Exploring the Dublin Food Scene – Lovin Dublin:
A major house-move just under my belt with all the ensuing chaos, I’d made a rule and promised myself that I’d stay at home till after Christmas. But, rules are made to be broken and an invitation to the Lovin Dublin awards was just too good an opportunity to miss. I did however, compromise slightly by leaving after lunch on the day of the event.
Flying from City airport to Dublin is remarkably easy, you can check in just 20 minutes before the flight is due to depart and flights take just over an hour. I arrived at Dublin airport and quick cab Journey took me straight to the centre of town. I was already rather late. I just had time to check in, goup to my room and freshen up before leaving the quirky Kelly’s hotel and walking Marco Pierre White’s restaurant where everyone else was waiting.
I have recently tried cooking steak under the guidance of Marco Pierre White, at Unilever kitchen where he was demonstrating the use of Knorr stock cubes as as a rub for steak. I was the only person in the group who prefer her steak without the stock cubes. I think I can confidently say that there were no stock cubes involved in my very delicious sirloin steak which was perfectly served with home-made Bernaise sauce.
The crumble which followed was equally delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal, the ambience in the restaurant was great and the food was clearly well sourced and perfectly cooked and presented. All credit to the staff dealing with a large group when the restaurant was clearly busy.
We moved on to the Lovin Dublin show. It wasn’t at all what I’d expected, a large theatre style auditorium with the stage set with a giant couch. The first part of the evening were relatively informal interviews with some of Dublin’s key figureheads. Whilst Marco Pierre White talking about his own background and his link to and love of Dublin was obviously related to food the only other directly food -related speaker was Caroline Keeling who has revolutionised her family’s food business by developing a new unique technology now licensed around the world. Some of the other speakers were remarkable people, I was particularly impressed with Bressie who gave an open and honest about his own depression and how he now is working to help other people. And with Mark Pollock, who having achieved his own goal to be the first blind man to reach the North Pole went on to suffer a debilitating accident which left him totally paralysed. He is now working to raise funds to ensure continued research helping paraplegics to walk.
The purpose of the show though was to give to awards to some of Ireland’s leading food businesses. Having arrived rather late I’d missed out on the whistlestop tour that had introduced the rest of the group to some of the contenders. It was obvious though that Dublin now has a thriving food scene which matches the London scene I know so well. In fact the next morning we got a chance to find out more. Walking around the centre of Dublin popping into some of the food halls, street markets, cafes and bars. For me it was a tour of discovery. Of course I was aware that Dublin was full of great Irish pubs. The food scene however, was something quite new. In fact I suspect part of a quiet revolution, because I also learnt that Irish farmhouse cheeses which by the way are quite delicious, have only been made for the last 40 years or so.
Almost exactly 24 hours later I left Dublin, full of a great Irish breakfast and tastes of some of Ireland’s finest produce. There is something of a transformation of Dublin from the city I knew. In my 20s, this was the place for stag parties, the Guinness was great, the bars stayed open late. Most importantly it was cheap to get there and everyone spoke English. The pubs and bars are still thriving, but have been joined by laid-back boutique hotels like Kelly’s where we stayed, great cafes and wine bars and thriving Artisan food businesses.
The overall winner of Lovin’ Dublin, Nobo ice cream won a €25,000 award for being the best start-up. It is obvious there was a lot of competition, but in the end this wonderfully creamy dairy free and gluten-free ice cream seems like a great choice.