October 26, 2012

itsa... Yelp Event

I never cease to be surprised by the sheer volume of creative, entertaining and free events that take place in Dublin these days. I think the recession, while bad for our pockets, has really brought people's imagination to the forefront. I attended one such event recently at itsa...Bagel in Ranelagh. This event had been organised by Yelp.ie which is a website to help people find great local businesses like dentists, hair stylists and cafes. Apparently Yelp is very big in the States but it definitely seems to be catching on here. If you are a member, which only takes about two minutes to do, you can attend free events organised by them. Recently there was a cocktail making demonstration in Sweeney Mongrels and ale tasting in WJ Kavanaghs neither of which I could attend, much to my disappointment!! 

The event in itsa Bagel was my first outing as a Yelper and it won't be my last. Being a coffee lover, I was in absolute heaven. We were shown the Brew Bar and told a little about the beans behind the coffee. We were also introduced to Erika who was a finalist in the World Barista Championships. She made her speciality chilli and vanilla coffee just for us. She explained that vanilla was infused into the milk and then we could increase the chilli strength by leaving the chilli in the coffee for longer. It was a great coffee and not as spicy as I thought it would be. Instead it had a slight afterkick which was a nice sensation.

Erika - Finalist at the World Barista Championships
Along with the coffee we were allowed choose whatever bagel we wanted in order to experience the food. I choose the October special "The Norwegian" which was made with a pumpernickle bagel, smoked salmon, low fat red onion cream cheese, cucumber pickle, oakleaf lettuce and honey dijon.


Claire choose the Caesar which was filled with roast chicken breast, caesar dressing (no anchovies!), parmesan, cos lettuce, butter and very kindly allowed me to take a picture of her food even though I had only known her for all of five minutes!


This was all followed by more coffee, this time from the Brew Bar, and a range of cakes including carrot cake muffins, gluten free brownies and a crumble type fruit square. I sampled them all purely for research purposes you understand! During all this stuffing of our faces, we were treated to a short talk from Josh, who told us a little about the business, its owners and the ethos behind it. Being a regular of itsa Bagel in Ranelagh, it was lovely to learn so much about the business and to meet the staff that make it such a nice place to go to.


The night was rounded up with a food quiz with some of the world's most difficult questions - Do you know what spice Cleopatra used to stay gorgeous because I didn't!! Myself and my teammate didn't fill out an awful lot of the questions as we were too busy chatting and having a laugh even though we had only met that night. This was a great event and Yelp seems to be a great way of meeting new, like minded people who are up for a laugh, want to learn something new and love living in Ireland. Oh and by the way Cleopatra used saffron in her baths in an attempt to stay beautiful!

As a side note Yelp are looking for a community manager so if organising events like the above and writing about them sounds right up your street get onto their website quick smart!! Sounds like it would be a fun job!

October 21, 2012

Lobster and Bubbly for €22 at Brasserie Sixty6

Who doesn't love a good special offer!? As soon as I read about this one I was on the ringer to the mates! For 22 euros Brasserie Sixty6 is offering a lobster meal with a glass of prosecco thrown in. Within ten minutes I had three of the girls convinced and a table booked. I was surprised I had gotten that many to join me as they aren't the biggest fish lovers but as one of the girls said herself it was too good of an offer to miss. Sure the worst that could happen was that she would be paying for a very expensive salad!

Brasserie Sixty6 have taken all the effort out of eating lobster and  have made it simple and hassle free to enjoy. With the claws, they have skewered them and dipped them into a light Tempura batter of rice, flour, cornstarch, sparkling water and sake. It is then flash fryed until the batter is crispy and the claw is cooked through.

The remainder of the tail was lightly brushed with a Lemon and Tarragon oil and skewered. The tail was then pan roasted and cut through to make it easier to eat.  

The curry aioli dip that accompanies the meal is made with garlic, chilli, lime, coriander, curried onion and goes beautifully with the lobster pieces.

The salad is made with watercress, baby gem lettuce, pickled ginger, chilli, pineapple, ruby grapefruit and cherry tomato. This is all served with thick cut chips and a glass of bubbly washes it all down very nicely.


This offer is available till the end of October but it must be prebooked so call  01-4005878 if you fancy it. If lobster isn't your thing, then the brilliant Dine in Dublin is on from Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th and there are loads of specials offers to be had in Dublin restaurants throughout the week. It's a perfect excuse to go and try somewhere new. Check out what's on offer here and happy dining!!!

Brasserie Sixty6 on Urbanspoon

October 08, 2012

The Great Irish Bake Off: Are you Ireland's Best Amateur Baker?

The Great Irish Bake Off is the ultimate baking battle for passionate amateur baking fans. In 2013 Sideline and TV3 are delighted to bring the most talked about TV format to Irish viewers. To ensure a great success the producers are on the look-out for passionate bakers, big characters and contestants that have that something special to be crowned the winner of The Great Irish Bake Off.
Over the 8 week series the bakers will be under the eye of presenter Anna Nolan and expert judges including top selling cookery writer and baker Biddy White lennon. One more judge will be cast and announced over the coming weeks
During the series the experts will inspect, prod and sample the baked goodies and decide who gets to have their cake and eat it. Throughout the series the TV3 audience will follow the trials and tribulations of competitors from every corner of Ireland, as they attempt to prove their baking prowess.
Successful applicants will be required to attend auditions and screen tests on certain days in November & December 2012 and the final shortlist will be announced in early 2013. The series itself will be filmed over 10 days on location in Spring 2013 and air soon after on TV3.
100s will apply but only one will be crowned Ireland's Best Amateur Baker and announce their unique talent to the nation – and possibly start a brand new career. Will it be you?
APPLY NOW - note closing date Monday October 15th
Download an Application Form (To save on your PC right click on the link and proceed to "Save Target As"):
Word Document Format
PDF Format

For those in the industry –
Sideline Productions and TV3 are actively seeking a master baker or baking expert to join the judging team. They do not have to have TV experience but more a passion and knowledge of the whole baking process. We are not seeking ‘celebrity chefs but that special experienced individual that feels comfortable with being on TV, has an ability to work within a team and loves the show. After a casting process the producers will be holding screen tests auditions in late October to choose our missing piece of the jigsaw.
Production or application queries bakeoff@sideline.ie    

October 03, 2012

Hunters Lodge Living: A Class in Self - Sufficiency

One of the things I want most in the world at the moment are some chickens! As a city girl born and bred, I’m not entirely sure where this has come from; indeed it is generally greeted with howls of laughter from my friends whenever I mention it. I think it must have begun with childhood holidays away and day trips to farms. I have many a fond memory of baby chicks and horses that could talk! It might also have something to do with my baking addiction and the fact that it would mean lots of fresh eggs to use!! Now I don’t know anything about chickens - the different types, how hard they are to look after or if I’m just living in Lala land but I am a girl who likes to do her research first. So with that in mind I headed off down to Hunters Lodge in Carlow where classes on self - sufficiency are run by the lovely Fiona Dillon.

  It was late August and one of those gloriously sunny summer days. After a lovely drive down, and only getting lost once, I arrived at Hunter’s Lodge.   Once the rest of the group arrived Fiona brought us on a walking tour of her garden. She believes that it isn’t too difficult to make a turn in your life towards self-sufficiency. At Hunters Lodge their garden supplies them with eggs, vegetables, potatoes, apples, soft fruits, honey, tomatoes, herbs, chicken, pork, ham, bacon, turkey and more.  For a newbie like me who wishes to aspire to such living, her garden and the way she maintains it was very encouraging. The area were the pigs, chicken and geese are kept was not as big as I thought you would need to rear such animals. In the same plot of land she also grows potatoes in sacks and tomatoes and other veggies in a green house. Fiona made it all look very doable and explained that it really is low cost to maintain but that it does take a bit of hard graft to get it all going. 


She also showed us her vegetable patch in another separate part of the garden filled with onions, cabbages and other produce. From here we could hear the hum of bees which are a fairly new addition to Hunters Lodge. Jealous probably wouldn't even cover how I felt - imagine all that delicious honey on your doorstep!!


After all the walking around we sat down for a cup of coffee, strawberry jam and soda bread. Fiona described how she forages for food and showed us her rosehip syrup and sloe gin and vodka. I would have happily had a sample except I was driving!!

You could do some amount of baking with this!
It was a great and informative day and I think the main thing that I took from the afternoon is that it really isn’t as hard as I thought it would be to live a more sustainable life. Of course there will be trials and tribulations - crops will fail, chickens may get caught by foxes, bees will swarm and jam may not set – but if you don’t try, well then you may just be missing out on the joy that accompanies taking that first mouthful of a delicious jam, baking with your own eggs and cooking with your own produce! 

I’m no longer a city girl since my recent move to Meath so I am one step closer to that dream. I will get the chickens eventually (the current landlord has vetoed the plan!) but I do now have a store cupboard filled with jams and a garden full of potted herbs. The current plan is to find some sloes to make that vodka!!

A treat of Quail eggs to bring home!

The Welly Wall and the lady herself!