Anniversary post: Belfast Taste & Music Fest 2010

8 08 2010

I can’t believe a year has passed since I started this blog.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to update as often as I would like but I’m glad that I’ve continued to post when I can and it’s been great to have all my baking experiences in one place.  Now that I’ve completed my Accounting Technicians course I’m hoping to be a little more prolific this year with posting and perhaps to try some different posts.  I’m not sure yet what that will entail but I’m looking forward to trying.  

Last August my 3rd post was about The Belfast Taste & Music Fest.  The pictures were mainly mobile phone images and my summation was brief.  This year I went to the fest armed with my camera and family who were happy to wait a few minutes while I photographed the food.  Also, in true geeky fashion I had copies of the fest programme marked with every dish we wanted to try.  Our first task was to go along every stand and mark down the cost for each item so that we could work out the optimum combination of food to try. 

We visited on Sunday 7th Aug between 2pm & 6pm.  We paid £5 entrance fee each and bought 20 tokens each for £10.  My mum purchased an extra 20 tokens near the end of our visit so in total we used 80 tokens and including entrance we spent £55 altogether.  I’ve tried my best to include the token cost of each item I captured along with my review.  1 token = 50p.  We were lucky to visit a few stands that had reduced their costs as it was the last day, I suspect many would have reduced even further later into the evening as they tried to clear their stock.  The big disadvantage of this approach is that I was in the queue for the fab Yellow Door Ice Cream and the person in front of me got the last one!  

It was significantly busier than last year’s event and we were unable to find a seat so a patch of shaded grass was our only option.  We bought our food in rounds, each of us going to different stands in order to try the widest variety of food.

I’m going to do my best to include the stand, token price, picture & review of everything we tried but there were a few I may not have taken the details down correctly.

Stand: Cookstown & Ulster Pork & Bacon Forum

Dish: Guinness Marinated Baby back ribs

Tokens: 5

These were absolutely divine; the meat was cooked to perfection and simply melted off the bone.  The sauce was a wonderful smoked hickory concoction infused with Guinness, slightly spicy, a hint of tomato and other flavours that we couldn’t quite place.  It was a generous portion of 4 large ribs and was deemed the best dish of the day in terms of flavour and value.  It even included a mini portion of potato salad!  The wife has decreed that I find a recipe to recreate these asap.

Stand: Cookstown & Ulster Pork & Bacon Forum

Dish: Potato Salad

Tokens: 3

This was also a great value choice.  We decided we needed a side to balance out the meat and this was a lovely combination of potato, mustard mayo, herbs and olives.  Admittedly we’re not fans of olives so they were left behind but it was a beautifully made salad anyway. 

Stand: Kettyle Irish Foods & Linden Foods

Dish: Dry aged roast beef & mini yorkshire pudding

Tokens: 3 portions for 8

This stand was doing special offers of 3 for 8 or 2 for 6 on all their mains which was perfect for our group.  The wife and I decided on no horseradish as we find it too strong so these were perhaps a little drier than intended.  The Yorkshire pudding was lovely, if a little soft and the beef was cooked perfectly, soft and succulent with a good amount of pink in the middle.

Stand: O’Kane Poultry

Dish: Chicken Drumstick ‘lollipops’

Tokens: 4

My mum & I wanted to try these as soon as we saw them on the stand. I’m sorry to say that once cut open they were bright pink. My mum assured me that it was probably the marinade but I’m extremely fussy about meat and decided to refrain from trying them so my only report is that they smelled lovely and my mum enjoyed them.

Stand: O’Kane Poultry

Dish: Garlic Chicken & Pesto Mayo

Tokens: 4

Wonderfully crunchy crumbed chicken breast with a perfectly balanced pesto mayo that complimented the chicken rather than overpowered it.  This was also a good sized portion compared to other meat dishes that we tried.  The mayo is one that I would definitely try to recereate at home.

Stand: No 27 Talbot Street

Dish: Chargrilled Rob-eye steak on toasted soda, caramelised onions, mustard mayo & watercress salad

Tokens: 8

One of the most expensive dishes that we tried but well worth the extra tokens as it was a good size and very tasty.  The steak was cooked perfectly, it still had a nice bite but was not tough or chewy in any way.  The caramelised onions were sweet but not cloying and the mustard mayo added a little kick to the combination.  They had also managed to retain the firmness of the toasted soda as I was afraid it may have turned soggy.  Another one to try and replicate at home.

Stand: James Street South

Dish: Roast belly of pork, smoked apple, watercress & shallot salad

Tokens: 5

After last year’s amazing pork belly dish from The Yellow Door we were all excited to find a pork belly dish available.  Unfortunately it did not live up to our expectations at all.  Perhaps it was because it was a different vendor, perhaps we didn’t get a great piece but the meat was tough, the fat wasn’t crispy, the advertised components of the dish (as seen in the name) were not the same, the foam was bland & the beans were fine but not very well seasoned.

Now onto my favourite part of any food experience, the sweet treats.  I had been eagerly ticking off desserts in my programe for several days.  I must say overall I was quite disappointed.  As is the case in so many restaurants, the focus is nearly always on the savoury and the sweet takes a back seat.  Aside from the stands that were exclusively for desserts many of the main stands had only 1 or maybe 2 dessert offerings and overall we weren’t enthused with very many of them.

First a few shots of the sweet stands. 

Taste by Roisin had a variety of desserts, see below for the ones we tried.

The Loft Coffee Bar & Restaurant also had impressive cupcake displays alongside their dessert offerings.  We actually didn’t get to try anything from this stand but the double chocolate cupcakes seemed to be popular as we saw them everywhere, I think the edible glitter on the strawberry topper attracted a lot of admirers.

Stand: Yellow Door Deli

Dish: Bramley Apple Upside down cake & honey cream

Tokens: 6

You can tell how good this was by the fact I don’t have a picture!  My mum and I were enjoying the sponge, heavy with apples and caramel so much that I forgot to get a picture. It was a lovely balance of flavours, not too heavy or overly spiced so the apple flavour really shone through.

Stand: Yellow Door Deli

Dish: Individual Lemon Meringue Pie

Tokens: 6

This was bought especially for the wife as she is a huge lemon meringue fan.  I tried a little of the meringue topping, it wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked, judging by the light colouring on top I think it was just given a quick blast of flame. The pastry looked flaky and the filling a lovely colour.  I didn’t get a picture of this as I was too busy eating apple cake!

Stand: Taste by Roisin

Dish: Banana & Butterscotch pudding

Tokens: 4 (reduced from 5)

This was probably my favourite dessert even though mum and the wife didn’t really enjoy it.  They could both taste spices that they felt overpowered the cake.  I thought it was a wonderful combination especially with the sticky, highly sweet sauce poured over the sticky sponge.  It was perfectly paired with vanilla ice cream. 

Stand: Taste by Roisin

Dish: Cannoli

Tokens: 4 (reduced from 5)

I have never tried this before but admit to being intrigued purely because of the delicious looking cannolis made by the cake boss on his show.  I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I was disappointed as it was very bland.  The cream looked like it had some spice or flavour added but we couldn’t taste it & the fried cannoli shape had barely any flavour aside from the deep fried taste which was overpowering. 

Stand: The Merchant Hotel

Dish: Afternoon Tea Box

Tokens: 8

This was also something we were looking forward to having again as it was a favourite last year.  The scone was wonderful with the clotted cream and jam. The choux swan was earmarked by my mum so I didn’t get to try it myself but she said it was lovely.  The cake however, was too dense, even wet in the middle, the berries were too strong and overall it just wasn’t very exciting.  I’m not sure why there is a tendency to go for these dense petit fours rather than something more light in the form of a sponge based cake.  I didn’t enjoy the small cakes we were served at The Merchant Afternoon Tea either.  I regretted not trying the Uluru lamingtons as I was craving a sponge cake.

At this point we were filled to the brim from all our tasting but I had one more dessert I wanted to try, a simple honeycomb ice cream from The Yellow Door stand.  We had this last year and it was delicious so I happily queued up patiently only to witness the last scoop being sold to the person in front of me.  I could’ve cried.  So I purchased the lemon meringue pie for the wife and traipsed back moaning about not going for ice cream sooner.  At this stage I had 2 tokens left that I was determined not to waste.  I didn’t have enough for the majority of desserts but I found one stall with reduced price items…

Stand: The Fitzwilliam Hotel

Dish: White chocolate & Strawberry shortbread

Tokens: 2

I loved the sound and look of this dessert but the taste was rather unusual.  The title implied to me a very simple shortbread with strawberries and white chocolate but the block resting on the shortbread had the texture of cheese and also had the slightest taste of cheese too.  It wasn’t too bad on its own but combined with the strawberries and shortbread (which also tasted of cheese) it didn’t work.  I would have been ok with the cheese flavouring if it had been advertised as such but I really was expecting something sweeter.

So that was the Fest over for another year.  We’ve learnt more lessons for next year.  We’ll definitely be bringing our own chairs & blankets, we’ll try to have more money ready to try more dishes and I’ll be having ice cream for my first course no matter what time of day it is!




4 responses

12 08 2010
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

Happy Blogsoversary! And what a delicious post to commemorate it with! 😀 May there be many more meals as delicious looking as this! 🙂

12 08 2010

Thanks! I’m being a total blog fangirl & squeeing that you posted on my blog! Much appreciated.

4 08 2011
Sharon Ní Chonchúir

Would you believe this is the first time I’ve visited your blog? I didn’t even know you had one! Great write up of the Belfast Taste – I’ve been to Taste of Cork and to Taste of Christmas in Dublin, neither of which I enjoyed that much although I had tasty (though overpriced) food at both. Belfast Taste sounds different… I may have to check it out.

5 08 2011

Thanks for visiting for the 1st time 🙂

I won’t deny it’s not a cheap day out, you could obviously get a full dinner for around the same price but I love getting to try lots of different food in one day and the entertainment can be good. I’m just hoping for decent weather on Sunday. Let me know if you make it up next year!

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