When are we going to call bullshit on Taste of Dublin? Can everybody please stop going to this ridiculous pageant of nonsense. If the bingo winged auld wans from the suburbs really want to see what a local restaurant is like, tell them to check out some professional reviews (ie, ignore Menupages) for somewhere they fancy and just go. By the time they’ve dropped a load of dosh at Taste they could have easily had a wicked 3 course meal at most places, instead of the specially made bits of finger food crap they ate at Iveagh Gardens at the weekend.
And if all the participating restaurant owners and publicans at Taste wanted to win over new customers or remind old ones how great they are, they could do a lot more by running a good ad online and then donating some food to their nearest participating Street Feast. On Sunday just gone, while droves of punters attended the British owned, blandly homogenized Taste of Dublin, I was just around the corner getting stuck into a locally organized Street Feast on Synge Street. To be an actively involved in Street Feast, all one had to do was bring some food along to your nearest participating gathering and share it with everyone else at whatever tables, chairs, stoops or footpaths were at your disposal and just have the craic. At Synge Street’s feast there was a large donation of bagels and other breads that were given to everyone by the Bretzel Bakery on Lennox Street. This was a nice act of goodwill that was well appreciated and talked about at the event, yet cost very little. They also didn’t need to line the pockets of an internationally franchised festival to appeal to their fanbase. Nor will they also be drowned out by whatever celeb telly chef is on hand doing a lame ass demo.
So where did that rant come from I hear you murmur? And what in the bejaysus has that got to do with Body & Soul? Well if I didn’t get that one off my chest, then I simply would have not been able to relax this weekend. And needless to say, if I’m not having the craic down at Ballinlough, then nobody else can. Basically, my enjoyment is of paramount importance for that very reason.
So here’s my final round up of the eats and drinks at my favourite festival. Let’s get stuck in lads, can’t bloody wait!
Should you find yourself stuck in a tent, hungover to fuck, trying to lick your own balls for re-hydration - then help will be at hand. The trusty team at Steamy Tea will be floating round the campsites complete with back pack dispensary units of fresh fairtrade tea, hot chocolate and coffee. Irregardless of weather or walking conditions, this jolly bunch will be on patrol, ready to lash out a sobering hot beverage, just the kind that will bring you back down on to Planet Earth. Founders Dermot Quinn and Tina Hawkins have been doing this since 2007. Fuck me, if they were on duty back in Feile they could have saved years off my life. Just sayin.
A mobile army of life savers – may the holy Lord bless everyone of them.
CREPES & PAELLA
The great thing about this crowd is the whole Ronseal thing they’ve got going on. In one stall, they’ve got a nice bright stand where they’re selling Crepes. And the stand is called, Crepes.
Then over in another stall, they’re flogging a geansaí loads of Paella. No prizes for what that one is called then.
These are people who obviously understand the reduced brain capacity of the average festival goer and they’re dead bloody right. There is a strong argument for not trying to confuse somebody who’s lost their voice and hasn’t slept in 36 hours. I have had the great delight in dining at both of these outlets at various events and I can safely say that they serve wicked food. The seafood paella is especially good and is always a deadly dinner option, the owner operator Aleksandra Jasinka is most certainly an excellent, well dedicated caterer. Be sure to give it a try this weekend.
I love the story behind this crew. So chef Paul Catterson had spent the best part of two decades working in top restaurants, giving it absolute socks. But the 17 hour days and seeing other service industry pals have actual heart attacks made him stop, not to smell the roses as such. But to stop and smell the majestic aroma of burgers being grilled al fresco at markets and festivals. He packed it all in to establish Mango Catering, whose specialty is the humble beef patty made sublime. Served out of a wicked looking vintage Airstream trailer, his burgers contain only 100% Irish bred Hereford and Angus beef and come with a range of home made sauces.
I caught up with Paul on the blower the other day and he kindly agreed to share a recipe with me that reflects his culinary passions. So he lashed together a superb wee dish of Duck Spring Rolls with Mango Salsa. Much respect to him for taking out the time to do so. And best of luck to all the food and drink providers this year – I for one will be keeping them most busy.
Duck Spring Rolls & Mango Salsa – by Paul Catterson
For the spring rolls
55g/2oz shredded cooked duck leg
2 tbsp hoi sin sauce
1 spring onion, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 spring roll wrappers
½ free-range egg, beaten
vegetable oil, for deep frying
For the salsa
1 mango, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. For the spring rolls, in a bowl, mix together the duck, hoi sin and spring onion until well combined. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Spoon a little of the duck mixture in a line across the centre of each of the spring roll wrappers, leaving 1cm/½in free at the edge of each wrapper.
3. Roll the spring roll wrappers up into cigar shapes, tucking in the ends, then seal the ends and edges of each spring roll with beaten egg.
4. Heat the oil in a deep heavy-based frying pan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Lower the spring rolls into the hot oil and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
5. For the salsa, in a separate bowl, mix together all of the salsa ingredients until well combined.
6. To serve, spoon a little salsa into the centre of a serving plate and arrange the spring rolls on top.
Body & Soul is going to be the mutt’s nuts this year. Just check out the line up, fucking brilliant. But if I may, allow me please to leave with a Jerry Springeresque “Final Thought.” You know all that carry on of punters tweeting every single thing that they see at a gig or a festival, to such an extent that they are so preoccupied trying to document the moment, that they are no longer in the moment. Let’s all make an effort to keep all that shit to an absolute minimum. The digital pioneer Jaron Lanier gave a talk at South By Southwest two years ago and before he started, he asked his audience not to blog, text or tweet while he was speaking. His message to the crowd had been,
“If you listen first and write later, then whatever you write will have had time to filter through your brain, and you’ll be in what you say. This is what makes you exist. If you are only a reflector of information, are you really there?”
I love that vibe. Bear it in mind down in Ballinlough this weekend. No need to go round photographing and tweeting everything you see. Especially if you see me naked in a hot tub with a pair of conjoined albino midgets. Nobody and I mean NOBODY needs to see that shit.