Beer, Grills, and more…

Pictured Above: Big grill festival.

Pictured Above: Big Grill festival.

The Big Grill Festival again took up residence in Dublin’s Herbert Park, celebrating its third year serving beautifully scorched food to eager meat-lovers of all ages.

The festival ran from August 11th to 14th and featured masterclasses, cooking demonstrations, craft beers and live music. There was also a chilli pepper and hot wing competition for brave punters with bellies strong enough to stomach the challenge.

Headlining the four-day event were the culinary equivalent of Ed Sheeran and David Guetta, Scotland’s Neil Rankin and our very own John Relihan from Co. Kerry.

On a visit to the festival, NewsFour spoke to Rankin, who is famous for his appearances on BBC’s Great British Menu, and for his book Low and Slow, a user’s guide on how to cook meat.

Pictured: Andre Lima de Luca and Neil Rankin.

Pictured: Andre Lima de Luca and Neil Rankin.

Rankin worked for a time at Barbecoa (, Jamie Oliver’s steakhouse in London, and is shortly setting up his own restaurant in Soho. “We’re all about sustainability,” said Rankin. “We only work with sustainable farms where I know the farmer and I know the animal. We use 100% of the animal parts, we even make butter from beef fat, and it’s delicious.” We didn’t sample the butter, but the short rib cut of beef was certainly high on the taste scale.

Next, we dropped by to see festival organiser, Andy Noonan at his stand, Fowl Play, for a taste of the three bird special, consisting of chicken, duck and quail, glazed with a garlic butter and whiskey sauce and served with roasted sweet potatoes. The finger-licking food is available daily at the Square Ball bar on Hogan Place.

John Relihan, it’s fair to say, has had an interesting career to date. Plucked from the obscurity of life in Duagh, a small village near Listowel, Relihan had his prayers answered when as a teenager he was chosen to take part in Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen apprentice programme in London. After stints in San Francisco and working as Oliver’s sous chef in Barbecoa, Relihan recently returned to Ireland to set up a new barbecue restaurant in Cork city, called Holy Smoke. Someone with an obvious passion for his job, Relihan also represents Bord Fáilte as one of their Irish food ambassadors.

Pictured: Pig headed.

Pictured: Pig headed.

NewsFour tasted the 24-hour slow cooked pork and cabbage, which was smoked in a pit using a mixture of cherrywood, applewood and Kerry turf. The flavours were positively bursting out of the pit in a technique that may seem new, but in fact dates back to Bronze Age cooking in Ireland. Delicious!

There seems to be no let-up in our appetite to unearth new and exciting ways to cook meat, but in many ways, we are simply rediscovering our past. Let’s see what they dig up for next year’s festival.

By Paul O’Rourke