Ireland returns across from the United Kingdom Pavilion and to the left of Rose & Crown.
Surprisingly, the Seafood Fisherman’s Pie doesn’t return, instead replaced by Irish Roasted Sausage. Last year’s Irish Cheese Selection Plate is also eliminated in favor of the Stout Dip. The beer is also new.
- Roasted Irish Sausage with Colcannon Potatoes and Onion Gravy – $5.50
- Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread – $4.75
- Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard – $4
- Bunratty Meade Honey Wine – $5.50
- Guinness Blonde American Lager – $4
- Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka – $9.75 or Without Vodka – $4.75
Roasted Irish Sausage with Colcannon Potatoes and Onion Gravy – $5.50
This was “just okay” in my book – the pork was your standard breakfast sausage variety, not unlike something you’d pick up from Jimmy Dean. The outside should have been a lot tighter and crispier with much more flavorful pork inside. Instead, the flavor profile was a bland mix of pepper and onion. The onion gravy wasn’t much better with a slimy consistency and a generic, off-putting sweetness. The colcannon was on point – a nice mixture of potatoes, bacon, and cabbage, but the texture ended up being greasy underneath the gravy. This may improve and taste better as temperatures cool, but the sausage would have to taste a lot better for this to be anywhere close to a “must buy.”
Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread – $4.75
Opinions on this one ran the gamut from “hands thrown up in the air terrible” to “wow this is really good.” The dip has more of a gritty fondue texture than you might be expecting to go along with a rich cheesy taste. I liked it a lot with the fresh soda bread – firm, but crumbly with a sweet aftertaste and a hearty character. One downside is that you need at least three times as much bread for the amount of dip/fondue you get. So dip deep from the first bite or grab some spoons. I enjoyed it, but you might want to order one and share before committing to 12 plates/bowls and at $4.75, there probably isn’t an overwhelming amount of value here given the meager amount of bread presented.
Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard – $4
I like this one a lot – a relatively simple dessert executed well with the rich, warm, brownie-like cake base topped with the sweet, decadent custard. Even if you’re not planning on ordering one, the smell of freshly baked chocolate cake is going to get you in line; budget the four bucks for it in advance.
Bunratty Meade Honey Wine – $5.50
Store Price: 71 cents/ounce
Festival Price: $2.75/ounce
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. 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 thicker than you’re expecting.
Guinness Blonde American Lager – $4
Store Price: 13 cents/ounce
Festival Price: 67 cents/ounce
Forgive the lack of a picture as I am currently on the road and don’t have my Big External Hard Drive of Beer Pictures on my person. Or more accurately, I only have my external hard drive full of pictures of beer that taste good because those are more important. But on the other hand, if the bad beer hard drive gets ruined, that means I have to recreate them, which means I have to try all of those bad beers again. Short-sighted thinking, indeed.
Anyway, a year doesn’t pass without Guinness trying desperately to popularize a beer that isn’t their Irish Dry Stout. They never succeed. Guinness Blonde is a decent lager – I’d be willing to pay a slight premium versus Budweiser or something if I could pick it up in a 24-pack. But with the 6-pack price coming in similar to a lot of significantly better brews, there is simply no market for Guinness American Lager. And there never will be. This is an opportunity to give it a try at approximately the highest possible price you’d ever possibly pay, but not much more than that.
Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka – $9.75 or Without Vodka – $4.75
If memory serves, the alcoholic version is on the left and the non-alcoholic version is on the right, but they look just about the same either way. This my favorite cocktail at the Festival – cold, creamy, and refreshing. The flavor profile is all fall with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel. I actually prefer the non-alcoholic flavor more – the vodka just thins the consistency out and dilutes the rich flavor. But you do get about 1.5 ounces of Pinnacle Vodka poured underneath the non-alcoholic mix, so it’s as strong or stronger than most of the other drinks available. A must buy for anyone that likes pumpkin anything.
Overall, you might plan on dessert here with the cake and chai tea. The other food items are far from terrible and those that enjoy cheese fondue should love the stout dip, but I’m not sure the sausages are memorable even if they were more flavorful. Still a worthy stop considering the high quality of the two items that you want to pick up.