I have a confession to make. There is very little that makes me happier than dancing around a field in the sunshine in my sparkly wellies (a €10 investment from Penny’s over four years ago. They owe me nothing. If anything, I owe them an apology or two for what I’ve put them through), listening to some live music, or strolling through the woods, a maze of tents or whatever the festival layout may be, to happen upon some kooky looking artists you’ve never heard of before charming a tune out of a saw, a tin can and a battered old guitar. Festivals are my happy place, and this year’s Body & Soul didn’t disappoint.
In recent years, I’ve noted a marked improvement in the dining options at music festivals and Body & Soul was no different. In fact, because of the nature and ethos of the festival, it went above and beyond my expectations of festival food. I’ve included a couple of highlights below and where possible, a pic and a price. What I liked most about Body & Soul was that the food and the fun weren’t separated - each performance area had a range of food stalls locatednext to them so that you could enjoy the line up whilst being in line. Oh and there were lines!
I committed to making the obligatory pilgrimage for a Pieminister pie and after twenty five minutes was rewarded with two weighty cardboard boxes of pastry encrusted goodness. We went for The Heidi (sweet potato, goats cheese & spinach with a hint of onion and roast garlic) and The Shamrock (beef steak cooked in Guinness with carrot and onion). There’s a couple of options on offer when you go for a Pieminister - the ‘Groovy’ for €6 - plain pie or add gravy, ‘Ye Olde Faithful’ for €7.50 includes pie, mash and gravy, with ‘Fab Four’ at €9 there’s the addition of minty peas, and ‘THE MOTHERSHIP’ (yes, they capitalized it!) at €10 offers the pie of your choice accompanied by mash, gravy, minty peas, grated cheese and shallots. In case you’re wondering, I went for The Mothership. Go big or go home…
Other options for those fond of a pie or a burger included wicklow beef burgers (some commented that €8 was a bit steep), hot dogs, noodles, a lovely Tandoori vendor called 'Dabba' and some fantastic meditarannean food from Dax & Co. - who’s patatas bravas have hit the spot for me on many an occasion - it may not look all that pretty, but their cubed spuds, fried to perfection and doused with a lovely smoky tomato sauce, garlic mayo and freshly grated parmesan cheese for just €3.50 had queues of revelers by their pink stall all weekend. By Sunday afternoon in fact, they had sold out of many of their menu options which is a great testament to the quality of their food. Doubtless, next year they’ll bring twice as much!
For the more health conscious festival foodie, spots like The Happy Pear and Natasha’s Living Food offered up a great mix healthy food and drink options with the stage at Natasha’s proving as much of a draw as their food. The Happy Pear weren’t shy of blasting the tunes through their speakers either with a DJ on site all weekend, and there wasn’t a moment that I didn’t see queues for the fine food from the Greystones guys.
The one dining option I didn’t get to try but really would have liked to, was the Faoi Thalamh pop-up eatery with chef Gary Bell. Located near the entrance to the festival site, the pop-up offered two sittings each evening over the weekend in a beautifully decorated marquee complete with live music performance.
With four courses costing €50 per person, it was something I had to decide against, though friends who dined on the Friday night said the food was exceptional and the experience well worth it. Unfortunately, this didn’t sell out, and it probably should have owing to the quality of the food and the team behind the concept - this could be down to price, or the fact that many festival goers opted for the food stalls and the evening acts lined up in the Upstage and Mainstage arenas. The marquee was in a prime location as thousands entered the festival site, a few folk well dressed inviting people into view the marquee and discuss the menu around the main arrival times might have helped push them to capacity. I really hope they get to run it again next year and pack it out as it’s a fantastic concept, really well executed.
For the coffee lovers amongst us, Attridge and Cole was the place to revive with freshly roasted coffee served piping hot and in normal sized cups - always a good sign! It also helped that they were located near Api’s Chocolate, resulting in a coffee / chocolate combo I enjoyed more than once over the course of the weekend!
I thoroughly enjoyed every bit, bite and sup I had at Body and Soul though I have to admit, between two of us, we spent a small fortune. There was simply so much on offer that was appealing, and over the course of 48 hours when you’re having a preposterous amount of fun, you don’t really notice how much you’re spending on the meals, the odd coffee, a snack here and there or a beverage or two. Though not extortionate, none of the offerings were what I’d call good value, but that’s to be expected at a festival and like I said, what was on offer was of great quality. I’d a wonderful time at Body & Soul and would gladly recommend it to anyone who wants to spend a weekend in a beautiful setting amongst some inspiring talent, before going home with muddy wellies and happy belly.