Browsing articles in "Food"
Sep 18, 2012

Queen Of Tarts – A Royal Treat

What else on a bright sunshiny afternoon but go for a mill around Temple Bar. I was in a sweet mood so when the Bloke suggested Queen Of Tarts, I thought what’s Kate Middleton got to do with it? Alas, he was talking about the quirky cafe on Cows Lane. Lunch time trade was in full swing when we took our seats in a cosy corner. The place is warm and buzzy with a homespun feeling and plenty of space.

Queen Of Tarts serves a selection of rustic fare, with wholesome sandwiches, hot savoury tarts and homemade soups for lunch. Himself went for the Tuscan bean soup which came with two different slices of farmhouse bread. Slurp! Being me, I went straight to the cake section of the menu. Queen Of Tarts’ USP is its baking after all. What to choose? I ordered a chocolate pear tart and we shared a pot of tea.

My cake was just what the doctor ordered after a couple of nights on the razz (who me?), a warm gooey sugary hit. So impressed was I by this delicious morsel, I’ve made it my mission to test out everything – New York raspberry baked cheesecake, old fashioned Victoria sponge cake, tangy lemon meringue tart. The list goes on… Queen Of Tarts obviously put great love into their cakes and boy, does it show.

We were well looked after by the lovely staff and it was nice to squirrel away in such homely surrounds. A giant pot of tea went down well and I got a laugh watching the Bloke get his mitts around a vintage china cup. How dainty! Queen Of Tarts is a great spot, central yet far from the madding crowd. The perfect pit stop or for a bigger bite at breakfast or lunch, it also has a quaint twin sister on Dame Street.

Queen Of Tarts, Cows Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 / Queen Of Tarts, Cork Hill, Dame Street, Dublin 2

Aug 15, 2012

Accents Coffee & Tea Lounge – Home Comfort

Nothing beats a surprise scorchio in Dublin, so I decided to flick on the shades and go have some fun in the sun. Grafton Street was jammers of course, just the way I like it, and I was hot but not bothered. Cake based refreshment was deffo on the agenda – now where to? I’ve been hearing a lot about Accents on Stephen Street Lower lately, so I wandered that-a-way and found an absolute gem of a cafe.

Central Perk came to mind and it’s the comfy leather sofas dotted around, colourful bookshelves and friendly service that work the NYC vibe. Owner Anna greeted me with a smile and a chat, telling me about their new range of savoury fare. The goats cheese rosti looked delish but I was in a sweet mood and put my name on the last piece of chocolate profiterole cake. A serious slice of sugary goo…

I found a cosy corner and got stuck into the library as well as my creamy latte. Accents is home to BookCrossing, an international book swapping thingy, so there are loads of pre-loved tomes to choose from. “Karma, Destiny and Your Career” found its way into my curious mitts, which is funny as I think Accents might be my new writing hub. Spooky… Free WiFi and tasty snacks made up my mind too.

Downstairs is a fantastic lounge area, which is popular with Dublin’s night owls, as Accents opens ’til 11pm and 10pm on Sunday. Anna told me that she opened the place as an alternative to the pub as she noticed a culture shift in post-Tiger Ireland. Accents plays host to book clubs, a comedy night, tarot reading and many other creative groups, making it the ideal place to pop in and meet new people.

Music is also a big draw here with the Live Lounge acoustic sessions, Coffee & Chords, every second Friday. Night bites include a cheese board or hummus with bread and tortillas. Or one of their yummy cakes! Gluten free and vegan options mean there’s a treat for everyone. This place is a real home from home and I saw plenty of regulars coming in and out. Accents – where everybody knows your name!

Accents Coffee & Tea Lounge, 23 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2 /

Jul 24, 2012

World Street Performance Championship 2012

Saturday morning – my fave part of the week! There was already plenty of action on my doorstep by midday, with the World Street Performance Championship cranking up in Merrion Square. I’d been out dancing all night at the Back to the Future Enchantment Under the Sea Dance in the Sugar Club and was lolling in my PJs when my mate rang, on her way. I was dressed and out the door in zero to ninety.

First stop the Kilkenny Shop and their newly refurbished restaurant – it’s not just for tourists y’know! We scored delicious goats cheese tartlets with rainbow salads for a bargain tenner each. Why can’t all food people do top scran at this price? Dessert was Butlers coffee and a free sweetie which we ferried over to the park. The place was jammers and my girlfriend grimaced as I removed my take away lid as usual…

A sense of fun filled the air with a real Alice in Wonderland feel – umbrellas and lanterns hung from the trees, kids swung in hammocks and there were performers dotted around everywhere. The big acts were scheduled at three main areas in the park and there was plenty of ice cream, hot dogs and fizzy pop to munch while watching. I must say I was very impressed with whole set up. The sunshine helped too!

It was a real family day out with lots of children’s activities – we sat down on a handy sofa while a gang of sugar crazed little boys dived on top. Coffee meet dress – oops… That got me back with the programme, so we checked out our first act – Kamikaze Fireflies. A guy ‘n’ gal duo who impressed us with their circus skills. Cube twirling, stilt walking, fire dancing, juggling and lashings of Yankee banter.

The piece de resistance was when they coaxed a punter to step up onto the chick’s pelvis while she bent over backwards into a crab. Bravo! I’d heard this pair on the wireless during the week, and poor Ray D’Arcy wouldn’t step up. Next we found a couple more pals, who had a nice picnic rug laid out front near the mound. Time for a sit down and 2 On 1 – a couple of all dancing acrobatic cool dudes from NYC.

These lads were seriously funny, while doing a brilliant line in beatbox, bin drumming, break dancing and back flips and of course getting the audience involved. One game Dad was stripped of his shirt – fair play to him standing next to the super buff pair, whose topless efforts certainly put a smile on our faces. Once we’d cooled down, we moved on to Jonathan Burns – the human pretzel. One bendy fella…

A cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Pee Wee Herman this chap had us in stitches with his saucy talk while wincing at his double jointed antics. The kids loved him and he had a bunch of little helpers joining in, twisting himself through everything from a tennis racquet to a toilet seat. It was time for another munch and we tucked into dinner from Crepes in the City. Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for afters.

Australian acrobat Reuben Dot Dot Dot and his twenty foot pole – ooh er Missus! – were a sight to behold. Like a bird, he took to the sky atop the pole, spinning on one hand. It was a masterclass in strength and discipline. Our last show was husband and wife duo Cirque No Problem, who brought a vibe of old school vaudeville circus to their trapeze act. Silly but smart, they built up to a swinging finale.

They proved to be a talented family, when their baby wrapped the show with her very own balancing act. A star in the making! We were well and truly flaked out, so it was back to the ranch for tea and maybe a drop of something stronger… The World Street Performance Championship was a fantastic day out, bigger and bolder than ever before. They can all come back and play in my back yard anytime!

Jun 19, 2012

Street Feast – Le Cool Picnic!

Rolling out of bed on Sunday morning after two all nighters in a row – I know, didn’t think I still had it in me! – I was all set for Street Feast, hosted by Le Cool at Meeting House Square. By that I mean I was up, washed and dressed. I didn’t quite manage to get my apron on and whip up a basket of homemade fare, so I stuffed some goodies into my bag – Butlers chocolates, crisps and a bottle of bubbly!

Rocking up to Temple Bar, there was music in the air and sunshine peeking through the clouds as I took a seat at one of three long tables. Giant umbrellas overhead are a great addition to Meeting House Square I must say! There was plenty of food going around with plates, cutlery and cups supplied by Le Cool. I poured some fizz for the lovely girls I’d just met at my table and we got ready to tuck in.

Beef Bourgignon, lemon cous cous, rye bread with vintage cheddar, jalepeno hummus, zucchini feta pie – and some rocky road, all in the mix! A couple of my mates joined in the party, one bringing me fresh coffee and another armed with a big bowl of Mamma’s recipe – yummy! The atmosphere was just great as we lounged around feeding each other, chatting to new faces and listening to children’s laughter.

We weren’t the only ones having fun in the sun, as Street Feast is a national event where neighbours all over the country got together to break bread. Organisers Samuel Bishop and Clare Mulvany have really harnessed a community feeling and I enjoyed working with them last Summer at a pop up lunch on Millennium Bridge. Brilliant idea! The sort of thing that brings warm and fuzzy to city life.

I got talking to Temple Bar Cultural Trust’s Lynsey Ni Rainaill, who was delighted with the turnout. She agreed that the buzz in the area is down to locals and retailers putting back into the neighbourhood what they get from it. Sharing flapjacks with Trevor White, former honcho at The Dubliner, it was clear to see that post-Tiger Dublin is coming out of the wilderness and the city is getting it’s mojo back. /

Jun 18, 2012

Taste of Dublin – Dinky Dining!

Last Saturday was a total washout, with your fave reporter hiding under the duvet ’til late afternoon. A pint at the Grand Social on Friday night had turned into a house party at a mate’s gaff on Bachelors Walk. Red Bull gin cocktails… But, I had three parties to go to. Help! And then, like an angel of divine hangover mercy, my mother showed up with toast and Solpadeine. Unconditional love, eh?

So, with my delicate health finally restored I strapped on my cowboy boots and with my Cousin in tow, our first port of call was Taste of Dublin at Iveagh Gardens. I’ve been to Taste before, back in Tiger times, and I was expecting it to somehow be better value for money nowadays. While the prices have come down, there was definitely less bling for my buck… Still, the set up was impressive!

We did a tour of the various tents, sniffing out what we fancied, while my appetite picked up momentum at last. After a few bites from Danucci Chocolate, Mash Direct and Keogh’s Crisps, my Cuz picked up a nice cool pear cider. Not being a balmy summer’s night like in the ads, we took refuge in the Electrolux theatre for a demo by Kevin Dundon, of Dunbrody House. Front row seats – nice one!

Kevin kept the crowd entertained with his banter, making it all look so easy as he tossed soup – yes, soup! – in a pan. His delicious seasonal menu was made up of potato and lime soup, stuffed salmon en croute, and fresh strawberry pavlova. Dundon’s fine fare was not easy on the waistline, sloshing in butter and cream as he was, but the slice of dessert I snaffled was totes mouth friendly indeed!

With food in my belly, I was ready to look booze in the eye once more. Back on the horse and all that! A pair of mojitos, expertly shaken by the lovely barmen at Havana Club, and we were off to find dinner. There was a host of top Dublin restaurants cooking – Chapter One, Diep Le Shaker, Jaipur, The Unicorn – but we were in a spicy mood and went for Baan Thai, their lovely curry heating us up in the rain.

The party was going strong at Taste of Dublin, in spite of the weather, with a good crowd bopping away to 90s tribute band Smash Hits at the Main Stage. We swayed to a bit of vintage Take That, before another mooch around the stalls to fill our bags with some goodies and then down the road to Toners on Baggot Street. A flying sup for a friend’s birthday and we were off again – the night was but young!

May 17, 2012

General Practice – Gallery of Photography

Tuesday was jam packed in a good way! First stop was Rathmines to run a couple of errands, followed by a zip across to Ranelagh for lunch. I had a lovely munch in Cinnamon, a sprawling New York style deli cafe on the main drag. My charming Yankee waiter brought me a yumsters goats cheese and Portobello mushies sandwich on rye bread. This buzzy place is clearly a hit with the locals.

Since I’d managed to keep out of The 3rd Policeman and Green With Envy in Rathmines (self imposed retail embargo), a little window shopping satisfied my fashion tooth. Cup Cakes gave me a nice frill – a gorgeous lingerie boutique which stocks delicate European labels. Bow And Pearl allowed me to channel my inner French girl – filmy dresses, capri pants and chic tops. Delicieux!

A quick pit stop chez moi for tea and cake, and I was off out again to meet a mate for the opening of “General Practice” at the Gallery of Photography. The exhibition is about patients and their GPs in Ireland today and is part of a celebration of Trinity College Medical School’s tercentenary. It illustrates the day to day work of GPs and the relationship with their communities.

The Gallery of Photography hosted a packed house for the exhibition of Fionn McCann’s work. Vino in hand we listened to words from TCD Professor of General Practice Tom O’Dowd and Minister Leo Varadkar, himself an alumni of the Medical School. McCann’s mostly black and white shots capture the confessional quality of the patient / GP encounter with great sensitivity.

Favourite pictures of mine included – a six week baby check, the patient’s first visit to the doctor, a man testing out his two new hip joints and a little girl being examined for meningitis. Happily, she was fine. I also liked a shot of a doctor fixing an old lady’s eye, her ease at his expertise the essence of the exercise. And a woman taking 19 different medications left me intrigued…

“General Practice” is interesting in that we get a glimpse into a world that’s usually a closed door. A GP visit is often an anxious part of life and McCann’s pictures highlight the reassurance, understanding and trust a doctor offers their patient. Particularly touching are the situations of the elderly, many of whom have known their GP a long time or live alone and take home visits.

The place eventually filtered out and we had worked up an appetite, so Ukiyo it was. A couple of bento boxes, helped down with Asahi beer, and we were ready to meet the gang for some school night action. The Blind Pig Speakeasy. This pop up bar was at a secret location for a couple of nights only. Cocktails were the real deal, with top mixer Paul Lambert behind the bar. Nightcap deluxe. / Gallery of Photography, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

May 10, 2012

Art in Action – Farmleigh Frolics!

Sunday, Sunday, here again, a walk in the park… Ah, bank holiday Sunday! I’d been out on the razz Saturday nite. Film Fatale showed the brilliant “All About Eve” at the Sugar Club and I chased gin cocktails with pints in Grogan’s and the Exchequer. I brought my sore head out for a morning after bike ride before toasted sambos at The Barge and a nice day out in the Pheonix Park.

Me and a couple of mates spent a lovely afternoon at Art in Action, a sprawling art fair in the grounds of Farmleigh House. The three day showcase was a free event running over the bank holiday weekend and featured art, crafts, music, performance, fun and food. Art in Action celebrates the role of the artist in society and provides a great opportunity to share creativity.

We saw some fabulous art works, which were set up in little studios so we could see the artists in action. It’s inspiring for those with creative leanings and a good place to pick up some skills, for punters who fancy a dabble. Most of the artwork was for sale and there were some very beautiful pieces available at nice prices. And such unusual “where did you get that?” bits too!

There was loads for the kiddies to do – they were high on sunshine, clowns, balloons, art classes and candy floss! We checked out the Blanchardstown Brass Band, had a mooch around the market place where we saw jewellery makers and hand crafters working their magic. Then we wandered over to the Farmer’s Market for some homemade Man of Aran fudge. Mmmn…

I was feeling much better after a good muck around the Pheonix Park and was ready for some dins at last. We came out the other side of the park and took a spin over to The Twelfth Lock on the banks of the Royal Canal in Castleknock Marina. The place was packed and we tucked into burgers and fish and chips. Top nosh. Dessert was “Avengers Assembly” at the flicks – very tasty! /

Apr 26, 2012

The Market Bar – Tasty Morsels

I was on my way home the day after a friend’s wedding, when I got an “Are you in town?” call. Well, I was nearly there! It was a glorious day, so I dumped my overnight bag at Rainbow Cottage and headed for the city centre. Me and my pal went through a list of our fave haunts, as we strolled through Temple Bar. Until I suggested The Market Bar. My girlfriend has a real thing about this place!

The Market Bar has long been a Dublin staple, with punters enjoying the din of conversation instead of music and contemporary tapas instead of Mammy dinners. It was a late Saturday afternoon and we had plenty of space in the cavernous room. And we still managed to bump into an old mucker. That’s town for ya! We settled in and took our pick from the delicious tapas menu.

Feta and Chorizo salad, patatas bravas, nachos and fish skewers. Noms! Sharing food with friends is great fun as you get the best of everything and end up trying things you wouldn’t order yourself. The Market Bar serves generous portions too. Salty bites were going a long way to soak up the excesses of my wedding, but some sugar would deffo take the edge off. Ah sweet cake…

We divided the calories of a hot saucy chocolate brownie with two spoons. Tea, natch, came in tall glasses. Very Continental. Although The Market Bar was a Celtic Tiger hotspot, the Fade Street restaurant has a timeless appeal with its communal benches, open kitchen and informal service. I didn’t require liquid refreshment, but The Market Bar has plenty on tap to wet your whistle.

The Market Bar, 14a Fade Street, Dublin 2 /

Apr 26, 2012

Ely Gastro Pub – Stylish Bites

Another lunch date with my Mother was on the cards last week – don’t we love ourselves? We had a nice mill around the Grand Canal Docks, in search something salady for herself. The menu at Ely Gastro Pub got the nod, and in we went. The chic surrounds of this place always say wine bar to me rather than gastro pub, but the lunch fare is hearty enough to earn the name.

In among the suited and booted clientelle, we relaxed in comfy leather bucket chairs. Daily specials included vintage cheddar on sourdough which appealed to my carb cravings. It arrived with a cute little basket of chips. Mother went for the Ely super salad. Although rice was listed in the ingredients, we were surprised to find that most of the salad was filled out with hard white rice.

Restaurants often make the mistake of thinking that salad eaters must be filled up with extra carbs or meat. I always find that Caesar comes with mounds of unwanted chicken. But no. We like green stuff. Keep salad simple! Our waiter was such a lovely chap, but when the guy in charge came by we told him that the otherwise delicious salad was not what we’d expected.

I was quite impressed that he took our feedback on board and there was nothing negative apart from the cold rice. Having spied next door’s desserts, we decided to round off our meal with a sweet treat. Our man told us that Ely’s pastry chef, Monto, is well known for his delicate confections and he helped me with my French as I ordered the pear bavarois, and ice cream for Mama.

The desserts really did taste as good as they looked. So light and expertly flavoured. Ely is such a nice place to kick back, we found ourselves chatting away with the staff, in between our own conversation. When paying the bill we noticed that our ice cream was on the house. Making customers feel welcome is the best thing on the menu here. We’ll be back!

Ely Gastro Pub, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2 /

Apr 18, 2012

Lost Society – Fresh As A Daisy!

Twas a bonus sunny afternoon when I met mia Mamma for lunch in town last week. Our default meeting point is the front doors of BT – a sneaky peek at their lipsticks is always on the cards! Now where to? We decided to stick a pin in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, as there’s an abundance of scoffs to be had there. So, up the stairs and into Lost Society with the pair of us.

I didn’t realise that this popular bar and club even did food, as my visits thus far have been nocturnal, but it was the yummy lunch menu that won us over. Sitting out on the terrace in the sunshine had put us in a salady mood. Sharing great taste, we both went for the roast apple and goats cheese salad and a portion of skinny fries. And tea for two, naturellement.

I’d spied some very good looking chips at a neighbour’s table, and we weren’t disappointed with our crispy little fellas! Pretty presentation in a Baroque style wrapper to boot. But the piece de resistance was the main dish. Spanking fresh mixed leaves, and plenty of them, topped with mild goats cheese, hazelnuts and tasty red apple. No dressing. That simple!

When I come to a cafe like Lost Society and experience amazing food at nice prices, I wonder why all eateries can’t do this? Good ingredients are the key. The Mothership’s fave nosh is greens and she was well impressed! We’ll be back to sample more of this most imaginative menu. Attentive service made this a lovely meal, and the guy in charge does such easy charm.

Time for a post munch browse around the Townhouse – rude not to… We enjoyed a mooch about Article, a chic homeware store with seriously covetable retro furniture, quirky objets and gorgeous gifts. Next, a leisurely scan of the newly refurbished Loft Market. What can I say? Delicious dresses, handmade hats and vintage jewellery… Dessert is served Mesdames!

Lost Society, Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin 2 /