The promised second part in my foodie blogging! Cities that my little girls will visit with us in the future. Hopefully! See here for part one, Glorious Food Memories: Bruges, A city of Biscuits.
Dublin, like any city, has its tourist trail and as a visitor it is very difficult to discover beyond this. This isn’t a bad thing I feel. I have never been afraid to admit that I enjoy the clichéd. I believe it is clichéd for a reason-it must be damn good. So I like eating crèpes in the shadow of Notre Dame, pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa for a snap or even having a Guinness in an Irish pub in a different land (my favourite was Cusco! ). As tourist to other cities, I myself am comforted by the ‘must see’ list available and can understand the swarms visiting the Guinness Store House, eating Irish Stew in Temple Bar and listening to bodhráns and fiddles at the Oliver St John Gogarty. Lucky person that I am, I have gotten to visit a Dublin on numerous occasions and now have my own self designed trail that I love. So for those of you who want to see or taste something else, this might be for you!
Warning:Don’t expect all the hidey holes to be secret local spots, that is for a different blog. This is just my Dublin day.
Breakfast without restriction. Grease is a MUST.
Easy to find anywhere in Dublin. If you are looking for a typical Irish fry up that is. During the Celtic Tiger, breakfast rolls became popular in particular with the heavily worked builders who made a fast buck at the time before all went pear shaped. Irish funnyman Pat Shortt wrote a song about it. Listen here and you will learn the fry up ingredients. The Jumbo Breakfast Roll Song. A soundtrack to heart disease. I just listened to it and realise many of you might find it hard to make out what Pat is singing so here you have the lyrics.
So where in Dublin? Every bistro pub provides this traditional meal, the full Irish, proudly. Most restaurants. All hotels. However I like two spots. I can trust both of them to get it right.
I always imagine here to be the locals’ choice. It isn’t fancy. It is a slightly more advanced canteen cafè. Standard white cups and crockery etc. You know where you stand. This is where my Mam had her lunch when working in the GPO opposite. When I was very young, I once asked her was she there when the Rising (history of the Easter Rising 1916) began. Couldn’t understand her laughter. Bit insensitive, I thought! Surely she had been knocking around in 1916?!
This is always where I imagine Maeve Binchy characters meet for coffee and a plate of chips (french fries). If in O’Connell Street, this is where I have my breakfast.
I always associate The Kylemore with cups of tea and cream slices. I know this is breakfast, but if you’re on a day out…
If you are on Grafton Street and fancy something with more variety, beautiful decor and a true Dublin stalwart, then Bewley’s Oriental Tearooms it must be.
This is a beautiful place. Stained glassed windows, floor after highly decorated floor and haughty high ceilings, you definitely feel you are sitting in a piece of history. Aesthetically pleasing as well as having delicious food.
You can eat any meal here, but we choose breakfast. Yes, the full Irish is available, but there are other options too. If you are a pancake, bagel or French toast person say. Maybe you like smoked salmon. Possibly you want some posh porridge. It is all here and quite yum! Naturally the beverage options are lovely due to it being their speciality. Pastries are to die for here too.
Elevenses/ tea time
If you didn’t indulge in the pastries or cake slice already, then you need to go to my next venue double quick. The Queen of Tarts has two sit down cafés in close proximity. This place is filled with chintz, quirk, antique and pretty style. The food is also marvellously homemade and delicious.
Mr Paper introduced me to this little pocket of heaven too. His sister lived in Dublin once and this was a food favourite for their Sunday morning. Cakes, buns and breads. Can you see how he wooed me?
It is all mismatched china teacups, plates and saucers here. I am a coffee drinker but would order tea just so I am served from the pretty teapot. Proper sugar lumps in sweet little bowls on the table, dinky milk jugs all make dining here an experience that is too cute.
My own collection is inspired by Queen of Tarts.
I have had beautiful lunches here but it is the cakes I bring my friends for, thereby we have elevenses or afternoon tea. I am particularly fond of the New York Baked Raspberry Cheesecake here. Treat, big time!
Rocking fruit Tarts. I see why the knave would want to steal them!
A big old hearty lunch or evening meal.
In Dublin, I will always want either lunch or dinner in Elephant and Castle, Temple Bar. This is mainly because of what they do with chicken wings.
One of my first dates with Mr Paper was to a rugby game, Ireland and Australia in Dublin. Afterwards, he had sworn to take me for the best wings in the city. Traffic was heavy and we were starving by the time we got there. Naturally, there was a wait for the table. We found ourselves wandering Temple Bar avoiding food. We also didn’t want to drink anything and this is mainly what Temple Bar offers!
Just past Bono’s Clarence hotel however, we found a tiny, bohemien style tea shop. Snuggled in by a fire at a wobbly, wooden table, we chose flavoured teas from an extensive menu and had the pleasure of tea leaves and strainers with our choices. I had something like strawberry and vanilla but I will never forget Mr Paper’s Gunpowder tea. Each tea boasted benefits of all kinds. Interesting powers in this beverage!
This tea shop is special to us, not because we love teas especially, but as part of a very romantic date. Elephant and Castle with their renowned wings came next. This is where I learned a lot about the man who would become my husband! I always think a new couple should test their relationship over a bowl of excellent chicken wings. You will quickly discover compatibility levels!
Mr Paper had orated extensively on the portion size of the wings in this venue, claiming they were easily big enough for two. They are only a starter after all! As the day got difficult however, city traffic jaded us and the hotdogs before the game became a fading memory, I could see that look in his eyes that I would soon get to know very well. It is the look that tells me that he is genuinely worried that he may never eat again and starvation is nigh. I learned that day that Mr Paper has a short window within which to eat from when hunger kicks in and a mood bordering on depression arrives. Easily missed, it is usually prefaced with, ‘Ah I’m grand for another while’. Start countdown from there! As a mannerly man on a first date, I could see he was witholding and unwittingly I made the right decision to ask for wings as a main. A happy Mr Paper didn’t need to share and as we over ordered, we had lovely leftovers for lunch the next day. Watching the speed and accuracy with how he ate those wings however was not for the faint hearted. I believe we passed the test that day, but I think many wouldn’t!
Elephant and Castle in Temple Bar are famous for their wings with celebrities such as Pink being spotted indulging. They have many other fantastic food offerings but this bowl of joy is by far the best. Choose a jug of limeade to have with it and you have the most amazing meal. The bowl itself is an indecent portion, almost uncountable in number. I guess thirty or so. The hot sauce is of course a secret recipe with your celery and blue cheese on the side and I can state that no make up company has designed the lipstick to survive this meal! Great idea for an advertisement campaign…
If you didn’t stay in Temple Bar but headed over to Grafton street, then I recommend our other restaurant go to. This is the wonderfully named Gotham Cafè.
This is a modern and fun, vibrant and family friendly spot. Pizzas are top notch with a wide variety, even offering a duck option. As you wait to eat, you will find yourself staring at the walls-all sides, as row after row of framed Rolling Stone magazine covers assault you with nostalgia.
If you fancy a drink or two in Dublin, you are spoiled for choice. I am not reviewing bars however and you will find Guinness, whiskey and beer all over the city. I just advise you move around for the best prices. If you only want one or two beautiful drinks however and are prepared to spend a little extra for luxury, then you must go to Peruke and Periwig . This blog is about places I might bring my girls and I obviously won’t bring them for cocktails but it would be a crime not to mention them right here if you do happen to read!
From the exterior, it looks like a grimly attractive, darkly fronted, Dickensian style bar. Inside however it is a dream of overly ornate decor and elegance.
You can eat here and we did. It is the drinks I remember though. The menu is a work of art itself in the writing and presentation of wares on offer. Each drink has a highly creative name and set of ingredients, fresh and delicious and crafted instead of thrown together. They are pricey. You are buying temporary, liquid art, remember.
The evening finished off with an aperitif, Dublin has been kind to me.
So we have visited Dublin. We have eaten and eaten well! I will blog again on another food adventure in the near future. For now, I will have homemade Azera coffee brew, a bit of Milka Noisette and dream of afternoon tea in Dublin!