Sep 17, 2011

Shotsy Vintage – Temple Bar Teasure Trove

Mooching through Temple Bar – the best way to shop I think – I discovered a diamond in the rough on Temple Lane South. Shotsy Vintage is like the ultimate dressing up box, with rails of rainbow dresses lining the walls and magpie boxes dotted around. All era’s from the 1950’s up are on hand, so you can choose depending on your mood. Seventies disco dolly or Eighties power diva?

At the moment I’m going through a Sixties phase, so it’s all hitched hemlines, canary yellows, giant buckles and collars. Shotsy doesn’t disappoint, with a sherbet pink mini dress catching my eye. Shop owner Lisa McGrath told me how she opened the shop with her cousin Katie Prior, having noticed a gap in the market for affordable vintage.

Lisa explained that the girls love of all things old started when they were young and inspired by their Grandmother’s elegant style. A seamstress in her younger days she had a collection of clothes that had converted the pair from Penneys to Oxfam. Lisa came to appreciate the craft that goes into a handmade garment and soon developed an eye for unique pieces, herself and Katie scouring the vintage shops of London on a regular basis.

Knowing what they like the girls have sourced some great stock and unusual bits, like the winged shades on display at the till. Lisa admits that she’s taken some risks when buying – like snapping up a mystery trunk at a clothing auction, the contents of which she only discovered on purchase. Luckily it all turned out well, with Lisa joking that she likes surprises!

Shotsy really is a treat and so different from the high street shopping experience, both in terms of atmosphere and service. I like the personal touch of a boutique and Lisa is delighted when I match a feather hairband I’ve just bought to one of her vintage pearl brooches. Sometimes the perfect thing just finds me! We both agree it’s a little retail thrill when a clothes lover meets a cute thing she must have. / Shotsy Vintage, Temple Lane South, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Sep 17, 2011

Honest To Goodness – A Sandwich Like No Other

George’s Street Arcade – that old teenage haunt of mine. It’s looking pretty good these days, considering it’s fair share of ups and downs over the years. The record shop in the middle is still there and can’t resist a quick browse. Rude not to! But the great thing the arcade has to offer now is food. There’s Lolly and Cooks, Simon’s Place and Urban Picnic. Today I decided to try out Honest To Goodness – it’s window always looks so inviting with the endless list of yummy sandwich combos. The place is fiercely popular thanks to it’s fresh ingredients and award winning food.

Being a nice hot day I wanted a fresh sambo to take away. Honest To Goodness has a dizzying array of fillings to choose from including some truly imaginative munches. I went for the hummus sandwich on wholemeal bread, which was stuffed with lots of delicious roasted veggies. Honest To Goodness serves homemade smoothies, soups and coffees too, but my thirst was for a nice cold can of elderflower soda. Sitting on the back steps of Powerscourt Townhouse in the sunshine I was transported back to my carefree school days, watching Dublin go by.

Aug 31, 2011

Feeling Fishy – Yamamori Sushi

As today went on so did my horrible cold. Armed with a box of Solpadeine and a handful of tissues I was determined not to let a snotty nose get in my way. With my appetite compromised by swollen glands I was undecided about lunch. Until I crossed the path of Yamamori on Lower Ormonde Quay – bingo! I knew fish was the answer. A board outside advertises bento boxes, both veggie and bloody, for a tenner. I ordered one from my nice sunlit table at the back of this spacious restaurant.

Green tea first, followed by miso soup and the bento. Yamamori provides a neat little holder with cutlery, chop sticks and a ceramic spoon which is perfect for those of us who can’t quite master oriental utensils! I tucked into salmon fillet & herb butter on a bed of salad greens, beef stew and prawn & tuna sushi served with my choice of brown rice. Just what the doctor ordered. Highlights were the mound of pickled ginger and the tasty miso soup which was full of tofu chunks and wakame. Delicious! / 38 – 39 Lower Ormonde Quay, Dublin 1

Aug 31, 2011

The Breakfast Club – Angel Park Eatery

The Monday morning stroll into town foremost on my mind was breakfast. No food, no work – that’s just how I roll! And so to Angel Park on Lower Mount Street, a lovely deli and diner that channels a Yankee menu with fresh local produce. I’ve tasted most of their take out lunch goodies – doorstep sandwiches, chilli beef on brown rice and myriad colourful salads. Not to mention their yummy cakes! Angel Park is an office worker’s haunt and I often joined the 1 o’clock rush in my suit days.

Today I ventured downstairs to the diner for the first time ever. What a smart place. Leather banquettes along the walls & clever use of mirrors make the most of the cosy space. It’s a nice place to start the day with 1950’s style adverts and 1960’s lamps adding up to a sophisticated atmosphere, with a ceiling fan the focal point. I was glad to note that Angel Park’s tight ship also extends to the diner as my waitress brought me a pot of tea and the Irish Times as I kicked back and studied the breakfast menu.

From 7.30am to 11pm the offerings include – granola with yoghurt, honey & fruit, goats cheese omelette, full Irish breakfast, eggs Benedict and pancakes with maple syrup & bacon. I went for porridge & honey with a side order of banana, which turned out to be a generous bowl of milky oats cooked to perfection. Hearty indeed. Angel Park is a great place to enjoy a leisurely petit dejeuner. It has wi-fi and peace to do a bit of AM business. Breakfast is also available to take out, for those in a hurry! / Breakfast 7.30am to 11pm – Lunch 12pm to 3pm

Aug 4, 2011

Flash Feast – A Delicious Day in Dublin

A picnic for the people – that was today’s Flash Feast on Dublin’s Millennium Bridge. The city was well fed all within the lunch hour as I joined the crew from Street Feast who made it happen. Rocking up to the Italian Quarter at midday I didn’t know what to expect when we met in our make shift HQ, Foam Café. Here’s the deal – trestle tables, marquee poles, chairs, bunting, plates, cutlery – all scavenged in the last few days. The food was a mix of pot luck and hot meals from local restaurants either side of the bridge. Bon appetite!

Working to a deadline of 1pm we got to task with decorating, collecting all the donated bits ‘n’ bobs and setting up the scene. Passers by curiosity was piqued as soon as we arrived at Millennium Bridge and ten minutes later a gang of happy eaters were seated and ready to tuck in. Chow was delivered to the urban picnickers courtesy of Foam Café, Milano, Lemon Jelly and many more. Pizza, pasta, pancakes and salad were followed by apple pie and homemade bread with cheese. The buzz was electric at this culinary event.

I shared some tasty morsels with Emma and Claire fromDublin. “It’s fantastic” said Claire “There’s something here for everyone and it’s a chance to meet new people.” Kely and Rodrigo from Brazilwere invited to via Facebook. “We’ve never eaten on a bridge before!” Rodrigo laughed. “It’s really good fun. We love it!” Kely added. Singer and songwriter Matt Ellison got involved after an eleventh hour text and was on hand with his acoustic guitar. “It feels good to be part of this” Matt told me “It’s social. It’s free. It’s a great idea!”

The concept is simple and organic in the way it brings together community with most of the volunteers becoming involved online or through friends. Organiser Samuel Bishop, who is behind Street Feast on 28th August, was delighted with today’s launch. “It’s a way of bringing people together and everyone loves food” Sam explained “Team work is what makes this so easy to do.” The last minute venue announcement also kept Flash Feast a surprise. “That made today special” said Sam “And it breaks down barriers!”







Jul 21, 2011

Cars Love Girls – Crawdaddy Feels The Heat

Last night’s stunning debut by Cars Love Girls was one of those hot Dublin moments I just didn’t know was going to happen. Always a random Wednesday night! First stop food and since I was in the area, Café Bliss on Montague Street of course. I was delighted to be greeted with a “great to see you again” by the lovely owner, who’s been feeding me for the last five years, to which I replied “great to eat here again!”

I slipped in beside a gang of Tipp ladies who provided entertainment with their Chardonnay girl talk – this is one of the best people watching spots in town! One delicious Caesar salad and a sunshine smoothie in my belly I was ready to rock Crawdaddy, under the arches of the old Harcourt Street railway station.

On arrival it was clear that Cars Love Girls first gig was hugely anticipated as the place was nicely swelled with fans & musician friends alike. The band come from Dublin rock royalty, being fronted by ex Republic of Loose axe man Bres and singer Orla. The sibling duo bring their unique retro R’n’B and pop sound, not to mention myriad talent, to Cars Love Girls in their first project together.

I scooped up my Tiger beer and ducked from the super chilled Chocolate Bar into the cavern of Crawdaddy – the intimate venue was wall to wall as I weaved my way front of stage. The air was thick with expectation as the band took hold, Orla and Bres on either side, with ex Boss Volenti honcho Rob Daly centre back.

Straight off the bat Cars Love Girls launched into a stonker with pristine sound, deep instrumental integrity and very impressive vocals knitting them together. Orla is a cool blonde who looks as good as she sounds, Debbie Harry cheekbones, channelling Alison Moyet through Stevie Nicks in the voice department.

It’s clear from the off that this is one smart outfit with Bres’s distinctive licks layered into loungey cuts, his own vocals a honeyed version of his sister’s powerful sound. There are shades of Republic but it’s almost as if the Breslins have distilled all the good bits and perfected them into radio friendly heaven. A girl can’t help but dance to this stuff – if Sile Seoige was here I’m sure she’d have a smile on her face! Cars Love Girls do sexy with a natural ease.

This band owned the stage and just three songs in it was obvious that something very special was happening in Crawdaddy. Belters like “Lose Your Mind” and “Cars Love Girls” are well crafted pop songs – I was picking up Prince, Steely Dan and Madonna. Excellent lyrics make up the package with songs like “Future Ex Wife” re-inventing Fleetwood Mac in funk disco – you just have to hear it!

Non stop action from the duo and a polished back up including sax player Keith transported us back to 1980’s New York. Kudos to Cars Love Girls for creating such a good feeling, Bres getting lost in spiralling instrumentals, diamante guitar strap glistening with every pick and Orla all lungs, shimmying kohl and LBD. It just works.

Lots of oohs and la la las cushioned well thought out numbers and the audience was delighted by covers of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Eurythmics “Heaven Must be Missing an Angel”, both of which showcased Orla’s sultry vocals. Cars Love Girls left the stage on a high, their debut a triumph and my head filled with hooks and words I look forward to dancing around my lounge to.

I bumped into Jan Van Couver and Kendrick Berrera of 80’s super group Springbreak fame bopping away in the corner. Van Couver couldn’t contain his excitement when he said “There was high expectation of this gig and the Breslins delivered. This is a sibling combo at its best – think the Carpenters, Pointer Sisters, the Bee Gees.”

I then caught front woman Orla Breslin fresh off the stage and she revealed to me how much Cars Love Girls enjoyed their first gig. “We’re really happy! Bit nervous at the beginning but we’re pretty tight so we got into it” she trilled “We’re delighted with the turn out and reaction. It’s great to be on stage with Bres, we get on and musically we bounce off each other so I love working with him.” Indeed the pair oozed a confidence that highlighted how well they work together.

Orla told me how much fun it’s been recording new material. “We’re hoping to release a single in October / November, then our album “Skip School” in the spring time” she says “And we just signed up to FM 104’s The Gig at the Olympia in October.” Then I joined the rest of the crowd, euphoric on hops and tunes, a chilled disco DJ set bringing me back to earth. /