...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

A Time To Bloom

As overheard at the food market at this weekend’s Bloom In The Park festival:

“I wouldn’t fancy that, now, jaysus!”

The speaker was maintaining a suitably safe distance from the Caribbean-style saucery on offer from Bad Boy Sauces, apparently not at all enticed by the lure of “Carribbean Cooking for Culchies“. Clear evidence that you can give an Irishman curry, but you can’t make him eat it.

Fortunately there was plenty of traditional fare at Bloom to satisfy the spice-averse – soda breads, jams, sausages, smoked fish, cheeses, apple tarts and boxty – while those with more international tastes could treat themselves to everything from locally produced madras curry sauce from Govenders and smoked almonds from The Good Snack Company to the eternally moreish sprouted chickpea hummus from Natasha’s Living Foods.

Artisan Food Market At Bloom

Artisan Food Market At Bloom:
Soda bread from The Foods of Athenry in Galway; Ardrahan cheese from Cork; Burren Smokehouse salmon from Clare; Boxty from the Boxty Bakers of Leitrim

If nothing else, the spread of food on offer was evidence of a national menu that is worthy of our support. Spend even a minute talking to the likes of Birgitta Curtin from Burren Smokehouse or Mag Kirwan from Goatsbridge Premium Irish Trout and you will also know that the people behind the food are passionate about the quality of what they produce.

Boxty making at Bloom

Boxty making with Padraic Óg Gallagher

No less enthusiastic were the people who took to the stage in the name of Lost and Forgotten Skills, encouraging attendees to revisit our traditional food and drink – local apples, traditional farmhouse cheeses, griddle breads, seaweeds, oysters and more. The ways of pan, loaf and boiled boxty were ably demonstrated by Padraic Óg Gallagher of Gallagher’s Boxty House, who I daresay could teach me a thing or two about spuds. And as for the poitín, well that was not so much lost and forgotten as (mostly) illegal.

Poitín making at Bloom

The poitín-making apparatus of Mick from the Mountains

A man, introduced to us only as “Mick from the Mountains”, proudly displayed a court summons once served upon him for producing his clear firey liquor. We got to see his poitín still, though we couldn’t, strictly speaking, sample the results of same. Poitín shots were, however, supplied by Oliver Dillon from the Bunratty Mead & Liqueur Company, the only Irish company licensed to make the stuff. It was surprisingly aromatic, but with a kick that, as Oliver says, travels down to your toes and then back to your head. One drop too far and you will be lost and forgotten yourself!

Copper Coast Red Ale

Copper Coast red ale from the Dungarvan Brewing Company

If you were on the lookout for something a little less potent, there were beers and other perfectly legal beverages from local craft brewers on offer at the Bloom Inn. That’s where I got to chat with Niamh from Eat Like A Girl and sample some of the tasty brews from newly launched Dungarvan Brewing Co., before it was time to take a turn around the gardens. Even there, there was no escaping the food and drink theme.

The GIY edible garden at Bloom

The GIY edible garden at Bloom

The “edible garden”, designed by Fiann Ó Nualláin and put together by the super-friendly people from Grow It Yourself (GIY) Ireland, was a truly collaborative national effort. The 70 GIY groups from around the country were each asked to grow a contribution, and the result was an inspiring demonstration of the food that can be cultivated, given a small patch of ground and an Irish climate.

And if that was the garden that said Eat Me, it made sense that there should be one that said Drink Me too. After all of that traipsing around, I don’t mind if I do.

Californian Courtyard Garden

Now that looks like my kind of garden


  1. Niamh

    Lovely to meet you! Really enjoyed our chat over a beverage at Bloom. Lovely photography.

  2. Lori

    What a fantastic event! It makes me want to move next year’s trip up to June. Looks like I’ll be committed to August though so I’ll just have to seek out some other foodie event then. Lovely photos!

  3. The Diva on a Diet

    What an absolutely gorgeous round-up, Spud! It all looks and sounds so delicious. I wish I could have been there! I’d have eaten my weight in that lovely bread, farmhouse cheese and boxty! Sigh … maybe next year?!

  4. Tim

    Sounds absolutely wonderful, maybe especially the brew samplings. The eternal conflict between the Cat Laughs and Bloom, maybe one day it will be resolved!

  5. jenn

    I love the photos of the edible garden. Makes me with I had my own backyard. :)

  6. Daily Spud

    Niamh: Thanks! It was great to meet you and have a rather enjoyable beverage (or two) – hope we get to do that again sometime.

    Lori: I do hope you make it next year – even if it’s in August, I’m sure there will be some kind of foodie activity going on…

    Diva: oh how wonderful it would be if you could come over here next year – though I think it might take us both an awfully long time to get through that food market, lol!

    Tim: actually, I was given a leaflet for a Kilkenny food trail while I was at Bloom, which would be one way of combining (parts of) Bloom with the Cat Laughs – and I’m sure there would be an opportunity for a few brew samplings in there too…

    jenn: …and it makes me wish that my garden looked more like that!

  7. Phyllis

    What a great local event! That poitin sounds pretty deadly. And I’ve actually been to Gallagher’s Boxty house :)

  8. sippitysup

    You are such a garden girl. II have herbs and tomatoes in pots and as usual the squirrels are ravaging them. A few posts back you said you could never be a locovore. Does this trip change your mind? GREG

  9. valentina

    The GIY edible gardens have blown me away. so beautiful.and full of character.The fiery liquor looks lethal.Please tell me more about boxty. i thought that it was halloumi cheese.obviously not.

  10. Daily Spud

    Phyllis: what’s really deadly is the proper illegal stuff, caution required!

    sippitysup: Well, I guess it’s easier to contemplate being a real locavore at an event like that, surrounded by such good, local food – I think I’d still want to supplement with some good olive oil and spices, though!

    valentina: The GIY garden was gorgeous – I would love to have a garden like that! As for boxty, it is definitely not halloumi cheese :) It’s a kind of potato pancake that’s traditional in some parts of Ireland – I learned something about how to make it over here

  11. Chef E

    I think you can be a mix- a blend of loca + worlda, hmmm still out on the name combo, but I agree beautiful gardens. My hands miss the dirt under the nails, soil smells like a good compost fermentation, and then the beautiful eruption of the champagne glass from the tall glass, he he, flowers in their own right!

  12. gastroanthropologist

    I would have loved to meet Mick from the Mountains – I wonder what sort of psychedelic experience would result from something brewed in that giant blue vat of his.

    The oak smoked salmon on that Irish soda bread would be so tasty.

  13. OysterCulture

    What an incredibly fun sounding event. I love that quote, just means more curry for me!

    With that incredible spread, did you have any favorites?

  14. Daily Spud

    Chef E: Champagne flowers, now there’s a great mental image :) And I think that I will always be some mix of loca- and globavore (yeah, name still needs work) – too much world out there not to try just a little of it!

    gastroanthropologist: I would be very curious to try something that had been brewed up in that blue vat myself! As for oak smoked salmon and soda bread, you really couldn’t go wrong with that combination…

    OysterCulture: lots of favourites :) the smoked salmon was fab and I loved the sprouted chickpea hummus so much that I had to go and recreate it over here

  15. Tangled Noodle

    For those of us who missed out strolling alongside you at Bloom in the Park, thank you for such a fun and funny write-up! However, it’s seems such a cruel tease to have a working poitin still nearby and not be allowed to sample. Thank goodness for Bunratty Mead & Liqueur then. 8-)

  16. Daily Spud

    Hey TN, it was indeed a cruel tease but the strictures of the law were against us – still, the libations from Bunratty more than helped to make up for that!

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