Saturday, November 27, 2010

Taste of Christmas at the Convention Centre

 So I went along to the Taste of Christmas today.  The weather was obligingly Christmasy with the sun shining on a light dusting of snow.  The setup is very similar to the summer Taste of Dublin event, with florins instead of real money and many of the same restaurants taking part.

There's a larger element of exhibitors than the ToD with demonstrations of cookery and equipment.  Marks and Spencer are a major sponsor and they have 2 large central sections with Christmas stuff to buy - everything from food to wrapping paper.  They were also giving out free samples of mince pies (standard) and wine.

The event runs over all 5 floors of the Convention Centre but the top floor auditorium was off limits for pleb tickets.  There was a top-up amount to be paid to see the celebrity chef demos.  The 2 main floors featured a small selection of restaurants (10 by my count) offering 3 different dishes for a variety of florins.  The portions were tiny, smaller than its summer sister event but the standard of food was overall good.  My favourite dish was a peanut satay chicken skewers from Swai, a Malasian restaurant.  I also sampled dishes from Town Bar & Grill, Pieminister and Pichet.

 The views of Dublin from the centre are spectacular.  The sunshine helped of course.  You can see Lansdowne Road, or whatever we're supposed to call it now, and the Millennium Spire and the Calatrava designed Samuel Beckett Bridge.

One of the best deals going was at the very large O'Briens (the wine people not the sambos).  For a refundable 3 florin deposit, you got a tasting glass and could sample all the wines on offer from the 11 different suppliers.  Getting drunk would have been pretty easy once you started tasting here, though they did have bizarre cardboard spittoons for serious wine buffs.  They had a price list for everything on offer but you couldn't buy it there.  This was a flaw, there was at least one wine I would have bought on the spot but the chances of me finding an O'Briens to buy it in while I still remember the name are less good.

The higher up floors featured bars and different sponsored areas.  Franc, that wedding planner guy has branched out into interior design and his stand featured this lovely white deer...I wouldn't fancy it in my house!

Good Food Ireland had a big stand upstairs with plenty of home-grown samples on offer.  I tried and subsequently bought some fantastic goats cheese from Knockdrinna in Kilkenny.  The view below is taken from as high up as I could get without spending more money. 
Overall, it's a good event but it's costly and I feel out of step with what people are willing to spend for a food fair.  For example, nearby parking in Jurys was €3 an hour, the coat check was €2 and the cheapest dish I ate was €4 (florins even).  My mother and I went through €40 of florins in 2.5 hours and we could have easily eaten more food.  However, it was well supported.  I felt it didn't have the great vibe that I've experienced at the Taste of Dublin.  They did have live music going on each floor.  The evening sessions may be different, of course.  It's running all day tomorrow too and if you are going along, I advise buying tickets online because there was a long queue of very cold looking people outside the centre at the box office.


  1. Excellent review. Totally concur!!!

  2. Agree. Too many people, portions too small and over priced. The show in the theatre was such a disappointment. Great production values but zero content. No real recipes, no ingredients given... too much innuendo. Such a shame...

  3. I worked at this event and the VIP section was on the 2nd floor, not the 5th. This was done specifically so that everyone could enjoy the view from the 5th. It's a shame you missed it.

    I also attended one day at a guest and didn't think the portions were too small, especially as you (ideally) were meant to be Tasting lots of different things. Never been to ToD to compare though.

    Gino D'Campo was dreadfully, unfunnily over the top in the theatre show in terms of innuendo/sexual harrasment.