It's safe to say the Irish people have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Taste of Dublin - each festival seems to be preceded and followed by complaints about the ticket price, the freebies on offer, the cost of food and drink, but sure where else would you be on a (hopefully) sunny weekend in June.
To be fair, when the weather is with us, the atmosphere in the Iveagh Gardens is hard to beat, and while you could easily run up a sizeable bill on food and drink, as long as you spend it in the right places you're less likely to have post-festival regrets. So with that in mind, this is how and where we'd be spending our festival.
The restaurant line-up is a mixed bag, but for our money we'd be heading to Glovers Alley for some fine dining fare on the relatively cheap (smoked cheddar dumplings for the win), China Sichuan (for proper Sichuan food, and because Sandyford counts as destination dining for most Dubs), King Sitric for rock oysters and Pickle for some of the most interesting Indian food in Dublin right now.
We'd also stop by Nutbutter for one of their brightly coloured, nutrient packed creations, to make us feel better about our gorging, and Veginity because Mark Senn is a genius when it comes to meat free food. WARNING: They are not serving Vish & Chips, but we bet the plantain tostones are just as good.
See all the menus here.
There are loads of people speaking at the Neff Producer's Table over the four days. We'd be lining up for Irish soy sauce producer and Japanese food afficiando Fiona Uyema at 14:00 on Thursday and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall at 15:30 on Friday, who's likely to talk about his petition to get the UK government doing more to tackle national obesity rates, and his ongoing campaign to make WH Smith get rid of junk food at the till.
On Saturday we'd be there at 20:00 to see the guys from Airfield, which has to be one of the most important places in the country right now for connecting people (especially children) with where their food comes from, and on Sunday at 14:00 we'd be attempting to bag a front row seat for superstar Irish chef in London Robin Gill, who we're not so secretly hoping has plans to return home in the not too distant future.
We'd also be interested in hearing Andy McFadden and Phil Roe talk about how the first few months at Glovers Alley have gone, and Nutbutter's take on the rise of veganism, both on Sunday. You can see the full four day line-up here.
These are happening pretty much every hour on all four days, but on Thursday we'd probably head for Ananda's head chef Karan Mittal at 19:30, or Paul Kelly, Executive Pastry Chef at The Merrion, who's on straight after at 20:30. On Friday we'd happily queue to see Gordon Ramsay protegé and another member of 'The Murphia' Anna Haugh, who's due on at 14:30, and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall who's on after her at 15:30.
On Saturday, if you're a Great British Bake Off fan you won't want to miss the 2016 winner, Candice Brown, her of the many coloured lipsticks. She's on twice, at 14:30 and 20:30. We'd also be interested in seeing Chapter One's Ross Lewis and his head pastry chef Darren Hogarty who are on at 18:30.
On Sunday, the hot seats are for Robin Gill at 13:30, and the Glovers Alley double bill with pastry chef extraordinare Aoife Noonan up at 14:30, and the executive and head chefs, Andy and Phil, on stage as a duo at 18:30. The Merrion's Executive Head Chef Ed Cooney also takes to the stage at 19:30. See the full line-up of cooking demos here.
There's also The Market where we'd be picking up some kitchen staples from Asia Market, some crazy (delicious) flavoured popcorn from Joe & Seph's, proper Irish cider from Longueville House, and something sweet from The Cupcake Bloke, who's recently opened his first bakery in Rialto, Dublin 8.
You can also take part in cocktail masterclasses, and watch the Irish final of the World Class Bartender of the Year Awards, and there are wine experiences from O'Briens and Wines of Rioja. The Exchequer are popping up with food, beer and cocktails too, and there's live music all weekend - you can see who's on here.
Taste of Dublin is on from Thursday 14th - Sunday 17th June. There are two sessions per day: 12:00 - 16:00 and 17:00 - 21:30/22:30. Tickets cost between €17.50 for Thursday daytime and a pretty punchy €29.50 for Friday and Saturday nights - probably not where the smart money is but they have you over a barrel if that's the only time you can go. You get get tickets here.