Cookery Feature - A Taste of Dublin

Ely Pesto Lasagne This month’s major culinary highlight is unquestionably the Taste of Dublin festival (11-14 June 09), held again this year at the lovely Iveagh Gardens on the south side of St Stephen’s Green; there is no lovelier place to be in fine weather – and how it has grown.

What began modestly as a huddle of stalls at Dublin Castle a few years ago has developed into Dublin’s (perhaps Ireland’s) premier food and drink festival, with masses to interest and entertain anyone with so much as a passing interest in good food, wine and hospitality.

The original concept – tastings from leading restaurants for ticket holders – is still at the heart of it, and Dublin’s best is well-represented by a cross-section of establishments including the modern classics (Chapter One, L'Ecrivain, Bang Café), great bistro and gastropub style food (Roly’s Bistro, Ely), ethnics (China Sichuan, Jaipur), other speciality restaurants such as the King Sitric (seafood), and many others.
But, delicious as the tastings are sure to be (especially when washed down with a cooling glass from one of the many wine companies represented…), there’s much more to the event than that, with a huge amount going on all the time, including chef demos from a host of famous names such as Darina and Rachel Allen, Neven Maguire, Dylan McGrath, Oliver Dunne, Kevin Thornton and Antony Worrall Thompson, over a hundred artisan producers showcasing their products – and, of course, our own new dining and lifestyle club, The G Club by Georgina Campbell Guides. 

Definitely the place to be over the second weekend of June.

As a taster, why not try some recipes from some of the chefs and restaurants taking part? Emphatically not the ‘restaurant’ dishes they are likely to be offering at the event, these are straightforward seasonal recipes for cooking at home which have been given to me at various times over the years or appear in their books.

Melon & Raspberries with Cinnamon Jelly and Fresh BasilMelon & Raspberries with Cinnamon Jelly and Fresh Basil

This pretty dish is one of those wonderfully versatile recipes that can be served as a starter or makes a refreshing way to round off a meal. It was given to me by Ross Lewis of  Chapter One Restaurant and, while the port & cinnamon jelly would be extravagant for home use unless it’s a special occasion, the same principle could be applied using a less expensive wine - or fruit juice could be used instead, or you could simply omit the jelly. Wrap any unused jelly in clingfilm and store in the fridge for up 2 weeks.

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Brochettes of Chicken, Mango & Red OnionBrochettes of Chicken, Mango & Red Onion

Also originating from Ross Lewis of Chapter One Restaurant, this is another straightforward recipe for the home cook. Ideal for summer, it can be char-grilled in the kitchen or cooked on the barbecue. The barbecue sauce keeps well and this recipe makes a good quantity – use as much as you need for the brochettes and store the remainder in a screw-top jar in the fridge, to use as required.  

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Baked Cod on Ratatouille with Curry Butter Baked Cod on Ratatouille with Curry Butter

Aidan MacManus of the King Sitric Fish Restaurant in Howth, County Dublin is one of the most experienced fish chefs in the country, and this dish – which is taken from the book From Tide To Table, published recently with the support of BIM - is typical of the food served at his striking harbourside establishment, and will be a lovely dish to enjoy through the summer as the ratatouille ingredients come into season. The amount of curry powder in the butter can be adjusted if the flavour proves too strong for family tastes.

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Summer Salad with Baby LeeksSummer Salad with Baby Leeks

This pretty salad is adapted from a recipe in ‘Roly’s Bistro – The Restaurant And Its Food’ (Gill & Macmillan) and, if you grow your own vegetables, this is just the dish for some of your early salads and the thinnings from your leek crop, which can be used instead of buying expensive baby leeks.

At the restaurant, quail and quail eggs would be used, but home cooks can adapt it to use more everyday ingredients – chicken breast and chicken eggs will be just fine.

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