Saturday, 25 July 2015

Mr. FFID’s Beer Cellar: Foreign Affair by O’Hara’s Brewery

Foreign affair, O'Hara's, Star Hill, Irish craft beer, American craft beer

After many years of pairing every alcoholic beverage with at least two cigarettes, early last year I finally managed to get off the smokes. Following more than a decade of thinking that beer tasted like sweet carbonated cigarettes, I discovered the world of craft beer. I approached it with cynicism and scepticism, initially half-convinced that these unusually named beers were just re-labelled bottles of their half price equivalents. Then I remember tasting a bottle of O’Hara’s ‘Leann Follain’ extra stout and everything changed… I was almost giddy with excitement that a beer could taste that good. There was no turning back.

Carlow Brewing company (also known as O’Hara’s Brewery) are one of the first wave of breweries in the Irish craft beer revolution. They opened in 1996 when just a handful of other notable breweries (such as Franciscan Well & Porterhouse) were around to pioneer the notion of tasty Irish beer*.  O’Hara’s are one of the best stocked craft beers around and it’s rare enough these days that you’d go to a pub that wouldn’t at least have a few bottles of O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale in the fridge.

So I was delighted when French Foodie in Dublin and I were invited along to an event in 57 The Headline where brewers and owners from O’Hara’s and American craft brewery Starr Hill were giving a panel talk, hosted by @irishbeersnob.

Starr Hill were on a collaboration tour or Europe and had stopped off for a few days in Ireland to brew up a once off beer with O’Hara’s. It was a fascinating talk, with the guys from Starr Hill talking about the American craft beer scene. They are well ahead of Ireland in terms of market penetration stating craft makes up around 11% of the US beer market (The most recent figure I heard here was 1.5%).

Foreign affair, O'hara's, Starr Hill, Irish Craft beer, American craft beer

The discussion then turned to the beer that they had collaborated on. They choose a to go cross styles by mixing a traditional Irish red ale with a hefty amount of the American Hop blend Falconers Flight to produce a red IPA. If this beer were a person, he’d be an all American quarterback, white teeth and southern drawl, but with a red Irish beard and freckles.

The result is a very drinkable and flavoursome beer. Coming out of the bottle it’s a clear copper colour, smelling citrusy at first along with biscuit and caramel. The hops are present but not overpowering and compliment the solid red ale underneath. The head disappears pretty quickly and after a few moments there’s very little carbonation but it doesn’t feel flat. The brewers both agreed that they wanted something easy drinking that you could enjoy a few of, so went for a relatively low alcohol content for the style, coming in at 4.8%.

I’ve had a few bottles over the last 3 weeks, from Baggot Street Wines and McHugh’s in Artane. It was also delicious on draft when I had a pint last week in P. Mac’s. The only problem with this beer is that it’s running out fast. If you haven’t already, get out and pick up a bottle cos when it’s gone, its gone!

*For more info on the history of Irish Craft beer, pick up a copy of the encyclopedic Sláinte by Caroline Hennessy and Kristin Jensen.

Disclaimer: French Foodie in Dublin and I were invited to the event in 57 The Headline. Like herself, I would never write about events or products in return for invitations or free stuff. All opinions above, whether right or wrong, are all mine.

Follow Mr. FFID's beer tweets @MrFFID

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sharing the Love: Made in Dublin by Dog Hungry Bears

Today I'd like to tell you about a brilliant project called Made in Dublin. The brainchild of fellow bloggers Dog Hungry Bears, its aim is to capture Dublin's food culture through a series of short videos.

They announced it on Twitter and shared their fantastic teaser (see above) a few weeks ago. I found the idea really cool and was looking forward to seeing the first episode which they've just posted. It's a great insight into Two Fifty Square Coffee in Rathmines which, between you and I, has been on my list of places to try for a while now!

Dog Hungry Bears have revamped their website and it's looking very well so you should definitely  follow their updates and videos. I haven't met them but I can tell they're really passionate about their food and I have the feeling 'Made in Dublin' will be a great hommage to our vibrant food scene.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

5 Reasons to Start A Blog

blogging, blogging workshop, blog

When I started blogging I didn't expect people to read me and to be honest I thought I'd stop after a few months weeks. To my surprise I kept blogging and loved it so much that it has even changed my life, so naturally I'd recommend anyone to start their own. But why would you want to start you're own blog? I've compiled the five best reasons from my experience over the last few years:

You'll have a place to share your passion
If there is something you're really passionate about and you can't stop thinking or talking about it all day long then maybe you should consider blogging. Before I started blogging my friends used to ask me where to eat as they knew I loved discovering places and sharing my tips, so the blog became a platform for that. A blog can also be a journal where you can record everything related to your biggest passion in life.

It's a great hobby
Like any sport or leisure activity, blogging can be a great hobby. It's something you can do whenever you want and when you have free time. It should never be a burden and is only something you should do because you love it. Of course you need to give it some time and commitment but if you enjoy it you won't mind and it's a good way to unwind and relax, trust me.

You can explore your creative side 
It can be difficult to find time to explore and push your own creativity. A blog can be a great way to express your creativity, be it through writing, photography, creating recipes, fashion or design. If you hope to keep blogging, then you'll need to keep pushing your creativity, coming up with new content and learning more about your topic. Blogging is both a way to challenge your creativity as well as being a great place to showcase it.

You'll develop new skills
In the last few years I've learnt so much thanks to my blog and it definitely helped me to develop and improve some of my skills. I learnt a lot about social media and I definitely improved my photography skills too. Blogging also made me more confident, which is kind of a skill too!

Meeting like minded people and those who share your interests
Sometimes you have a passion that your family or even friends don't really share. In my experience there is only so long that your friends will listen to you talk about a new recipe or restaurant you discovered. Blogging is a great way to interact with people who like the same things as you and you'll become part of a community of people with the same interests. In the past few years I have met some lovely people from the food industry and made some great friends.

If you feel like starting a blog I will be running a blogging workshop in Dublin on Saturday 22nd of August in Brooks hotel and in Cork on Saturday 29th of August. Tickets are available here.

Monday, 20 July 2015

The Perfect Spot for a Relaxing Brunch: Press

Brunching in Dublin city centre can be a stressful affair. Between queueing, sitting too close to the next table and loud music blasting in the background, I've started to prefer making my own and having brunch at home. Am I getting old?

That's said, I was recently delighted to find the perfect spot for a relaxing and delicious brunch: Press. This is quite literally the definition of a 'hidden gem' as you find this place in the corner of a square off Haddington road just behind the National Print Museum in Beggar's Bush. 

The café is super bright and tastefully decorated. I loved the mismatched chairs and all the little plants everywhere. 

The cookbooks and food magazines on the shelves made me feel at home straight away.

The lunch menu features a few sandwiches and specials while the weekend brunch includes dishes like mushroom on toast, eggs benedict, eggs florentine, homemade granola, scones and more....

 They also make their own sweet treats which are displayed at the counter.

I went for their 'Press signature' (€9) which consisted of two toasted soda farls, smeared with creamy crushed avocado and topped with chunks of fried chorizo, two poached eggs and garnished with parsley. 

The dish came presented on a slate and I was initially scared my egg yolk would spill beyond the slate but it didn't. Everything was delicious, the eggs and chorizo perfectly cooked, it wasn't a complicated dish but it included all the things I love while being substantial and reasonably priced.

Mr. FFID went for the breakfast stack (€9.50) which was the most photogenic Irish breakfast I've seen in a long time. 

It was also very good and included a soda farl with two rashers, two sausages, a portobello mushroom and a poached egg. 

The presentation was cute with the homemade chilli jam and the butter served in a mini jar. He also enjoyed an excellent Cloud Picker coffee.

I had a big crush on Press café I have to say. The staff were pleasant, I didn't feel rushed and I could have stayed there forever reading Kinfolk magazine or having a browse of all the different books around. Food was simple, filling and very good value, sometimes it's just perfect that way. 

There was no brunch frenzy at all, just people chilling, chatting, reading the papers and enjoying the food, which was so refreshing. This is brunch as it should be!

National Print Museum
Garrison Chapel,
Beggars Bush Barracks,
Haddington Road,
Dublin 4


Friday, 17 July 2015

Mr. FFID’s Beer Cellar: The Full Irish by 8 Degrees

Hi folks! Mr. FFID here, official hand model and full time food taster with French Foodie in Dublin. I’ve recently been offered a promotion here at FFID HQ, as the blog’s beer correspondent. A job I’m happy and excited, although a little intimidated, to accept.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert but I’m a big craft beer fan and have been blown away by the energy around the craft beer revolution in Ireland over the last few years. There is so much passion and experimentation in Irish craft beer right now, it’s exciting just to sit back, observe and enjoy a delicious beer or three.

When it came to choosing a beer to talk about on the blog, I knew exactly what the first one had to be. For me, the award winning Eight Degrees Brewery, based in Michelstown, epitomise the Irish Craft beer movement. Set up by two entrepreneurial antipodeans, they are known for their hop forward beers, consistent quality and experimental seasonal brews. The Howling Gale Ale was one of my gateway beers into the craft scene a few years ago but today I want to give a few paragraphs to their fantastic single malt IPA: The Full Irish.

I was in complete agreement with the ladies and gents over at Beoir when they named this the Beer of the Year 2015. Pouring a hazy gold colour, this IPA comes in at a full on 6%. Give it a sniff and you’ll notice an explosion of hops: think grapefruit, citrus fruits and a field full of flowers.

I’ve had a few American IPAs with similarly hoppy aromas but which fail to follow through on the favour, The Full Irish is not like that. Taking your first sip you’ll find that the flavour delivers exactly what the aroma promised. The citrus, passion fruit and grapefruit really shine through and are held in place with a solid biscuity malt backbone. It’s very drinkable and it’s easy to forget how strong the beer is while drinking pints of it, believe me!

It’s fairly well stocked in many craft beer off licenses and if like me, you follow your local craft beer pubs on social media you should see it pop up on draft every once in a while (at time of writing I know it's on draft in the Beerhouse and Against the Grain). It’s definitely worth a try if you’re even remotely into IPA’s.

Another pint of The Full Irish there please!

Follow Mr. FFID's beer tweets @MrFFID