Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr
Yesterday was an interesting experience. Not only was it thrifty Thursday, it was the night of the Tastes of Dublin festival. It was absolutely amazing. Basically, round up every *decent* restuarant in the city, grab a bunch of international beer distributers, and then pile on some wine and you'll have an idea of what we had going last night.
All day, we were preoccupied by the prospects of a night filled with music, food, drink, and friends. I definitely was not up to my usual efficiency master ways. This particular festival happens to be rather popular and has sister programs all over the place - Tastes of Cork happens to be in the next few weeks. In any event, the office hired a few taxis to bring those adventurous souls over to the Ivy Gardens (GORGEOUS) where the festivities kicked off at 1700.
Upon arrival, we were ushered through a hedgerow of ivy, weird how that happens, which then opened up to an entire hidden world of food and beer... oh yeah, wine too. Starbucks employees with french press coffee greeted us (they ground the beans so fine that there was silt in my coffee - big time bummer) and a band of pretty girls were handing out the Evening Herald.
Our first instincts were to go around and get the lay of the land while waiting for the rest of our mates. We wandered about seeing everything from cocktail jugglers to horrible bands in gazebos to Vietnamese food all over the ground. Finally, the rest of the lads showed up and met us in by the ivy entrance. It was game time.
First stop were the liquor vendors tasting their wares, then a few of the younger guys and I decided it was time to taste the Sake - a first for me. Three glasses later, I felt like I had transported into a world of cultural food. We went touring the globe stopping by India for some of their tandoori chicken and then to Lithuania for cider, lager, and weissbeir. That was a tasty stop - we came back numerous times since the owner seemed to like us a lot.
After a bit we moved into the other areas of the festival - we had only scratched the surface so far. I ventured through restaurant row and passed up a chance to eat Gordon Ramsey's food - he's the chef that yells at everyone in Hells Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares (both are favorite tv shows these days). It was the fillet of beef that won from a vendor that escapes my mind at this moment. From there we ventured to the Jameson tent where I had my first measure (really was half a measure I suppose) of Middleton Extra Rare - that's 150 Euros a bottle, friends. All I can say is YUM.
A stop at the chef demonstration tent nearly threw me into a slumber but a wafting scent of barbecue led to me to the Viking exhibit where they were showing off the newest in outdoor kitchens - basically a kitchen on wheels. A stop for some Magnums follows before we decide to find the rest of the lads. They hadn't moved from the Lithuanian beerhaus... figures. I grabbed them and we moved out in search of something.
In the mean time, I was introduced to premium import beer. An deluxe importer called me over and recommended a Belgian strong lager after interviewing me regarding my beer tastes. I believe he described the beer as something that would "kick me in the face with flavor" but still allowed for easy drinking. Needless to say, 10% later, I was happy. More food followed a better band at the gazebo (are you getting the nomadic nature with which we conducted ourselves?) before finding a mojito tent.
Now, for having been told that Americans can't drink, I think I did pretty well. Considering that my Irish coworkers had partaken of the same beverages as I had, they were borderline "Will Farrell" as they put it while I was well within my limits. More food and a stretch amongst the gorgeous fountains laughing and having fun with the entire gang preceded our made dash to the wine tent as we only had mere minutes before that all closed. That was a mess - angry vendors turned up their nose at me when I came to their tables genuinely interested but toting a plastic glass (their dishwasher had apparently broken). In any event, we ended the evening well enough and I took a stroll back to the office by way of the quays at night.
Absolutely fabulous evening with the work mates. The second best part was that my ticket was reimbursed! A whole night of Irish entertainment on the cheap - my kind of night. For those of you reading and worrying that all we did was drink... well we did a lot of that... BUT I've removed a lot of the hanging out times since it was rather passive. And no... I was not "wasted" or otherwise - just jolly and warm. Mom isn't going to like this post...