Fall in love at first sight – Amsterdam

Amsterdam, well known for it’s coffeeshops and red light img_20160828_190253district, but really this is just a tiny fraction of this gorgeous city…

I arrived on Friday morning with the boy flying in late that night after work (sucks to be him!). We were only there for a couple of days, flying out Sunday evening, so we really felt like we had to make the most of every minute!

img_20160827_102408I’m only going to write about one meal, breakfast! We really stick with the rule that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Neither I nor the boy can start the day without it, we get incredibly grumpy if we have to wait longer than 30 min from getting up to having food and coffee! So headed out and went to The Breakfast Club down Haarlemmerplein. And man, I’m still dreaming about the pancakes I had!!! They were incredible! Honeycomb butter, fruit and maple syrup and so light and fluffy! He went for buttermilk chicken, obviously he didn’t share so I can only presume they were good. And obviously we had vanilla iced white coffee which was pretty good too once you give it a really good stir! I highly recommend you go, they do also do dinner and beer!

One of the things that was incredibly important to me was seeing Anne Frank’s house. Knowing I was going to Amsterdam I thought it time I actually read her diary. It’s a 20160826_125320.jpgbrilliant, moving book and gives you an insight into what the War really was like for those living through it every day. I couldn’t, and still can’t, get over how well she wrote. She’s an inspiration. Her dad helped her achieve what she wanted to, it’s heart-breaking to think she couldn’t do it herself. Her house, in the loosest sense as it’s really more of a few small
rooms, is right on the canal near the Westertoren Church (Anne writes about this in her diary!). I wasn’t really thinking it all through and it turns out you have to book tickets way in advance if you want to go into the museum and her house. However, from 15.30 it’s tickets on the door; this is when I actually did my research and discovered people can start queuing from as early as 9am!! I was torn between wanting to see more of Amsterdam and an iconic piece of history. I decided to pick up a super hipster cold pressed juice and head to the queue at 1pm. Thankful it wasn’t that busy, it was a Friday so I’m not sure if that had something to do with it, but I was feeling pretty lucky. I had my book so I was set for the next few hours. img_20160907_113932And I have to say, it was worth it. Reading the book is one thing, but seeing the place they had to live, how they tried so hard to survive is incredible, so moving. It’s hard to imagine eight people hiding out there, it’s so small! There are still pictures on the wall that Anne stuck on herself, as well as the bookcase they used to conceal the door. It goes on into a museum which has a lot of information on the holocaust and what happened to those in the Secret Attic. It will stay with you, everything you read and see but it’s one of the best things you can do. Be more organised than me and book your tickets the second you know you’re going to Amsterdam – http://www.annefrank.org/

Now let’s move on to the more cheerful side of Amsterdam… In 2010, the Canal Ring was
added to the UNESSCO World Heritage List. You can see why, it’s what makes Amsterdam so original. When I first img_20160826_134904arrived I spent half the day just walking up, down and around the canals. They are so pretty and very romantic, though I may have gotten lost a few times (not that that’s a bad thing in such a beautiful place). There are many options about how to get around on the canal but we went for the super touristy City Sightseeing canal boat. It was so nice just looking up and around and soaking it all in. We ended up staying on for the full loop instead of getting on and off and I don’t regret it! It took around 2 hours for the green route which went around the outer ring of the canal. It stops at many of the top attractions such as Rijksmuseum and Albert Cuyp Market. Apart from our trip on the boat we walked everywhere! There were a couple of markets we went through which is always nice. Lots of food and cheese samples which was great! We ate a lot of cheese! We also did the Bloemenmarkt, which was nice but I wouldn’t say you have to go out of your way. It’s very touristy, I thought there would be lots of flowers and bright colours but it was mainly filled with magnets and knick-knacks.

While we were there the Museumplein, the green outside Rijksmuseum, had been transformed, hosting the Uitmarkt festival with music, food and stalls of all sorts! It was great fun looking round and going up the selfie tower and taking it all in. The only 20160827_1144330downside for me was that the famous Iamsterdam letters were slightly hidden but it was worth it to see a different side of the city. I got a tad overexcited with the Mountain Dew stand where they were doing instant photos. Thankfully the boy also got into it (well as much as I could ask for considering he hates photos!) and I’ve ended up with a fun keepsake on my fridge. We didn’t go in to the Rijksmuseum as we didn’t have the time. We probably would have popped in had it been free but at €17.50 we couldn’t justify it for 30 minutes but just the building itself was amazing to walk around it.

As the boy is super into his beer and a brewer we obviously had to do the Heineken Tour. It was good fun and you get a lot for your money. I recommend pre booking your ticket, saves
you time as you don’t have to queue, which when you are only img_20160830_124155in Amsterdam for little over 48hrs ever minute counts. A highlight for him was seeing all the rugby memorabilia they have! We got three samples of Heineken, one in the middle and two at the end with our tokens (these are on your wristband tickets so don’t go losing them!). You enjoy the last two on the top floor which has a balcony looking over the city! It’s a great view, we ended up spending longer than we thought up there admiring it and a bit of people watching too.

Sticking with beer, I also recommend Brouwerij IJ! The brewery itself is located east of the 20160828_140144city. It is worth the walk! The beer is great and such a range of choices. We had managed to try a few of them at this bar we happened to stumbled upon the night before, for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it, sorry! Brouwerij IJ is located under Amsterdam’s img-20161028-wa0029largest windmill which definitely adds to the reasons why you should go. The windmill is an iconic symbol of the Netherlands and would be a shame not see one while you’re there. The labels are pretty cool, all well illustrated and colourful. We also got some nibbles of cheese (of course!) and meat which went great with the beer. Sticking with traditions the boy bought a beer related t-shirt which I have to say was actually pretty cool.

Go, pack your bags and head to Amsterdam! There is so much more to discover…

 

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P. Mac’s, Dublin – beer and games!

P Mac’s is a super cute bar with a great menu. It’s located in the centre of the Creative Quarter of Dublin. So why not pop in after a bit of shopping. Or before because nothing can go wrong with a little drinking before boutique shopping, right?!

It has probably become one of my favourite bars of all time! Bold statement I know but they have a huge range of craft beers and board games. It’s got a cozy warm atmosphere when you walk in with candles on every table and only  a little natural light. It’s open 12.00-00.00 Sunday to Thursday and until 1am Friday and Saturday!

We went for one of the tables by the window to enjoy some of the rare sunshine while we played one of their board games. They have quite a few choices including Monopoly, Scrabble and Guess Who!! We went for Guess Who as I’m a child but also we didn’t want to be there all afternoon playing Monopoly!  While we were there they were currently updating there range of beers making it a little harder to choose as we couldn’t just sit and read the menu.  We both went for a draft beer, I went for BrewDog’s Born to Die 04.11.16 IMG_20161027_112610.jpgand the boy went for a Grunt by Hope Beer. As mine was 8.5% I only went for a half…very sensible of me I think! Which definitely makes a change. The Born to Die was a traditional BrewDog beer: super hoppy with lots of pine and resins notes coming through in the flavour. The Grunt was a saison and so was slight tart and sour but had a nice gooseberry flavour. We also got some of their chips with aioli dip, they were so good! We didn’t get
any of their mains, they looked pretty pricey but when we saw the table next to us get theirs you could make sense of the price – the portions were massive! I think you could almost get away with sharing a main…almost being the main word there, the boy doesn’t share food so we would always have to get our own. Obviously the staff were friendly and helpful. They lovely lady said we could take over a bigger table to play our game at even though we were only two. We didn’t but it was nice of her to suggest it. She also offered to suggest some beers so we didn’t have to go up to the bar but the boy enjoys doing exactly that so we declined her offer but it’s so good to see the staff so well informed.

Great beer, great games and great food, so why are you waiting, go!

 

The Fumbally, Dublin

Dublin is saturated with coffee shops and I’m loving it!! It was hard to choose where to go so I went for a name that made me smile, The Fumbally (http://thefumbally.ie/). It’s located just past St Patrick’s Cathedral which makes for a great walk in the sunshine! The Fumbally has a unique atmosphere with large glass windows and large sharing tables. It gets very busy at the weekends and you will soon see why. Grab a seat where you can and order up at the counter.

Sunday Brunch is one of my favourite meals, well brunch any day of the week actually but on Sundays seem particularly special. I went for a simple longimg_20160910_103412 black, which turned out not to be simple at all. Using 3FE coffee it was full bodied with a beautiful crema. I find some long blacks can be watery and well not coffee like. Drives me made when you order a coffee in the morning and it’s diluted black wash. But The Fumbally WOW, it was a great way to start and led to high hopes for the food! Green Eggs and Ham, a not so original name, but after the first bite that is all forgotten! The scrambled eggs where creamy and the chorizo so crispy. I wanted it to go on forever! The colours of the tomatoes and avocado were so vibrant. They use a lot of organic products as well as local producers. It’s good to see local businesses supporting other local businesses.

You can see why the café is so popular with locals and tourists alike.

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From here I walked up to St Patrick’s Park which is situated outside of St Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s the biggest church in Ireland taking around 80 years to build. It’s stunning! Especially when the sun is shining. It’s a popular park which makes for some great people watching. There are lots of dog walkers which is ridiculously cute to watch while soaking up some of the rarely seen sun rays in Dublin. I recommend anyone who visits to take at least a stroll through the green.

The Fumbally followed by St Patrick’s Park is a great way to start a Sunday Morning. If you don’t have time for food grab a coffee for your walk, you won’t regret it.

 

The Fat Fox Cafe, Dublin

img_20161018_154641The Fat Fox (http://www.thefatfox.ie/), what a brilliant name, is located on Camden Row, one of the many streets in the area that doesn’t look like much until you walk down it. This lovely café opened in September and is already doing incredibly well. And you can see why – friendly staff, baked goods and GREAT Baobab coffee!! I had a lovely little chat with the staff and they make you feel so welcome. The decor is a green/blue combo with lots of palm type leaves as the wallpaper, giving the café a topical and cosy feel. It’s open Monday – Friday 7.00-16.00 so really working the office crowd. A bit of a shame if you don’t live nearby or work too far away. Though this is pretty common in Dublin with many cafes at least closed on Sundays. The baguettes always sell well with a mixture of veggie and meat options. They also have some lovely more breakfast options such as their overnight oats. All of their img_20161018_154510products seem reasonably priced too which is always nice to see in Dublin. I think we will see great things coming from this kitchen and I look forward to seeing what they come up with! You can also peek through to the kitchen while you wait for you coffee. There isn’t any seating but I don’t see this being a problem for them as there are lots of nice areas to walk around with your coffee. I do recommend to take your coffee for a walk a lot but I just love having a hot drink while I mosey around. Saying this on some days, presumably if the weather is good enough, they have a few stools outside. I fell in love with the Fox picture they had propped up by the till! Though I do have a soft spot for foxes…or fox if you’re my sister in law. And they are right, they are FANTASTIC!

Peanut Butter and Caramel Cake

Baking is probably my favourite things to do. It destresses me and it’s great to see people so happy when you give them baked goods! I mainly like to bake cakes so when birthdays come around I love to bake for friends and family. I always find it fun to thinimg_20160813_115144k of new recipes for each person’s personality. I made my friend some homemade peanut butter recently as I was trying to explain how easy it was and better for the environment when it doesn’t have palm oil in it. She really enjoyed so thought I would keep with the theme and do a Peanut Butter Cake. The next thing was would this be a sponge or icing…I went for sponge and thought peanut butter on peanut butter might be too much (even for me with my peanut butter addiction!). As she is Canadian I thought maple syrup but feeling a little poor I made some caramel sauce instead! I have to say I think it worked pretty well…

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we did…

Ingredients

Cake

200g Caster Sugar (I like to use golden)

100g Unsalted Butter

100g Peanut Butter (use 100%, no palm oil)

4 Eggs

200g Self Raising Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

3 tbsp. Whole Milk

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Caramel Sauce

60g Granulated Sugar

1 tbsp. Water

60g Double Cream

Icing

100g Butter

200g Icing Sugar

½ tsp Vanilla Extract

Handful of peanuts, chopped

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line two 8” circular tins.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugar until it is pale and smooth. This should take around 5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure it is combined before adding the next.

Add the flour and baking powder to the creamed mixture and mix until just combined. Follow by the milk and vanilla extract and beat again.

Evenly split the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. They should be springy to touch or when a skewer is inserted it comes out clean. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

For the caramel sauce, place the sugar and water in a deep saucepan and place on a medium heat. Leave to caramelise, this should take about 5-7 minutes, do not stir it (I know it’s hard not to!). Once it has caramelised, take off the heat and slowly add the cream. Be careful as it does bubble a lot. Keep stirring until it is smooth. Pour into a metal bowl and leave to cool completely.

For the icing, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and light. This can take a while but it will be worth trust me. Add the caramel (saving approx. 2 tbsp.) and whisk again.

Make sure the cake is stone cold and ice. Sprinkle the shopped peanuts around the edge and drizzle over the remaining caramel.

Serve and enjoy!

 

PS…did you notice my flat spatula? Mischief Managed!

Network Cafe, Dublin

My first blog and naturally it’s going to be about a coffee shop. I’m pretty sure I run on coffee, my body needs coffee like it needs oxygen. Went home for a weekend and wondered why I was so grumpy to discover my mother had switched us to decafe, not a cool move.

My trip out for coffee today sums up how quickly Dublin can mess with you. Beautiful blue skies when I got up, I go out, order my TAKEAWAY coffee and get rained on. Not just a light drizzle, I got soaked! Not the lovely walk I was looking forward to while I enjoyed my coffee. And now as I type this up it’s sunny…sounds about right!

Network Café (http://networkcafe.ie/), however, was everything I was expecting. This lovely café has only been open for a few months now but it’s already a great success. I img_20161017_140426arrived and found it packed out! I knew I would fall in love with this place as soon as I walked in; there coffee machine is blue adding a great splash of colour! And it’s adorable! It is located opposite the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) where I spotted many a student with their Network cups (which are equally as cute as the café making them very noticeable). The service was perfect, the lady at the counter was friendly and welcoming. They do a mixture of single origin coffee which changes and there house blend. I went for their house blend flat white and it was great! It was creamy with a slight bitter taste which I enjoy. Their house blend is roasted by 3FE which is a Dublin based coffee roaster. It’s great to see how the local businesses supporting each other.

img_20161017_140339Watching the barista make the filter coffee is just an art. From freshly grinding the beans and heating the filter pot you can tell they truly care about how your coffee tastes. As I was planning on a lovely walk I didn’t get any of their baked goods or sandwiches which right now I am totally regretting, they looked incredible. I’ve started one of their loyalty cards knowing I will be coming back…A LOT! And politeness was rewarded with a few cheeky extra stamps…

Travel, Food, and ME

Lets start with a little about me…
So I’m Felicity. I love food, travel and talking. That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Chatting to my friend he recommended I start this blog having just moved to Dublin. It’s mainly going to be a mixture of where to get coffee, cake, and beer in Dublin (as well as other cities I go to), what to do’s and some recipes I do. I might also slip in some other things I love, you’ll just have to keep reading to find out what it’s about that day!

Now to go get some coffee and cake to start this blog off…

Have a great Monday!