Tuesday 16 January 2018

Dublin food festival leaves a sour Taste

A rare happy moment
A rare happy moment
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Over 30,000 people flocked to Taste of Dublin over the four days it ran – and I wonder how many found their visit as bittersweet as I did.

A regular attendee of the food and drink festival, I have always balked just a little at the price tag for the admission fee.

And yet, for many a year, I have returned to sample as much free food and drink as I can to make that expense worthwhile.

(The novelty of using florins – Taste currency – quickly wears off when you realise the exchange rate is pretty poor at 1:1.)

But the fact that the annual event is rather expensive is generally made up by the friendly (read ‘generous’) stall merchants that have come to showcase their wares, the beautiful surroundings of the Dublin city leafy hideaway and the fantastic international performers that keep you entertained while you munch and slurp.

This year, however, I was only a stubborn friend away from ditching the culinary delights for a takeaway and an Aldi wine – despite being located directly outside the venue’s location at The Iveagh Gardens.

Because I was there – outside the venue – for quite some time.

Every Dublin event goer worth their salt knows that pre-booking tickets is an absolute necessity. It guarantees – not only your entry pass – but it eliminates the danger of wasting ridiculous amounts of time in a queue.

Not so in this case.

Arriving at the gates clutching our reference number and booking email we were promptly told by security that we needed to go to the end of the queue that we’d actually passed 50 people ago. It was the beginning of the end.

After 50 minutes and three queues later – the security men kept changing their mind as to who should be in which line – the tension in the crowd was palpable and the tweet machines were a hive of complaint activity.

Note to Taste: If you are advertising that this year’s event has ‘an increased social media presence’, it might be an idea to reply and placate an irate bunch of people who have paid almost €25 to stand outside your ‘new and improved’ event. 

As the grumbling mass in which I was ensconced finally reached the entrance, our requests for concessions, florins or any form of explanation for the long wait were met with apparent indifference and suggestions to ‘put something in writing to the organisers’.

Having wasted a quarter of our four hour time slot outside the park already, we decided to put that bit of energy expending on the list for another day.

But try as we might to shake the cloud of annoyance we started off with, it was almost reinforced by the stinginess of the ‘freebies’ on offer.

Plates of sample foods seemed almost hidden on those stalls that even offered them; requests for samples were met with loud sighs and the toilets absolutely stank.

That’s not to say there weren’t enjoyable aspects to the evening.  A large bulk of the alcohol vendors were very knowledgeable about what they were selling (thanks to Teeling Whiskey for my tardy Father’s Day present!) and the foodies selling the snack sized meals were mostly up for a bit of a laugh.

Yet, the top prize definitely has to go to the fantastic Brazilian band with daringly dressed female dancers – the whole crowd was involved until those pesky ‘organisers’ called their entertainment to a halt about 10 o’clock. 

And as we spent our last (non-refundable) few florins on an ice-cream for the road, it became clear that this was going to be our last year at Taste. 

Suffice to say our relationship didn’t end on a high.

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