Theatre of Food
Wines Direct is still buzzing from Electric Picnic 2018! We were ecstatic to play a part in John & Sally McKenna’s Theatre of Food. And, theatre it was, indeed! The Theatre of Food at Electric Picnic has grown into a full-fledged festival in its own right. Theatre of Food is where Ireland’s best chefs, food and wine writers, social influencers, and talented food lovers gather for a weekend to put the theatrics into Ireland’s cutting-edge food culture. It is truly a feast for the senses — from the backstage area of the bustling and banter-filled kitchen, to the fringe areas of the newly designed Drinks Theatre and Workshop, and the beautifully curated Main Stage. There is also the aptly named “Green Room” (located literally on the green grass of Stradbally) where you can see the aforementioned stellar food and drink talent hanging out pre and post performance, sipping on their organic wines, craft cocktails, and artisan roasted coffee.
The festival began Friday evening and Wines Direct was one of the “opening acts” in the Theatre of Food. Our enigmatic Fionnuala Harkin got the merriment started with her deliciously dramatic wine tasting — “The Story of Wine: The Wit, The Wisdom, The Winemaker.” Wines from our wonderful independent producers were presented along with their philosophies and Fionnuala’s amusing backstories from her prior vineyard visits. As the audience tasted, she read excerpts from poets, writers, and philosophers, who have been inspired by the magic of wine through the ages. The wine and witty banter were flowing as the literary snippets swirled in a jovial (and sometimes steamy) direction — befitting our role as an actor in this contemporary culinary theatre.
The Story of Wine: The Wit, The Wisdom, The Winemakers
A Literary Wine Pairing
“Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.” – Mr. Babache Jumbo Harlequin Diabolo
“When it comes to picking wine and cutting through the marketing smokes, bottom line is: two things really matter. First is how the grapes were farmed, and second is whether or not you like it. The rest is vastly B.S.” – Olivier Manny
“I’d urge you to try German Riesling because it’s delicious, but I fear you’ll be more impressed if I tell you it’s cutting-edge. That, after all, is what we want to know– what’s now and happening― Jay McInerney: A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine
“A German wine label is one of the things life’s too short for.” – Kingsley Amis
A crowd-pleasing quote that pairs with any libation
“I hover over the expensive Scotch and then the Armagnac, but finally settle on a glass of rich red claret. I put it near my nose and nearly pass out. It smells of old houses and aged wood and dark secrets, but also of hard, hot sunshine through ancient shutters and long, wicked afternoons in a four-poster bed. It’s not a wine, it’s a life, right there in the glass.” – Nick Harkaway, the Gone-Away World
“Fancy a Poké,” with Chef Niall Sabongi, of the highly regarded Dublin’s Klaw restaurant and The Seafood Cafe, and our own Fionnuala Harkin and Gareth Keogh, had the audience participating in a lively atmosphere of chat Saturday afternoon. Niall effortlessly put together a Poké bowl of raw tuna, crisp vegetables, chilli, pickles and herbs. Wines Direct’s Mas Las Cabes paired seamlessly with the Poké bowl, acting as a perfect foil for all the zingy flavours and textures.
On Saturday evening, “The Ultimate Picnic” with Chef JR Ryall, Head Pastry Chef at Ballymaloe House, featured an intriguing picnic centrepiece, inspired by the late Myrtle Allen. As JR created this beautiful bread show stopper, he shared stories of working with Myrtle as a teenager in the kitchens of Ballymaloe. The “chest of sandwiches” comprised a loaf of bread, with insides carefully removed in one piece: sliced, filled, and then neatly fit back into the loaf. It sounds a bit difficult, but JR made it look so easy — all while chatting away with the weekend’s compère, John McKenna. It was an impressive feat, and to be honest, we have our doubts in replicating this bread magic. We do know, however, that we are well capable of opening a bottle of Antech Blanquette de Limoux to perfectly pair with these posh sandwiches. Is there anything better than celebratory bubbly at a picnic (or festival)? And to sweeten up the ultimate picnic, JR’s scrumptious bite-sized apple tarts (another clever “no cutlery or packaging required” nibble). In the last act of the evening, Fionnuala ended with yet another apropos prose.
“Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise now.”
― Omar Khayyám