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3 Things to Do This Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Happy New Year, or 新年快乐 as they’d say in downtown Hangzhou, or indeed certain parts of Capel Street. Today marks the first day of the Chinese New Year, and heralds the beginning of the year of the Rooster. With a steadily growing Chinese population in Ireland, particularly in Dublin, and calls for the creation of a Chinatown area around the Moore Street/Parnell Street area (I, for one, say yay to that idea), the Dublin Chinese New Year Festival is getting bigger and bigger. So with that in mind, here are my 3 suggestions to celebrate the year of the Rooster:

1. LEARN HOW TO COOK CHINESE FOOD
If you have the time and the moola, definitely go to this unique Chinese Cooking Course! Taking place in the Cooks Academy Cookery School on South William Street on January 29th, this is a special full-day cookery with Kwanghi Chan (he of Soder + Ko brilliance), and award-winning American-Chinese food writer Mei Chin. At the course, attendees will learn to prepare four delicious traditional dishes. The course runs from 10am – 4pm and costs €140. More details on the course can be found here.


Spring Fair Festival Dublin

2. EMBRACE CHINESE CULTURE AT THE SPRING FESTIVAL FAIR
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Fair will be celebrated at the CHQ Building at Custom House Quay on Sunday, February 5th. There will be loads of colourful dragons, fashion shows, martial arts displays, and you can even have a stab at a spot of Chinese Calligraphy. It’s a great opportunity to see the Chinese culture in all its glory. And did I mention there’ll be food? Yes indeedy, food and drink stalls galore! Find more info here.

3. TREAT YOURSELF TO SOME CHINESE JEWELLERY
No, I don’t mean hit up your nearest Dealz shop for some brass tat! No Siree Bob! I recently came across this brilliant Irish designer, Aine Breen, at the Irish Design & Craft show. While living in China, our Aine decided to learn Chinese calligraphy, because apparently Chinese telly isn’t all that great. Anyhoo, on her return to Ireland, she created a beautiful collection of fine jewellery engraved with the Chinese symbols for love, happiness, and luck. And who doesn’t need a bit of that! You can check out Liwu Jewellery on her website.

happiness-collection-necklace-earrings2
Images shown courtesy of https://www.dublinchinesenewyear.com/ and http://www.liwujewellery.com/

FOOD FOOD NEWS

Fabulous Sprinkles of Flavour

Salmon Sprinkles from Gold as Gold Foods

I love an ‘aul food market or festival, so I do. But regularly going to food markets on a small island such as ours can get a bit Groundhog Dayish after a while, albeit a very enjoyable and flavour-filled Groundhog Day! So it was nice to stumble across Jack Healy’s “Wild Salmon Charqui”, a new product that I hadn’t seen before that faithful day in the Temple Bar Food Market.

The product, a salmon equivalent of beef jerky, is based on the native Indian method of preserving fish by drying. Jack has created a number of different flavours, both sweet and savoury, using garlic, soy sauce, maple syrup, Tabasco sauce, various herbs, and chilli to create a perfect high-protein, low-calorie snack which makes a great alternative to the usual snacks on offer. Although I like the jerky, or “charqui” as he calls it, it is the salmon sprinkles which he also sells which excites me the most. Let’s just say these are frickin’ brilliant! They are so versatile, and having a shelf-life of 12 months means that they are the perfect cupboard staple. Let me explain readers, the sprinkles (I’m sure he has another name for them, but it’s my blog, so sprinkles it is!) are dried wild salmon ground down into the size small breadcrumbs. You can use these babies in scrambled egg to give them gorgeous salmon flavour,  sprinkled on top of poached eggs and hollandaise sauce for Eggs Royale, on a baked potato with sour cream, sprinkled on soups, or with creamy pasta and a bit of parmesan. The permutations are endless!

Salmon Sprinkles from Good as Gold Foods
Added to that are the well-documented and proven health benefits of salmon:

* Reduces inflammation
* Lowers blood pressure
* Reduces the risk of cancer
* Reduces the risk of heart disease
* Improves brain function
* Helps makes your skin only gorgeous!

Jack is not currently trading at Temple Bar (in fairness, it’s nippy out there!), but a new website and new markets are currently being planned, so if you’d like more information or order some product, you can contact him on his Facebook page

Let’s make this a year to really get behind Irish businesses and startups, so that our economy and our subsequent welfare become less reliant on external factors.  The innovation and entrepreneurial spirit certainly exists in abundance. And with any luck, we should be seeing this particular brilliant product in supermarkets and restaurants throughout the country very soon.

Images borrowed from As Good as Gold Facebook page
FOOD RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Cooking up a Treat in Camden Kitchen

Camden Kitchen, Dublin

I know, I know. It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve written anything. While one of the positives of being self-employed is that you can work whenever you want, the reality is that you pretty much work all the time available to you. And when you’re not working, you’re thinking about the work you should be doing, which leaves poor ‘ole Brekkie at Tiffany’s a tad neglected. Anyhoo, onwards and upwards, or just off Camden Street in this particular case.

I’ve been curious about Camden Kitchen for ages. It’s actually been around since 2010, so I’m ever so slightly late to the party. The cosy little neighbourhood eatery (oh how Irish Times Lifestyle of me) is situated on Grantham Street, just off the main thoroughfare of Camden Street which houses the foodie delights of Delahunt, Pickle, and Tesco Express. Having received a most welcome 50 yoyos from the Mammy for my recent marital anniversary, I thought what better than to seize the opportunity and avail of a Living Social voucher for a three-course meal at CK for two people for a mere €49. And so it came to be last night…

The restaurant is small, situated over two floors, and was completely full on this particular rainy Friday evening. The atmosphere is warm and unpretentious with antiquities and flowers decorating the dining area. Given the smallness of the restaurant, the tables are positioned very close together. Question: when sitting down at a table on those occasions, what is the correct ettiquette? Does one position one’s arse to one’s own table, or towards the neighouring guests? Arses aside, we were well within earshot of our neighbour’s conversation, and let’s just say they won’t be celebrating any anniversary together in the near future!

And so on to the food, himself ordered the wild Wicklow pigeon with lentils, and not wanting to order the same, I selected the chicken liver parfait with sourdough toast. The parfait was beautifully smooth with the accompanying plum chutney adding a delicious sweet contrast. The pigeon and lentils were cooked and seasoned on point. An absolute a revelation and showed the chef’s true understanding of how to enhance this ‘game of the poor’ in the subtle way it deserves. Himself is extremely particular i.e. fussy fecker when it comes to preparing food from the wild. Game always needs a subtle hint of sweetness combined with some nutty aroma and this chef knows that!

Starters, Camden Kitchen

For the main course, I decided to continue my poultry experience and had the Salt Marsh duck breast served with barley and cabbage, confit beetroots, and butternut & orange puree. This was seriously gorgeous! The duck was cooked medium rare with the puree bringing sumptuous sweetness to the dish. And as for the beetroot – brilliant. I initially had reservations about the beetroot being included at all, but man they were good! I ordered a side portion of sauteed potatoes as I was wary of the barley. Again, my doubts were thoroughly unwarranted as the barley was indeed a very welcome surprise.  Himself had the wild Irish hake and bisque risotto and cockles which was perfectly executed and did not disappoint. The risotto was al dente, the hake as flaky and with a crispy skin, exactly as it should be. The chef earned serious kudos from himself for both his dishes which he said were cooked perfectly and packed with flavour.

To finish off, we both ordered the bread & butter pudding. I would’ve been more than happy with any of the four other dessert choices, but in fairness who can resist a bit of b&b pud! For the purpose of review, I would’ve liked one of us to have tried something else, but as himself was in Joey Tribiani mode and wasn’t going to share his, I was not going to miss out. The pudding was beautifully light, made with Brioche and served with almond ice-cream and krokant. My only slight complaint was the lack of sultanas (I only had two), but I am perhaps a tad over-fond of the humble sultana.

Main Course, Camden Kitchen

Camden Kitchen is a great little gem (only slightly) off the beaten track. The service was excellent, with friendly and attentive staff. If you can get hold of the living social voucher, snap it up. If you don’t, still go. You’ll be delighted you did.

Camden Kitchen
Grantham Street
Dublin 8
http://camdenkitchen.ie/
Tel: (01) 476 0125

FOOD RESTAURANT OFFERS

Best Dining Offers in Dublin Now

Camden Kitchen

The dining scene in Dublin is really ramping it up in the last couple of years, with loads of new openings every month. All the better for us, and needless to say with competition fierce, the offers are getting even fiercer! Well I’ve scoured the offer & voucher websites for you, and picked out a few beauties I think you might like. Go forth and fill your bellies!

CAMDEN KITCHEN (shown above)
Voted by Conde Nast Traveller Magazine as one of the 12 best places to eat in Dublin, this offer is the perfect opportunity for you to try this fabulous little restaurant nestled off Camden Street. Living Social are giving 3 course meal for two people for just 49 yoyos! Just to give you an idea of what you could go for: Goats Cheese Mousse, Walnut, Golden Raisins & Capers Vinaigrette, Gold River Farm Leaves for starters, Wild Wicklow Venison Saddle, Pressed Potato Terrine, Roast Shallots & Pickles Blackberry for mains, and perhaps finish off with Dark Chocolate & 5 Spices Fondant with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, Coconut Froth. Well that’s me sorted anyway!
Restaurant Website: http://camdenkitchen.ie/
Offer Link: livingsocial.ie

Brasserie Sixty6
BRASSERIE SIXTY6
A really popular restaurant on South Great George’s Street, they have just introduced their steak & lobster menu. Let’s all take a moment and savour those two words, shall we: Steak. Lobster. Anyhoo, the beautiful folks at thetaste.ie are giving 2 course dinner from their new menu for 2 people plus 2 summer cocktails for only €50! Holla! And just to help you salivate a bit more, let me just tell you the full description of the lobster dish: Roast lobster tail with tempura claws, served with thick cut chips, curry aioli, and a summer salad of pineapple, tomato, ruby grapefruit, chives, picked ginger, shallots, and watercress. Told ya!
Restaurant Website: http://www.brasseriesixty6.com/
Offer Link: thetaste.ie

Le Bon Crubeen

LE BON CRUBEEN
This multi award-winning restaurant often gets ignored due to its location on Talbot Street, away from the trendier locations around Grafton Street & George’s Street. But its consistently high standards, and focus on sourcing products from the best Irish suppliers, warrant a visit. The offer is for a 3 course meal for 2 people for 49 smackers. Some highlights include Daube of Beef, Slow cooked Lamb Rump, Sirloin Steak, and Pork Belly. And don’t get me started on the Chocolate Creme Brulee and the Caramel Bavorois!
Restaurant Website: http://leboncrubeen.ie/
Offer Link: dealrush.ie

Photos shown from top courtesy of camden kitchen, taste.ie, le bon crubeen

FOOD RESTAURANT REVIEWS

BBQ-ing at the Gibson Hotel

BBQ-at-the-Gibson-Hotel

So last week I was delighted to be invited to the Gibson Hotel’s annual launch of their summer barbecue menu. The Gibson is located across from the 3 Arena (or The Point, as those of a certain age will know it as). More recently, it has become famous for playing host to the brilliant Irish First Dates show. It was my first visit to the Gibson, which is not your typical hotel, with its modernist glass frontage, and now-infamous lift which takes you to its third floor reception area.

The event was held in the the Coda Eatery with top DJ Dan Stritch on the decks. We were greeted with BBQ Bramble Cocktails and Sangria.  The lavish gourmet buffet included the usual BBQ suspects such as chicken wings, sausages, burgers and lamb chops, but with a Gibson twist, alongside a huge choice of salads including fresh watermelon, mint and feta salad, potato salad, and a delicious parma ham salad with mozzarella and a strawberry chilli dressing. Oh, and cheesy chips! In fairness, who doesn’t love some cheesy chips. And as for desserts! Well, despite being ridiculously stuffed, the ‘aul dessert pocket was open for business, and so I partook in some gorgeous banoffee pie, mini doughnuts, and rich but fluffy chocolate mousse. To be fair, I did share the latter with my good pal and fellow blogger, Ciara from Irishtravelkey, so there was some semblance of restraint exercised!

The BBQ menu is available for groups of 25 people and more, and costs €25 per person which ain’t half bad. And a bonus, as it’s held in the indoor courtyard or heated terrace, there’s no need to worry about manky weather halting your plans. Result!

Gibson-Hotel-BBQ-Launch

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event and was not requested, nor paid (sure wouldn’t that be lovely altogether) to write a blog entry on the event. All opinions are honest, and my own.