Howling Gale Ale from Eight Degrees Brewing, TJ Crowe‘s pulled pork rolls and Ed Hick‘s bacon jam: good things to drink, eat and take home from Bloom 2011. It was a weekend of appreciating good food and, from my homebase in the beer tent (or Bloom Inn, to give it its correct name) lots of great Irish microbreweries to investigate.
Little Missy and I spent part of Saturday, just before we headed off on our Campo Viejo Tapas Trail, enjoying glorious sunshine at Bloom – the Murphys’ Ice Cream stand across the way had the longest snaking queue – returning for some more quality time on Sunday and Monday. The food village, which is where we were situated, was thoughtfully laid out. Gigantic tents (“funfair!” said LM) and marquees were filled with artisan producers and microbreweries alongside Bord Bia’s Best in Season and Farm to Fork projects.
These were centred around the chefs’ demonstration theatre which, being temptingly wide open, allowed passers by to see exactly what was happening on stage. Ella McSweeney was the MC, introducing chefs and joining the dots between farm-producer-chef by collaring producers – including the Husband – and getting them to talk about their products.
With plenty to eat, drink and watch nearby, there was simply no reason to leave – to my shame, I never got to venture into the gardens. But, after all, I did have to practice pulling glasses of beer. From eating all the meat out of my Country Choice steak sandwich to sitting on a beer keg, slowly spooning her careful way through Glenilen yogurt with rhubarb, Little Missy had a ball. People to watch, nice things to eat, kids and babies coming over to play: what two-year-old wouldn’t be in seventh heaven?
The best of Bloom:
- watching the Aussie and the Kiwi beaming with pride as person after person tasted Howling Gale Ale and gave it a gigantic thumbs up.
- the chance to get a bag of Benoit Lorge‘s fine chocolates, my addiction from Urru days and still the best that I’ve found in Ireland.
- choc choc chip cookies from Cate’s Cookie Jar – so good I had to go back twice!
- the comforting feeling when I now open the freezer and look at my stack of Hick’s tasty sausages – just as well he was offering a pork creche.
- boxty from The Boxty Bakers: just three ingredients – potatoes, flour and salt. Great with a couple of slices of Jack McCarthy‘s black pudding and some home grown eggs.
- Nuala Hickey’s barm brack: brought home to slice, toast and cover with thin slivers of Hegarty’s mature cheddar cheese.
- sizeable, well-textured sausage rolls which incorporated dried cranberries from Lolly and Cooks – another snack beloved of LM – while I devoured their salads
- getting to meet so many of my IFBA friends – my blogging buddies, as the Husband calls them – and finally have some of the long-heard about beer for them to taste!
- the cheese plates from CAIS: five chunks of Irish artisan cheese (I loved the new Boyne Valley Blue while LM snaffled the Coolatin) with brown bread and chutney. Best of all, the stand was manned by the cheesemakers so, if you liked a particular cheese, it was easy to find out more about it.
- Sunday night supper: toasted bagels, spread with my favourite Bluebell Falls goat’s cheese and topped with Ed Hick’s incredible bacon jam.
- working my way through the bacon jam with everything – the Husband was even caught spreading it on a slice of cinnamon raisin bread the other morning.
Because we were bringing kegs to Dublin, there was finally a chance to deliver one to the Bull and Castle in Christchurch so now Howling Gale Ale is finally on tap in Dublin – enjoy!