Inside information & tips on what to see, do, eat, & special places to stay; Ireland, London & beyond!
Vibrant Ireland

All posts in Eating Out in Ireland

Cheeses Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland ; Sheridans CheeseCheese lovers, take note!

Irish cheeses are among the world’s best, and the best of the Irish have been announced at the Irish Cheese Awards 2014. 

The Irish Cheese Awards 2014, the most well-known and prestigious event in the Irish cheese industry calendar, has taken place at Bloom 2014. The only competition dedicated entirely to Irish cheese, cheese makers from all over Ireland were judged in 17 classes by a panel of experts including Adrian Boswell from Selfridges and Aoife Carrigy from the Irish Independent.

This year a special category, Cheese for Children, was judged by Hannah Cahill (10 years), Leon Cullen McLoughlin (seven years), Ryan Mooney (12 years) and Sarah Whalley (16 years) who awarded these cheeses their top medals (do you sense a chocolate theme?)

Cheese for Children

Gold: Coolea Young Matured, Coolea Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Soft Cheese with Chocolate, Green Pastures Donegal

Bronze: Cheddar with Chocolate, Old Irish Creamery

 

Kilkenny’s own Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheeses brought home 2 Golds. One for their Sheep’s Cheese Meadow Semi Hard, and another for the category of  Bloomy Rind, where their  Meadow Mini Soft won.

Reading all the different categories, I realize that even though I adore eating cheese I know little of the finer points. Bloomy Rind??– is it called that because the awards were judged at the Bloom festival, or is it something else? 😉 It actually kinda sounds like a plant disease, perhaps a strain of  powdery mildew… Tee hee,  just a bit of what Hubby calls horticultural humour- he gets to hear plenty of it when all us garden-y folk gather at Bloom & other flowery events! Bloom 2014 Diublin

Bloom runs until Monday, 2 June & is fun for garden lovers, foodies and those who enjoy a great family day out. It’s Ireland’s largest garden and food festival runs for five days over the June bank holiday weekend in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Kids are free, and you can get your tickets at the gate or online at www.bloominthepark.com. 

Follow Bloom on www.facebook.com/bloominthepark or join the conversation on Twitter @Bloominthepark and #bloom

Next up on the garden &  flower- lovers’ calendar are the Dublin Garden Festival 13-15 June at beautiful Christ Church Cathedral, the World Flower Show at the RDS on June 19-22, and the Carlow Garden Festival 25 July-4 August. ( If you know of others let me know in the comment section below. Thanks!)

 

Here’s the full listing of the Irish Cheese Award Winners 2014; some beauties there & I know you cheese fiends want to know what to go out and try! Time to get sampling, I think 🙂

Supreme Champion 2014

Killeen Farmhouse Cheese for ‘Killeen Mature Goat’

Congratulations!

Reserve Champion

Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese for ‘Humming Bark’

Congratulations!

Class 1, Creamery Mild Cheddar

 

Bronze: Avonmore Red Cheddar, Glanbia

Class 2, Creamery Cheddar 6-9 months

 

Gold: Kilmeaden Mature White Cheddar, Glanbia

Silver: Wexford Medium Cheddar, Wexford Creamery

 

Class 3, Creamery Mature Cheddar

 

Gold: Kilmeaden Smooth & Mature, Glanbia

Silver: Wexford Mature Cheddar, Wexford Creamery

Bronze: Cheddar, DairyGold Co-Op

Class 4, Smoked Cheese

 

Gold: Wexford Vintage Cheddar, Wexford Creamery

Silver: Oak Smoked Cheddar, Old Irish Creamery

Bronze: Cahill’s Ballinwood Smoked Cheddar, Cahills Farm

Class 5, Fresh Cheese

 

Gold: Buffalo Ricotta, Toonsbridge Dairy

Silver: Buffalo Mozzarella, Toonsbridge Dairy

 

Class 6, Fresh Cheese Flavour Added

 

Gold: Goats Cheese with Garlic, Honey & Thyme, Bluebell Falls

Silver: Cashel Cream Cheese, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Bronze: Goats Cheese with Garlic & Black Pepper, Bluebell Falls

Class 7, New Cheese

 

Gold: Organic Mild, The Little Milk Company

Silver: Brewers Gold, The Little Milk Company

Bronze: Cais Na Tire, Cais na Tire

Class 8, Sheeps Milk Cheese

 

Gold: Knockdrinna Meadow Semi Hard, Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Crozier Blue, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Bronze: Cais Na Tire, Cais na Tire

Class 9, Flavour Added Cheese

 

Gold: Burren Gold Cumin, Aillwee Cave

Silver: Mossfield Mediterranean, Mossfield Organic Farm

Bronze: Mossfield Cumin Seed, Mossfield Organic Farm

Class 10, Hard Mature Cheese

 

Gold: Burren Gold Plain, Aillwee Cave

Silver: Coolea Mature, Coolea Farmhosue Cheese

Bronze: Organic Mild, The Little Milk Co

Class 11, Hard Cheese (under 6 months)

 

Gold: Killeen Goat, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Mossfield Farmhouse Cheese, Mossfield Organic Farm

Class 12, Bloomy Rind

 

Gold: Knockdrinna Meadow Mini Soft, Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: Wicklow Bán, Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese

Class 13, Semi-Soft

 

Gold: Humming Bark, Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese

 

Class 14, Blue Cheese

 

Gold: Cashel Blue, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Silver: Young Buck, Mike’s Fancy Cheese

Bronze: Wicklow Blue, Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese

Class 15, Goats Milk Cheese (under 2 months)

 

Gold: St Tola Ash Log, Inagh Farmhouse Cheese

Silver: St Tola Log Plain Mature, Inagh Farmhouse Cheese

Bronze: Gortnamona, Cooleeney Farm

Class 16, Goats Milk (over 2 months)

 

Gold: Killeen Mature Goat, Killeen Farmhouse Cheese

  

Judging Panel

The other judges were as follows:
Adrian Boswell, Selfridges
Aoife Carrigy, Irish Independent
Barra McFeely, Tesco Ireland
Diarmuid Murphy, Dunnes Stores
Eddie O’Neill, Teagasc
Frances Douglas, FSAI
John Farrand, The Guild of Fine Food
Mary Kate Mageean, Musgraves
Michael Cleere, Cheddar Grader
Steward: Derek Cahill, Traditional Cheese Company

Hungry yet?? 😀


Wexford food and Wine Festival. Pictured at the launch of the sixth annual Wexford food and Wine Festival are Lucia Goggins age 7,  Sophie Rose Connolly age 5 and Charlie Grannell age 6 from Discovering Drama in Wexford, Ireland Picture: Patrick Browne

Wexford Food and Wine Festival 2014 Ireland. Lucia Goggins, Sophie Rose Connolly and Charlie Grannell Picture: Patrick Browne

Charming seaside town? Check. Friendly folk? Check. Great food & wine? Check!

The Wexford Food and Wine Festival 2014 is serving up a fantastic weekend 23-25 May.

There will be lots of scrumptious food on offer in the stalls, and fab events, too. The Irish Craft Beer & Food Matching event sounds great. It’s on at the  Cistín Eile Restaurant, which is very good. Or so I’ve often been told– we tried to get a meal there during our last Wexford Food Festival visit but it was booked up– so; TIP: if you’d like a meal there plan ahead.

Whether you’re in Ireland on vacation or you’re just enjoying a day trip, check out the festival and all the tasty delights:

The festival has a fun filled menu with over 50 events celebrating the county’s superb and thriving food scene. There will be plenty on offer for all tastes young and not so young, with mouthwatering demonstrations & workshops plus family fun activities and entertainment. Here are some of the highlights- do also check the full programme of Wexford Food and Wine Festival here.

 

 Friday Evening: Seafood & Singing

The festival opens Friday, May 23 with an evening of ‘Sea Shanty’ and fish at Greenacres Gallery. Peter Caviston, Fishmonger of Glasthule and the Dublin Male voice choir ‘Brook Singers’ join forces for an evening celebrating Seafood.

 

Saturday and Sunday Fun & Food

On Saturday and Sunday, guided foraging takes off at 9.45am from The Raven in Curracloe with the excursion guided by the Blackstairs Eco Trails.

If you’d rather hear about foraging then join cook and author of ‘Wild Food’ and judge of ‘The Great Irish Bake-Off’ Biddy White Lennon who will discuss ‘Foraging for Fun’, where and when to forage for wild food in spring and early summer at 1pm on Saturday.

If it’s the food you are planning to enjoy on Saturday evening you can’t go wrong by heading to Wexford Boat Club for a Festival Hog roast and BBQ or take in the highlight of the Food Festival at the open air Food Producers Market at Selskar Square and South Main Street in the heart of Wexford town. A host of outdoor food producers featuring local, regional and Welsh artisan produce. Food producers and growers will display fresh produce ranging from breads, cakes, ice cream, seasonal fruit including Wexford’s famed strawberries, eggs, cheese meat and much more! To add to the festival atmosphere a tasty side helping of family entertainment will also be provided. This market will also be open on Sunday, May 25.

If you’d like to get involved in the cooking process head to the Irish National Heritage Park where visitors have the opportunity to experience an ancient cooking method used by our ancestors; Fulacht Fiadh. Dating back to the early Christian age skinned animals were wrapped in straw and placed into a pit of boiling water which had been heated using rocks from a fire. It has been discovered that this ancient cooking method is very similar to that of our modern ovens – 20 minutes to the pound and 20 minutes over! Visitors will have the opportunity to taste meat cooked in this traditional method.

 

Irish Craft Beer!

More festival cheer is to be found with a good helping of Craft Beer, at the ‘Irish Craft Beer & Food Matching’ 2pm on Saturday 24 May with Cuilan Loughnane of White Gypsy Brewery and Warren Gillen of Cistín Eile Restaurant. Cuilan is one of the early pioneers of Irish brewing and has built up a great reputation for his quality beers, recently bottling for the restaurant trade. Many of the same principals can be seen in at Cistín Eile. Warren too prides himself on sourcing his ingredients from local artisan producers and has also built up a reputation nationwide for his contemporary Irish food. This event is a must for anyone who appreciates high quality food and beer using locally sourced ingredients.

 

Wine!

Greenacres Restaurant, winners of numerous awards including Food and Wine Magazine, ‘Best Wine Experience,’  will host some key sommeliers for the festival weekend.  Philipe Germain from Chateau de la Roulerie vineyard whose origins date back to the 11th century, Bertrard from Domaine Deshaires of Pouilly Fuisse and Pascual Toso Tasting and Frank Kinneen The Vineyard, Galway will all be on hand to share their expect wine knowledge.

 A series of GIY workshops, Composting workshops and Beekeeping workshops will also be available throughout the weekend.

For further details on Wexford see www.visitwexford.ie  You can also find the full festival program at Wexford Food Festival

Looking for more fun things to do in Wexford & Ireland’s sunny southeast? Here are some great ideas for all ages!


Great tips from those in the know.

Belfast, it looks like you’re worth several trips in May alone! A fab Festival of Fools is on this weekend & Giro Start on next!

But I’ve tips here for anytime, too:

 

Here’s that ace video I mentioned, it really shows off Northern Ireland well– AND makes you gulp at some of the bike tricks!


Culture & Chips Limerick 1920s spiegel tent

How cool is the Culture & Chips Limerick spiegel tent from the 1920s

Quirky, foodie fun with a vintage flair? You’ll want to be there!

Culture & Chips is a unique food carnival taking place this June bank holiday in Limerick city centre– in a specially transported 1920’s Spiegeltent!

We’re big fans of Limerick City since our first visit 2 years ago, and now with the city being Ireland’s City of Culture 2014, even more exciting things are happening in Limerick. Check out Culture & Chips!

Of course the Irish are famous for their love of the potato, but most ALL of you international folk love to scoff some  good chips/ French fries /potato wedges / frites! So come feast on some world-class chips with other tummy-delights & cultural enjoyments from 29 May to 2 June, 2014. If you’re not lucky enough to be local, add a trip to Limerick to your  Ireland vacation or staycation!

Culture and Chips in Limerick

Your tummy & mind will both enjoy Culture and Chips in Limerick

Curly or thick-cut, wedged or crinkled, made traditionally from potatoes but so often from many other vegetables now too, it is high time we celebrate the chip!

Limerick has decided to do just that! An authentic specially transported 1920’s Spiegeltent will be erected in Arthur’s Quay Park for the duration of what promises to be one of the best weekends of the year.

 

What’s On:

 

The Jerry Fish Electric Sideshow will be resident in the tent on Thursday, 29th May.
Friday, 30th May 30th The Culture & Chips Spiegeltent will host a Culinary Carnival banquet on the evening. Pull on your best bib and tucker as chef Paul Williams of Canteen serves up a menu of locally sourced produce from the region featuring matching wines and craft beers.

Saturday, 31st May sees the World Chip Championship taking place to find the best-tasting chip on the planet! This will be an open contest to all cooks with a passion for the frite, each hoping to cut the mustard and take home the inaugural title.

Saturday morning will see children’s theatre take over the Spiegeltent.

‘Pommes in the Park’ on the Saturday promises to delight with a fantastical evening of cabaret and chips.
Sunday morning promises a breakfast with a difference!

Jack L will bring his special brand of entertainment to the Spiegeltent on Sunday, 1st June
The weekend winds down on Monday afternoon courtesy of Salon du Chat to the sounds of the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra

At the time of writing, it seems the best place to keep up with what is happening with Culture & Chips is on their Facebook page. You can also check their website http://www.cultureandchips.com/ but it isn’t really active as of yet (25 March)

Some Tips for Limerick

When you are visiting Limerick, don’t miss the newly refurbished King John’s Castle– especially if you have children. We loved it even without kids- do go check it out. (They also have family ticket prices)

Also, if you’ve been on a Limerick Walking Tour with Declan, the Limerick Guide– which we’ve done & really enjoyed, you’ll get a discount into King John’s Castle.

The Hunt Museum is full of interesting finds & treasures from Neolithic times to the 20th  century, and the cafe there has tasty food that is reasonably priced- not always so in visitor attractions.

And of course, check out what’s on at Limerick City of Culture 2014! And if you enjoy food don’t miss the Saturday food stalls at the Milk Market.

If you’d like to spoil yourself, stay over or just have dinner at One Pery Square in Limerick’s Georgian quarter. A trip here has been my birthday treat for the past two years. We love everything about it.

Go get yourself some Culture, and Chips, in Limerick 😀

 


Bia Beag's Meet The Makers food series; Real Bread at Highbank Orchard

Bia Beag’s Meet The Makers series; Real Bread was the 1st talk

Even a vegan loves these Irish cheeses!

Irish artisan cheeses are next up in the Bia Beag series.

Yes, even though he’s a passionate vegan, Keith Bohanna is a champion of these lovingly made artisan food products. He’s organized one of the most interesting & best value evenings around; Bia Beag’s ‘Meet the Makers‘ food talks, and Irish artisan cheeses feature on Saturday 5 April, with 3 award winning producers:

Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith – St Tola: Irish Organic Goat Cheese, Co Clare

Helen Finnegan – Knockdrinna Cheese, Co Kilkenny

Tom Burgess – Coolattin Cheddar: Mature Raw Milk Cheddar, Co Carlow

For just €5 you’ll get to enjoy the makers sharing their stories, their tips, and their cheeses! Yes, there will be samples :-DI know that Keith will be salivating from the smells, but he’s a very committed as a vegan & I don’t think he’ll crack. But seeing if he gives in to the temptation could be part of the fun. (Tee hee… sorry, Keith!)

 

 Highbank Irish Medieval Cider

Yummy Highbank cider! There’s a non-alchoholic one for Drivers, too

Terry & I attended the first in this Bia Beag ‘Meet the Makers’ series, which was on real bread— it was a fantastic 2 hours; the speakers & breads were wonderful. Terry was so inspired he went home & baked that very night! While I’m not sure you’ll go home on the 5th of April and milk your goat/cow to make your own cheese, I’m pretty sure you will at least be inspired to try new cheeses. As well as the samples, the cheesemakers will bring some cheeses you can buy, and as the event is held at Highbank Orchard, you’ll also be able to sample & buy Apple cider & syrup products before the talks if you’d like. We had the Irish Medieval Cider– mmmm!

 

Some details on Meet the Cheese Makers:

Date: Saturday 5th April 2014
Time: 6pm, for about 2 hours

Location: Highbank Orchard  and you can Click here for a map showing the entrance to Highbank.

Click here to purchase tickets – €5 each – NOTE They sell out quickly, so don’t wait

Also, I know Helen at Knockdrinna cheese does cheese making courses, so if you are inspired to try making for yourself, do check them out.

Read more on the cheesemakers and the Bia Beag talks series on Bia Beag


Kinsale Start of Wild Atlantic Way IrelandKinsale is hailed as a brilliant food town, and now also as the start of the Wild Atlantic Way.

I asked Twitter for tips on where to eat & what to see in Kinsale, and in nearby Bandon. Below is a selection:

@VibrantIreland Fishy Fishy, and Jim Edwards for a nice steak! Enjoy. Love #kinsale Pier House is fab accommodation in Kinsale also!

There were many other tweets recommending Fishy Fishy, but the feeling wasn’t unanimous.

@VibrantIreland @Hushabye_Farm jim Edwards pub is good. Ate in fab place called zuul’s last yr. was disappointed in fishy fishy

She wasn’t the only tweeter feeling a bit let down- the Fishy Fishy hype is huge & prices not small either; Siobhan had another Fishy Fishy tip: try Fishy Fishy’s own Chippie if you’re on a budget. Great idea!

Driving the Wild Atlantic Way is high on the agenda:

@VibrantIreland out at the old head of Kinsale if you take a drive out there. #kinsale Enjoy your Cork trip!

As well as scenic drives, in-town walking tours in Kinsale also got mentioned; there are 2 top ones: Historic Strolls  and Kinsale Heritage Walks.

@VibrantIreland total waste so! I love the Bulman & apparently the Black Pig (?) is really great. Don’t miss Charles Fort – fascinating!

I got private messaged praises for Finn’s Table, Bruno’s, Lemon Leaf Cafe cakes, and the Black Pig Wine Bar, too.

@VibrantIreland – Kinsale recommendations: a Guinness in The Bulman; seafood chowder in the Blue Haven; coffee & cake in the Lemon Leaf Cafe

If you want to check out what’s on gig-wise & more, here’s a tip:

@VibrantIreland Check out our Advertiser & Guide to What’s On in#Kinsale  http://www.kinsaleadvertiser.com/home  We also print Map with lovely walks. Enjoy!

For Bandon, there were good words for Chapel Steps,

URRU, the Farmers Market Bandon on Sat a.m, and Duchess Tea Rooms for a cuppa and cakes.

@VibrantIreland in Bandon @poachersInn great foodie pub.@urrubandon for deli needs. You can walk it off on Graham Norton walk @grahnort

Heading east for a drive, Fort Camden got a shout:

@VibrantIreland Fort Camden in Crosshaven near Kinsale is pretty new. My bro’s & Gfather tell me its well worth trip http://www.irelandtravelkit.com/fort-camden-crosshaven-county-cork/ …

And a bit west of Kinsale, Diva’s in Ballinspittle was given a Twitter thumbs up.

The Coach House, Bandon, Ireland. from Sykes Cottages

The Coach House, Bandon, Ireland. photos via Sykes Cottages

Now, here’s the sad (for me!) part. We had a weekend lined up at this charming former Coach House in Bandon, but a serious car breakdown made us miss out! Still, I want to give you the scoop on this little gem. It’s situated behind the owner’s Georgian home, and is just a five minute walk to the centre of Bandon town. Perfect for couples as a cozy getaway…*sigh*…

I’d had a look through Sykes Cottages large UK & Ireland selection (which is really good! Irish cottages, specifically, here) and chosen the Coach House because it was so cute for just the 2 of us, and was a handy base for exploring the first part of the Wild Atlantic Way, or even Cork City. But it was not to be- THIS time. We will try again- how could we not with all the great tips we got whetting our appetite!

Have YOU got any tips for the area? Fill us in!  The comment section is below this post. Thanks!

 

New Year 2014 clock Top tips from 2013! Give some a try in 2014 – an enjoyable type of resolution.

2013 was a busy year, and I experienced many wonderful places, foods, and events in Ireland and abroad. Here are some that really stood out, and you may like to try for yourself.

 

Ireland

Restaurants

This year Campagne in Kilkenny City nosed out The Tannery in Dungarvan, Waterford as my favorite restaurant for a special occasion. The Michelin Star folk loved it as well, awarding it a Star. This is only one of the awards Campagne has garnered this year. Whatever about all that, your taste buds will be the best judge, and I think they’ll be very pleased. Do NOT skip dessert here. And if you’re on more of a budget (like us,) lunch & the early bird dinner are great value. http://www.campagne.ie

Dear people, there are SO many good places to eat in Ireland, across all price points. Another wonderful restaurant I ate at in 2013 was Bang in Dublin. These are just 2 of the best that I ate at for the first time in 2013, and that I’ve now eaten in more than once.

 

Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland ; Sheridans Cheese

Sheridan’s was a delicious stop on the Fab Food Trail tour.

Food Experience

Fab Food Trails of Ireland are lead in Cork and in Dublin, where I did mine. A tour with them is a wonderful way to graze on top grub whilst exploring the city & its history as well as its food. Yep, they are fabulous- and for visitors and locals alike.

 

Food Products

This year we discovered several lip-smacking new-to-us Irish food items. One that I can’t stop craving is the treacle scone from Gleeson’s in Roscommon. As well as their Townhouse accomodation, they’ve a restaurant, cafe, and a deli in Roscommon Town. We booked their ‘Taste of the West’ package and it was on this holiday that I discovered the scones. (Note: their dinner was delicious too, and we choose to eat at Gleesons both nights!) In fact, Roscommon is the proverbial hidden gem in regards to a foodie mini-holiday, with the fantastic craft beer( & cool live music) pub JJ Harlow’s there on The Square as well. Now when anyone I know is near Roscommon I tell them they need to go get a treacle scone &/or a craft beer!

 

craft-beer JJ Harlow's pub, Roscommon, Ireland

Terry loved chatting to the craft-beer loving people at JJ Harlow’s pub, Roscommon

 A Tasty Tip for 2014

Starting Saturday, 25 January 2014, Biabeag (Irish for small food) will be holding events around artisan food products and producers. The first delicious & interesting offering is on real bread, with 3 dedicated breadmakers from around Ireland sharing their stories and their wares. Come to Kilkenny and enjoy!

 

Venice

Venice is full of delicious food, but has mediocre yet expensive food as well. When you’re a food lover on a budget, this can be frustrating. One of the best things we did to remedy it was to get the local insider information on a Walks of Italy food tour.

 

Red wine & good times on the Venice Food Tour, with Kristina from Walks of italy

Red wine & good times on the Venice Food Tour, with Kristina from Walks of Italy

Venice: Eating out in the Castello area

We stayed in the residential area of Castello (wonderful!) and one of our local bars, El Refolo, was very welcoming, with nice cicchetti to snack on. Located on the wide Via Garibaldi, El Refolo is an ace spot for pretending to be Venetian, people watching and chatting while sipping a drink. Terry greatly enjoyed the Menabrea dark Italian beer they had at El Refolo, and it became his favorite spot of an evening 🙂

On the more westerly side of Castello, we had a lovely, reasonably priced meal with very good service at Trattoria da Jonny. My seafood pasta was heaped with different varieties.

 

Eating with Art

If you are enjoying a bit of culture in the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, I also recommend the cafe. Lunch here overlooking the sculpture garden was delicious– the seasonal pumpkin ravioli and pancetta & chicory mini- gnocchi were as beautiful as the garden 🙂

If you love food and love to cook, another food tip for Venice is to look into renting an apartment so you can take advantage of being able to cook the wonderful produce available in the markets. We certainly drooled every time we passed them!

 

Here’s to a fantastic 2014 for us all– may it be full of wonderful food, friends and fun!

Have a Happy and colorful 2014

Have a Happy & Vibrant 2014!

 

 

 

 

 


Is the way to find Dublin’s heart through your stomach? Try a Fab Food tour and see!

Fab Food trails Dublin Ireland

Corleggy Irish Cheese. Free samples are great! You can get a taster box for a fiver.

Going on a food tour is a fantastic way to get to know a place.

Not only will the eats & drinks satisfy your taste buds, a good tour will cater to your craving to experience an area’s history, culture, and local gems. This could be a tall order for something that lasts around 2.5 hours, but it can be done. I’ve experienced 2 food tours that fit the bill perfectly; one with Walks of Italy in Venice, and this one in Dublin with Fab Food Trails.

 

Visitors and Locals

Hometown crowds are often the toughest. As well as visitors, the Fab Food tour participants included Dublin locals exploring more of their city. By the end of the tour they’d discovered several new places, had seen their city in a different way and were quite happy; great result! If even locals love it, I think you’re bound to, too.

 

The elusive Cake Cafe!

The Cake Cafe was one of the places several of us familiar with Dublin were chuffed to finally find. Tales of their delectable treats had been wafting around the internet like a delicious smell on a breeze, but many of us just couldn’t find the physical source! It was Fab Food Trails to the rescue, and our excellent guide Eveleen showed us the simplest way to get there–  by going through Daintree Paper shop!

The Cake Cafe Dublin ireland

You know the Cake Cafe is cool: tasty treats, local & green ethos, and beardy hipster waiter 🙂

(Oh, the browsing & buying that could be done at the shop! Unfortunately Daintree Paper will close 31 Jan 2014 unless they get a buyer. They are having a closing sale & say there will still be Cake Cafe access. You can also get into the Cake Cafe by going around the block.)

 

Some Tour Highlights

History

Two other highlights stood out for me on the Dublin food tour. One is the compact 5 minute history of Ireland through food Eveleen tells before you begin the walk. Tis fascinating how so much history can be summed up through the lens of food, farming, and eating. You’ll get nuggets of Dublin history throughout the tour as well, and a favorite was The Swan.

 

The Swan, Victorian Pub

The Swan Victorian pub hasn’t been destroyed remodeled like many Dublin pubs; it is still home to beautiful original period features. You’ll sip a sample of  Powers Dublin whiskey whilst you listen to the exciting history of the Swan during the Easter Rising. You also get a glimpse into social history as well. Here’s a wee video clip about their snug:

                                                                                                                                Tastings & Tips

swans victorian pub dublin ireland

Swan’s Victorian pub, Dublin Ireland. Gorgeous & full of history from the Rising and more.

There are plenty of  tastings and tips on the tour. You’ll discover where to eat from breakfast to dinner as well as ideas for a fun evening out afterwards. Helpfully, you’ll get a printed leaflet listing what you’ve seen, with & other recommendations too.

The tour is a Fab Food Trail; the only thing I declined to enjoy was the oyster at the end of our tour. I enjoyed the rest of Saturday’s the Temple Bar Food Market, but though the oyster looked fantastic … well, I’m not an oyster person; perhaps you are. You can have mine 🙂

Fab Food Trails (2.5 hrs, €55) give tours in both Dublin and Cork. They are now offering Fashion and Evening tours as well. Here’s the link to the Dublin food tour.

Transparency: when I noticed on Twitter that Fab Food Trails had a place open due to a cancellation, I arranged to join in as a guest. Being a guest does not make me hide the flaws of something when I write about it, but I have no qualms about recommending the Dublin Fab Food Trail tour to you; I found it tasty for both body & mind 🙂

Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland ; Sheridans Cheese

Sheridan’s is another delicious stop on the Fab Food Trail tour. You’ll sample cheeses & discover some fantastic Irish cheeses too

Fab Food trails Dublin tour

Mmmm fresh bread!

Oyster. Fab Food Trails Dublin Ireland

Even with a lovely salsa on it, I can’t be tempted by a raw oyster. Does it tempt you?

 


Bang restaurant Dublin

Bang restaurant Dublin. From the greeting & seating, and the fresh nutty brown bread onwards, Bang was a delight.

Great Bang for your buck!

I hope you’re not on a diet, because this photo post is going to tempt your tastebuds. I also hope you live in or will be in Dublin soon & would like to splurge a bit on a fantastic dinner, because I think you are going to want to go! Bang Restaurant, Dublin on 11 Merrion Row is a Michelin recommended restaurant where you will enjoy every bite of your food if our experience is anything to go by.

Also good to note; Bang can make the majority of their dishes gluten-free upon request. 

Good value is important to me, and as well as always having a great Early Bird menu (23.95 two course, & 28.95 3 course,) Bang also can have lovely special offers on. For example for Dine in Dublin week, 22-27 October 2013, Bang had:

”Dine in Dublin  5 course Tasting Menu-  €39.95 pp 

Special Event – (Monday – Wednesday)

Experience 5 stunning wines to accompany our 5 course Tasting Menu for only – €19” 

This special pricing is also what they offered to us travel bloggers during the TBEX Dublin conference, so I rounded up travel blogging Twitter foodies @PhilaTravelGirl, @2foodtrippers and @theroamingbean & booked us in.

Our verdict was: Nom! Except, that is, for Jen. She (AKA theroamingbean,) got stuck in a US airport for days, finally arrived in Dublin at 5am, and fell asleep jetlagged at 4pm & missed the fabulous Bang dinner. (Jen, don’t look at the photos, you’ll only torture yourself!)

Here’s what I had( note; no wine as I wasn’t  feeling well that day.) And do you know, tasting portions at Bang are not just a bite or two- they’re filling! This also meant I was unable to finish my dessert. I know! I now torture myself looking at the photo of that chocolate-y bliss.

Bang Restaurant: ‘The Gathering’ 5 Course Tasting Menu’

Proudly showcasing the very best of local, seasonal Irish food.

(My note: All the staff know the food & its origin inside out, and tell you. Love that.)

 Tasting Menu €69 – Suggested Matching Wines €29.95

My note: this is also the Dine In Dublin special offer menu, at the value prices described farther up above.

Géarú Goile (Amuse Bouche)

Bang restaurant, Dublin, Amuse Bouche

This was just heaven! Sweet & salty goat’s cheese with golden beetroot and praline.

Clare Island Salmon, Avocado, Local Radish, Compressed Cucumber, Light Ponzu Gel

I know many of  ye are are thinking WTF, ‘compressed’ cucumber?? So here is the what/why, from starchefs.com:

Why “compress”? Color, texture, and (sometimes) flavor: these three essential attributes are intensified by a quick trip in the vacuum sealer.

Ingredients with looser cell structures and high water content (like fruits) are compacted under pressure – air is pushed out of the space between cells, and the resulting slice of apricot, for example, emerges with a softer, denser, “cooked” texture that usually only results from exposure to heat. Flavor comes into play when a liquid is vacuum-sealed with the fruit. The liquid is pushed into the space once occupied by air, and voilà – the fruit is instantly infused with flavor. In this case, apricots get a gentle flavor boost from simple syrup; but that syrup could be infused with chilies or herbs, or replaced with Brandy…the possibilities are endless. 

 Anyway- this dish was all good! And ponzu is a Japanese citrus sauce or gel. Now we all know 🙂

Clare Island salmon, Bang restaurant, Dublin

This was just exquisite. Clare island salmon, Bang restaurant, Dublin

Hereford Beef, Local Celeriac, Crispy Onion, Watercress, Horseradish potato

 

Herford beef, Bang restaurant Dublin

Total melt in the mouth goodness! Bang!

Cheese of The Day, Grapes, Truffled Honey, House Made Crackers

I’ve no photo of this, though there were lovely cheeses, and the in-house made crackers were crispy & lightly nutty. I was starting to fade by this point as I wasn’t feeling well–NOT from the food! As mentioned, I had arrived not feeling the best.

Chocolate Bar, Mango Gel, Mango Sorbet

Bang, Dublin

Oh so lovely! I’ve kindly not shown you the whole chocolate slice so you won’t crave it too much 🙂

Additionally, Bang’s pre-theatre/early bird 2 and 3 course menu is good value too: 23.95 & 28.95 respectively.

This next photo is of the Dark chocolate mousse, passion fruit sorbet, and salted caramel from that menu. Drool.

Chocolate mousse, Bang Dublin

The last bit of evil temptation in my Bang post: chocolate mousse.

Have a look round Bang’s website; menus are listed– but don’t say I didn’t warn you when you find you are suddenly starving & need to make a booking straight away. Enjoy!

In case you hadn’t noticed, these are all Instagram photos. I love Instagram, and take part in #IGtravelthursday, and you can, too. Just instagram some of your travel photos (can be local travel!) & hashtag them #IGtravelthursday. Check out the other cool photos on that hashtag stream, as well.


Furnace Fitness demo

DO try this at home!

Food lovers, health lovers & coffee lovers all got loads of great tips and tasty eats at my hubby Terry’s Furnace Fitness’ Healthy Eating & Meal Planning demo. The demo was filmed and will be up online in a few weeks, but until then, here are 2 of  the recipes and we tested out a new way to treat yourself to coffee. (Yes, coffee can be good & good for you for you- just don’t go overboard!) 

 

Irish Chili Sauce?

This recipe is made extra delicious by any spicy ingredients you might add. Terry loves Irish- made Mic’s Chilli, but you can add whatever you fancy. Mic’s has all different grades of hotness, so there may be one perfect for you.

 

Frittata Oven Baked Vegetable Omelette

Broccoli, bell pepper, other left-over veg you may want to use up
You can also add half a sweet potato (pre-cooked) 
Olive oil
1 small red onion  & 2 large cloves of crushed garlic
Spices – Asian/taco/curry. Hot sauce, Worcester sauce. Salt & black pepper

1/2 cup milk

6-8 Eggs, free range preferable

food_crowd

Round one of food samples at the demo

Heat up the veg in a wok with a few glugs of olive oil, add crushed garlic and pepper, your chosen spices ( for Taco seasoning about half packet, or for curry or Asian spice apprx 2 tablespoons) black pepper to taste, pinch salt, stir-fry for 2 minutes.
In a blender whizz eggs, dash Worchester sauce & chilli sauce and the 1/2 cup milk.
Place veg in deep oven dish, pour egg mix over it, add some feta cheese on top and bake 20-30 mins in the oven at 180c or gas mark 5/6; til the centre doesn’t wiggle.

Allow to cool, cut into generous squares and serve with a salad or you can even eat it cold the next day.

I have to add here a big thank-you to Bosch, who make the fantastic red whizzer you see in the photo. I was given it when I attended the Tassimo hot drinks machine launch a few days before Terry’s demo. Don’t you know he loved it & robbed it for the demo straight away! Seriously, it is good. When Terry whizzed up the eggs in it I heard more than a few appreciative comments in the audience.

 

Irish Pork is Top Notch

The second recipe is for pork. Ireland has some of the best pork products I’ve ever tasted, so it is no wonder we love our pork. This quick & easy recipe was a big hit and takes only minutes to make. Additionally, food that you can pick up and eat with your hands can be extra satisfying, especially when it is crunchy &  savory. Kids really enjoy it, which is fantastic.

 

Crunchy Pork

Pan sear minced streaky pork

Add Thai 7 spice, continue browning pork until golden

Add 1-2 crushed garlic cloves, and a few dashes each of Soya sauce & Worcestershire sauce.

Stir them in, browning off pork to semi-caramelise the outside

Scoop up pork & serve on  Baby Gem, Cos, or other large leaf lettuce

Drizzle with Honey Mustard dressing (2 tbsp sherry vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1  tbsp of Dijon mustard & wholegrain mustard, pinch herbs Provence, 1 tsp  manuka honey, pinch black pepper, salt, dash of Worcestershire sauce. Shake.) This is a good recipe to play with adding/subtracting ingredients/amounts to find your/your family’s favorite taste combination.

Crunchy pork

Eating with your hands is fun! Scoop up a leaf!

 

 Time for Coffee!

Now for testing the new way to make coffee— and hot chocolate! Ok, hot chocolate is not officially ‘healthy’ but a little of what you fancy does you good 🙂 As I had been invited to the Tassimo coffee machine launch, I was given of those beauties to have & test out and share my thoughts. What better place than the Furnace’s demo to see was the machine & the taste of the coffees up to scratch.

 

Was it any good?

Loads of thirsty attendees put the machine through its paces. The way it works is you put a ”T-Disc” in the machine, the machine reads a barcode on the disc pack and knows how to adjust the brewing time, pressure and water temperature for the hot drink you want. There are T-Discs for lattes, espressos, cappuccinos, teas, and so on.

The Tassimo did well even though there were several different newbies all giving it a go. All enjoyed their drinks, and what is brilliant is that even though you may be making, say, a hot chocolate immediately after a latte, there is no taste mixing because the machine steam cleans itself between each cup. The only hitch came when a few people removed their cups too soon and there was an overflow. The Tassimo is easy to use, but as all the use by newbies showed, it can take a time or two before some of us get completely used to it. (Some of us- I was guilty too- don’t look at the lit-up buttons telling us what stage the machine is in!)

 

Tassimo, Kenco Caffe Crema, mmm

Tassimo, Kenco Caffe Crema, mmm my fav one

Less Than A Minute

Where the Tassimo really shines is for that quick cup of something hot. From switching the machine on, to drinking a perfect hot beverage is only about a minute. This is something non-morning people really appreciate! Also, although coffee in moderation can be good for you, too much is not, and I’ve found just making a single cup when I want it has saved me drinking that extra cup left in the French coffee press because I didn’t want it to waste! I have to say that even though I’m normally a grind-fresh-coffee-beans-for-coffee kind of gal, I have realized I’m also quite lazy! Sometimes I don’t want all the fuss. 

 

Taste, and a Big Winner

So, how does the taste compare? Well, the coffees in the Tassimo range are the High Street names and tastes you know and probably love- Costa, for example. The Tassimo Costa coffees are just like the ones in the shop, but cost only around 37 cent vs 3-ish euros; good savings on your daily fix. Of the ones we’ve tried so far, the Kenco Caffe Crema is Terry’s & my favourite. It obviously is not an artisan coffee like our Irish favorites Badger & Dodo, but maybe they’ll start a Tassimo sideline 🙂 A BIG winner at the Healthy Eating demo was the Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate. LOL. Several people said it was the best hot chocolate they’d ever had! Hey, that’s great- and if they keep coming to the exercise classes they can have a cup everyday 😉 Win-Win!

You can buy the Tassimo machine &  8 varieties of T-Discs at Tesco, and there are additional T-Disc varieties available to purchase online at  www.tassimo.com

The Bosch Tassimo range is available both in store and online RRP €119.95*. Irish consumers can get €20 discount* off T-DISCs  when they spend €25 +P&P at www.tassimo.com

*18 years only, see www.tassimo.com for further details

Many thanks to all who came to the demo, to Event Media for filming & photos, Eoin for all his assistance & to Tassimo and Bosch for providing their products mentioned in this post.