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Time To Say GoodBye To Belfast & Dublin..

August 11, 2014

We had a just a couple of days in Dublin.. I have been here before with my husband a few years ago. I really enjoy being in Dublin.. love the walkable city, food and the people. We took a 1 PM train from Belfast and got to Dublin around 3:15PM. It was raining and we quickly found a cab and made our way to the hotel which was not very far away. After unpacking a bit, we decided to venture out with our umbrellas in tow. The problem with venturing out is that you need to know where to go.. I am quite directionally challenged and have trouble with maps, although Belfast was quite straightforward. Dublin on the other hand is very complicated, with tiny streets going in all directions. Luckily I was able to use the GPS on my phone which was a life saver!! We walked around and reacquainted myself with the lovely city.

We stopped for a cappuccino and hot chocolate early during our walk as it was quite chilly and wet. The sun peeked out every half an hour or so… My daughter wanted something other than Irish food for dinner so we ventured out and found an Asian restaurant and ordered some noodle dishes- the food was okay, nothing special. We then walked around some more and finally found a gelato place, which my daughter was desperately searching for. I had a delicious scope of passion fruit cream gelato topped with a dollop of whipped cream. I love coming to Ireland for the delicious butter, cream and yogurt and of course cheese! It is all so delicious!

The next morning, we had a yummy Irish breakfast and ventured out for a historic Dublin walking tour. It was really good and walking for two and half hours prompted us to head to Queen of Tarts, a cafe and dessert place with delicious desserts and lunch. I ordered a bunch ofFB_IMG_1407760748010 madeleines served with raspberry compote and fresh whipped cream! All my favorite things on one plate. I washed it down with a delicious glass of pinot grigio. We lingered there for a while and read our books and enjoyed the delicious aromas coming out of the kitchen.

We then walked to the Stephen Green area, which is a beautiful green area with a lake and lovely walking paths. We walked around a bit and headed back to the hotel for a rest before heading out for our last dinner in Dublin!

It was raining, yet again and so we decided not too walk very far for dinner. Hairy Lemon it was! A highly rated Irish pub around the corner from our hotel! It was packed as we walked in but we managed to get a table for 2. I ordered a glass of cabernet as I was planning on getting the burger. Although this place was famous for it’s stew, I just wanted a juicy burger- and it was great, with bacon, cheddar, tomato and arugula! It was yum! We didn’t have any dessert as I had seen an ice cream place the night before called Murphy’s Ice Cream made in Dingle. 20140811_184900 Now, Dingle is a place on the west coast of Ireland, in county Kerry that I had visited and fallen in love with a good 8 years ago. I was thrilled to see a reference and wanted to eat their ice cream.. plus they had some very different sounding flavors like caramelized brown bread ice cream, brown butter ice cream… I indulged in one scoop each of the caramelized brown bread and Irish coffee… both of which were spectacular… a perfect end to a great trip.20140811_193102

We are back home tomorrow, just in time for me to get back to exercising and not eating everything in sight!!!

All About Titanic In Belfast!

August 7, 2014

I didn’t realize how prevalent the Titanic was here in Belfast.. the reference is everywhere. It was a big ship and a big deal and my daughter is obsessed with it… one of the big reasons we are here. We woke up and went down for breakfast. I usually like to stay at a place where breakfast is included. This hotel was not including the meal so we paid for it and showed up at their restaurant downstairs. They were serving a full Irish breakfast which is what I wanted to have. That part was yummy- the sausage, bacon.. I didn’t indulge in the blood pudding- wasn’t in the mood.
20140807_094902 I ordered a cappuccino which was super hot and very delicious. What I didn’t like was the lack of fresh fruit- there wasn’t any.. there was some form of fruit salad but it looked very sorry.. so I didn’t have any. A far cry from the lavish breakfast we had in Athens.. that was scrumptious. We decided we will venture out tomorrow and try some other place.

A while later we got on to a hop on hop off bus and made our way to the titanic quarter on the other side of River Lagan. We got off by the museum and walked over the titanic dock as well as the pump house. It was all very fascinating knowing what all happened in that area. Most fascinating was the museum. We got on a cable car tour that took us through the bottom of the shipyard where the ship came together and we saw under what horrible conditions the workers worked everyday. After a few hours we took a break and went to the titanic cafe and ate a delicious piece of cake and a glass of Rose. After hanging out for a while we made our way back to tour bus and sat and saw the rest of the city while resting our feet.20140807_144428 After a couple of hours we made our way back to the hotel. While in the bus I started to look for a dinner place for us to go. My criteria was close proximity to our hotel so we don’t have to venture out too far at night. We end up using Trip Advisor to find good restaurants according to our location. I came up with a place called Ginger Bistro. It turned out it was about two minutes from our hotel and it was rated number 5 on Trip Advisor… so we made reservations and made our way there. I started with a glass of prosecco and shared a plate of fried squid with homemade chili sauce and garlic mayonnaise- it was delicious!!!!

20140807_182652 My daughter ordered fish and chips and I ordered escalope of chicken with merqueuz sausage cherry tomato and butter bean casserole with rocket and garlic butter. I usually don’t order chicken when I am out but the waiter highly recommended it and he was right! It was yummy- the chicken was perfectly cooked on top of a mixture of the butter beans and the rocket or arugula was a great addition. It all came together with the merguez sausage. I washed it all down with a delicious glass of Rose.20140807_185328My daughter ordered the lava chocolate cake and I was debating what to get when I remembered reading about one of their desserts- it was champagne jelly, poached pears with rich vanilla custard and baby meringues- wow, it was delicious! The pears with the custard were unbelievable and the jelly made it unbelievable. The baby meringues brought a yummy sweetness and texture. Needless to say I was a happy camper and started thinking, how are we going to top this one tomorrow!!!20140807_192948

Belfast, Here We Are!

August 6, 2014

The trip to Belfast and Dublin began with a flight delay.. well that is nothing new if you frequently fly on United! Some maintenance issues lead to a two hour delay! Once we got on the plane, it was fine.. well, kind of. As we were waiting for the door to close, I was happy to have the seat next to me completely empty! Well, not so fast.. right before the door closed, a young guy walked in muttering away and not looking very happy. As he plopped next to me, I could smell the alcohol on him.. oh no, I thought.. this is going to be fun. Well, I learnt a lesson- don’t judge a book by it’s cover. The guy ended up very sweet and nice- he was from Belfast.

Since then the experience has been absolutely lovely. I really appreciate friendly, helpful people and the Irish truly are.We easily got to our hotel, unpacked and ventured out. We were quite hungry but by the time we started walking, it was 2 pm and our choices for lunch became quite slim. We walked around quite a bit before ending up in a cafe and ordering a  scone, cappuccino and hot chocolate topped with yummy, fresh whipped cream for my daughter. The caffeine did us good and we continued walking around. As we sat by river Lagan, it started raining all of a sudden.. a few minutes before that we were enjoying a very sunny day. We ran for shelter and waited for it to do turn to a drizzle before we headed back to our hotel for a couple of hours before we ventured out for dinner.

Dinner happened to be right across our hotel. My daughter wanted fish and chips and the concierge suggested the pub across the street. I enjoyed a glass of Rose and a yummy burger on a traditional bap or a large soft roll. The food was yummy and beef patty was better than usual. We ended the evening with a sticky toffee pudding drizzled with butterscotch sauce with ice cream and whipped cream. The dessert was good but it was more of a sticky toffee cake not a pudding.

We headed right back to the hotel as we were quite tired and jet lagged. Off to bed to get ready for a full day tomorrow!

You are probably missing the food photos.. well, I had a technical difficulty.. I guess it was the lack of sleep!! Anyway, pictures starting tomorrow…

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration with Green Mini Cupcakes

March 13, 2012

Mini Green CupcakesMy daughter’s class is having a mini celebration for St. Patrick’s day with green bagels, green grapes and green juice. As I was volunteering to send some Irish butter, my daughter expressed her disappointment about not having some green cupcakes for St. Patty’s day. So, of course as a responsible (and gullible) Mom, I volunteered to bake some. She was overjoyed as we decided to check with the teacher first.
Once we found out it was a go- I started looking at recipes online. There was one in Martha Stewart’s site that looked good. I decided on making the mini ones- no reason for 23 kids to be running around with tons of sugar in their bodies.

The recipe was enough to make two batches of 24 mini cupcakes. I didn’t have two of the same 24 cupcake pans so I decided to make 24 mini and 6 regular sized cupcakes. That way the two teachers can have regular sized ones. I used my usual white whole wheat flour, evaporated cane sugar and extra light olive oil. If you want to use butter instead- one cup is equivalent to 2 sticks. I also added zest of a Meyer lemon to give the cupcakes some extra flavor. If you don’t have a Meyer lemon, use a lemon or an orange instead. The frosting was delicious with cream cheese, vanilla extract and the butter- yes, I used butter in here- there is really no substitute for it in frosting. Overall the cupcakes looked beautiful with the bright green sugar on top.

St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of my all time favorite vacation to Ireland. It is the most beautiful country with super friendly people I have ever been to. We flew into Shannon and stayed in a beautiful town called Dingle. It is a gorgeous little town that has the most amazing restaurants and vistas. We ate amazing food and for someone who is not a beer gal, I drank it with every meal. I feel the urge to go back every year around this time as I hear tourism ads on the radio to Ireland and feel the weather changing.

I guess I will look at the green cupcakes and think of the gorgeous landscape in the beautiful country, Ireland. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you!!!
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Dublin Day 5- Goodbye…

August 24, 2011

P1060496One of my favorite things to do on a vacation is go home. I look forward to visiting new places but no matter where I am or how exotic the city is- I love coming home.

Dublin was a pleasure to visit. I am going to miss the Temple Bar area, the scones, the breads, the sausages, the bacon, the cheese…etc, etc. As you might have guessed, I focus on the food where ever I go. Food is the best way to get to know a new culture. I love going to grocery stores and studying all the aisles to see what the locals eat.

I ate and drank and now it is time to get back to reality- GG crackers here I come…

Dublin-Day 2, Healthy Eating?

August 21, 2011

Day two in Dublin started a bit late- as we are jet lagged and didn’t get out of the hotel room till after eleven. I wanted to hurry to Bewley’s for a full Irish breakfast. Usually I am happy with my GG crackers and a big cup of coffee. This breakfast included a big sausage, 2 big strips of bacon, tomato, toast, etc. It was a huge plate but I had no trouble devouring it. I was looking forward to the Irish breakfast. The problem was that the meal was not warm enough. I could have enjoyed it a lot more if everything was piping hot!

Dublin Day 2 Breakfast

The rest of the day was spent walking around Trinity college and taking a tour of the Jameson distillery. We stopped for a delicious gelato on the way and then finally settled in a bar in the Temple bar area. It was a lovely old bar with big windows. We sat down and people watched for a good hour. I love looking at people in foreign country and wondering what their life is like. It is at the bar we met two screaming girls. One of them was recently engaged and they were celebrating. She showed us her engagement ring and we chatted for a bit. They were super friendly and recommended a restaurant- which we will try tomorrow.

Dublin Day 2 Dinner

We walked around a bit more and found a restaurant called The Pig’s Ear. I sat back with a glass of red wine as I waited for my rib eye steak with truffle mashed potatoes with marrow on the side- I know what you are thinking… is she going to eat all of that. Absolutely- I was looking forward to a few things on this trip. An Irish breakfast, Irish beef and afternoon tea. The steak was amazing. I ordered a trifle and enjoyed it immensely.

Healthy eating can wait till I get home- till then, I am going to enjoy everything Dublin has to offer…..