Monday 3 June 2013

Bloom in the park 2013

Bloom is Ireland's largest gardening event and takes place each year over the June bank holiday weekend in one of Europe's largest parks: the Phoenix Park in Dublin. This event is hosted by Bord Bia (the Irish food board) so as well as being a gardening and family orientated festival it's also a massive event for the Irish food industry and a heaven for all the foodies out there.

During the long weekend, 70 acres of the Phoenix Park visitor's centre are filled  with people visiting magnificent show gardens, attending cooking demos, listening to live music and just enjoying a great day out.

The festival is divided into different areas and maps are available at the entrance and all around the site.

Garden and Family event
There is a multitude of gardens to discover and admire (show gardens, postcard gardens, concept gardens...). You might get 'garden envy' like I did while visiting. The 1970's Garden and The Wizard of Oz themed garden were my favourites, I love everything quirky. There are more modern or traditional gardens too. I think anyone visiting will find his/her dream garden.

Hanging baskets, floral marquee, outdoor retail, Grow It Yourself, botanical art exhibition: anything related to gardening is showcased at Bloom.

A children's area, a  cup cake camp, face painting and many other activities keep the little ones happy. An open stage features a variety of performers while people can lie down and relax on big bean bags or sit at tables in the picnic area. The event is also educational: exhibitors such as The Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations, The Tree council of Ireland, BirdWatch Ireland and The Irish Wildlife Trust can be found in the humanitarian and environmental zone of Bloom. There are also interactive craft demonstrations, presented by 8 craft guilds as well as craft workshops and several stalls with craft retails selling their products.

An incredible food event
Bloom shouldn't be missed by any food lovers. The food village is a real celebration of Irish food. The Quality Kitchen at Bloom is the place for cooking demos given by Irish chefs such as Neven Maguire, Catherine Fulvio or food writer and TV presenter Donal Skehan. The food village is filled with different marquees: artisan food market, meat and fish market, the Irish cheese awards stand , the best in season fruit and veg market, love Irish FOOD, Bloom Inn, a farmyard feature and so on. From crepes to pig on a spit, ice-cream to lunch boxes, yoghurt to beef, the artisan catering area is full of options to satisfy our hungry stomachs.

The Irish Cheese awards were taking place in Bloom for the first time this year and I had the pleasure of being a judge. This deserves a blog entry all for itself, which will be published shortly.

There are obviously many incredible artisans and food producers and I can't feature them all but here are my highlights and purchases in pictures that made my visit of Bloom another delightful Irish food experience.

Delicious lemonade  at The Apple Farm's stall

We bought a jar of lemon curd and a jar of Pear and Vanilla jam from Red Big Kitchen. Theses products are delish and I'm loving the cute tote bag

Colourful Donnelly Fresh Foods' fruit and veg display at the fruit and veg marquee

Mr. FFID's black pudding rolls with homemade ketchup from Crowe's farm
I bought this scrumptious Irish coffee curd from Crossogue preserves, perfect for making a cheesecake
We couldn't resist this fantastic deal: only €10 for a cooler bag, 2 panna cotta, 2 yoghurts and a bottle of lemonade cordial from Glenilen Farm
We brought home the supreme champion of the Irish Cheese awards 2013: St Tola Ash
We purchased lovely Bratwurst sausages from Jane Russell for Mr. FFID's breakfast
 Burren smoked salmon from Burren Smokehouse

Tasty harissa made in Ireland by Tully B's

Cooleeney's display

Natasha's living foods  healthy and tasty snacks
 Some tips:

  • Try to arrive nice and early, the festival gets very busy (it's a bank holiday weekend)
  • If possible get there by foot or public transportation (eco friendly and traffic jam avoided)
  • Grab a map just after you got in
  • Check the timetables of the demos
  • Kids go for free (in case you didn't  know)
  • Don't eat too much before you get there if you want taste/enjoy food onsite
  • Sun cream, sunglasses but also rain gear can be useful (it's Ireland you never know)

Are you tempted to visit Bloom now or have you already been?

Disclaimer: I was given complimentary tickets to Bloom by Sheridans Cheesemongers and Bord Bia to access the site for the Irish cheese awards. I gave no undertaking to write a review and the words above are, as always, my honest opinion. The pictures are my own, please don't use without asking my permission.