​Fade Street Social, Tapas Bar, Dublin

I heard a lot about Fade Street when I moved to Dublin. But before I go any further this is not one for those strapped for cash! I didn’t realise that it was all tapas, I thought the first page were mains so €13 didn’t seem too bad. Oh I was so wrong! Not just that they suggested 4-5 each. I think my jaw hit the floor, but ones you get over it (or you’re prepared for it!) just go for it, order what you want. 

I went with my Dad and Step-mum and we decided to share lots of different things. This is definitely the way forward. It meant we all got a bit of everything. Some of them were a bit out there… these are just a few bits we went for – 

Thinly sliced duck breast served pink with pickled kumquats,  orange dressing and handmade confit duck spring roll. Isn’t your mouth just watering just reading that! The spring roll was probably some of the best duck I’ve ever had in my life. I could have just eaten them over and over again. 


The truffles hen egg was one of my favourites, not necessarily for the flavours, which don’t get me wrong was amazing, but for the presentation. It was so cute, and really well thought through. It even came with soldiers to dip in. It was dished up using the egg shell, and I loved the egg cup they serve it in. It didn’t really match the other dishes as some might think it was a t little tacky but it was right up my street! 

Followed by a close second was the Chinese pork belly – this is slow cooked to perfection and comes with peanut brittle! Two of my favourite things. What’s not to love pork and peanuts. 

Crispy airbags stuffed with truffle cheese wrapped in dried ham. Let’s be honest here, you would all order these out of pure curiosity. Something called crispy airbags, I just had to know what they were. There tasted nice, but to be honest, not really exciting. I wouldn’t get them again. 

When ordering tapas I always get some sort of carby potato thing, I fear being hungry as I know sometimes they can be small portions. So here, we went for skinny fries with Parmesan and smoked bacon. They were delicious but totally unnecessary, we were so full from all the other dishes we hardly made a dent in them! And, well, we wanted to save room for dessert!! 

Both my step-mum amd Dad have massive sweet teeth! So I was surprised when my dad said he didnt fancy anything! So even though we were stuffed, and everyone knows there is a dessert stomach for moments like this we ordered. My step-mum went for the dark and white chocolate mousse, hazelnut and orange confit which was served with toasted brioche while I went for the blackberry pavlova.  Once we ordered and they arrived, my dad promptly got a third spoon to help dig into ours. I have to say it was hard to share, it was absolutely Incredible!

The presentation of every dish was perfect! The chefs work so hard on everything and it pays off. I would highly recommend going. You can see them working away as the restaurant and kitchen are one room. I find it so hard to not just sit and watch them. As a big foodie I find it fascinating what others do in the kitchen. 

One bit of advice when booking, in fact first bit of advice, book…ask for one of the tables. As much as I don’t mind the whole sharing a table with strangers thing I just feel when you are having a special meal it’s nicer to actually have your own space.

On arrival our table wasn’t actually ready but it worked out nicely as it meant we got to have drinks upstairs in the bar. Well we were meant to have drinks upstairs but the service upstairs was a little slow which meant we were heading downstairs before they arrived. Not great but it was still nice to see the bar. The drinks were also fabulous. I would probably go back here just for a couple of cocktails. Through maybe with a fair amount of time. 

When ordering your food, remember that it comes out when it’s ready. You don’t have to order everything at once so you don’t have to worry about being full, or hungry keep ordering as and when you want more. It works well, except we did forget what we ordered so at one point we thought we had got our last dishes but two more arrived!  

For me, as much as I loved it, it won’t become a regular place to go to…There was nothing wrong with it, in fact it was perfect. It was all very rich so I couldn’t eat it all the time even if I could afford it. But, for me, it unfortunately does come down to the fact I couldn’t afford it all the time. If you are feeling plush or celebrating something,  or deserve a treat (which I’m sure you all do!) Then I would highly recommend going.

Pergola on The Roof

What I love about London is all the unique pop ups you get in the summer! As I don’t actually live there now it’s hard to squeeze them all in, but don’t worry I do find away! 

With an afternoon free when visiting my family for a weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with a friend and go to one of these lovely places! 

First on the list was Pergola on the Roof. Situated just past Westfield Shopping centre in West London and both of us based that way it was meant to be! Also helped by the fact it was a gorgeous sunny day (annoyingly though sunglasses were forgotten!) we headed up. We didn’t have a reservation but they do have a few seats available for walk ins. They obviously aren’t as swanky as the reserved ones, just being garden folding chairs but still in did us perfectly. Like I said annoying we forgot the sunnies, the stones reflected a lot of light so I did spend a lot of time squinting at my friend! Thankfully she didn’t take too much offence to it – well I hope she didn’t!! 

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Obviously the first place to start is the bar! After lots of debating we ordered two frozen margaritas…what they don’t mention is you can only get that from the main bar, frustrating but as it wasn’t busy not too irritating. They were pretty good, alcoholic slushes, what’s not to love?! Down side though, and yes we know why it’s the case, but they were served in plastic cups. When it’s around £8 a drink you would think that you would get at least a hard plastic glass but unfortunately not. This bugs me not because no one really likes drinking out of them but they aren’t exactly great for the environment. Maybe something they should think about for next year…or even their winter event! But let’s move on from that, they were refreshing which was exactly what you want on a warm summer day in London. 

After drinking and chatting food was going to happen. Starting with Breddos Tacos, we ordered a couple of Tacos (obviously haha) to share. And man, they were good! We didn’t look amazing while we ate them, but what are friends for but not to mock you while you try not to drop your food everywhere.

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With the second drink in hand we then moved on to 8 Horton Square. Describing 20170507_143625themselves as Mediterranean Food Shack, you really can’t go wrong. If we are honest though, we wanted chips, picky food is what we were after but with Salt n Sauce only serving them with their fish – I don’t think they had prepared for being so busy as they did have just chips on their menu! And with Patty &a Bun being so busy we went to 8 Hoxton Square. And oh we were delighted! With them doing deep fired baby potatoes with probable the best mayo ever we felt like we had landed the jackpot. Safe to say we got our own massive bowls and polished them off easily. I think we will actually need to head to their actual restaurant to try some more of their food soon…maybe when pop up season is over! 

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The atmosphere was perfect – lots of young people with friends, family lunches and definitely some first dates going on. It felt relaxed, yet energetic. There was a buzz that you only get with day drinks in the sun. 

Head up, and don’t forget those sunglasses! 

 

Curried Sea Bass

Summer looks like it is here (for now!) which makes me want to eat light evening meal. I don’t know what it is but the sun is out and I want fish and greens. Fish in general is full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, all a great for the body. When purchasing your fish though, make sure it is sustainably sourced – talk to your fish monger or read the labels. It doesn’t feel like it makes a difference but in the long run it will, we need to care about our environment as much as we care about our own bodies. Sorry to go all eco on you but it is something I do feel passionate about.

Ingredients 

Paste

1tsp Lemon Juice

1tsp ground ginger

½ tsp chili flakes

1tsp gram masala

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp double cream

 

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2 White Potatoes

1 Clove Garlic

1 Spring Onion

2 tbsp Olive Oil

 

3 florets of broccoli

4 large handfuls of Spinach

 

Coriander

Mango Chutney

 

Method

In a bowl mix together the all the ingredients for the paste and stir together until smooth. Spread evenly over the two fillets of fish, place on the baking tray and set aside.

Chop the potatoes into quarters or bit sizes pieces. Place into a large pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for approx. 15 minutes or until tender. Drain (but keep the water) and leave to steam dry. This is useful to get them to a crisp on them later.

Heat up the oil in a frying pan, add the potatoes, garlic and spring onion and fry. Cook the broccoli in the potato water, approx. 7-10 minutes. With the spinach place in a large pan with 2tbsp of water onto a medium heat, place the lid on and cook until wilted.

Meanwhile, heat the grill and place the seabass underneath, cook for around 6-8 minutes, until tender. Be careful to not overcook it or catch the paste!

Time to plate up – sprinkle over the coriander and a dollop of mango chutney! Enjoy

Classic Peanut Butter and Cacao Bites

This is a super easy, simple snack – only five ingredients! So I am keeping this post super simple too…

These are perfect for a little pick me up and last about 1 week in an airtight container. Not only are they simple to make there is hardly any washing up! Win win in my eyes!

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Ingredients

90g Oats

35g Honey

70g Crunch Peanut Butter

15g Cacao Powder

2 tsp Sesame Seeds

 

Method

Begin by placing all the ingredients a bowl. Give it a good stir, add two tablespoons of water to loosen up the mixture. Keep mixing until the mixture comes together.Screenshot_20170518-180336

Take a tablespoon of the mixture (approx. 20g) and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until all the mixture has finished, it should make around 12.

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Munch away! These are also perfect with a cuppa 😉

 

 

Planning a Hen Do!

I had the great experience of helping to plan my Big Sister’s Hen Do. I was so excited when she asked me to be her bridesmaid but the thought of planning a Hen Do made me nervous, like really nervous! Who do you invite? What should we do? Where should we go? So this is my mini guide for all those out there having the same stresses as me.


Talk to the Bride

The best place to start is to talk to the Bride – it is her day (or weekend) after all! Find out what she would like and go from there. Some people want a lots of classic hen do things (talking willies everywhere), some people don’t want any of that and other will want a combo of the two. It’s hard when you fall into one category but the Bride another. Obviously bring some of your own personality to it too, otherwise it will end up feeling very forced but not just that you won’t enjoy yourself either. The main thing is though, don’t force the Bride to do anything they won’t like. 


Guest List

Also get the Bride to do up a guest list!! Don’t guess as you never know you might miss someone off or invite someone they aren’t that close to anymore! Either way make sure you get that list very early on. In fact, pester the Bride until you do and don’t start any major planning until you know. If you’ve got a group coming from all over check everywhere flights/trains to that location or make sure people can drive to it. Pick a location and give everyone an idea. We planned for the most number of people but made sure that if X number of people couldn’t make it it would still be affordable for everyone else.


Pick your location

This is hard, but hopefully your Bride will give you an idea of what she wants. My Sister was after sun and relaxation. So as she lives in the UK that meant time to head abroad, as, let’s be honest the UK isn’t the sunniest. We went off to the amazing Lisbon! It was perfect for what we were after, sun, scenery and lots of bars and restaurants to choose from. We were able to get an AirBnB big enough to fit us all in and still have space to hang out and play games. Now that leads me on to the next point…


Games

I was feeling uncomfortable about thinking of games to play – remember it’s my big sister’s hen do, not a friends. I was lucky enough though to be planning with one of her best friends! She came up with some amazing ones, here they are so you don’t have to worry about thinking of things to do:

Pass the Parcel – instead of music you stick an embarrassing story of each guest on the different layers. Whoever has the parcel has to guess who the story is about. It’s a great one to ease people in when not everyone knows each other. They get it right first time they nominate someone to do a shot, get it wrong first time and they have to do one.

Find your Partner – everyone picks a piece of paper out of a bag and they have “position” on and you have to get into them with your male/female counter part. This can cause lots of screaming! Be warned your neighbours might not like this one as we found out!

Build your Willie – you have 2 minutes to make a willie out of play dough. The bride picks her favourite 

Make a Wedding Dress – lots of loo roll is needed for this. Split into teams, pick one person to dress up (one should be the bride!) you have 5 minutes to make the best dress. The game host picks the best one.

For our winners – they nominate a shot

Our losses – got shots


But you don’t have to have alcohol! These games are just as funny sober! 


When we looked for our accommodation we made sure there was a space to play these games. Lots of people just get hotel rooms but this felt much more personal, I would highly recommend getting a house/flat!


Cost

This is a hard one! In groups you are always going to have people on different salaries. Don’t make people feel pressured to come, never ask why when they say they can’t attend. Main thing is plan to a budget and make people aware of that when you start planning. Give a list – flights, accommodation, an activity, food/drink and what you think they will cost. Also some hen groups will pay for the bride…I personally don’t think that’s necessary and thankfully neither did our bride. Ours came to about €240 plus spending money. I didn’t think that was too bad for 3 nights in a different country. 


Activity

It’s great if you can to plan an activity out. We went for wine amd port tasting, we were in Portugal after all. It meant the Bridesmaids could also relax and not worry for a few hours as we were very much in the hands of someone else. It doesn’t have to be very big but try to do something that the Bride has always wanted to do or will just enjoy. If she’s an out doors girl maybe go rock climbing or if she likes to be pampered book nails to be done. Don’t make it an expensive thing, I would aim for around  £30 per person if it’s a full afternoon thing.


Goodie Bags

Now this has become a thing to do recently and I think it’s entirely optional. You should never go expecting a gift bag. And if you do do one, it doesn’t have to have anything expensive in! Plus remember you have to get it all to the location to so try not to get anything too heavy or bulky. I did not take my own advice – I took 13 glasses with Beyoncé quotes on a plane, in my hand luggage! Safe to say I did not have many clothes! Get the transfers from here – bespokebride.com – if you fancy being as crazy as me! 

We then got paracetamol, tic tacs, Bride Tribe transfers and a homemade glass charm! I have to say one of my favourite parts was the Bride Tribe transfers, super simple but brings everyone together. I also advise you take spares just in case anything goes wrong, don’t want one person feeling left out. One of the other bridesmaids also found some fantastic personalised bags too! “Lets Party Bitches” one side and the girls names on the other! It was a great little touch.


Decorations 

I think the more the better – and they don’t have to be expensive. We printed off 80 photos of the bride through the ages and stuck them all up around the flat. Safe to say this was one of the best things we did. All the girls had a great time laughing at them all…

We also got the classic “Team Bride” banner and some colourful pom-poms. Also, it tends to be the case, but a lot of one group will start to get married and have hen dos around the same time. So when packing up, don’t throw them away, up-cycle and give them to the next person planning a hen do! They will appreciate it and it doesn’t feel like a waste of money!


Number One Rule

ENJOY YOURSELF! You’re going to have put a lot of effort into it all and it is a break for you too so make sure you’re having fun! 

Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

It’s been one of those weeks at work…long and stressful. And I’m sure I’m not alone in this but when I am stressed I just don’t sleep. This just makes the days longer, harder and more stressful, it becomes a vicious cycle. So I have a lot of Help Beverages – aka COFFEE!! As The Boy would say, I have a slight addition but hey it’s social acceptable to drink coffee so it doesn’t count.

The problem is my job has been active, making me hot and bothered, coffee doesn’t help so along came the bright idea to make cold brew…

Cold Brew has (apparently!) more caffeine in than your regular cup of Joe. Between this and the fact that it was cold I feel like I’m on to a winner here. It took 24 hours from start to finish but it’s a super simple 24 hours.

I went for the 1:7 ratio of coffee to water.

I used coarse coffee grounds, the ones I used are the same level of coarseness as my French Press.

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Ingredients

100g Coarse Ground Coffee

700ml Cool water (not super cold), think room temperature.

Method

Weigh and mix the water and coffee in a large bowl or jug. Leave to soak for 24hours.

Strain through a muslin cloth or coffee filters to get separate the coffee and your cold 20170420_150220brew. I left mine to hang overnight. You don’t have to but I like to make sure I get out every drop possible

Bottle and refrigerate – told you it was simple! It keeps for up to two weeks!

When drinking dilute your coffee with water 1:1 ratio. You can have it black with or without ice, with milk, regular or nut, or even add syrups! Basically play around with it and have it your way!

Also don’t forget you can use your used coffee grinds as face scrub or as compost! Don’t go wasting them!

Mini Road Trip – Wicklow National Park and Glendalough

When we moved to Dublin we promised that we were actually going to see a bit of the country. We had lived in Edinburgh for a year and never quite got round to leaving the city! I worked weekends and The Boy was at uni during the week, making it harder to really get a few days to go somewhere. So this time we said we HAD to see more of the country. Plus all the pictures I’ve seen of Ireland make it look so gorgeous, I didn’t want to miss out.

20161030_103400We hired a car for 24hrs (not long!) but we just wanted to head down to Wicklow and Glendalough for some walks and a scenic drive. We do try to make the journey as part of the day as much as the destination. We went via Greystones so I could try out The Happy Pear café! And oh my, it was so worth the little detour. We 20161030_105722parked next to the beach and walked along the sand up to the café. It was so lovely to be on the beach…it has been a while since I’ve properly seen the sea. The café is a healthy little place with a great courtyard to sit in while you enjoy your breakfast. I went for the porridge with everything on. It was so good and super filling – just what I needed before the long walk we were going to do. The coffee was also pretty tasty. The café was really busy but still the service was quick. Unfortunately though they had already sold out of their avocado on toast but one of those things…just gives us an excuse to go back again. We headed back to the car but walked through the town this time, it’s a classic seaside town which always makes me really happy. Reminds me of my childhood! I could have happily spent an afternoon just wondering around there. But we got back to the car and headed down to Glendalough and the Wicklow National Park.

 

20161030_133432The drive took about 30-40 minutes from Greystones but what we didn’t realise was the rest of Ireland seemed to have the same idea! To get into the car park took us about 45 minutes!! So if you do go down, go down early or try to not go down whenever one else is!! I know that’s easier said than done. Anyways, we parked up and set off. We took the long ish walk (I believe it’s the orange one on their map!) which is about 8km taking around 2 hours. And it was gorgeous!! We went left passed the medieval ruins, which are pretty cool. The most obvious part is the 30m Round Tower. It’s a pretty spectacular building. I loved how the door is high off the ground as to stop intruders coming in. There are also ruins of a Church built in the 6th Century along with all the grave stones. It’s amazing what can survive.

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20161030_150229Not many people were doing the full walk, or if they were they were walking in the opposite direction to us, and even then it was probably only 3 or 4 couples that passed us! We felt truly alone and it was wonderful. The walk was of medium toughness, though take into account we are both semi fit. There is a small incline about half way. This takes you to one of the most beautiful views of the valley! We just stood there for about 15 minutes taking it all in. It helped that the weather was perfect too… warm with blue sky with a little overcast, perfect walking weather in my eyes. Once I had finished taking lots of photos we moved on. You then go into the more foresty part. This is where the Poulanass Waterfall is. It’s so pretty but I warn you now this is where it is a lot busier! It does take away from it a little but it’s still gorgeous. Plus the sound of the waterfall semi-drowns out the other people.

From here, we walked back passed the car park and headed to the Upper Lake. Yet another fantastic view. Between the refection and the mountains it was stunning. There are also a lot of people with their dogs which I find great fun to watch! Watch them bounding in and out of the water. Wicklow is a real family place, it’s great for kids get them out the house and running around.

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We headed back and instead of taking the main roads we drove through the park. It was dusk at this point but it was still so gorgeous. And, much like our walk, it was quiet! The roads are super bendy so at points I did get a little nervous. Though I always do when I’m not too sure on the road. It only took about an hour and forty five minutes to get back, not too bad in the grand scheme of things. And it was worth taking the scenic route, to me it just makes it feel so much more special.

I found it so lovely to see this part of Ireland and it really isn’t far from Dublin. You can easily get there by public transport, so you don’t have to get hire a car. I highly recommend going down if you want to get out of the city.