2018 Highlights

2018 was a great year for me, filled with highlights, both food and non-food related. The biggest personal highlight of the year being my wedding in June that took place in The Millhouse in Slane. Such an incredible day. Plus everyone was raving about the amazing food! We quickly followed up the wedding with a trip to Madrid where we ate some unbelievable food, but more on that later.

This year I was lucky enough to eat a lot around Dublin, attend some food and drink events, and even managed to cook up a few dishes along the way. Below are my top food experiences this year.

Etto

There’s not a lot that I can say about Etto that hasn’t been said already. One of Dublin’s best restaurants and run by some lovely people. This was my birthday treat back in March and one that did not disappoint. It’s the first place I recommend whenever someone asks me where to go. The food in Etto is honestly some of the best I’ve ever eaten.

And to make things even better they’ve just opened a new spot Uno Mas that has been getting rave reviews and I’ll be visiting in the New Year.

BreadNation

I love bread. Or at least I thought I loved bread until I met Eoin Cluskey. He LOVES bread! I was invited along to a bread making class in BreadNation a couple of days before it, and it’s cafe Bread41, opened to the public on Pearse Street.

During the course of an afternoon we made bread with Eoin as he shared his thoughts about bread and his dreams for BreadNation. In a short period of time BreadNation has gone from strength to strength and you can find their breads in a number of different places around Dublin, such as 3fe, Gertrude and Fia.

Forest Avenue

This was wedding gift from some food friends and one of the nicest dining experiences I’ve ever had. Forest Avenue is a stunningly beautiful yet simple space just off the canal and Leeson street. If you like a tasting menu (who doesn’t!) you should definitely check this place out.

The tasting lunch for two people, with a glass of wine each, was about €150. Very reasonable given the amount of food you spend here eating.

Crisp Sambo Competition

Have you ever been booed on stage? Did you ever feed a sandwich to one half of Orbital? Have you ever had the head chef from Michael’s mention your sandwich on twitter? Well imagine all of that happening in one afternoon!

At this years Beatyard festival in Dun Laoghaire, a crisp sandwich competition was on the cards and yours truly entered because why not! And what sandwich did I enter? Well, my now notorious Banana and Salt & Vinegar Pringle Sandwich of course!  It went down about as well as you can imagine, but of all the sandwiches presented that day you can guarantee the judges will remember my one!

Hang Dai

This place was on my hit list for ages and I finally got there in May. Renowned for their duck, that and all the other dishes did not disappoint. This place is great for a group as you can share most dishes and the interior is class. Make sure you get the short rib!

3fe

I’d kind of ‘gone off’ coffee the last while. Felt I was drinking too much so had to take a bit of a detox from it. Then I started to visit 3fe a bit more and picked up some different roasts. The first one that really made an impression on me was the Costa Rican ‘La Cumbre’, quickly followed by the Kenyan ‘Kiamaina’. Over the next couple of months many different coffees were had, both from 3fe and other coffee places such as Bear Market, Carrow Coffee Roasters and Girl With A Portafilter.

Then towards the end of the year, 3fe celebrated their 9th birthday with a coffee sourcing evening in their roastary. This was a nice event and allowed us to see where, and why, they source their coffee from.

Kai

I heard about Kai for ages. This absolute gem of a restaurant run by Jess Murphy in Galway. When we had a couple of days to spare after the wedding we decided to take a trip out west and booked in for a meal. No trip to Galway should be complete without a trip to Kai!

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Stunning food in @kai_galway tonight.

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Madrid

Right after the wedding we visited Madrid for a “mini-moon” for 4 days. The weather was warm, although it rained a lot, but we didn’t care because we were inside eating most of the time!

I never finished the blog post I was writing on Madrid, I plan to over the next few weeks while on honeymoon in Colombia. Some of the places were visited were pure class for food. From the upmarket ‘Platea’ and it’s cuisine of world tapas, to the simpler markets of San Anton and San Miguel. But the jewel in the crown was ‘A’barra‘. 15 courses of delicious Spanish food ranging from full Spanish red prawns to crispy chicken skin, fried brioche stuffed with yellow curry beef and the best pork in Spain cooked for 20 hours . An outstanding meal in a restaurant well worth its Michelin star.

Home Grown Veg

Living in an apartment in town really limits what I can grow. I’ve always had a few trusty herbs, like the un-killable  rosemary, and every year plant a few more like thyme and basil. This year I decided to up my game a little and try some basic, hardy vegetables that should be able to grow anywhere. Garlic, beetroot, tomatoes and potatoes.

First up was the garlic, that didn’t work out. Let’s quickly move on! The beetroots grew well but were small because I overcrowded the pot but they still tasted amazing. Once picked, I peeled and boiled them and just ate as they were. I was surprised by how well the tomatoes grew. I honestly did not think I would have gotten much from them but around September I got some really sweet tasting cherry tomatoes which I simply picked, washed, dressed in some olive oil and ate,

But the really champions were the potatoes, and I learned loads from these. I tried a few different things with them. 2 plants in 1 pot, 1 plant in 1 pot, 3 plants in a deeper pot, just to see how the results varied. 1 plant in 1 pot was a the real winner. I was expecting maybe 6-8 potatoes from eat plant but was getting double that and more in some cases. A really pleasing yield. I’ll definitely be growing more next year.

On a side note to this I gave my cousin, She Sows Seeds, some chilli seeds and some tomatillo seeds earlier in the year to grow in her polytunnel. And boy did they grow! She got a massive amount of tomatillos which we made into delicious salsa verde and the chillies ranged from sweet jalapeños to some outrageously hot Burkina Yellows.

Food Friends

Friends come in all shape and sizes, and they say they best friends are the ones you can break bread with. This list would not be possible without food friends. From going to restaurants as a group so we can try more food, to coming over for dinner and letting me cook up a storm in the kitchen, to buying a different bag of coffee each week to try. Food friends have been so important to me this year and I am very grateful to them all.

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All of this!! Crab, lobster, class.

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Cooks Academy

Some how I ended up here 3 times in the early part of this year! Thai Supper Club, Middle Eastern food and a Dim Sum class. Each class helped me learn some new skills and about some new foods and I throughly enjoyed myself at each one.

I did each one a bit different too. The Thai Supper Club was a Christmas present and I went alone but quickly made friends with an American couple who said whenever they visit a new city they try do a cooking course in their first few days so they can learn from the locals where the best places are. Such a great idea! The Middle Eastern food one was done with work as a staff night out and was fun but had mixed results. And the Dim Sum class I went with two friends and we have loads of fun! Check out head chef Jack O’Keefe on Instagram for some tasty posts.

 

There are loads of other places I could have included in this, places like Pickle, Featherblade, The Winding Stair, Pang or Klaw. How could I not include Klaw, now that I think of it!

I’m looking forward to 2019 and all that it’s got to offer. First up is a month long trip to Colombia!

What’s been your highlights of 2018, and what are you looking forward to most in 2019?

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