Cat Gloria is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Journalism major at the University of Florida, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Cat spends time at a food festival, Taste of Dublin, recommends what to try.
I don't think I've mentioned it yet but I am a huge foodie. On the third day of my internship here in Dublin my boss mentioned a local food festival to me. The event was called Taste of Dublin. So I went home, did some research on it, and there I was one week later, frolicking aimlessly through Iveagh gardens trying an assortment of fine dining.
A bit about Taste of Dublin. Taste Festivals is a global brand that organizes worldwide food festivals or as they call it, "foodie heaven". The Taste of Dublin food festival came to town Thursday the 15th to Sunday the 18th bringing in food lovers from all over the world. This year’s theme was “Flavors of the World”, reflecting Dublin’s ever diversifying food landscape. I decided to attend the Thursday evening block of the event.
I walked in and what I sight I saw. It opens to a garden with beautifully decorated tents on either side of the pathway containing different cuisines. Everything from spicy fruit salad to roasted duck was being served out of tiny tents.
Photo: one of the many sample-offering tents, called Bally Maloe.
It gets better. Almost all of the restaurants gave out free samples, so before even spending a dime I was satisfied. If you want to try them more than once, the key is to go around to all of the stalls once and then go back around about an hour later to try more. If you don’t talk to them they won't remember you.
Then there was the part where you buy food. The food and drinks were on the pricey side, but for the best-of-the-best it wasn't overly outrageous. The only thing that could have been improved was that you have to buy the festival’s currency called “florins” in order to purchase anything and the least you can buy is five euro worth. So if you have left over money when you go to leave you either have to spend the rest or barter with someone.
Photo: spicy fruit bowl made with freshly cut apples, pears, plums and a spicy marinade.
On the other hand, the quality of the dishes was phenomenal. There were two dishes that caught my eye: the Spicy “Dan Dan Mein” Noodles and the spicy fruit salad. If you don't like spice then they aren't for you; but the creativity, mixture of flavors and presentation were exceptional. The spicy fruit salad was available for sampling when you first walk in, but buying a whole bowl is a must.
Pro-tip: The real menus are on the sidewalls of the tents, slightly hidden, so look carefully.
Photo: spicy “Dan Dan Mein” noodles from China Sichuan.
One of the aspects of the festival that also pleasantly surprised me was the free cooking class. My friends and I signed up for the thirty-minute class with chef Danni Barry when we walked in. Then we just walked in the tent at the slotted time and the stations had all the ingredients and tools prepared for us. The chef walked us through each step of making a squid risotto and we even got to eat it at the end. I would come again just for that experience.
I have never attended another Taste festival, but from what I heard the organization this year has improved a great amount from previous years.
Photo: squid risotto prepared by none other than myself.
“This year they’ve made it more about the food, drinks and music. It’s more engaging,” said event-goer Alex Keenan.
He’s right; there was an inviting ambiance that encompassed the entire place. There were tables, couches and waterproof beanbags set up to relax and enjoy the food outside. A diverse selection of live musicians played throughout the night as well.
Photo: a sassy singer entertained the early evening crowd.
To put it lightly, I definitely recommend coming to this festival if you get a chance. The entrance fee may seem high, but if you spend a good bit of time there you will get your moneys worth. Go ahead and tell them Cat sent you.
Cat's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.