October 30, 2013

VDC@Home, Naas

Naas isn't a town I would normally think about visiting. It is usually bypassed in favour of Kildare Village or Newbridge Shopping Centre. As is the way with life though, I found myself there three times in the space of three weeks: for work, for a class and for a wedding. On the last occasion we just never made it up in time for breakfast, even though I'm sure Killashee House put on a mighty fine spread. We were hungry and needed food fast! Thankfully I remembered that a fellow blogger, Adrienne from Bake for the Border, had recommended VDC@Home. VDC@Home is a daytime cafe run by Vie de Chateaux who also have a larger restaurant in the area.

Serendipitously we managed to park almost right next to it even though we didn't have a clue about where we were going. We strolled in at about 1.30 to be met with a very lively and packed cafe. It is a small, colourful place with a great atmosphere. It was jammers when we got there, but that was no surprise as it was a Saturday afternoon. There are only a few tables but there are a good few high stools in front of the kitchen and near the window. We found two seats in front of the kitchen which was a perfect place to watch what I can only describe as a a sandwich ninja! God this girl could make amazing looking sandwiches and she did them fast!

On this occasion it took me a while to decide as there are a lot of different options and combos that you can pick, but in the end I went for the Smoked Duck with rocket, goats cheese, dried tomato, pine nuts and tomatade all on a rustic baguette (€4.50). I have never had smoked duck before but it's now a meat that I will use for my sandwich making at home.  All the flavours combined really well which was great as I did think maybe the smoked meat would overpower the rest. 

The boyfriend had decided wat he wanted as soon as he walked in the door and was confronted with a layout of cakes, sandwiches and pastries! He went for the goat cheese and red onion croustini (€4.90). This is a classic combination but it’s one that works. It was served with a big side salad and a nice amount of dressing. 

We decided not to have cake there but bought ourselves a few goodies to take away. That evening’s tea consisted of a rustic baguette, cheese and Danish pastries. 

VDC@Home is well worth a short detour. It provides good, tasty, filling food at great prices and will give you loads of energy for shopping if that is where you are heading off too!! 

2 Castle Building,Friary Road, Naas, Co.Kildare
T: (045) 889200

October 21, 2013

Top Seven Picks for Dine in Dublin 2013

Dine in Dublin is back for it's fourth, twice yearly offering and will run from the 21st - 27th October. I personally think Dine in Dublin is a great initiative and I try to make the most of it each time it comes around. It is a good opportunity to try out somewhere new and it won't break the bank to do so either. It also means that you can try out a restaurant offerings at a time that is convenient for you and not be tied to their early bird hours.

So this year I have had a thorough look through the website and picked out seven restaurants that I think would be well worth visiting. One for each day of the week which would be my ideal way to do Dine in Dublin!!

Bang Restaurant

Bang Restaurant are offering a five course tasting menu for €39.95. This menu normally costs €69 and it is a great opportunity to sample a range of their food. Also if you eat from Monday to Thursday they are offering a wine pairing with each course for €19. I got to try out their tasting menu last year and it was a very special experience. You can read about it here.

To view their Dine in Dublin Menu click here.

Fish Course at Bang

Hot Stove Restaurant

This is a restaurant that has been on my list for ages and I have just not being able to get down to try it out yet. I have heard and read a lot of good things about it. Check out Stitch and Bear's review here to see what I mean. For Dine in Dublin they are doing a seven course tasting menu for €50 with lovely sounding things like Confit Chicken Pithivier and home cured Irish salmon on the menu. They are also offering a €35 lunch menu.

To view their Dine in Dublin Menu click here.


37 Dawson Street

37 Dawson Street is a funky, lively restaurant with handbags hanging from chandeliers and a great bar downstairs to move to afterwards. One of the great things about their Dine in Dublin menu, last time I tried it out, was that it had quite a lot of choice on it so there was something for everyone. To read more about my experience there click here. They are offering 3 courses for €25 and a complimentary cocktail for those dining with them from Monday - Thursday.

To view their Dine in Dublin Menu click here.

Chickpea Cassoulet from 37 Dawson Street

Dublin City Food

Another place on my to go list as they have seven amazing sounding sandwiches each named after a district in Dublin ending in ‘O’!  They have also recently opened a restaurant on the first floor and for Dine in Dublin they have created a €50 five course tasting menu.

To view their Dine in Dublin Menu click here.

The Exchange Restaurant

The Exchange is part of the Westin Hotel, a five star hotel located on Westmoreland Street in Dublin. It would never have been somewhere that I would have thought about going but in February a group of us visited during the last Dine in Dublin. We had a great night out, the food was lovely and we were well looked after. To read about our visit click here. For this week's Dine in Dublin they are offering quite a range of choices on their €25 menu. And if you don't feel like cake for dessert you can choose to have the special Exchange Dessert Cocktail designed by World Cocktail Champion Deirdre Byrne. 

To view their Dine in Dublin Menu click here.

Lemon Curd Tart


For a more far flung food experience you can not go wrong with Jaipur. We ate at the George's Street Branch during one of the very first Dine in Dublin weeks. It has remained a firm favourite to this day. They are offering a three course menu for €30 and it will no doubt be filled with wonderful flavours and combinations.

To view their Dine in Dublin Menu click here.

Whitefriar Grill

I actually have here booked already for a night out this weekend with friends. I haven't been back since it was done up so I am looking forward to checking it out. They offer good value modern Irish cuisine and I already have my starter picked out. I'm dreaming of the roast bone marrow w/ oxtail marmalade and salsa verdi!! Also if you eat tonight (Monday 21st) you can bring your own wine while you dine.

To view their Dine in Dublin Menu click here.

These are only my personal top seven choices from over 40 restaurants taking part during this week. Hopefully it's a helpful list but where ever you choose to go I hope you have a great night out and get to experience dining in Dublin at it's best.

October 19, 2013

ORSO Kitchen & Bar, Cork

Is someone totally food obsessed when they bring a freezer bag with them on a work trip to Cork City?? I think the answer to that may be yes! Recently work sent me on a flying visit where I had a few hours free. Some of those were spent in the English Market filling my freezer bag with lots of goodies including my favourite Italian sausages from O'Mahony Meats.

The rest of the time was filled with work but I also had to eat and was lucky that my colleague is practically a Corkonian so I let her pick where we should eat that night. Katie decided on ORSO Kitchen and Bar which is located on Pembroke Street in the heart of Cork City. ORSO don't take reservations and they were very busy when we walked in. The restaurant is small so we ended up sitting at the counter which was perfectly fine with us as we were hungry and didn't want to wait for a free table. Also from there we could stare longingly at the desserts. This didn't go unnoticed by the waiter behind the counter either!

To start I ordered the Lebanese stonebread with hummus & smoked aubergine dip. This was a lovely beginning to the meal with the smoked aubergine dip being a standout factor. It had a wonderful depth of flavour and was smokey and sweet at the same time.

Katie went for the hot buttery crispbread with goat’s cheese and chilli dip which was creamy and not overly spicy with the chilli. We didn't have a bad word for our starters except that we probably could have just shared one between us!

Next up were our mains and I went for the Moroccan beef patties with cumin, ginger and cinnamon served with cucumber ribbons and natural yoghurt. Katie decided on the honey glazed chicken quarter with fennel and tomato salad. The Moroccan beef patties were full of flavour and were offset nicely with the cucumber ribbons and yogurt. Katie's chicken came the same way with the chicken arranged around the salad. It is a lovely way to eat meat and it made the dishes feel very fresh and wholesome. The only criticism that was made was that Katie thought her chicken could have come with a bit more sauce.

Moroccan Beef Patties

After all that food we debated about whether or not to have dessert. We had been staring at the mounds of meringues and strawberry tarts for the best part of an hour and a half by this stage only to see the last meringue disappear! We must have looked very disappointed as the eagle eyed waiter told us not to worry as he was getting more sent down especially, so we could hardly refuse after that! The rosewater and pistachio meringue was giant and came laden down with fresh fruit and cream. Unfortunately it was a bit dark for that picture so you will just have to imagine it! And yes we ate it all though we did share one between us.

ORSO Bar and Kitchen is a wonderful restaurant. There is a lively atmosphere, a continuous stream of customers and very friendly staff all topped off by the creative and flavour filled food that they serve. It is also not very expensive and all that food came to a total of €36.50. We loved it so much that I was sent down the next day to get our lunch to takeaway!

Find them on Facebook here and Twitter here
ORSO Bar and Kitchen, 8 Pembroke Street, Cork City 
Website: www.orso.ie
Ph: 00353 (0) 21 243 8000

October 16, 2013

A Taste of Mexico 2013

Mexican food, drink and culture will be celebrated in Dublin next month when the third ‘Mexican Gastronomic and Cultural Festival’ takes place in various locations around the capital from Tuesday 12th to Sunday 17th November.A Taste of Mexico’ is organised by the Embassy of Mexico in Ireland and features many of the Mexican restaurants now delighting diners in Dublin.

“It is wonderful for us to offer a little taste of Mexico to Irish people, and we hope many will take advantage of that”, said the Mexican Ambassador, Carlos Garcia de Alba.

A highlight of the festival will be a live competition to find ‘The Best Taco in Dublin’. It will be held in the Mansion House on Friday, 15th November with a judging panel including the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Oisín Quinn, renowned chef and food writer Darina Allen, and chef Helma Honda, a specialist in authentic Mexican food. Foodies will also be able to vote online for the Mexican restaurant that they believe serves the very best Tacos.

The week is packed with interesting events.  On Wednesday evening, 13th November in The Instituto Cervantes on Lincoln Place, Helma Honda will host a conference about genuine Mexican cuisine, sharing her expertise and love of this unique cuisine.  The conference will be followed by a tasting of tequila, the iconic Mexican spirit.

The following day, Thursday, 14th November, also in The Instituto Cervantes, there will be a hosted tasting of Mezcal – a little known spirit that has recently been generating worldwide interest.

The festival will also include a wide range of tastings, workshops and events. Further information will be announced via the Embassy of Mexico’s website: www.embamex.ie.

October 13, 2013

Fish & Chips in the Lake District: Our Summer Holiday, Part 3

It's a well known fact that the British love their fish and chips and they certainly know how to do them well. A trip across the pond wouldn't be complete without getting a portion of a one and one. On our recent(ish) summer holiday we tried out Ambleside Fish and Chips. This takeaway is situated by the jetty for the ferry and could at first glance be mistaken as a bit of a tourist trap but there was a steady stream of locals visiting it.

The menus in fish and chips shops in Cumbria seem to be a bit more varied than Irish ones and offer a range of items we never see here. Indeed the boyfriend has his mind made up as soon as he saw that they offered battered black pudding! I got myself a one and one as I can't resist some good haddock. We sat outside on the terrace overlooking Windermere Lake and the slowly setting sun. Who knew fish and chips could be romantic!! 

The portion sizes were huge and I'm not even sure the pictures do them justice. The battered haddock was lovely with a crispy light batter while the chips were exactly what you want from a chipper. The boyfriend's came with an full sized black pudding and was surprisingly delicious. I wouldn't be able to eat a whole one but it wasn't as heavy to eat as I thought it would be.

During our stay in the Lake District we kept finding ourselves drawn back to Keswick. It's a great little village with probably the best shops to have a wander about in. On one of the days we visited the Old Keswickian, a local fish and chip shop, at the end of the square. On this occasion we got smoked sausage and chips and this time just shared them! The smoked sausage was great and was an unusual addition to a normal takeaway. I know you might ask yourself why would you get fish and chips - it's just fast food!? I think though that a trip to the Lake District without getting some would be like visiting Ireland and not sampling a pint of Guinness!!

As a little sidenote there is a lovely weekly market in Keswick. It was the only local market that we came across during our stay and it was full of local produce and crafts. I spent about a good ten minutes questioning the man at Cartmel Cheeses but came away with a bagful of local cheeses!

If you would like to read a bit more about our holiday to the Lake District have a look at the posts below:

Ambleside & Grasmere: Our Summer Holiday, Part 2
Nolita Cantina - American Style Dining in Liverpool
Conwy, Wales - Our Summer Holiday, Part 1