You’ll find Ireland to the left of Rose & Crown Pub in the UK Pavilion.
Each food item returns for the same money. The Bunratty Meade is up a quarter and the Twinings Pumpkin Chai Teas replace the Chilled Irish Coffee.
Seafood Fisherman’s Pie – $6.50
Even though the items were returning, we tried a fresh version of each item. I thought this year’s version of the Fisherman’s Pie was a lot lighter on the seafood than past years. It’s been so thoroughly stuffed with shrimp, scallops, and more in the past that it can be difficult to scoop out a cohesive bite. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true with what we were served on the second day of the Festival and just a couple bites of seafood were swimming among the potatoes and cheese. Hopefully what you’ll be served will be better, but I’m going to have to knock one of my historical favorites down a few pegs given the high price.
Irish Cheese Selection Plate: Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Irish Porter – $4.25
We again preferred the cheese lineup at the Wine & Dine Studio, where you get three high quality cheeses with intelligent accompaniments. Not that there’s anything wrong with a packet of butter to go along with the (dry) soda bread. This is a fun way to try a variety of flavors and unlike a lot of the dishes, it can’t really be screwed up. It’s not a personal favorite and you could put something similar together from the cheese aisle at your local grocery store, but it’s not the worst choice and you may enjoy the cheeses more than I did.
Taste: 4/10 (you may well enjoy it a lot more)
Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard – $3.75
I like this one a lot – a relatively simple dessert executed nicely with the rich, warm, brownie-like cake base topped with the sweet, decadent custard. This is one of the most consistent dishes as well so you should be served something that satisfies. If you’re looking for unique bites then this is distinctly not it, but it’s very safe and very tasty.
Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale – $3.75
Store price: ?/ounce.
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce.
Value: Potentially good.
Kilkenny is not widely available in the United States, I don’t think. I always get it confused with George Killian’s Irish Red (Coors), probably because I barely speak English. This is a relatively low ABV Irish red produced by Diageo under the Guinness brand. It’s a bready, malty, caramel-y beer that’s light and refreshing with the low presence of alcohol that goes down smooth. It’s one of the better beers available at the booths, which is admittedly not saying much, but it’s worth a shot.
Bunratty Meade Honey Wine – $5.50
Bunratty Meade Honey Wine is a very sweet wine that tastes strongly of honey and very little of alcohol, despite having an ABV of 14.7%. It should be available in stores for around $18/bottle (and it’s available at the Festival Center for $24). Purists would tell you that it’s not a traditional mead, which would be fermented honey wine. This is a white wine with honey and spices added to it. Assuming you start drinking around the World in Mexico (and for most, even in Canada), you won’t care. Honey Wine is otherwise sweet with little flavor from the alcohol showing through. It may be more viscous than you’re expecting.
Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka – $9.50
This is available as a cocktail with Pinnacle Caramel Vodka for $9.50 or without the vodka for $4.50. You can guess which one we tried…
Your $5 buys you about an ounce of vodka, which would run you $12 for a 750ml bottle at Total Wine, so it is not exactly the good stuff. This was the only time that anyone warned us to mix the drink as they dispense about half of the cup full of the Frozen Pumpkin Chai Tea, then add the vodka, then top it off with more Tea. This tasted very fall with cinnamon and caramel notes and after being mixed together, had a pleasant flavor profile overall with the tea doing a nice job of masking the alcohol. Like most, it is an expensive proposition, but it’s one of the three best cocktails at the Festival this year and should be sampled by anyone looking for a refreshing drink. The fact that it’s frozen goes a long way in the lingering heat. Recommended.