My Favourite Coffee Spots, Dublin

If you didn’t realise this already I have an obsession with COFFEE!! It is my help juice, my comforter and my energiser. So naturally I love to go out for coffee. It’s a cheap date, whether with friends, family or the boy. It creates a place to chat or gives you something warming if you like to go for a walk instead. It’s the perfect pick me up. Since moving to Dublin my love for coffee has only grown. So this are my top picks (and it was a hard one to narrow down!!)

Meet Me in the Morning

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Just off Camden Road, this is the perfect gem. They have also recently opened up their take away section making it even easier to just pop in for a cuppa on the run. And it helps that their cups are super cute. The staff are also unbelievably friendly and helpful! Also, if you are peckish go for their doughnuts, or their seasonal brownie (I recently had the pumpkin brownie… for breakfast… it was incredible!)

Il Fornaio

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A small cafe based just down the road from Trinity (though they have another four dotted around), it is the perfect place to grab a coffee for a walk around the collage, or a pick me up if you are a student there. Not just is it beautifully velvet, doing the Italians proud, they give you a small amaretti biscuits to go with it. Perfect piece of Italy in Dublin.

Clement and Pekoe

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Their main cafe is based on South William Street, but they also have one within a small shop in Temple Bar, “&”. They use Climpson & Sons Coffee which is roasted in London, which is a fantastic roasters… and also nice to see something other than 3FE, not that I don’t love that roasters but good to mix it up! Their Mocha is a thing of beauty. You are presented with a mug of warm milk, with your espresso shot and a lollipop of the most amazing chocolate – mix and watch as it melts away to create the best Mocha in town!

 

Dollard and Co

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The new kid on the block… well sort of, I think it’s been opened a few months now! Getting their coffee from TwoFifity Square Coffee, they make a brilliant Flat White. Plus they open at 8am so it’s great for that walk to work. They also sell their coffee which is great if you like to have a brew a home every now and again.

 

Which is your favourite coffee spot? 

 

 

 

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Howth – A Not so Hidden Gem

I finally managed to go to Howth at the weekend. And I have to say I can see why people recommend it.

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It wasn’t the sunniest of days when we went but it was still a gorgeous seaside town. Situated just outside of Dublin city centre, about 9 miles, it’s super easy to get to! The best way is to get the DART from Connolly Station. You can use your leap card or buy a return for around €6.50. You get off in the very heart of the town, right next to the harbour! It’s perfect to get out the city for a few hours/half a day, see the sea and relax! You can easily spend a lot more time there!

The best time to go is during the week. It can get incredibly busy at the weekends with tourists and locals going for a day out. Also avoid bank holiday weekends, and super sunny days. Though the latter is harder to do as, let’s be honest, everyone wants to go to the sea when it’s sunny.

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We were incredibly lucky when we got there, as there was a very cute fat seal in the water next to all the boats. These aren’t as common as you think! My friend who goes regularly, and says that Howth is her favourite place, has yet to see them. So if you don’t, don’t be disappointed, it’s just another reason to go back! Try not to feed them though, as this can cause them to become dependent on tourists food rather than hunting themselves. You can see them in the harbour and on the walk down to Howth Harbour Lighthouse.

Walking down to the lighthouse, even on a windy day, is lovely to do. It’s been switched off for some years now but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. I am a sucker for lighthouses though so I might be bias on this. From here you can see Ireland’s Eye, a small Ireland just off the North coast.

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And for all those history folk, Howth has a dramatic history, the Howth Gun Running. In July 1914, rifles were openly imported to arm the Irish Volunteers. There were civilian deaths and many wounded when police arrived due to large crowds surrounding the yacht that had bought them in.

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Getting lunch here is obviously a must! You have the classics, Leo Burdocks and Wrights Findlater but I would recommend The House. I had one of the best Seafood Chowders I’ve ever had. Filled with mussels, clams and haddock, plus some chorizo and a poached egg. Are you drooling too? It was fantastic, and so fresh. Plus a cheeky glass of white wine doesn’t go a miss. When you’re done head to The Grind for a Tea or Coffee to take away before carrying on your wondering.

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There is also an incredible walk to do, though I we didn’t do it as we lacked in time you can read all about it here. The loop is about 6km long and gives some of the best views of Howth.

Have you been to Howth? Did you get to see seals? What was your highlight?

Oxmantown – best sandwiches in Dublin

Sandwiches are probably the boys favourite food! I’m pretty sure he would have them for every meal if he could. So we are always on the look out for a new one to try.

As you walk down through Stoneybatter, you can just feel the history. You walk past the beautiful fruit and veg market. Even though there are so many places to choose from Oxmantown is a must go to. In fact, it’s probably the best sandwich town in Dublin! Plus it’s just down the road from the Luas stop. It’s only open Monday to Friday, which is heartbreaking if you work 9-5pm. But if you find yourself this side of the river, and hungry this is the place for you.

Firstly, the interior is adorable! I want that triangular shelve with those gorgeous succulents. And I love the idea of writing the menu on the tiles! Also see if you can spot Lego Homer!

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Breakfast is served 8-11am. They have the most amazing Black Pudding Sandwich, served with pickles, relish and rocket. This sandwich is soft, filling and so flavourful. The black pudding is amazing, if it wasn’t so bad for me I would try to go pre work everyday for this. They also have a BLT – crispy bacon and aioli, need I say more! Plus the BLTs are made using sourdough bread. All of this for only €5.50!

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The coffee is by Cloud Picker! Dublin’s first micro coffee roastery, established in 2013. Smooth, light and creamy, the perfect match to your morning sandwich.

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To top it off, their cakes are delicious AND reasonably priced, which is so rare to see around Dublin. We got these for takeaway as we didn’t really need them for breakfast. We went for the brownie, Pastéis de Nata, and a blueberry Madeleine. I was surprised but my absolute favourite was the Madeleine, so light and fluffy but still packed with flavour!

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Have you been? Or do you have another favourite sandwich place?

 

The Open Gate Brewery, Dublin

First of all a little disclaimer as I don’t want some people to get all antsy about it… The Boy is a Brewery at Guinness and works for the Pilot Plant which provides the beer for the OBG. But this is my view and only my view.

SOME OF THESE BEERS WILL END UP ON TAP AT YOUR LOCAL PUB OR THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD. OTHERS WILL NEVER LEAVE THESE WALLS.

– GUINNESS WEBSITE

If this statement isn’t motivating enough to get you try some of those exclusive beers…With seven beers on tap, rotating as and when they run out, you rarely get the same beer twice. This can be a great thing – I love to try something new, but every now and again disappointing when they don’t have one on you really liked. Though I have learnt from this and have started to get a growler to take home if I really love it. Another great aspect of the Brewery!

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Located just behind the main Storehouse it can sometimes get looked over but it’s well worth a look in. Book online for only €6. For this you obviously get your entry but also a flight of beers (or pint!) of your choice. You really can’t go wrong. Once you finish those don’t worry you aren’t just limited to the one, they have a fully functioning bar so carry on ordering away. Though sorry if you’re travelling with kids, this is a strictly over 18s venue! It is also now Wednesday-Friday, adding another day just before summer.

I enjoy going in and being surprised by what they have in – see if I can find that beer to fit my mood, normally a post rough day at work or Friday Night Drinks! But if you can’t wait they do try to update their website with what’s on. On a side note, it’s a shame that their Twitter is clearly run by a Marketing Team so the vibe of the place is never really given off. Lots of structure, less fun, and well much more marketing! And they don’t have Instagram! Clearly the thoughts of someone who enjoys their Social Media!

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The bar actually looks onto the brewery, or more realistically is part of the brewery! You can see all of the equipment, barrels and every now and again a late worker! This is great, especially if you’re as noisy as I am. But remember it’s a working brewery, so pretty much just giant stainless steel vessels, but still pretty cool to see.

Obviously I have to write about the beers so I’ve just picked a couple that I loved from my last visit –

Citra IPA – You can actually get this one in a few select pubs and bars in Dublin which is great! Lots of citrus flavours coming through from the hops with a slight pinie note. This is a great summer beer.

Hells Yeah – Unfortunately this is one of those that has left us now! I actually got the last ¾ of a pint! But it deserves a mention… Made with German Malts and Hops gives this German style beer an authentic taste. Slight malty with a little bitter edge to it. It’s well balanced, and very easy to drink!

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So whether you’re visiting with friends or live in the area, pop down to the Open Gate Brewery for a cheeky one…or two…or three

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.

 

 

Mosa – Sushi Burritos in the heart of Dublin

20170329_180632Every month I get my BBC Good Food Magazine (via my Mother as it’s posted to her house in the UK!). And to my great delight on their feature page was a restaurant in Dublin – Mosa! Not just that it was Sushi Burritos – two of the best things, Sushi and Burritos!! So come date night it was obvious where we were going to go for dinner. It was a bit odd at first as restaurant is a bit of a stretch, probably more café/fast food! They specialise not in the sushi burrito but bubble tea. I know a lot of people love this but I just can’t get over the texture so we didn’t try it. Though I do think next time I go I will, just to see if it was because I had a bad experience once.

20170329_180452There is a wall covered in colourful post-it notes where people have written everything from reviews to love notes to quotes. It’s sweet as you sit there waiting for you food having a little insight into other people’s lives. There are also origami cranes hanging from the ceiling. I have a massive soft spot for the cranes, as a long time ago I made them for The Boy when we weren’t seeing each other regularly.

To the food…I managed to convince The Boy that he wanted to go halves, which was a miracle in itself! I went for the California Dream – Crispy chicken, sesame seeds, avocado, cucumber and mayo. While The Boy went for the Fantastic Salmon – lettuce, 20170329_181150avocado, salmon and lots and lots of mayo! He was definitely glad we went halves as mine was definitely the better one. The Salmon was just not as flavourful, and had way too much mayo on.
The sizes were also pretty small, definitely more snack size than dinner size. Two things wrong here – the price is not snack size and we went there for dinner! So we ended up getting some popcorn chicken which was deliciously salty.

20170329_182621The service was great! They all seemed to be really happy bubbly people. It’s always so nice getting great service in places, however big or small they are

In all it was good but that’s just it, it was good…nothing to spectacular. I might go back again but there is a lot of other places I would like to try before I do.

The Guinness Storehouse

You can’t live in Dublin and not write a blog on Europe’s leading tourist attraction. The Guinness Store House has over 1.4million tourists visiting last year! And I’ve been 4 times!

First and foremost, book your tickets online! Beat the queues!! You’ll thank me later!

It consists of 7 Floors – Ingredients, Brewing, Tasting, Marketing, Pour your own Guinness, Dining and the Gravity Bar. It’s a self-guided tour so no set times to arrive by which I find a lot nicer and more relaxing. It means you’re not tied down and can insure you get to do some other things before without any time pressure. They do however, do an introductory talk at the beginning if you miss the talk just make sure you see the 9000 year lease in the floor! And look up, the Atrium of the Storehouse is the world’s largest pint shaped glass. Also don’t forget to walk around the outside and fine the famous James Gate Gate! img_20160923_173633

Now let’s go floor by floor…

Ingredients – I have to say I think this is one of my favourite parts! They have the four ingredients all set out in pretty large consistencies. There is almost a sandpit of Barley, img_20170206_212249_390stick your hand in and feel it round through your fingers. See how tall the Hops can grow. Try to peak in and see the Yeast in the safe, protected from all competitors. Hear the waterfall of Water rushing down, brewers are very protective of their water! It’s very informative if you don’t know a lot about how beer is made. I however have been to many brewer tours, plus you tend to pick up a few things when The Boy is a brewer with a Masters degree in it! But I think that Guinness have done a great job in the way they have set it up, very original! Compared to others they have managed to make it a feature of the tour rather than just having it there for the sake of it.

From here you go up a floor to the technical part – how they make the brew! Though first you do go through moving portraits which I just find odd (read pointless)! It’s about Arthur Guinness…the founder if you didn’t know. They clearly don’t have some pictures of him 20161113_140050and his family so they get “normal” people to talk about him and his life. I personally think that this could have been done in a different way but hey-ho each to their own. Anyways, head through there and you get to how they brew The Black Stuff (which isn’t black at all, its Ruby Red in fact!) Remember that – you’ll get a cheeky extra taster later on! You’ll learn about how they roast the barley to 232°C, mashing it to create wort, fermenting it to get that lovely alcohol and everything in between! It’s really interesting! And again well done by Guinness. Follow on to where you can watch videos of Cooperage and how Guinness made it around the world (over 150 countries!!). Spot the sculptor of the “Guinness Pint – Made of More” depicting the past and future of Guinness. It was done by more than 20 artists and took more than 600 hours to do, take time to appreciate their work.

Head on up and don’t miss the Tasting Rooms like two of my friends did! Though this was entertaining to watch as they got on to the escalator with no way of coming back. You go through to a white room filled with aromas of beer. You get given a teeny tiny perfect “pint” of Guinness and get taught how to drink it – sounds odd but it is fun to do! Remember the colour of the beer – if you’re lucky this is where you’ll get an extra taster! They also have all the aromas in smoke form, gives the room a Willy Wonka vibe!

Keep on going up, this time to the marketing…I think this will appeal to the older generation a bit more – all those adverts they grew up with are there as well as some of the newer ones. Don’t miss the room of screens were you get submerged into their adverts. I really love their adverts, I actually don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Their marketing team has always done well, from the super simple posters to the completely out there TV adverts. And the fish on a bike, a classic!

Now if you’re a bar(wo)man this is a lot less fun, it will remind you of all those times someone came in, ordered 5 drinks and then saying they will have a Guinness at the end! Probably the most annoying thing someone can do as to get the perfect pint it takes at least 2 minutes, doesn’t sound like a lot until you have 5 other people waiting to be served! But if you’ve never poured a pint its good fun. You’ll learn how to pour the perfect pint and why it’s done that way. You can opt out of pouring your own if you think you’ve had enough experience or really want someone else to serve you. You also get a little certificate to show off to your friends. And well, you get your pint! Time to head on up for the final time and drink up…20161113_151038

 

To the Gravity Bar you go! 360° (almost, the stairs up block some of it off if you want to be pedantic about it) of Dublin! If you didn’t know Dublin is VERY flat so the bar is the highest point and you can see all the way across to the Aviva Stadium and further! Try and pick out the highlights of Dublin, they do give you some clues as to where to be looking! Try to get a seat, relax, and drink up!

Sláinte