Friday, 22 August 2014

The First Big Grill Festival, August 2014

I had been looking forward to this food festival for some time. It's been a long time since I was at a food festival, Bloom in Phoenix Park last year springs to any case, I was all set for a day of good food and entertainment. The entry fee into the Big Grill Festival in the lovely setting of Herbert Park in Ballsbridge was €15. There were early bird prices and I did get my ticket for a little less than this price. However, I was disappointed that literally everything had a cost involved once inside the venue. The cost was in the form of "smokin' tokens" and one token equated to one Euro.

Scenes from around the park at the Big Grill Festival

In terms of the quality of the food I must say I was quite pleased. I knew I wouldn't be able to sample everything but I did want to try the Pitt Bros pulled pork bun, when my sister suggested it and boy, am I glad I did. It was priced at 10 tokens and included a side of your choice - I went for the corn on the cob and E chose the potato salad. Delicious! And you must take a peek at Kate's photo on Kates Kabin - it shows this tasty delight off to its best allure. I also tasted their homemade lemonade which was yummy and well priced at 2 smokins.

Pitt Bros pulled pork sandwiches with a raspberry beer and a lemonade

We also enjoyed some food at Asador and the meat here was really juicy and tasty. I was impressed with the Jane Russell Gourmet sausage dog in a dreamy soft white roll with lovely caramelised onions. This was reasonably priced at 5 smokins. The burger was reportedly very succulent and tasty too.

Sausage Dog at Asador
We then developed a sweet tooth and went for a scrummy chocolate fondue cup with marshmallows, fudge and strawberries. This was indulgent and really tasty.

Lastly, we decided that due to having a few (non-reimbursable) tokens left, we had better choose something else. It'd be wrong not to! So between E, her boyfriend B, and I, we chose to share another meaty treat. We were torn between the hot wings and the ribs but the ribs at the Smokin Bones stall won out...happily! These were fabulous and were well worth their price of 7 smokins. The rub/sauce concoction was a good mix of fiery heat and sticky sweetness.

Lip-lickingly good Ribs
I have never been to Taste of Dublin and I'm not sure if it'd be my cup of tea, but hearing that the price of their portions is about the same as those at the Grill Festival and yet that the size of the portions is far smaller, would certainly draw me back to TBGF over ToD. However, I did find it disappointing that there were absolutely no little freebies or small tasters at any of the stalls, to help you choose what you'd like to try at TBGF.

John Relihan holding a duck BBQ-ing demo and Asador's stall
A few little points to note...

  • Pig on a spit - this was nowhere to be seen and it turned out this cool attraction would only be available to the Sunday attendees, which was a pity.
  • Drinks. The festival was strongly marketed as a craft beer festival but both E and B's drinks ran out early in the day. E got to like a tasty raspberry beer, had one, and by 2.30 pm, this was sold out. B is a cider drinker and at about 5 pm, he was told that the cider was no more. I felt this was quite poor as the festival ran until 9 pm on the Saturday but then again, in its first year you have to expect some teething problems. On the plus side, for a bit of diversity, there was a lovely wine tent with a variety of fizz, red and white wines. The popular 3FE coffee were on the scene and there was a good selection of soft drinks, again that awesome lemonade from Pitt Bros can't be overlooked!
  • The entrance price is too high though I feel, considering the level of entertainment provided was minimal and had a bit of a rush job feel to it, particularly with regard to the eating competitions.
To sum up, would I go again? Yes I would... (If only for that pulled pork burger and those ribs!) 

The Big Grill Festival has a little tweaking to go through but the vision is good and I look forward to some improvement in what is a great idea for a summertime foodie festival.

Oh, and if the organisers could arrange for some more sunshine the next time, that would be just super!


  1. Haha, I just noticed this now, I'm actually in the background of two of your photos working in the Demo area. The whole pig was actually in the cylinder block pit at the end of the area. Here are some of the photos I took over the weekend if you want to have a look. Wish I had gotten to talk to you there!

    Glad you seemed to enjoy yourself though!

    1. Fabulous photos on your blog Mark...I'm getting hungry now just looking at them! Would have loved to have seen the whole pig. Glad you enjoyed the festival too. Here's to the Big Grill Fest 2015!

    2. Here Here! The organisers are mad keen to get started on planning next year and all of your complaints were fairly universal to most guests and they will hopefully be bettered.