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Fire up your taste buds: barbecue season has arrived

Summer is here, the back yard grills are in full swing and the festival diary is full

The delicious smell and smoke of barbecue has been wafting into my garden in recent days and this is the weekend I finally tackle the annual outdoor grill clean up, and then join the party. I have saved our chef columnist Grainne O’Keefe’s recipes for fish, chicken and beef burgers, and picked up some really useful tips from her Top 10 Tips for Perfect Barbecue.

For any vegetarians or vegans joining me, I’ll be taking inspiration from Nicola Crowley’s Middle Eastern barbecue column in the Irish Times Magazine and her Middle Eastern summer salad recipes too. Nicola runs Mezze cafe and deli in Tramore, Co Waterford, with her Israeli husband Dvir, and together they wrote the Mezze cookbook, Middle Eastern Food Made to Share.

It is a busy time on the festival front too, with no less than three events with a strong food focus taking place next week and into the weekend. Taste of Dublin kicks off in Iveagh Gardens in the city centre on Thursday and runs until Sunday. Food writer Ali Dunworth has curated a terrific food and drink programme for the Beyond The Pale festival in Glendalough, Co Wicklow (Friday to Sunday). At Body and Soul in Ballinlough, Co Westmeath (also Friday to Sunday), you can soak up the feel good vibes of a festival with sustainability at its core.

If you want a break from cooking at home, we have news that Little Mike’s, the baby of the Gaz Smith restaurant group, is back in action today and tomorrow, for a test run before officially reopening June 23rd. Opening hours are 5-10pm for these two days, first come first served, and if you mention Irish Times Food & Drink Club to your server, you’ll receive a drink on the house.


Winner and more winners

One lucky subscriber to the Irish Times Food & Drink club this month will win a weekend for two at the Ice House Hotel in Ballina, Co Mayo, with dinner on one evening and an outdoor bathing spa experience. Don’t forget to enter.

In addition, you could win a numbered bottle of Fercullen single malt whiskey, with a family pass to Powerscourt House and Gardens in Co Wicklow and a food pairing tour of the distillery.

Congratulations to Joseph McGuire, winner of last month’s subscriber competition to win a table for four people at Hawksmoor, Dublin, for a three-course dinner, with cocktails and two bottles of wine, and to Anne Barrett, who will be heading to The Club at Goffs in Co Kildare with a companion, for an overnight stay with breakfast and dinner.

Read all about it

In this weekend’s Irish Times Magazine, Corinna Hardgrave gives her verdict on Hawksmoor steakhouse in Dublin and it gets a strong thumbs up, with a 9/10 score. While recognising that it is an expensive night out, she believes the menu prices are in line with similar offerings in the city, and notes that the Monday night no corkage fee, and Sunday roast beef lunch for €23, are excellent deals.

In our recipe section, Grainne O’Keefe is celebrating tomato season, while Lilly Higgins has a tasty way with lamb mince and pitta bread. John Wilson writes about Gavi, “posh girls’ Pinot”, and I have found the tastiest Mexican hot sauce I’ve ever tasted.

Check in with us regularly at for all the latest food and drink news, features and great dishes to cook. If you would like to invite family and friends to join The Irish Times Food & Drink Club, they can do so here. You can also follow us on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.

Thanks for reading.

Marie-Claire Digby