If you read my post about Bloom In The Park you’ll know that I made a few mistakes on the day. I never really considered the weather or the, em, toddler. I learnt my lesson and decided that we would treat Taste Of Dublin as a Date Night and go solo. These kind of events are fantastic for kids but Billy is at that wild toddler stage where everything is edible or destroyable. He doesn’t really get the concept of “let’s just sit here and eat our food while we enjoy the music”. If he was a little bit younger or old enough to understand the world a little bit better it would be just fine. So we booked the grandparents in for a spot of babysitting and off we went to Taste Of Dublin 2016.

We went on the Saturday which I believe is the most popular day. There is an afternoon session from 12-4 and then an evening session from 5.30pm. I was given strict instructions that Mr Love Of Living would be watching Ireland play (lose) in the early afternoon so the evening Taste Of Dublin session suited us better. I had also heard that it was a fairly boozy affair so it made sense to go at a time where it was appropriate to partake in the festivities.

The day started with a fairly abysmal football match and a sulky boyfriend as a result. There was only one thing for it. The Magnum Experience in Arnotts. Heard of it? It’s basically a stand whereby for €5 you get to create your own Magnum using whatever chocolate and toppings you fancy. €5 might sound pricey for an ice-cream but think of it more as a fancy dessert. There is a lot of eating in it and for something I had really high expectations for it really didn’t disappoint. Peter reckons I made “bad choices” with my toppings. I went for crushed meringue, almond flakes and chocolate balls (I literally don’t know how else to describe them). I’ll admit that his was slightly more unreal (peanuts, meringue & Oreo) but they were both incredible. The magnums come purely as a block of ice-cream. You then choose your chocolate which they then dip the magnum in. The toppings are then patted on to the melted chocolate and then it all goes firm (sorry). Mother of God this was good. It was 4.30pm and I knew we wouldn’t be eating for hours so it was the perfect treat. If you would like to see the actual dipping of the ice cream in to the chocolate (ie, if you are a food perv like me) check out my video on Instagram (traceyquinn89).

                                       

A quick pit stop at the Boars Head and we were on our way to the Iveagh Gardens. It was actually a lovely walk there. Dublin is beautiful when it’s sunny. I reminisced about a few weeks previous. My first time to visit the Iveagh Gardens and Peter proposed. It was lovely to be returning for an event. Seeing it in a different light.

                                      

When we arrived at the event we were informed that this would be a money-less event and instead of cash we would be using Florins to pay for food and drink. You never had to look too far before finding a little kiosk or person selling them. They were little booklets containing vouchers of varying amounts. €1 equalled 1 Florin. I’m not entirely sure why they did this. It was a cute novelty but I suspect it’s a security thing in terms of cash at the event. Which brings me to my next point. Money.

If you attended the event on Saturday evening it would cost you €27.50 to buy tickets on arrival. €27.50 to walk in the door. I am a massive foodie so this is the kind of event I adore. I was lucky enough to secure press tickets but I would have paid. I think I would have had a little moan about it though. I haven’t even gotten to the part where I talk about how great the event was (it really was) but I really do think €27.50 is an obscene amount of money to expect people to pay in to this event. I know that it is a little festival of sorts. I know a lot of money goes in to the promotion and presentation. Staff have to be hired, stages put together, licenses bought. But €27.50 is a lot of money for a lot of people. I wouldn’t mind if it included a voucher for a drink or two and a sample of some food. Instead though it literally allowed you to enter the park. All drink and food was purchased separately. It meant that it probably worked out as a pretty expensive night for a lot of people. I worked in a well-known theatre for five years and I remember hearing people complain about the prices of alcohol compared to a standard bar. The reality was that people would pay it though. It wasn’t every day that they visited the theatre so it was a novelty. A treat that they allowed themselves. Taste Of Dublin was the same. It was a unique event that people really enjoyed and looked forward to for a long time.

In terms of the actual event itself I was actually really impressed by the prices of the alcohol. You could of course spend as little or as much as you wanted depending on your drink of choice but Peter was drinking Hop House 13 and a pint was €5 (5 Florins) which was actually the cheapest pint we had seen in Dublin that day. I was all about the Prosecco. A friend had told me to visit the O’ Briens stand where a bottle of Prosecco could be purchased for €15. You really can’t argue with that. There were three of us drinking it and let’s just say it flowed and flowed for the evening. Really good value. There was something surreal and so lovely about sitting on the grass drinking Prosecco in the sunshine. It was a really cool atmosphere and something I had never experienced at an event before. Live music played in the back round as JustEat.Ie staff scrambled around offering a waiter service. A very nice touch. It meant people didn’t have to browse the food stands. They could simply order what they wanted off a waiter and have it delivered to them. I thought that was really cool!

Will I mention the food now? To be fair it really is a boozy event. It says a lot when I forget about the food. Three glasses of Prosecco in and I was getting very cosy. We decided to get some food and the men came back with some Thai Green Curry and Sea bream from SABA. It was… grand. Nice but absolutely not worth the €7.50 that it cost. It was a taster portion and the prices definitely didn’t reflect that, but you know what? It is what it is and we embraced it. My brother got a mini-burger and chips from FX Buckley and he seemed to enjoy it. We also tried some bits and pieces from Jaipur as well as some ribs from the Dunbrody BBQ Area. It was a bonus to run in to Caitriona from Wholesome Ireland there too. She was working with Flogas and is one of my favourite Irish food bloggers.

                                                       

 As someone who really loves food markets and food events in general I would say that the food element of the event was a tiny bit disappointing. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think next year I’ll see it as more of a drinking event and the food will be an added bonus, if that makes sense? I think Bloom was definitely more of a Foodie Event. Having said that there were some really fantastic cookery demonstrations that took place over the weekend and if you timed it right you could have met some world famous Irish chefs and watch them do their thing. I heard great reports of cook-alongs with Nevin Maguire. The Electrolux theatre was a great little set-up and everyone seemed to really enjoy that too.

By the end of the evening the place was hopping. It was a really friendly vibe that had the perfect balance between quirky and classy. It just felt like something totally different to anything I had ever been to. I love that. I love leaving an event with a new experience “in the bag”. I love not being able to compare it to anything.

                                   

Did I enjoy myself? I really did. It was an evening I’ll never forget and one that I really got something from. Will I return? Definitely.