The first weekend in October is probably my favourite weekend of the year; not only do I celebrate my birthday, but for the past fifteen years (minus the pandemic years), I have spent the weekend in Dingle, Co. Kerry.
My colleague Nick Foley had been at the Blas na hÉireann (www.irishfoodawards.com) the first year it was held and was totally blown away by the atmosphere, the food, and the craic. Blenders has been proud sponsors of the event since Blas na hÉireann started and to see the event grow year on year is amazing. Every year we get to meet some new faces and also catch up with old friends.
Organisers, Artie Clifford and Fallon Moore, and their team have worked really hard to grow the event and it is now the biggest competition for quality Irish produce on the island of Ireland. In 2022, entries reached almost 3000 products with many new producers entering the awards for the first time. Products from every county in Ireland were entered to win bronze, silver or gold awards in over 150 food and drink categories, as well as key awards like Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Producer.
Taking place the same weekend is the Dingle Food Festival, so if you are someone who makes, sells or likes food, you need to experience Dingle for this weekend at least once in your life!
This year, as always, Nick and I are taking up residence in Curran’s Bar as Blenders become a contributor to the Dingle Taste Trail (www.dinglefood.com). The set up in Curran’s Bar is certainly unique. It is a small bar with two snugs on either end and sitting in between is an old hardware store. During the early years, we relied on local restaurants to keep our food refrigerated but thankfully Curran’s now has its own fully equipped kitchen.
The menu that we created for the Dingle Taste Trail is ever-evolving but usually consists of a seafood platter using local suppliers; Quinlan’s Smoked Salmon, Courtney’s Bakery Brown Bread, Atlantic Treasures Smoked Mackerel, Bantry Bay Mussels, and our special ‘Fish Curry’ – the latter is something we dropped off the menu one year and it nearly caused a riot!
Tickets for the Dingle Taste Trail are available to purchase in a few venues across the town and when you purchase two tickets, you get our platter of fresh Irish seafood and a warming portion of fish curry in Curran’s Bar.
I am delighted to say that over the years we have become one of the highlights – as well as best value – of the trail, and we have a constant queue down Main Street from opening until we run out of food each day.
I’m also thrilled to say that I will be joined by my usual local assistants; Phil, her husband Chris and grandson Tiernan, who has been helping us since he was about 9 or 10 years old, if my memory serves me right. Without them we wouldn’t be able to do this event.
For anyone thinking of coming to Dingle or are already going to Blas na hÉireann on September 28th and 29th, I encourage you to hang on for the food trail on September 30th and October 1st – and if you do, make sure you pop into Curran’s and say hi!