Bloom is one of those events that I always mean to visit but something always seems to get in the way ...exams, birthdays and bank holiday weekends away. So this year when Bord Bia announced it was organising a food bloggers picnic challenge and asked if there were any bloggers who would like to get involved, I decided nothing was going to get in my way this time. Bord Bia organised the picnic as a way to bring together Irish, French, Belgium and UK bloggers. It was a novel idea and one which allowed us an opportunity to meet with international bloggers, talk food and of course showcase the best of what Ireland has to offer.
The morning started off with a tour by Gary Graham, Bloom show manager. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the gardens in all their glory before the crowds hit and to learn more about them. As an added extra we were allowed to walk through some of the gardens so we got to experience them up close. If I had to choose a favourite mine would be the Glenisk Lorax Garden. It was fun, colourful, child friendly, creative and sustainable. For me the bee inns and the growing wall were just what I would love to have in a garden of my own.
Emma telling us all about the Lorax Garden
Some of the other highlights were the Growise 'My Garden', The Birds & The Bees, Amach & Isteach, Table for Four and Changing Perspectives. I really loved the borders surrounding 'My Garden' there was a huge range of colours which all tied in together and created an amazing looking showpiece garden. One of the added benefits of this garden was that it can be recreated by home gardeners. Another outstanding feature was the herb wall, a clever but functional piece of gardening and a source of constant herbs. Changing Perspectives stood out for me for the use of a variety of different materials.
The Birds & the Bees
Fiona getting a push in Isteach & Amach
Table for Four
After touring the gardens we were quickly briefed by Maeve from Bord Bia. The task was simple, create a picnic for two people! Teamed up into groups off we trooped to the Food Village only to be stopped in our tracks by the sheer scale of the village. It's massive and contains a Best in Season Fruit and Veg Market, a huge Food Market, Chefs Summer Kitchen, Love Irish Food, Bloom Inn, Artisan Catering, and a Meat and Fish Market. We started off in the Bloom Inn, where we were quickly drawn to Dunhill Castle who offer a light and sparkling drink, perfect for a summer bbq or party and a lovely alternative to prosecco.
Then it was on the food! First stop was Broderick's who have a gorgeous new bar out called Heaven. It's like a caramel slice but with a twist. It's very light but has a lovely crunch due to the peanuts in it. Brought one home for the boyfriend and I think it's safe to say we may have to buy a boxload soon!!
Never mind the bars - Free Hugs anyone??
We then filled up our picnic bags with Goatsbridge Trout Caviar, a selection of cheeses from St. Tola, Cooleeney Farm and Crozier Blue, lots of chocolate from Lir and the Cocoa Bean Chocolate Co, crackers from Foods of Athenry, bacon jam from Ed Hicks, Crossogue Preserves parsley jam, lemonade from Glenilen, samples of Coole Swan, chocolate biscuit cake from Tipperary Kitchen, strawberries from Keelings and tomatoes from Donnelly Foods. There was so much to choose from and so many producers to chat too that we were the last group back!! We set up our picnic with some beautiful extra props of Nicolas Mosse pottery brought by Nenagh Gal. Even with our mother and daughter theme and our sophisticated yet fun display, we didn't win but I'm sure we were a close runner up!! All the picnics showcased the best of Irish food and both the Irish and international bloggers got to meet producers they may not have heard of before. It was a fun and informative event so well done to Bord Bia for being so creative in their promotions!
Wild Irish Sea Veg
Donnelly Fresh Foods
Part of our mother & daughter picnic
Styling the picnic
One of the other picnics
Part of the runner's up picnic
Cheese glorious cheese
Food for Lovers - Winning Picnic and well deserving it's only gorg!!
Then after all our of 'hard work' sampling and chatting, we were treated to a fabulous meal in the Phoenix Cafe. This gave me an opportunity to get to know my fellow bloggers a bit better and lets just say they had me in stitches!! There was also an incident involving a exploding bottle of beer which led to a lot of laughter but I won't name names!! Of course I couldn't leave Bloom without stocking up so off I went to buy Glenilen lemonade, The Scullery's Beetroot relish, Lir's Peppermint Bark pieces, Sea Salad and some Tipperary Kitchen meringues. I was also very tempted to buy a beautiful purple plant but only had two hands and clearly the food came first!!
Bloom is a great day out and it is on till Monday 4th June. There is plenty for the whole family to enjoy and there are a range of indoor and outdoor areas so the Irish weather won't get in the way. Tickets are available to purchase at the gate (€20 per adult, kids go free), concession tickets for OAP’s or students (€15 per adult, kids go free) and online. A free shuttle bus operates between Hueston Station and Bloom, and back again. Parking is available on site in both the green and red car parks and costs €5.