Tuesday, 24 November 2015

5 Ireland-based Chefs to Follow on Instagram

I'm a big fan of Instagram, who isn't? I love looking at pictures of food and drooling over what restaurants and in particular chefs post, so I thought I'd compile a little list of some of my favourite Ireland-based chefs to follow.

Kevin Thornton
Chef and owner of Thornton's restaurant in Dublin, Kevin Thornton is also an avid photographer. Without a doubt the chef with the most artistic Instagram in Ireland, his dishes are picture perfect!

Katie Sanderson
Following Katie on Instagram is a must as her account has this little 'Kinfolk' touch. She works at the Fumbally cafe and does pop-ups dinners too. It's very much about seaweed, fermentation and vegetarian dishes. Stunning!

Bryan Mc Carthy
Bryan is the head chef at Greenes in Cork and his account is a mix of personal pictures and his dishes. His food pictures always make me hungry and his dishes are incredibly photogenic.

Jessica Murphy
I'm a big fan of New-Zealand born Jessica Murphy who co-owns Kai Galway with her husband. Following her on Instagram is the perfect way to get an insight into the cafe/restaurant. I can't get enough of the pictures of her sweet treats!
Follow @kai_galway

Aoife Noonan
Aoife works as a pastry chef in Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin. This lady is seriously talented (and beautiful), thanks to her you can see what amazing desserts and petits fours are being served in Ireland's only two Michelin star restaurant.
Follow @aoifenoonan_

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Happiest Café in Ireland: The Happy Pear, Greystones

The Happy Pear

So last Sunday Mr. FFID and I decided to walk from Bray to Greystones, with the plan of rewarding ourselves with food afterwards. To be honest the little glutton inside me would have gone for pizza from Gaillot and Gray but it wasn't opened yet so we decided to go to The Happy Pear for our first visit ever.

The Happy Pear

Now to tell you the truth, except from breakfast I don't eat very healthy and I tend to cringe when people try to convert others to a super healthy lifestyle. That's said I've always admired what David and Stephen Flynn, the twins behind The Happy Pear have built, a real healthy food empire and community. I mean come on, two good looking guys who constantly smile, make Irish people eat healthy, do videos on Jamie Oliver's Food Tube, wrote a cookbook and never seem tired or in a bad mood, that's pretty inspiring stuff.

The Happy Pear

I've passed by The Happy Pear on a many a Sunday and it's always packed. We had to queue to order food and even though it was a little chaotic with people all over the place the staff seemed very much in control. There was a choice of healthy breakfast options, pitta, salads, soups and two mains, there was also a display of homemade healthy treats.

The Happy Pear

After getting our food we went upstairs where the room was packed. We both had a main course with a salad for €9.95 each. The main was a 'Normandy bake', a substantial vegetable gratin with leeks, potatoes, butter beans and a creamy sauce, very comforting and heart-warming after a long November walk.

The Happy Pear

My salad had carrots, spinach leaves, mung beans and a delicious dressing that I think had sesame oil in it. Mr. FFID's salad had lots of crunchy veg and everything was vibrant and fresh. It really did the job and without noticing it we ate a full plate of healthy vegetables and felt nice and full.

The Happy Pear

After our feed we did a bit of food shopping in their great little grocery shop downstairs.

The Happy Pear

They have breads from The Firehouse bakery, a colourful range of organic fruit and vegetables, as well as plenty of other great products to fill your pantry.

Right now every single cookbook being released is about healthy food and healthy cafes seem to pop out everywhere in Dublin city centre. What is different about the Happy Pear is that they've been here before every one else and genuinely pioneered their healthy lifestyle, not because it is fashionable or in order to make money, but because they obviously believe in it and I admire them for that.

The Happy Pear
Church Town
co. Wicklow

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Paris, Je t'aime

I'm not sure how to start this...

Last Friday I was having a quiet evening on the sofa when Mr. FFID told me to check Twitter as something awful was going on in Paris. I couldn't possibly believe when I saw the words 'shootings', 'terrorists' and 'hostages' associated with the city I once called home. I spent most of my evening following the updates, went to bed crying and barely slept. 

I woke up on Saturday feeling awfully sad and scared for my home country. I had to work, tried to keep smiling and then had a meltdown once work was over. Luckily no one I know was directly affected but a close friend of mine and her boyfriend got very scared as they were not far from one of the targeted areas on Friday night. I felt so relieved nothing happened to her, you have no idea.

All the videos, pictures and constant updates are horribly difficult to follow on social media even from Ireland, so I can only imagine how difficult it must be in France right now. And then you have these reactionary comments against muslims and refugees that make me sick to my stomach. On the  other side, there is an incredible showing of solidarity in France at the moment, which gives me some hope and believe that the world isn't filled with horrible people. 

As my latest post was about Paris and included several places in the 11th district I just felt like I had to write something before getting back to the usual content. It would have felt wrong to post about something else as if nothing happened. I love Paris and the 11th district is one of my favourite areas for all the reasons why the terrorists targeted it; it's filled with restaurants and cafes and it's full of young people at the weekend out enjoying their Parisian life at its best. 

This blog is usually a happy place and as you can understand it has been hard over the last few days to feel happy. I didn't want to put anything too light here out of respect... 

All I can say is how my thoughts are going to the city of lights and to all its inhabitants. I feel so sorry for all the victims, their families and everyone else affected by this tragedy. 

Paris, je t'aime and I always will.

'Fluctuat Nec Mergitur'

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A Weekend in Paris: 5 Great Spots For Food and Drinks

La Fine Mousse Paris, craft beer

Ah Paris! I always love going back to eat my way around the city, until I'm sick of croissants and cheese. Here are five spots from my last weekend in Paris that I highly recommend you visit next time you're in the city of love.

La Fine Mousse

Unlike Dublin, you can't find too many craft beer pubs in Paris so we were delighted to find this little gem not too far from our hotel. The decor is bare and simple and you'll find a mix of French people and English-speaking expats sipping craft beer from their fancy beer glasses. The beers are a bit pricey for the size (€4.50+ for a 250ml glass) but drinking alcohol in Paris is never cheap.

La Fine Mousse4 bis Avenue Jean Aicard, 75011 Paris, France

Passarito Mon Amour, Portuguese fonde, wine bar Paris

Passarito, Mon Amour

Being half Portuguese I was very happy to end up in this lovely little Portuguese wine bar, restaurant and grocery shop. They only opened two weeks before we went but I absolutely fell in love with the place. The decor was gorgeous with beautiful tiles on the floor and walls and the staff were very helpful and friendly. They had lots of little Portuguese tapas as well as some more substantial dishes in what was a nice neighbourhood atmosphere. Highly recommended!

Passarito Mon amour, 10 rue des Goncourts, 75011 Paris

Septime La Cave, Wine Bar Paris,

Septime La Cave

If you can't get a table at the amazing Septime restaurant (which I reviewed previously) you can always go to their tiny wine bar located just around the corner. They don't take bookings and only have a few seats but it is a very cool place, filled with locals who come for good wine and a few nibbles. They have excellent tapas sized food, very simple but of very good quality. They know their wines (bien sûr) and can help you to choose.

Septime La Cave, 3 rue Basfroi, 75001 Paris

PNY, Paris New York, Burgers, Paris


French people have been obsessed with burgers for the last few years and I must admit to having stopped at a burger joint late at night last time Mr. FFID and I were in Paris, just to soak up the drinks. PNY (Paris New York) is a hip burger restaurant. There is a choice of 5 burgers, I recommend the loaded fries (they're loaded with bacon and cheese) and of course as you're in France you can order a glass of wine. They have a few restaurants in the French capital but Oberkampf is a lively area with plenty of bars if you're looking a bit of a buzz.

PNY, 96 rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris


For brunch and something a little different, book a table at Ellsworth, the sister restaurant of Verjus. It's not a touristy place but beware, it's filled with American expats, however the good thing is the staff speak English. You could actually feel like you are in Brooklyn but the menu of course features great French ingredients. The brunch menu consists of small plates to share and they come as they are prepared, not at the same time. The chilaquiles weren't that memorable but the pancakes with bacon jam and the buckwheat waffle with seared foie gras were excellent. We had three plates between the two of us and it was enough but it's not the kind of brunch that will leave you stuffed for the day, and it isn't cheap.

Ellsworth, 34 rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris

For more food tips have a look at my Paris Guide.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Mr. FFID’s Beer Cellar: The Chancer by O Brother Brewing

Being from Wicklow myself, it’s great to see that the Garden County is so well represented when it comes to craft brewing. Between the Wicklow Brewery in Redcross, Wicklow Wolf in Bray and most recently O Brother Brewing in Kilcoole, the county now boasts some of the best craft ales and stouts in the country. 

One of the things I love about the Irish craft beer scene is not only the great beer, but also the inspiring stories behind the breweries that produce them. O Brother was set up by three brothers from Bray, who all left their 9 - 5 jobs in pursuit of a career making excellent beers. The first beer of theirs I ever tried was ‘The Chancer’, which got my attention as one of the best American style pale ales I had tasted, so I recently picked up another bottle of it in Martin’s Off Licence to give it a write up. 

Before even pouring this beer, the satisfying sound of opening the bottle is accompanied straight away by a bang of hops with sweet pine and citrus. In the glass it settles a nice golden orange with a head that just about lasts long enough the get a picture of it. The hop forward flavour of citrus and apricot is well balanced with some delicious caramely malts and while there is a fair amount of bitterness, especially towards the finish, the result is a very refreshing and drinkable pale ale. Coming in at 5.4% and without being as floral as some of the American style IPAs out there, its the kind of beer you could enjoy all evening. For me this is up there with some of my favourite pale ales on the market (I’m thinkinMetalman and Blacks of Kinsale) and it’s great to see another brewery of such high quality in my home county. 

At the RDS this year I also tried one of O Bother’s special brews, a full-on double IPA named ‘Brutus’. If you spot him, approach with caution as he pretty much knocked me out after two rounds!