Over the weekend, annual food festival Taste of Dublin transformed the Iveagh Gardens into an unmissable foodie haven, exhibiting the best of the capital’s culinary scene. Our staff at Trinity News had the opportunity to sample the gourmet food and drink experience of the summer.
Kicking off our adventure on Thursday afternoon, we made our way to the main stage to tune in to Ready, Steady, Taste, the festival’s spin on BBC game show Ready, Steady, Cook. This chaotic cook-off, hosted by IrelandAM’s TV chef Edward Hayden, saw I’m Grand Mam podcasters Kevin Twomey and PJ Kirby go head to head. Hayden guided the comedy duo as they raced against the clock to complete their culinary challenge. When the time was up, their cooking skills and presentation were put to the test and the pair competed for the live audience’s vote, which was determined using the original show’s iconic Red Tomato and Green Pepper paddles. Hayden called it a draw, pronouncing both contestants triumphant.
On Friday, Hayden hosted his own afternoon show to a packed-out Neff Home Ireland Taste Kitchen audience, with our eager reporters sitting in the front row. He assembled a three-course meal centred around Father’s Day and their infamous barbequing skills. To a lamb patty recipe, he added a tablespoon of red curry paste and a tablespoon of tart mango chutney to keep the burger flavourful and moist on the grill. He also suggested an original twist on a Victoria sponge by adding Bailey’s or Coole Swan to the batter and building the tiers with a tangy apricot jam and whipped cream. We left this demo with our mouths watering and tummies growling, ready to try all the delicious food and beverages Taste had to offer.
“This beginner friendly class involved just a few basic measurements and a quick shake and pour; rest assured we can now whip up our own Cosmo anytime!”
As luck would have it, we managed to secure a couple of highly sought-after spots in a summer cocktail masterclass with Taste’s “exclusive mixer partner” Schweppes. Led by their very own cocktail connoisseur Marco, we created a modern twist on the classic Cosmopolitan. This beginner friendly class involved just a few basic measurements and a quick shake and pour; rest assured we can now whip up our own Cosmo anytime! Ingredients include: 40ml gin, 20ml Aperol, 15ml cranberry juice, 15 ml lime juice, 15ml sugar syrup, and 100ml Schweppes Pink Soda. Once shaken with ice, this mixture was strained into a glass and topped off with a wedge of grapefruit. This was the perfect drink to quench our thirst as temperatures soared in Dublin for Taste’s 2022 debut.
De’Longhi’s espresso martini masterclass provided us with a boozy caffeine hit to spur us on. Firstly, their staff demonstrated how to create the perfect shot of espresso using Velo’s Indian coffee, which won gold at the 2020 Blas na hÉireann Food Awards. This “slightly nutty” coffee containing “hints of toffee, green apple, raspberry and milk chocolate” was then combined with 50ml vodka, 25ml Kahlua Coffee Liqueur, and 10ml sugar syrup in a shaker filled with ice. Then came the fun part – we gave our concoction a firm shake and strained it into a chilled martini glass. Finally, we added the trademark garnish to our masterpiece: three coffee beans representing health, wealth and happiness.
Alongside the wide variety of nibbles and refreshments, there were sauces and condiments galore! OpenHive paired tasters of their raw Irish honey with crunchy breadsticks and we scooped a rich dollop of their rapeseed honey. This honey, soft-set and whipped with a pale cream colour, gave a milder, slightly peppery taste to the palate. From there, we worked our way up Taste’s line of condiments and their complements. Taste of Sol offered a delicious tapas spread of Spanish tortilla and garlicky pesto, olives skewered with cured chorizo and crusty chorizo tapenade crostinis. The Ballymaloe stand stood strong with their classic tomato relish; we picked a bargain six-pack of their most popular condiment jars for €5. Later on, spurred by our Schweppes Cosmo cocktails, we suddenly became emboldened to try something with a bit more kick. Mahi’s hot sauces display tested our mettle on the Scoville scale, beginning with sweet chip dips of Cayenne & Mint and the spicier Carolina Reaper Pepper & Pineapple, sorely concluding the experimentation with the Scorpion Pepper & Passion flavour. Our taste buds were nursed back to life with tender scoops of creamy Biscoff ice cream from Moo’d. In search of something to further cleanse the palate after all that heat, we stumbled upon Beekon Batches – a “honey refresher” touting itself as neither beer nor wine, but a new alcoholic innovation entirely. This unique beverage, created by fermenting honey using water and yeast, came in three different flavours: classic, ginger & lime and elderflower & lemon.
“The mouth watering flavours of the spicy tomato salsa, paired with chipotle fondue and zinging with a squeeze of fresh lime brought some spice and sunshine to an otherwise cloudy day.”
After enjoying almost every sample Taste had to offer, the search for our lunch began. We decided to join the long queue snaking around the blue van of Los Chicanos Taqueria and see what the hype was about. These Mexican tacos were the talk of Taste, their crispy blue corn tostada with yellowfin tuna having won the festival’s award for best dish. We ordered both the chicken adobada and Oaxacan chorizo tacos and watched in anticipation as they were prepared fresh for us. The mouth watering flavours of the spicy tomato salsa, paired with chipotle fondue and zinging with a squeeze of fresh lime brought some spice and sunshine to an otherwise cloudy day. A cool avocado guac provided a creamy balance to the chile morita topping. We washed down our feed with a refreshing iced espresso and tonic from ‘Sup Coffee. The Los Chicanos truck is currently on tour and its next stop will be at Taste of Wicklow, on June 25 and 26.
Camden Street’s Pickle offered a mouth-watering range of traditional Indian dishes, including their spiced potato and pea Punjabi samosas. These hearty snacks were packed full of heat and flavour, which was enhanced by a sweet and tangy tamarind chutney. The restaurant earned a spot on the coveted Michelin guide earlier this year, solidifying itself as one of Ireland’s top spots for Indian cuisine.
“The adventurous spirit of this foodie haven was contagious and we decided to embark on one final shared gastronomical experience, trying oysters for the first time from King Sitric’s Seafood Bar.”
The adventurous spirit of this foodie haven was contagious and we decided to embark on one final shared gastronomical experience, trying oysters for the first time from King Sitric’s Seafood Bar. We witnessed our oysters being shucked just before digging in, ensuring that their freshness was preserved. The salty bivalves were complemented by red wine vinaigrette and a zingy dash of lemon-juice.
While Taste of Dublin featured an impressively broad range of flavours and cuisines, many already-successful businesses and bigger brands tended to dominate the weekend. It would be refreshing to see a larger focus on small start-ups next year, providing these with a crucial platform in what is a saturated industry today. The masterclasses were a highlight of our experience – we would love to see these expand into other areas of food and drink as well as the addition of more spaces. That being said, having enjoyed two full days at Ireland’s leading food festival we can conclude that Taste certainly succeeded in celebrating Dublin’s vibrant culinary scene. From interactive classes, talks and demonstrations, to an abundance of free samples, live performances and award-winning cuisine, Taste’s comeback had something to offer every food lover!
Additional tasting by Ella-Bleu Kiely, Aidan Cusack, David Wolfe, Emma Lueders, Eoghan Conway, Ellen Kenny and Oona Kauppi.