Best Not Wear A Belt Today
Ireland has certainly come into its own as a culinary destination of the highest level in recent years and nowhere is the foodvolution more evident than in the country’s capital. Start the day with a delicious breakfast at Number 31, Dublin’s most refined bed and breakfast experience. No surprise there; the beds are located in the former home of celebrated Irish architect Sam Stephenson amidst the Georgian splendour south of St Stephen’s Green, and the breakfasts have won Irish food critic Georgina Campbell’s award as Best Breakfast In Ireland—no small feat in a land where breakfast is a point of pride among hotels. With a Georgian mansion across the private courtyard serving as a counterpoint to the Stephenson abode, guests can opt for traditional or groovy accommodation like Room 14, the original master bedroom, a cleverly designed minimalist room open to the sky above.
After a good start and stuffing, walk off a few of those slices of Number 31’s famous cranberry nut loaf with a walking tour—one that introduces the low-key destinations of foodie favourites around town. Fabulous Food Trails takes care of the intros; all you have to do is follow the affable guide and enjoy the free samples.
Sheridans Cheesemongers presents the best of Ireland’s cheeses; the staff, all very smart people educated in a multitude of fields like zoology and pharmacology, have forsaken their academic backgrounds to follow their true callings in life: CHEESE! When Sheridans Cheesemongers’ cheesemongers talk, cheese eaters listen.
A meander down atmospheric Camden St reveals several generations-old vendors such as Morrissey’s Family Butchers, where ancestral tradition is carried on by the latest offspring, both male and female, of the current owner—and the fact that daughter Sarah Morrissey, Miss Ireland 2006, represented her country in the Miss World pageant does not take away from the fact that she is also a licensed butcher. There’s one talent competition I would have enjoyed seeing.
Further along, a stop at The Bald Barista reveals a totally comfy living room masquerading as a place of business. Larger than life personality Buzz Fendall, said barista, exchanged life in New Zealand for life in Ireland and has never looked back. At The BB, coffee is a luxuriant elixir to the soul, meant to be savoured, not a bitter brown water speedily gulped. His artistic froth brings a smile to the faces of numerous cappuccino sippers in the city, many of whom are devoted regulars who attempt to match wits with The Bald One—not an easy feat by any means.
By now, lunchtime is approaching. If the food tour did not fill your stomach, stop in for something different at the Silk Café in the sublime Chester Beatty Library, one of Dublin’s most polished gems. The legacy of American-born Irishman Chester Beatty is a superb collection of books exhibited in an equally splendid building, as befits a country with one of the world’s richest literary traditions. The café’s pan-cultural fare is a reflection of the museum collections themselves, which include one of the most beautiful and extensive anthologies of Near and Middle Eastern works in the world as well as considerable East Asian and Western collections. Walk off the lunch with a stroll around the displays, then make haste for the funderful Cake Café, a playful little hideaway set in a private courtyard in the Daintree Building on Pleasants Place. An apt location, indeed, for this eco-forward respite from reality on the other side of the building. No outdoor heaters here; the kitchen heat is recycled via underground vents to the garden area so that the brisk Irish air can be enjoyed in comfort.
What about dîner? The highlight of any culinary adventure to Dublin is undoubtedly a meal at the famous L’Écrivain, owned by Derry and Sallyanne Clarke, something of a dynamic duo of Irish cuisine. Employing French techniques on Ireland’s hyperfresh ingredients has yielded a twenty-year history as the city’s most coveted reservation. Derry’s second book, Keeping It Simple, has just been published and serves as a worthy follow-up to the hugely successful Not Just A Cookbook of four years ago.
What needs to be said about L’Écrivain that your imagination cannot tell you? Exquisite combinations of fine foods, wines, and (of course) desserts, all served by an affable staff eager to make that smile on your face a permanent feature, are everything a fine dining experience is supposed to be: great food, great atmosphere, and the desire to go back before you have even left. Sounds like Dublin to me.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: R.L.B