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Where to Get Your Portuguese Tart Fix in Dublin

PasteisDeNata

If, like me, you’ve been to Portugal, you will have no doubt come back with more than a tan. Yes, we’re talking about a craving for custardy gorgeousness – Pastéis de Nata. What’s that you say? Pastéis de Nata is a Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon and available on every street corner in Lisbon and every other Portugese town. They’re also made in Brazil and other countries with significant Portuguese immigrant populations.  Given the large Brazilian population in Dublin, it’s no wonder they’re popping up everywhere. If you’re feeling all domestic goddessy, you can whip some up yourself courtesy of this Paul Hollywood Portugues Tart recipe. Alternatively, if you lack the baking motivation, but still got the craving, here’s were you can get your fix:

BUTLERS CAFES
Excluding the airport, there are 15 cafes around town, so you’re never far from one. At €2.20, they’re more expensive than what you’ll pay in Portugal, but they’re a good compromise, although they’re a tad too sweet, the custard is a bit too tense, and the pastry isn’t flaky enough, but A for effort.

DUNNES STORES
Yup, such is the popularity of these beauties, even Dunnes has got in on the act. The cheapest in town at 1 euro each or 4 for €3. They’re not as good as the Butler’s ones, (or could it just be a false perception that the Butler’s ones should be better?), and still suffer the same issue of being too sweet, too dense, and not flaky enough, but warmed up slightly, you’ll wolf down a few of these babies nonetheless.

BIJOU DELI
Situated in Rathgar Village, Bijou Deli offers up a whole heap of great pastries, and also some lovely Pastéis de Nata. Costing €2, these are the best in terms of the flakiness of the pastry and give a nice crunch but again fail somewhat on the custard being too dense and much too sweet. A very worthy effort, though.

THE BAKERY BY THE CUPCAKE BLOKE
Newly opened in Rialto village, you’ll know the Cupcake Bloke from his weekly stand on Coppinger Row. It is not by accident that I’ve left this one ’till last, it being the best on show. I had tried a couple of times to get my mitts on these, but sadly they were always sold out whenever I got there. But a quick phone call and I secured the last six (best to play it safe) All the elements are there – flaky pastry, creamy custard, and not too sweet, and perhaps even a slightly lemony hint.

If you know of anywhere else in Dublin, just let me know. I see it as one of my life’s purposes to taste each and every one 🙂 De nada, as they say.

FOOD HOME PLACES TO GO RESTAURANT OFFERS

Best Dining Offers in Dublin This Month

Brasserie 66, Dublin

It’s getting more and more difficult to find exciting new offers in the city. Sure, there are loads on Living Social and co. but they tend to be the usual suspects which begs the question from a business perspective, is it really a good marketing tool? Is it actually bringing new customers? Surely, unless guests pay the full whack, a profit can’t be made? Anyhoo, all those musings aside, here are a couple I think you’ll like:

BANG Restaurant
If you’re looking for a restaurant with awards, this one doesn’t do too badly – Recommended by The Michelin Guide, 2 AA Rosettes, Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, as well as Overall Winner in Irish Restaurant Awards 2018. Situated on Merrion Row, it’s grand and central. The exterior is currently being renovated, but the magic is still going on inside. Groupon are offering a three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine for €69.95. Excellent value I think you’ll agree. The menu varies but potential options include| lamb croquette with black garlic emulsion, fennel and raisin, roast hake with roasted fennel, mussels, tomato and samphire, chocolate mousse with caramel ice-cream and passion fruit (Disclaimer, they’re the three courses I’ve picked :-))
Offer: https://www.groupon.ie/deals/bang-restaurant-14
Restaurant Website: https://www.bangrestaurant.com/

BRASSERIE 66 (seen above)
This place is hugely popular and is always good for a special offer. Food is delicious, service is attentive and there’s absolutely no fear of you leaving with your dessert pocket still open. Now for the offer – 3 course dinner for two with 2 glasses of Prosecco and 2 cocktails for €55. Yup, 55 yoyos! How great is that?! If you’ve availed of an offer from Brasserie66 you’ll know the options well – Caesar Salad, Duck Confit, Liver Parfait for starters, rotisserie Chicken, burger, hake for starters, Tiramisiu, Apple Crumble, Ice-cream Sundae for dessert. Not a whole lot of imagination and innovation, but the food is really good, and to put it impolitely, you’ll be stuffed afterwards. Job done!
Offer: http://thetaste.ie/wp/product/brasserie-sixty6-restaurant-offer-thetaste-august18
Restaurant Website: https://www.brasseriesixty6.com/

 

FOOD HOME RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Best Vietnamese Coffee in Dublin

Vietnamese Coffee

This year, I was absolutely blessed to spend a couple of weeks in Southern and Central Vietnam. We had toyed with the idea of going to Bali, but a friend of mine advised me I’d probably be disappointed and end up like a mad woman when I saw the amount of plastic litter there (Litter is my absolute bugbear y’see). So as we like to combine cultural enrichment with stuffing our faces, Vietnam it was to be.

Like pretty much all holidays I go on, I vowed to adopt various aspects of what I had seen and eaten and integrate it into my newly-enriched view of life on return to normal life. After about a week of putting ginger and lemongrass in absolutely everything, the novelty wore off. However, my newly-found love of Vietnamese Iced Coffee (cà phê sữa đá if you want to be all multilingual) did not wane.  If you have a drip filter at home, you can make it as you would a normal filter coffee then pour the hot coffee into a glass full of ice cubes containing 2-3 tablespoons of condensed milk. And there you have it!

Alternatively, if you want to hit the streets, there are a number of places in this fair city where you can indulge. Vice coffee, The Good Food Store, Jolins, Bun Cha all have decent offerings, but for me, the clear winner is TwoFiftySquare in Rathmines. They roast their own coffee in the back of the cafe and have won the Irish Times Award for best coffee, so you know you’re getting good stuff here. Try them out, both Vietnamese Coffee and Two Fifty Square. You won’t be disappointed by either.

Best Vietnamese Coffee in Dublin

Top photo credit: The Journal by Intrepid Travel.

FOOD HOME RECIPES

Rum Truffles to Love

Rum Truffles Recipe

So for Valentine’s Day, you may have booked a table in a fancy restaurant, or you’re keeping it cosy with dinner at home. How about a little finishing touch with some homemade rum truffles? These babies are soooo easy to make, like ridiculously no-brainer easy. But they taste so good and are seriously decadent. Once you’ve made these once, you’ll be whipping them up for Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas, Aunty Margaret’s Birthday… So with that in mind, shall we begin?

INGREDIENTS: (for 30 truffles)
125g Coconut Fat
150g Icing Sugar
30g Flour
30g Cocoa Powder
30g Ground Walnuts
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2-3 Tablespoon Rum (or Whiskey) depending on your taste
Chocolate Sprinkles/Desiccated Coconut/Chopped Walnuts to roll truffles in

Mix all ingredients together, apart from sprinkles, to create a smooth mixture (I told ya it was easy). Leave to cool for an hour in the fridge. Form into small balls and roll in the chocolate sprinkles or chopped nuts depending on your preference. Present in truffle cases and go as fancy as you like on the presentation. Enjoy!

FOOD HOME RECIPES

Apres-Ski at Home

Apres Ski at Home

It’s that time of year when you’re feeling a bit exhausted from Christmas, but optimistic for the year ahead. But sadly the koffers are a bit empty from all the Yuletide excesses, so there’ll be no skiing on the pistes of Val-d’Isère for you this year. Fret you not, for you can still indulge in the Alpine experience from the comfort of your own home. Invite a few besties over, line up 50 Shades 1 & 2 on Netflix, and have an evening of Apres-Ski in the middle of Drumcondra. If you don’t have an IKEA Fondue Kit (seriously, you don’t?), just feck a couple of camembert rounds in the oven to bake, cut up a fresh baguette in large cubes, put them on skewers and you’re good to go! What about the drinks you say? Well, you could go the Jägermeister route, but we want to keep it classy, so time to whip up some Mulled Wine, or Glühwein if you want to get all authentic on it. ‘Tis easy peasy and it’ll keep you warm if you want to save on heating bills.

So On y va! as they say on the black pistes of Chamonix. Firstly, you’ll need some nice fruity wine – Shiraz or Merlot will do the trick.  You’re going to be diluting and boiling the arse out of it, so you can put away that spendy Châteauneuf-du-Pape you picked up at Donnybrook Fair, Susan.

INGREDIENTS:
1 litre Red Wine
500ml Water
8 Cloves
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Orange, first zested and then cut in thin slices
4 Star Anise
1 tsp. ground Cardamon
100g Demerera Sugar

Bring the wine with the water, spices, orange zest and slices, and sugar to the boil and leave to gently simmer for about 30 minutes. Pour through a sieve and serve in mugs (not in thin glasses for ‘elf n’ safety reasons.) Job done. Prost!

FOOD HOME RESTAURANT REVIEWS

My Thai in the Suburbs

Thai has to be one of everyone’s favourite International cusines. Indeed, a recent poll by Taste of Dublin found that it was the favourite foreign food of 35% of the Irish population, nipping on the heels of the nation’s favourite, Italian which came in at 37%. Its popularity is evident by the growth of the Camile and Diep takeway chains, as well as the ever growing number of Thai restaurants popping all over the place, albeit varying wildly in their authenticity.

I was recently invited to the new kid on the block, Narra Thai Restaurant, to try out their menu in their newly opened restaurant in Stillorgan, South County Dublin. Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by our host and restaurant co-owner Maggie, who took us to our seats. Since it was on the extremely nippy side outdoors, himself ordered a tea to aid brain-function during the menu decision making process. He was speedily given what the owner referred to as a Tea Bomb, a sea urchin looking flower which opens out when hot water is poured over it. Apparently, it’s not easy to get here in Ireland, and he absolutely loved it, being the fussy little tea fecker that he is. To begin with, we both had soups for starters (remember the whole nippy/Baltic weather previously referred to). Himself, had the Pho Thak Seafood Soup and I went for the Chicken Tom Yum Goong. Mine was deliciously spicy with the chicken pieces perfectly tender, not the chewy lumps, that you can sometimes get. My other half declared himself the winner of the starters round (we are sooo competitive) with his fragrant soup with its plentiful portions of prawns, mussels and squid. He was particularly impressed by the knife skills displayed on the calamari (aren’t men funny ‘aul creatures?).

Narra Thai Restaurant, Dublin

And so to the mains, himself went for the Ped Ma-Kham ( that’s Duck With Tamarind Sauce to you, matey) upon recommendation from the lovely owner, Maggie. The generous portion of locally-sourced crispy duck was served on top of crispy noodles and dressed with tamarind sauce and coriander and a portion of steamed jasmine rice. Those very impressive knife skills were on show again with the beautifully carved potato and carrots which decorated the plate. I went for the Prawn Massaman curry which was the perfect follow up to the zingy soup starter and was beautifully mild with its creamy coconut base with potatoes and peanuts and generous amount of juicy prawns. (Is there anything worse than having to play find-the-prawn? Not here, there were loads of ’em). Should we have wished to take up the hotness level, Maggie brought us a bowl of sliced chillies in fish sauce and lime juice. Being absolutely full, but still with an ever-open dessert pocket, we shared the home baked warm coconut tart served with vanilla ice cream which was wonderfully chewy (that’s a very good thing in this case).

End verdict: This was perhaps the best Thai Food I’ve had in Dublin. The food was lovingly prepared by the Thai-born chef and the attention to detail was excellent, coupled with friendly and attentive service. While I was invited on this occasion (yay!), my review was in no way influenced by that, and I wouldn’t (and won’t) hesitate to pay the next time. Give it a go, methinks you’ll likey (a lot!)

Narra Thai and Asian Restaurant, 2 Lower Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin
Tel: 01 2108440
Website: http://www.narracuisine.ie