Monday, 25 May 2015

A Little Piece of Lisbon in Paris: Comme à Lisbonne

Comme à Lisbonne, meaning 'like in Lisbon' is basically a little piece of Portugal in Paris's Marais district. It's a gorgeous place which manages to transport you to the Portuguese capital with its bricked walls and blue and white tiles.

There is a grocery section with pretty tins of sardines, portuguese honey, olive oils and other  beautifully packaged products and there is the cafe section where you can enjoy a hot drink and cakes.

Comme à Lisbonne specialises in the famous pastéis de nata, those delicious custard tartlets that are originally from Belem in Portugal. They're baked onsite, served warm, sprinkled with cinnamon and are absolutely moreish. You can buy one or two to enjoy on-site or buy a box to take-away. Try them when in Paris, it's the perfect little sweet treat.

Comme à Lisbonne
37 rue du Roi de Sicile
75004 Paris

Friday, 22 May 2015

Las Tapas de Lola and Yes to Love

Mr. FFID felt like doing something nice... on a Tuesday... so we decided to head to Las Tapas de Lola.

It's a tapas restaurant located on Wexford Street and co-owned by Dubliner Vanessa and Barcelona native Anna. It opened a few years ago and it always seems busy, even during weekdays.

There is a covered outdoor area and a lovely piece of street art out the front and the dining room inside is welcoming and simply decorated. Bistro style chairs and tables, green tiles, black boards and red cushions, it actually feels like you could be in Barcelona.

We were brought to the table by one of the owners and then warmly, it couldn't be warmer to be honest, greeted by a Spanish man. A complimentary glass of tinto verano was brought to our table, a refreshing drink of red wine and soda.

The tapas menu is extensive, almost overwhelming. It's divided into several sections: meat, fish and shellfish, boards, salads, vegetarian dishes and desserts. Prices are very reasonable and while you have the classics you'll find in any tapas restaurants there are also plenty of lesser known options.

Before our plates arrived a little amuse bouche of mussels in a tomato sauce was served to open our appetite, I like little touches like this.

Our patatas bravas were lovely cubes of fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli sauce (€4.25).

The fried chorizo and Spanish black pudding (€6.50) was served with slivers of bread, quite greasy and not for the heart-fainted but totally delicious.

We also had lamb sweetbreads (€6.50) which were sautéed in sherry with garlic (lots of it) and parsley, the portion was very generous. It didn't photograph very well though, hence the lack of a picture.

Because we have a good (maybe too good) appetite we also had a mixed platter of cheese and meat (€17.50). It was my favourite part of the meal, you could tell it was quality. There was lomo (cured pork), chorizo, salchichon (cured sausage) and a good selection of cheese (Manchego, Tetilla, a goat cheese and a French Comté).

And what's not to love about a restaurant where you're given love hearts at the end of your meal? What I didn't tell you at the start is that Anna and Vanessa are more than business partners, they're a couple, they love each other and you can feel that love in their restaurant. I thought today was the perfect timing to post my review considering the Irish people are going to vote today in the marriage equality referendum.

I don't have Irish citizenship and unfortunately I won't be able to vote but I sincerely hope most of Irish people will vote yes. There is nothing more beautiful than wanting to spend the rest of your life with the person you love, everyone deserves this right.

Yes to equality, love and happiness.

Picture by the lovely Natalie  and taken from

Las Tapas de Lola
12 Wexford Street
Dublin 2

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Litfest 2015

I don't think I understood what Ballymaloe was until I got the amazing chance to spend 3 months there. While the course was intense, being able to live there and learn from amazing people was one of the best things that have ever happened to me. It is really a place like no other, I was very lucky to be there.

When I was down there at the start of the year during one of the lectures Darina Allen said 'Sometimes, it's good to give back'. This stuck with me and I thought a small way to give back would be to volunteer at Litfest 2015, so I applied and convinced Mr. FFID to do the same. After all Ballymaloe took me away from him for 3 whole months and even if I don't think you can fully understand how special it is without having spent a little bit of time there I wanted to give him a little taste.

The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine has been running for the last 3 years now and seems to go from strength to strength. I was very sad to have missed it last year when Ottolenghi was there so there was no way I could miss this year. It's basically a celebration of well-known food and drink legends and cookbook authors. There are cookery demos, pop-ups, talks and tastings taking place across Ballymaloe cookery school and Ballymaloe house, as well as a fringe festival which is spread over the grounds of Ballymaloe House.

Amazing people like Alice Waters from Chez Panisse (she's the equivalent of Darina Allen in the States), April Bloomfield, Fuchsia Dunlop, Roger Philips were just some of the incredible people on this year's line-up.

We got to the school on Friday afternoon, it was so weird to be back 6 weeks after our farewell dinner. Jeni one of my classmates was there to volunteer in the kitchen and I saw a few of the teachers, it made me miss it all. I had a glimpse through the window of the demo room and saw the new group of students who are attending the 12 week course at the moment and kind of thought I'd do it over again if I could.

On Friday night after the volunteer meeting in the Carrigaun room of the Grainstore in Ballymaloe House, I headed to the opening night party in the Big Shed. 

There was a stage for live music and demos, a bar, plenty of food vendors and producers as well as the Kerrygold cookery demo kitchen led by brand ambassador Sophie Morris (who did the course a few years back). 

I was working in the welcome tent most of the weekend which was great as I got to say hello to many (like a crazy amount) of people I knew. It was also funny because many people asked me if I was French Foodie and gave me some lovely feedback on my blog which is always great to hear. I got to see some of my Ballymaloe classmates who all work in food now and it seemed like we all already missed that special place that is Ballymaloe.

I didn't get to see as many talks as I wanted but my highlight was listening to Jack Monroe from the blog 'A Girl Called Jack'. She spoke about her life and how she ended up losing pretty much everything and had to feed her son on a budget of £10 a week, a very inspirational and moving story indeed. I also attended two talks from blogger David Lebovitz an American living in Paris. To tell you the truth I wasn't sure if he liked French people by listening to him and he was quite different from how I imagined him. 

I also attended a discussion on what's happening in Irish food. The members of the panel were all men (Jp McMahon - Aniar and Cava Bodega, Alain Kerloch and Stephen Toman - OX Belfast, Kevin Thornton - Thornton's, Tim Magee and Tom Doorley in conversation with John McKenna) which caused a stir on social media. I absolutely loved listening to Kevin Thornton talking, he was the best speaker and I could have listened to him all day. 

One of my favourite events was Susan Boyle's show A Wine Goose Chase during which she tells the history of Irish wine as well as leading a wine tasting at the same time. She is an utterly charming performer and the show was excellent. I was also honoured to be asked by Jim Carrol to take part in Banter in the garden tent and shared my experience of the best meal I've ever had, which was fun!

Foodwise, everything I had onsite was delicious, I mean seriously. I wish all festivals had standards like this one.

  Gubbeen had the most amazing hot plates of BBQ food which would beat Bison in Dublin any day.

French man Laurent from Boeuf a La Lolo had scrumptious steak sandwiches, raclette and crepes. The salads from the Rocket Man (former Ballymaloe student) were wholesome and tasty. I had the most amazing marshmallows from Cloud, I mean come on, salted caramel marshmallow is like the best thing on earth! I loved the Indian street food stall from Angus Denoon, his chopping skills were pretty impressive and the snack was perfectly washed down with a cold Irish craft beer.

It's difficult to describe how the festival is but for any cookbook addicts or food lovers this is what heaven would look like. The grounds of Ballymaloe are stunning, you see legends roaming around, the food is top notch and the atmosphere is buzzing: it's Electric Picnic for the gourmands. See you there next year!

Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Social Media for Food Businesses Workshop

Date: Monday 15 th of June 2015
Time: 2pm-5pm
Address: Liberties Suite, Brooks Hotel, Drury Street, Dublin 2

Tickets are non-refundable but are transferable.

So you have a drink and/or food business that you would like to promote through social media, but where do you start? Generating online interest in your business and interacting with potential customers is key to any successful food business. 

Prominent award-winning food blogger, Ballymaloe-trained cook and social media consultant Ketty Elisabeth from French Foodie in Dublin will show you how to promote your business, increase your following and engage with your audience across various social media platforms during this 3 hour workshop. 

Workshop content includes:
  • Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as digital marketing tools
  • Practical social media considerations - Who, How Often and in what voice
  • The Importance of food imagery and tips to improve your pictures 
  • How to grow your following and have a unique online presence
  • How to interact with your customers 
  • Online competitions - various types and how to run them
  • Attracting and interacting with top online influencers
  • The’ 'Do’s and 'Don’t’s of social media marketing

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Cafe Crush: Kaph, Drury Street, Dublin 2

I was talking with some friends the other day and telling them how much I love Kaph, yet somehow never blogged about it. They asked me why and I couldn't come up with a reason. Maybe it's because I spend an awful lot time there and never think about it.

It isn't a new place and it's always busy so I might not reveal anything new here but Kaph is an independent coffee shop located on Drury Street in Dublin's creative quarter. With its contemporary design it is a beautiful little modern cafe which specialises in high quality coffee.

At first sight you might think it oozes hipsterness but I find it to be a great little laid-back spot with friendly staff and an awesome playlist in the background. I tend to visit during the week when I can get a seat but when I pass by it at the weekends it always looks packed, always.

Funnily enough for a French person and regular of Kaph I don't drink coffee so I always go for their Matcha latte to keep me on a buzz. I know everyone says matcha tea is good for you because it's full of antioxydants and boosts your energy levels, well I find the matcha latte in Kaph delicious, warming and filling.

Foodwise it is quite limited as they primarily focus on coffee but they have delicious toasties that I believe are from Oxmantown and even if they're a little pricey (€6.95) are some of the best you'd find in the Irish capital. They also sell small sweet things including paleo treats which I haven't tried.

What I also like in Kaph is that they support local artists by showcasing their work in the room upstairs. This initiative was launched in 2013 by Orlaith Ross from Making Space and it's a great way to introduce coffee drinkers who visit Kaph to local talents. I've actually seen an artist selling one of her pieces to someone in the cafe once when I was there and it was rather cool to witness that sort of exchange.

Another reason why I love this place is their free wifi but please be aware that if you don't like people using their laptops in cafes this isn't the place for you. During the week the room upstairs is mostly filled with macbook users, great for young entrepreneurs or students who wish to work away from home.

Kaph is a deadly little space and you should visit it if you haven't already, enough said.

31 Drury Street
Dublin 2