Archive for the ‘Food & Drink’ Category

Gourmet burger offer

Burgers are becoming all the rage lately, with numerous new gourmet burger eateries opening up in and around the city. Roll on the carpets for Gourmet Burger Co. in Ranelagh and Gourmet Burger Kitchen aka GBK (although this homepage still hasn’t update their information on their locations in Dublin – currently in Temple Bar, South Anne St, Liffey Valley and Swords Pavillion).

Of course, the concept of gourmet burger isn’t exactly new in Dublin. Bobo’s in Wexford St and Real Gourmet Burger in Dun Laoghaire have been the places to go for burger lovers who didn’t fancy chomping in the creations of McDonalds, Burger King or Eddie Rockets. So what ushers in this new age of burger admiration?

gourmetburger

Maybe it is seen as a hallmark of returning to simpler times, now that we’re not flocking to the fancy restaurants that serve creative dish using truffles foam and the likes. Yet, at the same time, after years of adventurous eats, to just abandon all things creative with food seems to be counter-intuitive, so why not inject some new life into good old comfort food that are the burgers?

Thus, I just gave myself a treat yesterday to one very delicious GBK’s Kiwiburger – an assembly of burger buns, beef patty, beetroot slices, pineapple rings, fried egg, lettuce and tomato slices (as per picture above by Graeme Robertson for The Guardian). Stacked sky-high, it came with a pricetag of nearly €12 but the satisfaction factor was also high. For me personally anyway ;-)

Now, the Gourmet Burger Co. in Ranelagh is running a promotional offer. Buy one and get another gourmet burger absolutely free. Just print out this PDF voucher which is valid until the end of April, and do take note of when you can and cannot use the voucher. I’ll be heading there with my friends early next week and already I am wondering how much will it cost me if I order a Kobe beef burger… Probably an arm and a leg. Will it be worth it? I’ll decide when I sit down in the restaurant and I’ll report back in due course.

Only €17

Easter Egg

Seriously. Only €17. Only? For an Easter egg plus a few token chocolate pieces? I know it’s Butler’s and all but how do they justify it with the word “only”?

I really dislike the use of the word “only” in conjunction with prices at the supermarket etc. More often than not, it’s just a psychological ploy to impart a false sense of good value to the shoppers and consumers.

Even more distastefully was, near this very sign, there was another that says if you shop there and using their Value/Club Card, you’d get some percentage back in the next card mailing. If they can afford to do so, how much profits are they making out of anyone who doesn’t have a membership card or had forgotten to bring the card with them? This particular chain no longer allowed crediting of points at a later stage, which was what one used to be able to do as long as he/she presents the receipt within certain number of post-shopping days.

Is this really the representation of good value?

12 Days of Christmas

While the folks over in Paris were all in wintery mood because it was snowing, the weather in Dublin since yesterday has been less than kind as it stays showery, albeit in small doses. Still. I want the clear blue sky back…

Well, I’m sure everyone has by now cleared out all Irish pork products from your fridge/freezer, including sausages, bacon and ham, after the recall last week following detection of high levels of dioxin in them – up to 200 times over the allowed limit! There shouldn’t be unnecessary panic though and I think it’s good that the recall is being done, and the shelves are now being restocked with pork from outside of the republic and if it’s Irish they’re new uncontaminated stock.

Faced with all these gloom and doom, a little cheering up would be nice. Christmas cheer in particular. So why not head over to the IFSC for 12 Days of Christmas?

“The 12 days of Christmas market at the Docklands is full of more Christmas cheer than your Da when the in laws leave!”

That’s the tagline! Cute, lol…

There are lots of food stalls selling bratwurst (contamination-free all the way from Germany), herby roast potatoes, mulled wine, pretzels, chocolates, truffles, crepes, hot nuts… (I’ve got to stop listing since it’s making *me* hungry right now) as well as gift stalls where you can hunt for some Christmas presents including jewelleries, toys, clothings, decorative items, books, woodcraft and more!

At weekends, Santa Grotto will also be open. On top of that, there would also be entertainments in the form of brass band, face painter and balloon modeller. Just the thing to keep kids happy and cheerful.

I’ll definitely be making my way there at least a couple of times in the next 12 days. Hmmm… I’m dreaming of the grilled sausages with roast potatoes and mulled wine as it is…

New teashop – Le Palais des Thés

Ireland is a tea drinking nation. For a while, we were even the reigning champion of tea drinking, consuming some 4-6 cups of tea per person per day, and only rather recently Japan overtook this country in the race for the title of Number 1 Tea Drinker in the World. The usual brands that a typical Irish household would stock are Bewley’s, Barry’s, Lyons and Twinnings (although this is an English brand).

A few years back, ordering tea would mean getting a pot of black tea, served with sugar and milk. I don’t know what happened to push forward a tea revolution in Ireland, but within the last couple of years, there is a shift for larger tea selection, to include green teas, infusions and even special blends of fruity and aromatic teas. And most of these new found favourites are best served without milk, with some even better served cold than hot.

With such an advent, it’s not surprising to find specialist tea shops in the city, selling loose teas and various tea-related gadgets and gift sets. Just earlier this year, Matchabar Tea Emporium opens its door at the Powerscourt Centre, boasting a selection of over 150 teas and tea blends to tea lovers. And just yesterday, a French tea company set up some competition by opening Le Palais des Thés on Wicklow Street, just about 5 minutes stroll away from Powerscourt Centre.

As I was passing by, I went in to have a peek in this new tea shop to see what they have to offer. A brightly lit shop with a spacious feel to it, the tins and packets of teas are neatly arranged along the walls of the premises. There were also a couple of “tea tasting stations” in different parts of the shop, where the friendly shop assistants cheerfully organise for a tasting of the tea that you would like to check out before purchasing.

This tea company boasts over its selection of some 250 different teas, that are categorised into the following “tea families” : Asian (China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia), Asian (Japan), Asian (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh), Middle East (from the Black Sea to Caspian Sea), African, South American, Blends and flavours, and Organically Grown Teas.

I am no tea connaisseur but I walked around the shop rather giddily at the thought of a whole world of tea possibilities! When I was offered an opportunity to squeeze in some tasting, I asked the shop assistant for a recommendation of something aromatic and light, of green tea variety (black tea gives me headache) and she brought me some Thé du Hammam. The tea blend smells amazingly delicious and fruity, as this is green tea flavoured with the pulp of green dates, orange blossom, rose and red fruits. I liked what I tasted, for the delicate taste to it while still carrying the unforgettable bouquet. I was sold, and I bought a 50g bag of it!

In fact, I’m liking the scent so much I am considering sewing some muslin bags to pack the tea mix in, and use them as fragrant pouches.

Drop by the next time you’re in town, and have a look at the place and try some tea for yourself. If you have friends who are tea lovers, this would be a good place to pick up some Christmas presents too, with beautifully packaged selections of teas and tea sets.

Ps: to my lovely friends in Paris, they have a few shops around but a couple of notable locations are St Germain (rue du Cherche-Midi) and Marais (rue Vieille-du-Temple). ;-)

Oktoberfest 2008

Oktoberfest in Munich is world renowned, but not all of us can afford to jet out there for the festivities (especially in the wake of financial crisis and a new belt-tightening budget from the government), nor are some of us beer-loving enough to make that much effort for an expensive weekend away (flight, accommodation, beer tent entry fees etc).

In Dublin, Oktoberfest comes to us, free entry, and yes, we may lack the party atmosphere and the authenticity of München’s finest social gathering, but it will be a whole lot more pocket-friendly to us and our friends.

Some German friends who have been there in the last week so far had had given good feedback, and even if you don’t drink beer, there are a good selection of German food to keep you going. Not only that, they also have staff dressed in dirndl, so all in all, that has got to lend some feel of Oktoberfest to this!

The Oktoberfest 2008 runs until this Sunday 19th October at Georges Dock in IFSC, so just a couple of days left for you to check it out. I’ll be off there myself this weekend to see what the fuss is about. ;-)

Ranelagh Arts Festival 2008

Well, the weather remains somewhat gloomy (but dry) in the city, with the odd sunny days at weekends. Not entirely a bad thing if this trend continues, although I wouldn’t be looking forward to a beautiful Saturday followed by a drenching Sunday (cf weekend 13-14 Sept).

Nonetheless, after the fun that was last night of Dublin Culture Night, there’s more activities for arts lover coming up in a few days, namely Ranelagh Arts Festival 2008. The festival runs from Tuesday 23 September to Sunday 28 September.

The festival is in its 4th reincarnation, with various events to be held in and around Ranelagh (of course), where some would be free, some free but ticketed (so order those you want now!) and some are plainly ticketed. You can either order them online or at the box office, which is the front snug of Smyth’s Pub on Ranelagh Road.

There will be song and dance, comedy nights, photography competition, open air movies, poetry reading, family fun day, children’s pirate parade, free food tasting and many many more. [Check the full programme in PDF]

I think this is a brilliant initiative to bring the people who lives in and around Ranelagh village together, while promoting this urban village to everyone else. I’ve marked out a couple of jazz events and comedy nights to check out, and perhaps will brave the crowd on Sunday for some free food at Ranelagh Gardens. ;-)

Recession? What Recession?

Ladies and gents, feast your eyes on the latest little gem to grace the shelves of our local supermarkets. Spotted in Superquinn, Swords, in the midst of an apparent ‘supermarket price-war’, encased in protective plastic casing, this BOTTLED WATER will set you back a whopping €44.99.

According to Bling H2o’s website, the product is “strategically positioned to target the expanding super-luxury consumer market”. At almost €60 per litre, I’m curious as to what the ingredients of Bling H20 are to merit such a price. Perhaps it’s droplets of sweat from the foreheads of assorted Hollywood starlets? Maybe the water has been purified by filtering through 20 carat diamonds? Maybe it has a few shots of common sense thrown in there for good measure. Nope, it seems that you’re parting with your well earned 50 in exchange for nothing more than what we all have literally ‘on tap’ every day. Oh, and a fancy bottle. Whatever floats your boat.

Festival of World Cultures 2008

From Friday to Sunday, Dun Laoghaire is hosting the Festival of World Cultures. The event promises a mix of music, performances, markets, food and other eclectic fun.

Check out their website for a full programme of events. Some are free and some are ticketed (the awesome Seu Jorge is sold out) but it all looks fun.

http://www.festivalofworldcultures.com

festival

Time to Sober Up Dublin!

taps.JPG

New liquor laws came into effect on Friday July 30th at midnight. The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, which seems to have slipped quietly under the radar of the alcohol-consuming public, includes the following changes:

New hours for off sales of alcohol.
• Tougher public order provisions allowing the Gardaí to seize alcohol from minors.
• A court procedure to secure a new wine-only off-licence.
• New grounds for objection to the granting of an off-licence.
• New conditions attaching to the granting of a special exemption order, and
• Holders of theatre licences will be restricted to the normal licensing hours unless additional hours are sanctioned by a special exemption order.

What this basically means people, is that we are being governmentally prevented from getting our drink on in the manner to which we have become accustomed. Now, I’m all for preventing underage drinking, but surely we could take a little guidance from our continental counterparts and encourage the education of children towards the dangers of over-indulgence and ensure more vigilant publicans and off-licence staff rather than giving the oul Gardai free reign to bait the shite out of poor little Timmy who’s been caught with a couple of cans of Dutchy down the shelters because he promised his ma he wouldn’t break ‘The Pledge’.

The bill also abolishes theatre licences, ensuring that all nightclubs, late bars and theatre bars now close at 2.30am. Currently in Ireland, we have relatively staggered closing hours, with pubs closing at 12.30am, late bars at 2.30am, and nightclubs and theatre bars at 3.30am. This sequential system has been found to reduce public order offences [UK Institute of Alcohol Studies], whereas there is no evidence to support the proposal that the new system of having a blanket closing time will have the same effect. The bill that has been passed effectively forces punters into the streets at the same time, putting added strain on taxi services, fast food outlets and local emergency services and gardai. Surely I am not the only one who can see that 1000’s of drunken Dubliners conglomerating on the banks of the Liffey to fight over a taxi or push their way up the que in Rik’s Burgers is going to cause more than a few squabbles? Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform, Dermot Ahern, doesn’t seem to think so. According to Deputy Ahern, “people would be staggering from premises to premises if we gave an opportunity to go from bar to late bar and then on to nightclubs”. Now, I am perfectly aware that we didn’t earn our reputation as a nation of drinkers for nothing, but since when is Dermot Ahern judge and jury in charge of enforcing punishment upon us for being fond of the sauce every once in a while? In the wise words of a friend, Ireland has grown into a “fierce progressive place”, and we’re no longer a nation of Jemmy-swilling ogre’s who need constant monitoring. As things were, revellers could finish up their drinks in their boozer of choice and then choose to either head to a nightclub/late bar/whatever or do a legger home. I’ll be the first to admit to occasionally succumbing to the alluring charms of The Gaiety and it’s promise of warm beer in plastic cups at 2.30 of a Sunday morning, but 9 times out of 10 the sight of a yellow taxi light taking the corner at Stephen’s Street is enough to have me skidding through the rain in 6 inch heels and hurling myself in front of said taxi screaming at the occupant to ‘take me home for the love of god’. My point is, most people know when its time to go home. Ok, there’s always going to be the odd hen party bride or drunken suit who’s been slumped at the bar in Cocoon since leaving Deloitte & Touche at 5 o’clock that evening – but if someone is determined to find the next drink, they’ll find it regardless. All the new licensing laws are doing is encouraging house parties, and in return domestic disturbance and neighbours from hell scenarios, along with turfing a load of drunk people out onto the streets of Dublin to make their way home in a city with an already sub-standard transport system.

The bill also prevents off-licences opening beyond 10pm 7 days a week with no exceptions. So if you decide to be a good little civilian and sit down to watch an RTE Saturday Night Movie rather than partaking in the nation’s apparent past-time of choice – binge drinking – you are no longer given the option to pop down the offie for a bottle of cab sav to accompany the giant bar of galaxy that you purchased for the occasion. Tough – you should’ve thought of it earlier.

Not to mention the fact that most nightclubs and theatre-licence holders will be losing an average of 8 hours business per week – with many of them choosing now to not open at all on a Sunday as they will have to close at 1am on ‘the Sabbath’. In a time of imminent recession, it hardly seems clever to be limiting the business hours of one of our most profitable industries now does it?

Call me a sceptic, but as far as I can see the new act achieves nothing but a quick fix to an age old problems. I’d love to stay and hash out some alternatives for our government to mull over between tribunals but it’s nearly 9.30 so I’ve to get myself down to the offo STAT.

Malnutrition, dehydration and The Corpo

So our water went last week. Not the heating, not the shower, EVERYTHING. Without warning we were suddenly transported into some 3rd World Dublin where water was a luxury purchased in 5 litres jerry cans from Centra. One quickly forgets how much we take water for granted until you’re forced to urinate in a corner of your backgarden and bring a towel into work to get a shower.

Not only did I learn to appreciate the necessity of water but also I found out how horrible it is to eat in Dublin after 7pm. On average, I get home from work at 7 and most places that do quick cheap healthy food are closed. When our kitchen had no water I was forced to eat out everyday since I couldn’t cook. Unless you are brave and rich enough to eat in a restaurant on your own for dinner everyday (I’m neither) you’re options are limited to chipper, kebabs, and takeaway.

Thank Jesus we eventually found out the problem before I got heart disease and got someone from Dublin City Council to fix the problem right away. The time it took from us calling the emergency water helpline and the time it took for them to come to the house. 20 minutes. Good to know they can do something right.

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