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24/06/ 2012 Taste of Dublin 2012

It was about a month ago, that an email landed from Editor-Europe. Uhhhh, who?  Turned out to be a very nice and polite email asking me if there was any chance I’d review Taste of Dublin 2012 for Guestaurant.com.  I’m so stupid – immediate reaction - ‘no chance!’.  Just me being a typical scaredy cat.  But, after canvassing everyone I know, who all told me to go for it, that I started to think about it…... When someone mentioned that I might get free tickets I figured it was definitely worth a shot. I’m so cheap.

Well, not only did I get free tickets – I also got free press passes.  Yep, you read it right – PRESS PASSES! How amusing.  I was beyond excited, and with my man as my fabulous photographer, off we went to the press launch.  Free booze, free sample dishes and Ryan Tubridy – standing right next to me – seriously amusing.  Well worth the stress and trauma of wondering where on earth to start with the piece and whether they would like it.  Seems like Editor-Europe liked it well enough and it’s up on Guestaurant.com now – no comments yet, but maybe that’s a good thing?! That’s my scaredy cat side come out again.

So, thought I would share the piece I wrote on here…… EEEEkkkkk! Enjoy!

Taste of Dublin 2012
Confit duck, black pudding and chorizo
The tents are up, the menus prepared, the chefs are in their whites and the wine is chilled.  The band has tuned up and the heavens have OPENED! It must be time for the 7th Taste of Dublin at the gorgeous Iveagh Gardens.  Thankfully though, the rain didn’t persist all weekend.

Many of the great and the hungry of Ireland were here this year, and in my wandering around I managed to spot Sunil Ghai, Neven Maguire, Darina Allen and Catherine Fulvio to name a few.  The big catch this year though was Jamie Oliver! 

With 23 restaurants/food features this year and each serving at least three dishes, careful selection was the order of the day.  I started out picking my favourites from the menu card and getting very excited.  Really though, the best plan is to just wander around, preferably with a Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer/mojito/prosecco in hand, take it all in and pick up whatever tickles your fancy.

The competition for my foodie highlight of the event ended in a draw.  Fresh and light tuna tartare with goats cheese mousse, pickled samphire and wasabi roe (€6) has me really keen to get myself to Isabel’s.  Tinga Taquitos (€6) from 777 were also a big hit – stewed chicken, black bean puree and avocado packed a spicy kick.

The Saddle Room did a roaring trade again this year with their Charleville fillet with chips and bĂ©arnaise sauce (€6) which didn’t disappoint.  Next door Jaipur was also pulling in the crowds and I was very excited to see Sunil Ghai himself manning the tandoor oven - both the Goan prawn curry (€4) and the vegetable samosas (€4) that I tried were top notch.

Confit of duck, black pudding and chorizo boudin (7 florins) from the Green Hen was moist and rich, and surprisingly the various flavours pulled together perfectly – the final mouthful of meatiness with a slice of sweet dried apple might have been my absolute mouthful of the event.

Jamie Oliver took to the cookery stage on the first night to demonstrate an Irish lamb dish – sadly though, the umbrellas made it impossible for a lot of people to see anything (myself included).  Alongside numerous local chefs including Derry Clarke, Kevin Dundon, Rachel Allen and Clodagh McKenna, celebrity chefs Valentine Warner and Jean Christophe Novelli also had a turn on the stage – what a fantastic line up.

One of the new highlights was the Dine in the Dark experience, but even arriving just half an hour after the doors opened, all of the slots for the session were already filled.  Shame.

My only reservation about Taste is still the price - you need to have fairly deep pockets.  Between the ticket purchase, the dishes and some drinks you will easily spend €50 per head.  But for that you will get a fantastic variety of food, see many of Ireland’s top chefs in action, and discover new restaurants and produce that you will want to go and check out. Lots of fun.