Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pygmalion Cafe

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre
Dublin 2

+353 1 6334479

Oh Murphy and his Laws are at work here, bastard. I have spent a good two years......ok I lie when I say two years I mean six months, trying to find a cafe that can be my local haunt that fulfills my requirements.


1. No tourists- Not to seem anti-tourist in present economic climate but it is a little frustrating when you're attempting to rush through Dublin and there's somebody walking very very slowly in front of you because the want to take a picture of a "typical Irish pavement/sidewalk/footpath/walking-space/ Zara's running track". HOWEVER ,every time I have been here I have only ever seen one tourist who happened to be rather lovely and did not interrupt my coffee drinking. Bliss.

2.Polite staff- I'm pretty sure that the head waiter and manager are beginning to recognise me but not with disgust. Always with a smile, a little joke and me swooning ever so slightly. Oh did I not mention that they're rather good looking?

3. Good food- Now I wouldn't class myself as an expert in chips but I'd think that I'm pretty close. Now the chips here.......WOW! I reverted back to growling and my partner in crime when he tried to steal one. This has only ever happened once and that was with the last of a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery NY. So they're good.

4.Decent drinks- Homemade peach ice-tea, also within walking distance of the "Pygmailion Bar", 'Nuff said I think.

5.Comforting decor- The decor is in a word, homey. Beaten leather couches, padded cream seats and sturdy wooden tables with mismatched cushions strewn around the cafe. Don't forget to look up at the big feathery/fluffy chandelier dangling above.

6. Entertainment- Oh there's plenty of it here without being to obnoxious. Situated in the middle of the centre on the ground floor, it's prime location for sitting and watching the world go by. The music isn't loud and doesn't drown out conversation. So far I haven't heard any recent chart music which is nice just to listen to some Damien Rice and Snowpatrol just dancing in and out of ear shot.

I'm pretty sure this is my new haunt.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Critic Goes Chef

This Wasn't Covered in the Diet Plan

I'm not the sort of person who has a major sweet tooth....ish, years of being the "fat" child in school lead me to loose weight (in a healthy manner through regular exercise and healthy eating and all that before someone accuses me of promoting eating disorders. C'mon, this is a food blog!) ANYWAY, I lost weight and recently after a traumatic struggle with a dress that now has a ripped zip, I have realised that I have an increasing waistline.....YAY! I've also realised that there are certain reasons why this is despite my healthy eating habits.....excluding pizzas and general food binges with certain friends.

I have narrowed down two of the main reasons for the sudden increase in indulgent foods.

  1. I have discovered that baking is a great stress reliever so when stress arises the baking trays and mixing bowls come out.
  2. The winter months evoke this primal urge to snuggle up beside a fire and eat something either indulgent or comforting....or both!
Today however, reason two came into play. Harsh, icy cold, windsswept me into the kitchen to bake my little heart out with cookies and muffins.

Chocolatey Chocolate Cookies
(try saying it really fast!)

125g Dark Chocolate (70%cocoa at least)
150g Plain Flour
30g Cocoa Powder
1Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
125g Soft Butter
75g Light Brown Sugar
50g White Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cold Egg
2 Bags of Dark Chocolate Chips

First things first, as always preheat your oven to 170C or 325F and line a baking tray with grease proof paper.

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure that the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl or the chocolate will go grainy, this is very important! Make sure to keep stirring and keep an eye on it whilst doing the other bits.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together, personally I'd use a hand mixer or if you are lucky enough to own one, a free standing Kitchen Aid (those of you that have one.....I dislike you.. those of you that L O V E M E....send me one please and I will send you baked goods.) If you don't have a mixer then do it by hand, this is a suitable cardio work out if you put enough effort in.
  4. Add the melted chocolate and mix together (you may dip your finger into the sugary chocolate goodness in a bowl....just to sample it of course.)
  5. Add the vanilla and the egg and beat together then slowly, piece by piece add in the flour and mix together. Make sure that all the flour mixture is all blended in,next tip in ALL of the chocolate chips. The mixture at this stage should be hard to mix.
  6. On the tray split the mixture into 12 lumps carefully spaced apart then place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Skewer with cake tester or what I do, a wooden skewer for kebabs, if it comes out clean then the cookies are good to go.
  8. Place them on a cooling rack.
  9. Dig in
  10. Curl up beside the fire/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/pet and watch the wind shake the trees/people/barley and enjoy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Exhibition Inn

The Exhibition Inn
3-5 London Road
PE29 2HZ
United Kingdom

+44 1480 459134

I've recently noticed an increasing trend amongst many restaurants and pubs, they appear to enjoy using the word "gastro." I know that you mightn't find this amusing but I do seeing as "gastro" essentially means stomach so we are therefore going to pay through the nose to go eat in a "Stomach" pub. That being the amusing part, the annoying part is that so many pubs in the UK claim to be a Stomach Pub and therefore believe it just to charge an inexcusable amount of money for two chips that have been dipped in rose petals and a piece of beef that previously had been hand fed by Delia Smith and slept on a bed made from Cheryl Coles hair. This all of course being a micro meal designed to feed a child, not of course somebody who is genuinely hungry. So I'm always happy to refrain from using the before mentioned title for such pubs. That was of course before I was dragged to The Exhibition on Bonfire night to escape cowering Jack Russels and the dreaded "Friday Night Tv Slump."

Now the person who was taking me to The Exhibition had hyped it up in regards to it's pizza's. So we rolled in, cold and me still looking over my shoulder wearily for fireworks, finding ourselves a nice table and a tab was quickly opened (I do enjoy it when he takes me out with his tab.) I was handed the menu and of course I was expecting the standard pizzas, Hawaiian, Peperoni, Ham and Mushroom etc. What I was expecting was Thai Beef Pizza with Lime, Tandoori Chicken and Yogurt and many others that sent my mind into a complete fluster.

So dutifully I ordered the Thai Beef Pizza whilst Mr. Jepp ordered the Tandoori chicken. He being a veteran to this local haunt didn't seem to grasp my awe but happily put up with the excited little three year old I'd suddenly turned into. Shortly after the pizzas arrived and I was amazing. Unlike other places that serve pizzas, the meat was not from a packet but was a completely fresh chunk of steak with a lime carefully placed in the centre. It seemed a shame to eat it.....but I was hungry and edible art is generally in the need of being eaten.

Now I have to highlight that pizza was of a substantial size as was Mr.Jepp's who then proceeded to help me finish mine, not before I ate all the tender beef off. Having been greatly satisfied by "Nomtastic" pizza I took a look around the little pub and was even more pleased. Traditional English Pub is the most suitable phrase to match The Exhibition. The building itself is a grade two listed building nestled in a town that carries a complimenting mixture of old converted farmhouses and modern housing in an area on the outskirts of Cambridge. The atmosphere in the pub itself is warm and welcoming which is always appreciated in the recent blustery and often harsh cold weather.

Personally I can't wait to go again and possibly this time steal something off Mr.Jepps plate for once.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Critic Goes Chef

This is the part where I turn chef.

Food has always been a large part of my family, comfort food being the main thing. My grandmother being the main food influence of my life, reinventing 70's dishes to suit slightly modern taste pallets. I still have reoccurring 'Flash Tastes" (flash taste: the memory of a taste or smell of a certain dish) of 'Pears Poached in Red Wine' at Christmas time, 'Smoked Salmon Mousse' with dill and a slight hint of lemon.

My mum on the other hand does hearty food, food that will keep you going all day such as 'Molten Chili Con Carne with Nachos', 'Honey-Glazed Cola brewed Ham' (it's not the exact title but it sums it up pretty well.) However my mum's speciality is baking. Her ability to bake to a very high standard is something that I've pinpointed my childhood spent with a bulging waistline to. Birthdays for the past 5-6 years there has been a demand of my mum's 'Gooey Chocolate Brownies'.

So due to sheer boredom and homesickness I decided to make mum's brownies. Not exactly the same but close enough for me. If you'd like to try your hands at Mummy Molony's brownies, give it a go.

Mummy Molony's Gooey Chocolate Brownies


1 shot of espresso
375g Dark Chocolate (the darker the better)
6 eggs
500g caster sugar
1tbsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour
1tsp salt

First things first, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 Degrees F. Rub a tiny little bit of butter onto your baking tin ( Baking Tin Size Approx: 33 x 23 x 5.5 cm.) Line the tin with parchment. The butter helps to hold the parchment in place in the tin.

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large pan on a very low heat. Ensure that the pan is rather large as all the mixture shall end up in it before transferring it into the baking tin. Be careful not to melt to quickly or burn as the chocolate will turn grainy and loose the smooth glossy texture.
  2. In a bowl beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together, an electric mixer is good but I prefer to do it by hand. It creates an illusion of working off the calories you'll gain from the brownies.
  3. In a separate bowl measure and sieve the dry ingredients together.
  4. When the chocolate/butter mixture is melted fully and to the nice glossy texture, leave aside to cool slightly. Good co-ordination will be needed for the next bit, pour in the egg/sugar mixture into the chocolate mixture, beating it in making sure that the egg doesn't scramble. If it scrambles the chocolate was too hot. Add the cooled shot of espresso. Now add in the flour bit by bit.
  5. Pour into the baking tin and bake for roughly 25 minutes. When it's ready the top should be a slightly paler brown. Skewer with a knife and what should still be attached to the knife should be cooked but gooey.
  6. Leave to cool.
  7. Enjoy
  8. Deny the calories.
  9. Chocolate is healthy........

The Porterhouse Temple Bar

16-18 Parliament Street
Dublin 2
(01) 6798847

This places covers some requirements for me that pubs must have.
1. Decent music
2.Decent food
3. Decent choice of drink.

On the various occasions that I wander into Porterhouse I've usually been greeted with a live band of some description playing some music of some description. This music then spurs on a half ambition of "Yeah I could be a music producer! I could make them big" But I usually get distracted when I see my friends returning with my love of my life. Früli.

Yesterday after a disastrous flight back to Dublin, I was treated as a half date, to a trip to Porterhouse and I have to tell you, this guy got full marks as he ordered me the two things I wanted most. A Smokey Barbecue Burger (Yeah it was a date and I devoured a burger in a non lady like fashion. He just laughed at it. Thank God!) and a Früli.

Now I would slight consider myself an expert on burgers. For a burger to be good, this is a genuine fact, you must be able to to fit it in your mouth without overstretching your jaw. Well I may have over stretched my jaw but that's only because the onion was made to look pretty in the burger. Having removed that (and used chips to remove the BBQ sauce) the burger was then of an eatable standard.

The only problem with that experience there was that there was a large booking on the same floor as us so they got all the juicy window seats where himself and myself like to sit. Now I wouldn't say we pass judgment on the people walking past.....well actually that's exactly what we do. So having not gotten our judgement thrones we lurked in a little darkened corner and I think we scarred away an American family after he compared my eating a burger to eating kittens. I blame the Früli.

Charlies One

71 Dame Street
Dublin 2
(01) 6793455

Oh dear. How many times have I ended up here attempting to order for about 5 people without slurring my words and keep perfect balance at the same time. It's a hard skill trust me.

In all fairness I can honestly say I have never stepped foot in here sober. Which puts it into my drunken food category and does not step over the boundary that divides drunk food and sober food. Only three or for places have ever crossed it.

Now when you're drunk the food is spot on! And even better.....they have toilets! The food is greasy and fatty therefore making it perfect as it makes it a lot easier to eat when you're ever so slightly intoxicated. The food is very easy to eat on the move as I've done the whole "OK guys....we get the food and then we peg it and get a taxi so we can watch a DVD and devour this.....then maybe have a few more drinks."

Although I do deny eating it in the morning when I catch sight of the plastic trays and the seedy smell of old Chinese lingering in the air. I'm sure drunk me would beg to differ.

Avoca Cafe

Powerscourt Estate
Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow
(01) 2046066

! Loike the only bad thing about Avoca is loike that there's loike no Dort there so you have to loike take a bus or loike drive a cor like a focking pov! But it's ok though because mummsie loike buys me an AMAZING lunch there.

OK right I actually can't write like that because I have to think that way and it just reminds me of where I used to live. ANYWAY that is the majority of the clientele there, I'm not stereotyping everyone there......just most of the people there.

For me there the clothes are just........well.....mutton trying to dress as yummy mummy lamb a bit. The prices of the garments in relation to the quality of clothes, fabric and the actually garment don't add of for me personally, I feel it's a little over priced. 119euros for a little cardigan that I can get in other stores for less than thanks.

Clothing aside, all the little trinkets for homes and the general home-wear section is where I absolutely loose myself in. I went in today to get a cocktail shaker and came out with 3 cook books, a teapot, a tea cup and saucer and some measuring cups in European sizes and American sizes! I'm an impulse buy fiend!

Now if you've never been to Avoca, don't be put off buy the slightly pretentious people that stalk the floor there and I'm not just talking about the staff, do nip into the cafe and order some food there and be sure to get some salad there. I know that some people think the salads are 'basic and for food snobs' but in all fairness...damn right their for food snobs! Broccoli salad with feta cheese, cherry tomatoes with a lemon dressing! Eh hello! Do I have taste buds? I think so and I think they enjoy being a little bit food snobby.

Eddie Rocket's City Diner

7 South Anne Street
Dublin 2
(01) 6729463

Oh Eddie Rocket's aka. Empty Pockets , the best words for me to describe Eddie Rockets' is OM NOM NOM!

OK well if you have a thing for fast food, but a type that won't leave you hungry and questioning what meat/vegetable/ mineral compound you may have just eaten then Eddie Rocket's is the place to go. It has been the cure of many of my hangovers. The menu is constantly updated, as of late, Sweet potato fries and a smaller bowl for the chili.....even though, shamefully I can still eat a big bowl and still have room for garlic cheese fries.

I do stay clear of the burgers though because I hate the sound of my jaw clicking as I'm attempting to get my mouth around them, so I stick happily to everything else and enjoy them. I wouldn't recommend it for a 1st date unless you are perhaps between the ages of 14-17 ish but I have found it a good place to test if a guy will judge you for your dirty little food binges that you usually only share with close friends........

Cafe Mao

2 Chatham Row
Dublin 2
(01) 6704899

The only bad thing I have to say about this place is that it's of late been placed into receivership. Another fine restaurant falling victim to the so called 'former' recession.

ANYWAY, this is a little gem of a restaurant not to be missed. Personally I view Mao's in 3 ways.
1. Cafe Mao's has been a regular food stall at Electric Picnic and has been the savior to many a hangover during the fest. It has a set menu and are provided in large portions in little cardboard boxes that stay hot for the little trek back to the tent where you may resume the fetal position at the mercy of a hangover. But as an added treat, this festival food, it tastes brilliant and apparently is rather healthy for you. A nice surprise compared to the standard burger and co.

2. If you're stuck for somewhere for a quick lunch and a catch up with a friend, or just to read a book/newspaper/newspaper hiding a cringe worthy magazine, then Mao's lunch time offer suits perfectly. For €12.99 you can get a starter, main course, tea/coffee and for a euro or two extra you can add a glass of wine or pint of Heineken to the order. Unlike most places that have taken on similar offers, Mao's offers 'the good stuff,' as my mum would put it. The chicken satay is not to be missed. I can happily now prove to people that a chicken satay is meant to be spicy.

3. If you want to impress you dearest and sweetest from a first date, etc, then an evening meal in Mao's is worthwhile. If you're lady love is partial to the odd cocktail, and to be honest who isn't? Then indulge in one please but make sure that you eat with the drink as they have tendency to be a tad strong. Not that I'm complaining personally. The full menu for the evening is full of plenty of little treats that fail to leave that bitter MSG taste in your mouth.

Personally everything on the menu is an excellent standard of food in regards to taste and visual effect so if unsure of what to order, ask your waiter/waitress for a recommendation and be pleasantly surprised.

P.S. No matter what season it is, as long as it's not raining, then sit outside in the sun and have your meal. If it's cold then you can ask nicely and you'll be provided with a blanket. An extra little treat for those who like creature comforts.

Green Nineteen

19 Camden Street Lower
Dublin 2
(01) 4789626

It was one of those rare days when the sun was out for the whole day and was even radiating heat when my friend and I decided to dine in Green Nineteen, carefully chosen for the price range, cocktail list and location.

Having arrived and being seated by the window despite desperately hoping to be sitting outside we ordered a cocktail each. As students we are decided that we are excellent judges of cocktails and what should be a suitable strength of alcohol after my own mishap that shall only be referred to as "The Mojito Fiasco." My friend ordered a mojito and I a Pimms in honour of the sunshine. The cocktails were delicious however the Pimms was lacking cucumber and various other ingredients that are normally associated with this summer treat. None the less it was happily drunk.

We both shared a starter of a daily selection of pinchos which we greedily devoured and instantly regret not getting the larger portion because oh the carefully selected tastes. We quickly moved onto mains and had a Mexican Chili Bean Burrito each (I know we're an adventurous pair ain't we!) The Burrito absolutely hit the spot with it's presumably hand cut chips. Needless to say we both left pretty content. This is possibly one of the best places for value for money and is highly recommended from a little foodie student.