May 31, 2012

Are you a Home Cook Hero?

Are you super at stirring, sizzling, searing, slicing and sauteing?? Well now is your chance as the search for Ireland’s favourite recipes and masterpieces has begun! If you bake beautiful buns, create tiny treats or get lucky with your larder on a daily basis, the Easy Food Home-Cook Hero Awards is waiting for your nomination. 

The Easy Food Home-Cook Hero Awards is a national cookery competition, which is open to all home-cooks and aspiring chefs. For the second year running, they are looking for supergrans, supergrandads, supermoms, superdads, superkids or someone who is just plain super! With ten categories for super home cooks to enter into, there is something for everyone.

The competition will culminate with three  cooks being shortlisted from each of the 10 categories who will then be invited to cook their recipe in a good fun cook-off in front of a panel of judges on November 2nd at the state-of-the-art kitchens in Cooks' Academy,  Dublin 2.  Judging this year’s competition are renowned celebrity chefs Kevin Dundon, Catherine Fulvio and Catherine Leydon, as well as Vanessa Greenwood of Cooks Academy and Gina Miltiadou, Publisher of Easy Food Magazine and Co-Founder of Zahra Media Group. The judges will be looking for tasty food that is quick and easy to prepare.

Home cooks can enter by logging onto or by picking up a copy of Easy Food Magazine and sending in the application form along with the recipe and what it means to them in less than 50 words. Remember you have to use the sponsor’s product in your recipe unless otherwise stated and recipes should  be quick and easy, taking between 30 and 80 minutes to prepare and cook, depending on the category. Closing date for entries is 28th September 2012. So get the whisks, rolling pins, and mixers out it’s time to cook!!

May 28, 2012

May/June Foodie Festivals & Events: 28th May - 4th June

A 6-day Festival in Co. Mayo with quizzes, a family fun day, an open fishing competition and a traditional fair with lots more taking happening. Taking place from the 30th May - 4th June.

Based in Athboy, Co Meath, this Macra na Feirme event has been running for 25 years.There will be a street carnival, a farmer's market, a Ceilí and of course the Blue Jean Country Queen competition.  It runs from the 1st - 4th June.

Bloom, Ireland's largest gardening, food and family event, will take place in the Phoenix Park Dublin during the June bank holiday weekend for 5 days from 31 May – 4 June. There will be something for everyone with cookery and craft demonstrations, free gardening advice from the experts, Irish food produce, live entertainment and gardening workshops.

Taking place in Foynes, Co. Limerick from the 1st - 3rd June, this festival has a varied range of events including Irish coffee making demonstrations, a food and Irish craft fair, workshops and lots of music. 

For Love Gourmet Week 2012, ten of the best restaurants in Limerick and the Shannon region will offer a  dining experience from €35 per person. The ethos of the event will be a celebration of local produce, great Irish food and organic produce. As part of Love Gourmet Week, midweek promotions will take place in all participating restaurants with wine deals, cocktail specials and unique seasonal menus on offer to celebrate the event. This event runs from the 1st – 10th June.
The Tipperary Fayre takes place on the 2nd of June in The Source in Thurles. Bringing together local growers in Tipperary the festival gives visitors the opportunity to browse, taste and buy produce. There will also be arts and crafts stall, music, entertainment and chef Catherine Fulvio will be running a cookery demonstration at 4.30pm.

This is predominantly a music festival which runs from the 1st - 3rd June but lots of events are taking place in Enniscorthy town. Events such as the All Ireland Farmers Market, The Strawberry Princess, WexFactor and The Strawberry Half Marathon. The 5th Annual All Ireland Farmers Market Competition is due to be held on Sunday 3 June 2012 with the celebrity judge of the competition being Paolo Tullio!

N.B Even though the events section is updated weekly, dates and times are liable to change so please do check the websites yourself as well.
If you would like to have your foodie event added please contact Kat at thepurplepageireland (at)

May 26, 2012

Bonza Pies - Seriously Aussie ... Made in Ireland

As a child myself and my sister watched Home and Away religiously. Once 6.30 hit we were there in front of the telly watching the drama filled lives of Sally Fletcher, Donald Fisher and Alf Stewart unfold in front of us. We pined for the sunshine, the sea and wished our Irish skin looked as tanned as the girls on the telly. A fair few years later and I have come to accept that the county we live in will never be that hot (except for this one week) and if it was, as a red head, I would in constant fear of sunburn (which I am after an hour in the sun!). As a grown up though I have found a new way to fill that Aussie gap and of course its food related!! Meet Bonza Pies - Seriously Aussie...Made in Ireland. 


I first came across Bonza Pies when the boyfriend came home one afternoon after sampling one of their pies in the Ilac centre. Sausage, mash and gravy in a pie what a revelation! He didn't stop talking about it until I specifically made my way into town to give it a go! So when Bonza Pies told me that they had opened a new branch on Poolbeg Street and asked if I would like to come down to visit and sample some pies I was down there like a roo on fire!!

Bonza Pies is run by Emma and Colin, an Irish Aussie couple who saw a gap in the market when they returned to Ireland (yes it does happen people actually come back!!). In Oz a lot of people eat pies even with the extreme heat as a lunchtime or dinner feed. So with abounding positivity and optimism Colin faced down the recession and set about opening the Ilac branch. The Ilac branch opened two years ago and was received so positively that a second branch was opened at Christmas on Poolbeg Street. 

Bonza Pies offer a substantial array of pies. The Banger as previously mentioned is delicious as it has everything in it and the boyfriend's favourite is the Porterhouse. The Porterhouse Pie is actually made especially for the Porterhouse pubs and is filled with a stout so I can see why he likes it. On the day I was there I picked a Chicken & Wild Mushroom Pie as it is one of my favourite combinations.

It was full of flavour with good sized chunks of chicken and mushroom and was filled with a creamy, oozy sauce all wrapped up in a golden shortcrust pastry. It was accompanied by some colcannon mash and some veggies. To wash it all down and to complete the whole Aussie experience Emma insisted that I try a Bundaberg Ginger Beer. My reaction to this was 'How have I never had this before'!! It is the most thirst quenching drink ever.

So with a choice of 10 pies, 3 types of mash and gravy there is something for everyone's taste in both the Ilac and Poolbeg branches. But Bonza Pies in Poolbeg Street goes one step further and offers sangas, soup and a range of breakfast items such as Eggs Benedict and Banana Pancakes. The boyfriend has gone as far to say they are the best eggs in town!! The Banana Pancakes cheered me up on a very wet and windy Friday morning and the slightly carmelised bananas were a lovely touch (yes we have been back a few times since my first visit!)

Bonza Pies is a family run business and Emma and Colin take great pride in their food. For example they salt their own beef and they make their own shortcrust pastry. A lot of love and care is put into preparing the food and it comes through in the taste. Poolbeg Street has only been open a few months but already they have a loyal following who Emma already seems to know by name! There was some great banter going on in the restaurant the day I was there with people trying to pronounce Aussie codewords in order to get a free drink.

Emma and Colin's mission is to open a Bonza Pie Cafe, and another, and another so everyone has access to their delicious pies! I truly hope they succeed as I believe they are onto a winner. Bonza Pies is all about good quality, filling food at great prices!! Bonza Pies kindly provided me with my pie that day but all the other times I have eaten there they cost €4.50 and you can get one with mash & gravy for €6.  So next time you are in town take a trip off the beaten track and go for a walkabout to Poolbeg Street. Now all I want is for a Bonza Pies to open closer to home or work so guys, Ranelagh or Meath please as your next branch!!

Opening hours Ilac Centre, Dublin open Monday - Saturday 8.30am - 6pm, Sunday 11am - 6pm.  Poolbeg Street, Dublin open Monday - Friday 7.30am - 4pm
For more info on Bonza Pies find them here

Update 2013: Bonza Pies have now moved from Poolbeg Street to Talbot Street.

May 21, 2012

May Foodie Festivals & Events: 21st - 27th May

This festival is a two day celebration of fine food and drink. All the restaurants, bars and cafes will provide visitors to the village a taste of the wonderful range of cuisine on offer, in a veritable market place of little tents and stalls. Taking place in Co. Louth from the 26th - 27th May.

Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival is a celebration of the traditional timber sailing boats of Ireland. It will be a weekend of sailing, talking, learning and partying in true West Cork style! On shore there will be the best of food and drink in the restaurants and bars. In the food tents lining the pier, West Cork's finest fish smokers, cheese makers and organic gardeners will will offer their wares. From Friday 25th - Sunday 27th May.

Dublin City Soul Festival
Dublin City Soul Festival is a celebration of peace, unity & love taking place in Dublin from the 24th - 27th May.  There will be an exhibition of painted and artified musical instruments (mainly guitars) in the exhibition area upstairs in Stephen's Green Shopping Centre. Then will also be a Restaurant Trail, a Gospel Brunch and a Soul Picnic in Merrion Square. Admission to Merrion Square is free though contributions are welcome.

National Countrysports Fair 
The International Food Festival at the National Countrysports Fair is one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. There will be a range of goods on offer including Irish breads, cheeses, smoked salmon, French crepes, organic fruit & vegetables & Asian cuisine. The fair takes place at Moira Demense, Co. Down on  26th - 27th May.

National Chowder Cook-Off 
The second annual national Chowder Cook- off takes place in Kinsale on 27th May from 2 - 4pm. It costs €10 to enter and takes place on the grounds of Actons Hotel. So if you think you a winning Chowder recipe get yourself down there!!

Sheridans Cheesemongers will host their third Irish food festival on Sunday 27th May, at their Virginia Road Station headquarters in Co Meath. A huge array of Ireland’s top food producers will be here to sell, sample and talk about their wonderful foods. There will also be a range of workshops available with Irish food producers and chefs. There will be a Slow Food youth area which will have lots of food related activities including cookery demos, vegetable growing, schools market and much more. There will also be free children’s entertainment, live music and traditional fair games. There is a fee of €5 per family for entry and car-park; everything else is free including workshops and kids entertainment.

The fourth Wexford Food and Wine Festival will be held in Wexford town from 24th-27th May. There will a jampacked schedule of events taking place including including a crackling hog roast, cookery demonstrations, a Jazz Brunch and an open air food producers market.

Ireland's premier whiskey tasting show will make a return to The Round Room at The Mansion House in the heart of Dublin's city centre on Saturday 26th May. Participants are promised an incredible and in-depth insight into the world of whiskey drinking and producing. There will be a tasting hall where participants can sample whiskey from all around the globe and there is a whole range of masterclasses on offer.

N.B Even though the events section is updated weekly, dates and times are liable to change so please do check the websites yourself as well.
If you would like to have your foodie event added please contact Kat at thepurplepageireland (at)

May 14, 2012

May Foodie Festivals & Events: 14th - 20th May

The Burren Slow Food Festival is held in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare from the 18th –  20th May. Beer tasting, Seafood Foraging and Food Camp are some of the events taking place. The main programme will be held at the Pavilion Theatre in Lisdoonvarna. The daily entrance fee to the Pavilion grounds is only 5 euro for over 18s.  This gives you access to all events at the Pavilion all day.

The Inishfood Festival on May 18th - 20th, a food blogger event initiated last year, is a weekend filled full of demonstrations, talks, storytelling, and eating on the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal.

This event will take place on Sunday 20th May in aid of Air Ambulance Ireland. There will be cooking demonstrations, set dancing, children's entertainment and lots of other activities taking place on the day.

The third Só Sligo food festival takes place from the 18 - 20th May. There will be a food village, cookery demonstrations, talks, films and tastings and a whole range of competitions, one of which is the Radisson Blu Great Family Cookoff. Top chef Edward Hayden will also be in attendance.  
If you would like to have your foodie event added please contact Kat at thepurplepageireland (at)

May 12, 2012

BITE - Fish Ahoy!!

BITE is the new restaurant du jour and it's not hard to see why. Based on South Fredrick Street, BITE, opened by restaurateur Ronan Ryan, offers something for everyone.The menu is short but interesting and filled with fresh fish and 'land - based bites'. So having managed to secure a much sought after booking, we headed down there last Friday night.

We were greeted by a very lovely hostess who was incredibly efficient and was helped by a team who are friendly, courteous and on the ball. Not once did we have to ask for water top ups which is a personal gripe of mine! The meal started off with some chilli squid popcorn followed by some buttered popcorn. This is a very clever idea as it is enough to stave off major hunger but not enough to fill you up unlike bread baskets.

For starters we ordered the Pil Pil Prawns, Deep Fried Mozzarella Balls and Potted Crab with Apple and Fennel. The Pil Pil Prawns were delicious with a strong garlicky flavour, the Mozzarella Balls are a great sharing starter and the Potted Crab was divine. It had a lovely texture but as usual with these things I always finish the Melba Toast before I even get near the end of the pot!! Even my non fishing loving friend thought it was a winner.

Pil Pil Prawns

Deep Fried Mozzarella Balls

Potted Crab

As there were four of us we managed to sample quite a lot of the menu so for our mains we ordered the Lemon Sole Fried in Panko breadcrumbs, the Grilled Sea Trout and Roasted Couscous with Sweet Potato Wedges and Crumbled Feta. One of the girls didn't feel like a big main so she just ordered a few sides with absolutely no objections from the waiting staff.

Lemon Sole Fried in Panko Breadcrumbs

Roasted couscous, sweet potato wedges and crumbled feta

Grilled Sea Trout

Both the sea trout and the lemon sole were lovely and the skinny chips were grand. You are given exactly what you are order - they are essentially posh fish 'n' chips. They even come in a little paper carton on a plate for a try at an authentic feel. For me though it was the roasted couscous and the sides that stole the show and demonstrates what the kitchen is truly capable of. The sides of baked sweet potato wedges, truffle & parmesan fries, spinach with new season garlic and slow roasted beets were a meal in themselves and were filled with flavour. 

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

Truffle & Parmesan Fries

We were very tempted by the range of desserts which included popping candy ice-cream but instead opted for cocktails out in the heated seating area. One of the great things about BITE is their range of seating areas for pre or after dinner cocktails and drinks. We sat in the heated outdoor area but there is a lounge area downstairs. The cocktails were deemed not balanced enough by the cocktail loving connoisseur but that could be down to personal preference. I thoroughly enjoyed my wine and prosecco though!! One thing for the staff to note though is that if a customer asks for a pomegranate cocktail don't bring them a pineapple one just because you have run out! Other than this small glitch BITE is a restaurant I will be returning to. It is a lovely venue with exceptional staff. They  allowed us to stay all night, looked after our every wish and helped us celebrate a friend's very special occasion in style! 

You can find more info on BITE here.
Bite on Urbanspoon

May 08, 2012

May Foodie Festivals & Events: 8th - 13th May

Rossnaree Vintage Fair
Rossnaree Fair will take place on Sunday 13th May from 12pm. There will be stalls filled with vintage clothes, antiques and other collectables. There wil be pony rides, Hay Bale Pirate Ships and Gypsy Caravans. Foodwise there will  be an Oyster Bar, courtesy of The Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill, fresh-fried pumpkin doughnuts from the Brown Hound Bakery pop-up and Iseult's Vintage Cafe selling fabulous home-baked cakes and refreshments all day. There will also be a hidden Pizza Grotto! Find it at Rossnaree House, Slane, Co Meath. Tickets (10Euro per family, 5Euro single entry) will be available on the gate from midday onwards. 

Family Day
Family Day is a big annual celebration of the diversity of families and family life in Ireland. On Sunday 13 May 2012, One Family and EBS will host a wonderful family event with free entertainment, family sports activities, face painting and arts and crafts workshops in Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens.

Dinner Theatre of Dorian Gray
Cloughjordan House, Co. Tipperary are hosting their first ever dinner theatre event in their ballroom. An adaptation of the Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Wonderland Productions on Saturday 12th May is on offer along with some fabulous food. There are four places left for Saturday night and tickets are available at €40 per person. For more information visit or call Peter on 087-2515694. The event kicks off at 7.30pm.

If you would like to have your foodie event added please contact Kat at thepurplepageireland (at)

May 07, 2012

La Vita é Bella at il Valentino

I'll do anything for cake... including getting up at 7.30 on a Sunday morning to make my way into Dublin City. Which is exactly what I did yesterday for my first ever Foodies on Tour, organised by Clare from An American in Ireland. il Valentino, an (or rather The) Italian Bakery & Cafe, located near the old flour mills in Grand Canal Harbour, invited some food bloggers for a tour of its bakery and to sample some of its pastries and coffee. Coffee and Italian pastries... yes it took me about two seconds flat to decide whether I would go or not!!

Since leaving Italy I dream of the food. Dreams filled with cannoli, crostate, ciabatta, focaccia and coffee all eaten while sitting in piazzas filled with sunshine. Dreams that are hardly ever realised in Ireland until yesterday while sitting in the rare Irish sun, overlooking the water, drinking the most perfect caffé macchiato and eating a sublime slice of mixed berry cake.

Oh What To Choose!!

A Close Up of Deliciousness!!

il Valentino is run by husband and wife team, Owen and Valentina Doorly. He's Irish and she's Italian, both consumed with a passion to bring real bread and pastries back to our table. Everything is baked on site and is free of preservatives, enzymes or additives. It may mean a shorter shelf life but this is real food, made with passion and it comes through in the taste. The bakery runs 24 hours a day and fresh bread is available six days a week with Sunday being the only exception. 

Our tour started off with a choice of coffee and cake. For me there is no better coffee to start the morning off with than a caffé macchiato and I eventually settled on a mixed berry slice. The cake was moist and fruity and Valentina explained that it originally comes from the Tirol Region and uses buckwheat. The coffee is sourced from Caffe HausBrandt and is exclusive to il Valentino. It is a delicious blend with no trace of bitterness which can so often be found in cafe coffees.

My Final Choice!

Valentina and Owen then gave us a little talk on how they established il Valentino. It was  was set up in 2005 and based on a lot of faith that the Grand Canal Dock area would become the vibrant hub it is today! They now employ fifteen staff and their breads and cakes are supplied to over 40 restaurants and shops. We were then taken for a tour of the bakery where all the magic happens. Talk about Foodie Heaven!!!

Owen and Valentina are passionate about real bread. They believe bread has lost its way and I am with them on that one. There is nothing better in the world than a crusty loaf of freshly baked bread and il Valentino have a wonderful ethos behind their own bread making. Owen explained that their bread is created in small batches from scratch and each day salt, flour, yeast and water are combined with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Each loaf is handmade and baked to perfection. Something I didn't know was that Ireland apparently has the highest number of coeliacs in Europe. I know myself that I have stopped eating highly processed white loaves as they don't agree with me. Owen explained that this is due to the high yeast content in bread and that since their breads are carefully made with a very low yeast content a lot of coeliacs can tolerate them.


Their top seller is the Italian Country Loaf and when I mentioned this to a friend who I met later, she went 'Ah that explains why I can never get it, I thought they had stopped making it!!'. She is now on a personal mission to get up earlier and get in there first thing in the morning! We were also privy to seeing how croissants and pain au chocolats were made. It is quite a process and I will appreciate every layer when I eat my next one!.

The Laminator! Deliverer of Croissanty Goodness

Finishing the Pain au Chocolats

Some of the baking equipment

Admiring his handiwork

Warm, buttery croissants. Get in there Girls!!

The motto for il Valentino is 'Celebrating Life' and this is visible in everything they do. From Owen and Valentina's passion for good, real food, to the baker's pride in their work and their staff's enthusiasm behind the counter, the happiness is infectious. I dare anyone to go in, sit down for a coffee, cake or sandwich and not to come out smiling and believing that life in Ireland can be Bellissima!

It was a wonderful morning and I think it is fair to say that all the bloggers came away very happy and full!! How could we not with being sent on our way with this as our last sample. 

Thanks to Valentina and Owen for having us down and for being so passionate about what they do and thanks to all the food bloggers: Smorgasblog, The Daily Spud, Like Mam Used to Bake, Gunternation, Wholesome Ireland, Dublin by Mouth, An American in Ireland and A Mexican Cook In Ireland for all the lovely foodie chat (I'm hoping I didn't leave anyone out!!).

Oh and on a final note I didn't have to dream of cannoli last night because I couldn't leave without buying some!!

May 02, 2012

May Foodie Festivals & Events: 1st - 7th May

There are so many wonderful events happening this May that this month's Foodie Festivals & Events had to be broken down into weeks! This week goes from 1st - 7th May bringing us right through the Bank Holiday. Happy Eating!!

Meet local producers including Hodgins Foods, Eight Degrees Brewing, Horgan's, Pandora Bell Confectionary, Clotilde's Compotes, Ballyhoura Apple Farm and Old Irish Creamery Cheese. On every Bank Holiday Monday during the summer. The first one is this Monday 7th May.
Connemara Mussel Festival on the Renvyle Peninsula 
A celebration of Killary Mussels harvested from “One of the Forty Places to See Before you Die” takes place on the glorious Renvyle Peninsula in North Connemara from the 4th – 6th May 2012. The celebrations will include music, craic, mussel cooking competitions, walks, talks, theatre and children's activities. There will also be a country market, local art exhibition and mussel cooking competitions to name but a few.

Cinco de Mayo
Experience all things Mexican, try some spicy free food nibbles and get into the fiesta mood with some street performers and dance your blues away with Mariachi music from 3-5pm. Saturday May 5th, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.
Gourmet Greystones
A celebration of local foods, cookery demos and workshops in Greystones, Co. Wicklow on Sunday 6th May. A lovely range of events on offer including forgaging with Ed Hicks, Wine Tasting with John Wilson and Raw Milk & Buttermaking with David  Tiernan of Glebe Brethan Cheese. 

Riverfest 2012 from 4th-7th May  will showcase and celebrate all that’s great about Limerick City. Riverfest is a city wide series of events including: a huge BBQ Competition, a riverside Continental Fair, Fireworks, Fashion Events, River Fun and lots more including the Great Limerick Run!
Meath Food Showcase is taking place in the Headfort Arms Hotel on Thursday 3rd May 2012 from 3pm – 9pm.The event will feature food producers and processors from all over Co Meath and will bring together  producers, would be producers, processors, wholesale buyers, consumers, advisory bodies as well as experts in business development & food production.
Roscommon Lamb Festival 2012 runs from the 2nd - 7th May.  It celebrates all aspects of County Roscommon’s food, farming, heritage, craft  and most importantly – family, in a range of events designed to suit everyone’s tastes.  The majority of the events are free and the festival itself is a non profit event.
Yelp's Backyard Bazaar runs on Sunday May 6th from 1 to 3pm in The Bernard Shaw. There will be stalls there giving out food & drink samples, all for free and the entry is too!! Just make sure you RSVP by hitting 'I'm in' button on the Yelp page.

The inaugural Tullamore Arts Festival takes place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday over the May Bank Holiday in the Bridge Centre in Tullamore town centre. The first year of this new community event will see pop-up art galleries, photography exhibitions, mini theatre, street market, live music stages, dance workshops, street performers and a host of childrens activities including balloon modeling, facepainting, bouncy castles, kids slides, clay craft making, treasure hunt and other fringe events.

Ireland’s oldest, most spectacular and hottest festival will once again ignite the summer festival season when it is rekindled on the historic Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath on Bealtaine, Saturday May 5th. Festival of Fires will set the ancient seat of the High Kings alight with the very best in arts, culture, ceremony, history and heritage, crafts, debate, artisan food and drink, ancient Celtic sports, re-enactments, ancient agricultural rituals and music.

Crisp Fest 2012
For all the crisp lovers out there here's an event just for you. The first annual Crisp Fest on Saturday 5th May. Where you can all come along and enjoy some crisps, some music and possibly some beverages. It will be held at The Beatyard in The Bernard Shaw on Richmond St South from 6-9. 

Galway Brewers on the Bay: Salthill, May 5th and 6th. See link for more details

If you would like to have your foodie event added please contact Kat at thepurplepageireland (at)