How great it was after two years of Covid-19 restrictions to have had the Taste of Dublin back in the Iveagh Gardens this June. The foodie festival returned to its full pre-pandemic culinary glory with an eclectic mix of well-known Irish chefs, artisan food innovators and cultural food inspired experiences. The iconic summer event had over thirty thousand people attending!
For those not familiar, Taste of Dublin is an outdoor festival which plays host to some of the biggest names in the British and Irish celebrity chef circles, many of Dublin’s finest restaurants and
innumerable food related companies. If that wasn’t enough, free entertainment in the form of fashion competitions, barber shop quartets and live music are all thrown in as part of the package. It’s a literal day at the races, minus any horses!
I’ve been a huge fan of this outdoor 4-day festival since it began in the mid-noughties; our work sports & social club used to arrange tickets and a gang of us used to drop up after work on the Friday night. This week’s blog is about two Saturday outings I had there with Peggy and Martin on 12 June 2010 and 11 June 2011. See what we saw, who we met and what we ate/drank!! Enjoy!!
Saturday 12 June 2010 - Taste of Dublin, Iveagh Gardens
In 2010 the festival was again located in my favourite Dublin park, the fabulous Iveagh Gardens, just off Harcourt Street – and a stroll (or stumble!) from Stephen’s Green. For some of the years when I worked at Sunrock, I was lucky to have an office that looked out onto this hidden oasis in the centre of the south city. Most people in Dublin couldn’t tell you where it was back then….but the Taste of Dublin has definitely put the Iveagh Gardens on the map.
So, Peggy, Martin and I grabbed a taxi over to Harcourt Street on that Saturday afternoon in 2010 and once inside, we immediately launched toward the first row we saw and grabbed every last morsel of complimentary food we could cadge! There was plenty to choose from; Tropicana, Green & Blacks chocolate, spiced hams, Dubliner cheese, prosecco, smoked salmon and many, many more. The best part was, of course, that given the volume of people passing by, it was easy enough to do a lap and shamelessly gobble up a second helping of each one!
There was also plenty of food available to buy. In fact, I’d almost go so far as to say that the majority of bites on offer would have cost you! Nearly every second stall represented one of Dublin’s restaurants or cafés, amongst which you could find Roly’s Bistro, Jaipur, Salon de Saveurs and Town Bar and Grill.
In 2010, there were 16 restaurants participating – see below – but my own personal picks would have been Chapter One, Ely and Pichet……..I’m happy to say that all 3 are still in business in 2022. Just goes to show how good they are to have weathered all storms over the last 12 years!
(Above) - Just some of the food from that day
Whilst the food itself was delicious, the prices being charged for each individual helping were just a bit stiff. Back then the currency for Taste of Dublin (some included in your ticket and some that you bought there) was the florin. One florin equated to one Euro, and many of the signature main dishes hit the seven or eight florin mark. Many that you did actually pay five for turned out to be little more than a small plastic cupful of strawberries and cream. Rant over!
We got to talk to chef Derry Clarke then chefing at Bon Appetit but later L’Ecrivain. He was lovely to talk to and allowed us to take a few photos with him…..
WE also saw Gino d'Acampo cooking ....and flirting outrageously! 🤣
As well as the eating side of things, there were cooking demonstrations in 2010 from celebrity chefs Darina and Rachel Allen, Catherine Fulvio, Conrad Gallagher, Clodagh McKenna, Oliver Dunne and Donal Skehan while blogger Lilly Higgins also did a demo with her sister, comedian Maeve Higgins. If you’re a European celeb chef fan, Jean Christophe Novelli and Gino D’Acampo were also cooking live and in person. But the highlight for Peggy was seeing Kevin Dundon’s demo….she long fancied him from the tele…..and was thrilled to bits to not only see him cooking in the flesh…
….but to also get the chance to speak to him and to buy a copy of his then latest cookbook, Kevin Dundon Great Family Food, which he kindly autographed for her. Before she died Peggy passed it onto me and I still have it in my kitchen: -
Restaurants at Taste of Dublin, 2010
Balzac, Bon Appétit, Chapter One, Diep Le Shaker, Eatery 120, Ely, First Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols, Jaipur, Pichet, Roly’s Bistro, The Cellar Restaurant at the Merrion Hotel, The Saddle Room at the Shelbourne Hotel, Salon des Saveurs, Town Bar & Grill, Venu Brasserie and Wilde – The Restaurant at the Westbury Hotel
The three of us really enjoyed our time at Taste of Dublin 2010 and vowed to return. Finally, here’s a YouTube video that gives a flavour (pun intended!) of the 2010 festival: -
Saturday 11 June 2011 - Taste of Dublin, Iveagh Gardens
So, the three of us enjoyed it so much in 2010 that we decided to return again the following year! Chef Kevin Thornton, who founded the Taste of Dublin festival with fellow Chef Kevin Dundon, said, Taste Festival, “It’s more like a giant picnic than anything else.” And picnic we did…..again in the picturesque Iveagh Gardens behind Dublin’s National Concert Hall.
The reason Thornton and Dundon started the festival was to help people feel more comfortable about fine dining—to take away the mystique. They thought that if they brought the public and chefs together, to allow people see how the food is made, than they wouldn’t be so intimidated and be willing to frequent fine dining restaurants in Dublin and to enjoy fine dining more often. And there was a lot of great food to taste there: -
So in 2011 Taste of Dublin was again a four-day celebration of fine food and drink this time with 22 of Dublin’s most prestigious restaurants, as well as speciality food and drink companies and celebrated chefs. Again they served bite-sized tastings and tapas of their signature dishes—enough to sample several dishes, and for the chefs to show off their skills—to the foodies of Dublin. The festival also featured bands, cookery demonstrations, and wine and beer tastings.
This time we also got to see chef, Nevin Maguire in action……
We had a really good laugh looking at all of the displays:
In years past, the festival has hosted over 30,000 visitors over four days, and 2011 was no different, in spite of the economic downturn of recent years. Again we really enjoyed it!! Long may it continue! And Bon Appetit!!
Bucket List Items Ticked Off in the above Blog 81
Number 33 - Food & Drink
Other Blog Posts
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
Blog 12 - Hong Kong, China
Blog 17 - Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai, China
Blog 19 - California, USA
Blog 27 - Scotland
Blog 28 - Barbados
Blog 29 - Canada
Blog 30 - Alaska
Blog 31 - Everglades, Florida
Have you ever been to a food festival? Tell me about your experience in the comments section below.
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My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!