January 26, 2014

Pizza e Porchetta, Clanwilliam Terrace, Dublin 2

Hidden down a side street, under an arch and with trains rumbling beside it, lies Pizza e Porchetta a new Italian restaurant by restaurateur Ronan Ryan. It is a very unique space, all curves and slanty ceilings, and the interior is modern, sleek and very white. There is a cosiness to the place though helped in part by the wood-fired oven. It isn't a cold restaurant to sit in!

We were careful to make a booking for this place as we had heard it was busy and when we arrived at 6pm the room was already half full. We were shown to a nice little table in the corner and were given the menu. As the girl at the table beside us pointed out to a staff member it was the lunch menu but apparently it is the same food so no problem there. And yes you may have noticed that we could hear the girl at the table beside us and no the tables aren't too close she was just a loud talker!! The only problem anyone will have with the tables is trying to get out to the loo. It is a tight squeeze when all the tables are full!

So after a few minutes our waiter came back to take our order. I ordered, Niamh asked a question, he went to the kitchen to check, came back with the answer and then wandered away without finishing taking our order. We were perplexed to say the least. It took us about five minutes but finally we caught one of the staff's attention and were able to order again. Then the alarm went off, a big loud siren of noise!! Safe to say we weren't having the best experience of the place so far but then the food arrived and we forgot about everything else. 

I couldn't decide whether I wanted pizza or porchetta so I decided to get both and ordered a porchetta covered pizza! I'm 'pazza' about pizza and this pizza was perfect and brought me right back to the years I spent living in Rome. The base was light, thin and crispy and topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and porchetta. The slices of porchetta were thin, tasty and salty but not overpoweringly so. Not one slice was left.

Porchetta Pizza

My friend went for a margarita with an extra topping of aubergine. It was also a great pizza but a few more slices of aubergine wouldn't have gone astray.

Margarita Pizza with Aubergine

The meal ended with a creamy Tiramisu which I enjoyed but personally like a bigger kick of alcohol in it. That's probably just me though! My friend ordered a coffee and it would have been nice to have them arrive at the same time so she wasn't just watching me gorge on dessert.

Our whole meal came to €49 which was for two pizzas, two glasses of wine, a dessert and coffee. They do offer a pre-theatre menu for €19 from 5 - 7 which includes pizza, a side and a glass of wine but we didn't realise this till after we left and the staff never mentioned it to us. Is it worth a visit? Definitely. The restaurant is still finding its feet so random service is sometimes an occurance and something that will hopefully be sorted out with time. The  food though is fantastic and if you have ever been to Italy it will transport you back there for a little while. 

Pizza E Porchetta on Urbanspoon

January 18, 2014

Meat in a Bap, Bedford Street, Belfast

Let me just start this post by saying that this isn't the most vegetarian friendly review I have ever written! Meat in a Bap does exactly what it says on the tin or in this case on its very cute car. It basically stuffs lots of delicious meat into baps. The boyfriend is of the firm belief that most foods are upped a notch when stuck between two slices of bread so as you can imagine I had no trouble getting him into this particular restaurant.

Meat in a Bap can be found a short walk from Belfast City Hall on Bedford Street. It isn't too hard to find especially with windows like this. It made me giggle anyway!

The interior is very casual with long wooden communal tables and stools. On each are three large bottles of sauce to douse your food with if you want. Be warned though the Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce is hot HOT. I know it says it but we still had to try it to be sure!

There are four choices: The Pork, The Chicken, The Beef and The Vegetable and each comes with a side and sauce of your choice. When we visited in early January they also had their Christmas Venison special which made our decision much harder! After much deliberation we went for the Christmas special and The Beef. 

The Christmas special was leg of venison, braised in a sweet Guinness gravy and served with farm house cabbage and champ croquettes. The venison was tender and the bap was soft enough to soak up all the juices. The croquettes were massive but worked really well as a side for this bap.

The Beef was slow braised brisket cooked in a house rub and garnished with slow roasted tomatoes. Himself decided to go with the smokey BBQ as his sauce of choice and house slaw as his side. The slaw was my favourite kind as it was made of celeriac and cabbage which I think always gives coleslaw a nice bite. The brisket wasn't as tender as you would find in places such as Bison or Pitt Bros but it was still good and it made for a mighty and meaty sandwich. 

Seeing as we were still in full blown 'eat what you like Christmas mode', we also ordered a side of Mac & Triple Cheese and Sweet Potato Fries. The Mac & Triple Cheese was fab as the sauce was just the right consistency i.e. thick and gooey! The sweet potato fries were pretty damn good as well though I really don't think you can go too wrong with sweet potato fries. 

All this cost us just under 20 pounds and that also included two drinks. Meat in a Bap is wonderful value for money and it properly filled us up for a day of wandering around Belfast. It is fast food of the best kind! I don't know the restaurant scene that well in Belfast but I can only assume that a place like Meat in a Bap is very welcome addition to the area.

Meat in a Bap, 10 Bedford Street - Belfast, Co. Antrim - BT2 7FB
Tel: 0044 (0)28 9031 4905
Find them on their website here, on Facebook here and Twitter here. 

January 12, 2014

Pho Viet, Vietnamese Restaurant, Parnell Street

A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit Vietnam. It is a stunningly beautiful country, from the mysterious islands of Halong Bay, to the booming cosmopolitan city of Ho Chi Minh. The food was very different from what I was used to, from the Cao Lầu speciality in Hoi An, to the 24 hour noodles shops in Ho Chi Minh. On my return to Dublin I searched for authentic Vietnamese restaurants only to discover that Dublin didn't really have any. The only ones that I could find that even came close were Saba and Diep but these places tend to focus more on the Thai food. Then Neon opened up in 2012 where I could get my fix of Vietnamese Pho Soup but it was only served with beef and no other choices. Then I discovered Pho Viet which is a haven of Vietnamese food!

Pho Viet is located on Parnell Street, just a few seconds from the top of O'Connell Street. It is a lovely bright restaurant with a very clean modern look to it. The menu has a good range of options for both starters and mains. I visited Pho Viet a good few times last year but it's only now that I am getting around to sharing it with you! On our latest visit we both started with the Cha Gio which are the Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Sometimes you just want fried food and these hit the spot. Dipped in the sweet chilli sauce they were crispy bites full of flavour.

For his main the boyfriend decided to go for the Banh xeo which is a Vietnamese pancake. It is a mixture of prawn, pork, bean sprouts and onion folded in rice flour and pan fried. It is an unusual dish and the boyfriend was a bit worried that it wouldn't be enough to fill him up. As you can see from the photo though it was more than enough!

For my main I ordered the Pho Ga or Chicken noodle soup which was a big bowl of warming chickeny goodness. The waiter also pointed out two sauces on the table which were hoisin and sweet chilli and said that I could mix them into the broth to give it a stronger flavour. I added some hoisin sauce to my broth and it did help to intensify the flavour. The soup also came with beansprouts and chillis which you can add or leave out as you wish. There is something very comforting about a big bowl of warm steamy soup and it is a joy to eat as you slurp your way through it!

If Pho or pancakes aren't your thing then there are lots of other choices with  Bun - rice vermicelli dishes, Com - rice plates and Ca Ri which are curries. The other great thing about Pho Viet is the price. Our two starters and two mains came to an even €25. It's also BYOB so even in this lean month of January there is no need to stop eating out!

Pho Viet, 162 Parnell Street, Dublin 1
Tel: 01-8783165
Find them on Facebook 

January 07, 2014

Just ten days left to apply for series 2 of The Great Irish Bake Off!

Budding bakers have just TEN days left to apply for the next series of The Great Irish Bake Off on TV3. The station is calling out for interested applicants to dust down their aprons and take part in the second series which is due to get underway in the coming months. 
Applications for the second series of The Great Irish Bake Off are now open and will close on Friday 17th January, 2014.Presented by former Big Brother star and presenter Anna Nolan, The Great Irish Bake Off is the ultimate baking battle where passionate amateur bakers compete to be crowned Ireland’s Best Amateur Baker.

The BBC worldwide format, produced by Sideline for TV3, has been a resounding success, averaging 208,000 viewers each week. The Great Irish Bake Off even found a fan in UK radio host Chris Evans who said it was his “new favourite show in the world” after the show’s presenter Anna Nolan appeared on his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show.

Each week The Great Irish Bake Off pulled in an average share of 13.37% individual viewers and an average reach of 450,000, as the 12 amateur bakers tested their skills and made their way through a feast of challenges.

The second series of the mouth-watering baking contest will once again be judged by renowned Cookery Writer and Forager, Biddy White Lennon and award-winning Executive Pastry Chef from The Merrion Hotel, Paul Kelly.

If you think you have what it takes to become the next big thing in baking, this is your chance. All you have to do is complete the short application process which only takes a few minutes. Interested applicants also have the option to record a LIVE 60 second video audition.

For your chance to enter TV3's The Great Irish Bake Off Series Two, log onto www.tv3.ie/bakeoff and click the Apply Now button.

January 06, 2014

Hello 2014 - A little competition to cheer you all up

After two weeks holidays, way too much turkey and a fight with my clothes this morning it's back to reality with a bang. I always look forward to the New Year and all the promise and potential it holds. You never know what each year is going to bring and last year was filled with a few unexpected surprises both good and bad but that's what makes it fun!

2013 though was a fantastic year for food. There were lots of new cookbooks to read, restaurants to try and great new products to sample. BBQ finally came to Dublin with the arrival of Bison and Pitt Bros while it became easier to find good sushi with the opening of OCHA and Zakura. 2013 ended with a fantastic meal in Forest Avenue which has really set the bar high or 2014!

So here's to a wonderful 2014 may it be a year to make your dreams come true.

And to kick off 2014 in style and to cheer us all up on what is apparently the most hated day of the year here's a little competition for you all. Up for grabs is a bundle of cookbooks including Rachel's Favourite Food at Home, Masterchef Everyday, Relish BBQ and eatTweet - A Twitter Cookbook.  Hopefully it will provide someone with the inspiration needed to get cooking this year.

How to enter?
  • Simply leave a comment on the blog post telling me the one thing you would like to achieve in 2014. This one is mandatory and please only do it once!
  • For extra entries like The Purple Page on Facebook and follow on Twitter and RT.
  • The winner will be selected randomly and announced here on the blog in two weeks time.
  • The competition is open to entrants in Ireland and the UK 
  • Please do not leave anonymous comments as I would like to be able to contact you if you win!