Yes, we have gotten to that time of year where I think my calendar might actually burst. There are a multitude of things going on in June, each one tastier than the next.
In just a few days time, from Thursday June 2nd to Monday June 6th, the Phoenix Park in Dublin sees the return of the Bord Bia sponsored food and garden festival that is Bloom in the Park. I’ll be going along, which, if last year and the year before are anything to go by, should be a most enjoyable day out.
On Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons throughout June, the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail will bring groups to five tapas venues around Dublin including Bar Pinxto, The Port House, Salamanca Dame Street, Salamanca St Andrews Street and Havana Tapas Bar. Participants will enjoy tapas and some Campo Viejo rioja at each venue and will, no doubt be quite happy by the end of proceedings. Tickets are €20 each and you can get more details and book tickets here.
Later in the month, and for four nights only, from June 28th to July 1st, the Jacob’s Creek Pop-Up Wine & Dine experience will be happening at a secret (and I’m told impressive) Dublin city centre location. 30 guests each night will be given a free masterclass with wine expert David Whelehan, while chef Clodagh McKenna will prepare a menu to match the wines on offer. See the Jacob’s Creek facebook page for more information and to request a reservation.
Further down the country, Totally Tipperary on June 25th in the grounds of Cloughjordan House is another in the growing list of local food festivals, and will be showcasing the very best of Tipperary food with the help of food bloggers and local food producers alike.
And, finally, from Thursday June 9th to Sunday June 12th, Taste of Dublin is back, with its usual selection of restaurant stalls, chef’s theatre, artisan producers and entertainment. Granted it’s never a cheap day out, but some free tickets (or better yet, a case of wine) would help, right?
The Edward Dillon Wine Experience and Spirits Academy will be offering tasting masterclasses throughout Taste of Dublin on a range of their wine and spirit brands, including Hennessy cognac and wines from Carmen, Doña Paula and Wolf Blass. They will also provide a lucky spud reader with two tickets for the 12pm to 4pm session of Taste of Dublin on Saturday June 11th and they’ve thrown in a case of Carmen Reserva Carmenere to boot.
So, do please let me know in the comments if you’re interested in getting your hands on the tickets, the wine or both. You’ll need to have an address somewhere in the Republic of Ireland to be eligible (and, naturally, you will need to be of at least official wine-drinking age). I’ll leave this open until midnight (GMT) on Monday June 6th and then pick winners at random. And for those who don’t win (and even for those who do), there’s always some tapas-trail-inspired patatas bravas.
Update: And the winners are… Maria Murray, who’ll be going along to Taste of Dublin, and David Cochrane, whose red wine needs will be sorted for the foreseeable future. Congratulations both!
Patatas bravas – potatoes cubed, fried and served with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli – are one of the classic tapas dishes. My interpretation here varies from the traditional mainly in that I roast the potato cubes in olive oil, rather that frying them, which saves a good deal of effort, especially if you’re making a large batch.
- 1 kg potatoes, preferably a floury variety
- Olive oil for roasting
- Coarse salt
- 1 quantity tomato sauce (see below)
- 1 quantity aioli (see below)
- Freshly chopped flat leaf parsley to serve
You’ll also need:
- 2 shallow roasting trays, each around 25cm x 38cm
- Preheat your oven to 200C
- Scrub your potatoes well, peel or not as you prefer, chop into approx. 1cm cubes and pat dry.
- Add about 4 tblsps of oil to one of your roasting trays and place both trays in the oven to heat for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the trays from the oven, toss the potato cubes in the hot oil and add a couple of pinches of coarse salt. Spread them across both trays and return to the oven.
- Roast the potatoes for around 40 minutes or until golden.
- Serve the crispy potato cubes topped with tomato sauce, a spoon of aioli and scattered with freshly chopped parsley.
- If you prefer to fry the potatoes, as is more traditional for this dish, then you can certainly do so – you might want to boil the potato cubes briefly before doing so.
- Tapas-sized portions for 5-6 people.
Tomato Sauce With Chilli And Garlic
Hooray for the approach of that time of year where locally grown tomatoes become available and making a sauce from fresh tomatoes is a vaguely sensible proposition. If you don’t have a source of good fresh tomatoes, substitute 2 x 400g tins of good quality tinned tomatoes instead. The result will be different but still tasty.
- Olive oil for frying
- 2 medium-sized onions, about 300g, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large fresh red chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 tblsp tomato purée
- 900g fresh, ripe tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 tsp salt or more to taste
- small pinch sugar
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- Place a large, heavy saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add enough oil to coat the base of the pan well. Add the onion, stir and fry until translucent and softened – about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and fresh chili. Stir and fry for another minute or so.
- Add the cayenne and paprika, stir briefly, then add the tomato purée, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and sugar. Stir and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly for at least 30 minutes.
- Add the red wine vinegar and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. This sauce can be made the day before and reheated if you like.
- You could certainly add in some chopped red pepper along with the onion and/or try substituting some smoked paprika for the milder sweet variety.
- Make around 750ml of sauce
Provençal or Catalan? Made with egg or without? Such are the questions that exercise the minds of those concerned with the finer points of aioli or allioli. Me, I’m happy to think of it as garlic mayonnaise and just get on with it. And, of course, as with any homemade mayonnaise, your egg will remain raw so be sure to use a good quality egg, free range and organic if you can.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 clove raw garlic or 6 cloves of roasted garlic, crushed
- 0.25 tsp salt
- 1 tblsp red wine vinegar
- 50ml sunflower oil
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
You’ll also need:
- You can use a hand whisk, an electric whisk or food processor for this.
- Add your egg yolk, mustard, garlic, salt and vinegar to a large bowl or into the bowl of a food processor. Whisk or blend well.
- Very slowly, stream the sunflower oil and then the olive oil into the mixture. If you’re using a food processor, keep the motor running while you stream in the oil. By hand, you’ll just need to keep whisking all the time so that the oil and egg yolk becomes emulsified and thick. Add more salt and/or vinegar to taste.
- I quite fancy adding a little lemon zest to the end result (though given half the chance, I’d probably add a little lemon zest to almost anything).
- Makes about 100ml