it's first come, first serve. If you want to sit through the Taste Theatre demonstrations, then get there about 5-10mins before the chef is due to come on, otherwise you can easily stand around the edges and still see and hear everything.