12 Gins to Christmas

This blog is for any gin lover. Over the last year I have tasted some amazing Gins here in Ireland and abroad.

Over the next 12 days I will be sharing my favorite Gins with you.

I hope you will enjoy the blog.

Advertisements

Breakfast

Had a great Breakfast last week up at the Hill of Tara. There isn’t a lot that needs to be said about this place. It’s always Top Quality. Good food. Fresh and clean with great staff and very good coffee. More places could follow.

Breakfast

Iv been finding it difficult lately to find a decent breakfast in Navan. And one that does both a good breakfast and a coffee. Very rare. The other off putting thing about eating during the day in Navan is parking.

The only decent coffee shop in Navan is Room 8. Fresh food, friendly staff and a clean building. The only negative is that it’s so small. If there’s a buggy in there, forget about having a quite breakfast.

Sunday is my treat day for a good breakfast. Room 8 is not open and I’m left with the “Greasy Spoons” type of places. So last Sunday I drove to drogheda for breakfast.

Stopped off in Boyne Pantry, and wasn’t disappointed. I got the Pantry Breakfast. I love the fact that they use local produce. Excellent coffee and friendly service. Can you open in Navan?

Brownes 

On a lovely afternoon in the Boyne Valley we headed to Slane Castle for Lunch. Brownes bar is new and I had heard raving reviews. 

Living a short distance from Slane I had never been to the Castle before. Which is a real shame.  As we drove up to the castle it looked amazing. Fabulous grounds and something  so magical about it. 


The entrance into Brownes is really special. Decorated with out door chairs and planters. A really nice walk to the front door. You could close your eyes and imagine been a princess The weather was so good we could have been anywhere. But the real beauty was that we weren’t just anywhere, we were in The Boyne Valley. 

We were lucky to get a table. It was very busy. We opted to sit inside, as nice as it was outside it was a tad cold . Menus dropped by a very polite young girl. 


Really nice information on the menu telling us the story about where the Bar got its name. I can confirm I was as relaxed as Ms Browne was. It was nice to sit there and try to imagine what it looked like back then. 

The menu was limited for me, as I don’t eat red meat or cheese. The only fish option was crab claws and I wasn’t in the mood for this. I did see other guests enjoying them and they looked delicious. But for me I went for a dessert and coffee. Doughnuts with strawberrys. Flavours were Jam and Salted Caramel. Absolutely delicious. So soft and fresh and just the right amount of filling. Coming back again for this and just might treat myself to a glass of prosecco. 


The only criticism I have and it’s not a major one, it seemed to be over staffed, with this leaving the service a bit sloppy, everyone seemed to be a bit like “busy fools” It was difficult to get anyones attention to get the bill. Saying that however it was a very relaxed afternoon and I can’t wait to return with friends. 

Faro

Recently took a short break to Faro Algarve Portugal. We were looking for somewhere quite with a pool and a bit of culture. Faro was perfect. 


We flew with Ryan Air. The flight was about 3 hours. Getting from Faro airport to Faro was very simple. You have options of shuttle buses, Taxi or bus. We opted to take the bus. It’s bus number 16 and takes about 15 mins to get into faro. It cost €2.25, pay the driver and have the correct amount. The last stop is the bus station where we got off and our hotel was a 2 min walk. Hotel Eva. 


Hotel Eva is situated right on the Marina and is a very good 4 star hotel. Roof top pool, rooms and suites. There is 2 restaurants with amazing views and they also have a health club. 

Our booking included breakfast. What a great selection of cold and hot food. Friendly breakfast staff. Only one negative, the coffee was filtered, and not nice. But the sparkling wine was excellent. 


Faro is small and you would have it travelled in half a day. But it’s beautiful. 


We booked a boat trip to the islands for our second day. It was a hop on hop off boat. Luckily Faro’s season hadn’t started yet so there was no queuing for the boats. Our first stop was the lighthouse. And this island was our favourite. 


There was a lot of locals here and the beach was amazing. Unfortunately we could not go up the lighthouse as it was closed on a Monday. Our next stop was llha Deserta which was pretty gorgeous. The beach went on for miles. We stayed a while and got some sun and then stopped off at the restaurant. There is only 1 restaurant and is expensive as far as Faro is. 


Our last stop was the fishing island. Another great beach. 


Faro has some great restaurants shops and bars. We really enjoyed our trip here and would definitely go back. 

Limerick 

I was attending a restaurant marketing workshop in Limerick  yesterday. The workshop was run by Marc Thornton from DTA Marketing. It was a very interesting workshop. It was casual and not too formal which is what I like, very relaxing. There was a lovely group of people attending and Marc keep us all motivated. It was worth attending and I learned loads. It was also nice sharing stories with other restauranteurs. Marc runs workshops all over Ireland so do check out his site for more details. 


I stayed in the Limerick Strand Hotel. I’ve stayed here before and would highly recommend it. Close to the city,  the food here is amazing with a great influence on local. The staff are very friendly which is something I found every where I went. Limerick people are very nice. 

The picture above is of a Gin I had in House. House is owned by Alan Clancy who owns House Dublin and 37 Dawson Street. 

They have a great Gin menu (pictured below). The bar man in The Strand Hotel recommended I should definitely try out Breil Pur, a gim from Switzerland. Great Mint and Chocolate Flavours. Loved it. 


The second Gin to try was Elephant Gin from Germany , very different, sharp and zesty. Again a very nice gin plus no elephants were hurt in the making of the gin lol 


Also ordered a bread board with dips. Amazing. The dips were so fresh and the bread was served with Sea Salt on it. Loved it. 


House is decorated very hip and comfortable. Again the staff are so polite and they were smiling, happy staff. A quick trip to the loo was next and I’m glad I did. The loos are amazing, but the best part was the powder room across from the loos. 


I could easily move to Limerick. I loved it. 

Today before the drive home took a walk around the city and popped into The Buttery for lunch. Very cool place. Friendly staff again and very very nice food. I had the Cajun Burger. I loved the whole madness about the decoration, a very funky cafe and wine bar. 


Limerick it was a pleasure and I can’t wait to return again. 

Northern Ireland

After a crazy few months I really needed to get away.  Mayo of course is always my first choice. But this time I decided I needed to go somewhere different. Across the border to Northern Ireland was decided.

I’ve been to Belfast before and loved it, I really like the accent. My last visit here was to discover the city but this time I needed more. I needed to discover Northern Ireland and in some ways I needed to rediscover myself.

The Ramanda was where I stayed, it was located close (walking distance) to the places I wished to visit. I didn’t reach Belfast until around 1pm, even with Google maps I got lost twice, the roads are layed out a bit strange. Well that’s my excuse.

First place to visit was Titanic Experience. It’s loaded with information and so much history to take in. You could very easily spend the whole day here. It’s not expensive and I would highly recommend a visit. I’m a bit of an old romantic and still love the story of Jack and Rose. Trying to take something positive from the sinking of the Titanic is impossible and the movie gives us the love story. Slightly overwhelm and full of knowledge it was time to get back to the hotel.

Dinner choice was Mourne Sea food. But before this a quick stop off at the Dirty Onion. A pub recommend by a friend. It was a really cool place. A great spot in the summer I’d imagine. The outdoor area was very hip and as I was about to leave it was getting busy. I did ask the bar maid what was the meaning behind the name. I won’t write what she told me. But I will say that the Dirty Onion has layers of great fun.

snapchat-422755642

A few pints here and a nice stroll over to Mourne seafood. A little early for my reservation so I decided I’d try a pint of Guinness in the bar next door. Kellys. Very south of Ireland pub. The Guinness was tasty and the Irish rebel songs were fun.

snapchat-453179872

Dinner next. Mourne Seafood is a chic trendy spot. A great smell of fish when you walk in the door, I can tell  you if your a fish fan your in for some lovely food.

Mussels,  small portion ordered to start. Cooked perfectly and not overpowered by the sauce. Great starter. Sorry the picture isn’t great.

img_20170228_174840_666

Next up was the  Lobster Burger.  Oh My God. Food Porn. The nicest Lobster Burger I’ve ever eaten. I’m still dreaming about it. It was fresh and full of flavour, not expensive and served with a side of chips.

20170220_211813

The staff are very friendly. They have a sister restaurant in Dundrum, I’m looking forward to checking that out in the very near future.

The next day, up early as a drive to the Rope Bridge and the Giants Causeway was the plan.

snapchat-1699994850

Reached the Rope Bridge first,  (only got lost twice) it was a cold day with light rain. But I couldn’t wait. Tickets got and a 1 mile walk to the bridge. Let’s do this. The view is breathtaking and you can’t help yourself but stop to try and capture the beauty that you are walking alone side with.  No picture can truely show you this. Been there and seeing it, feeling the wind and rain on your face I hadnt felt so alive in such a long time. When I reached the bridge there was a few people in line before me. I had hurt my foot on the walk so the rest was welcome. Only 8 people are allowed to cross the bridge at one time. Our group was next. Steel steps down to the bridge, I could feel my legs shake, I don’t know why, I’m not afraid of heights, (like seriously have you seen my shoes) . Got to the bridge, started to walk across “don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down” then I look down. WOW I’m glad I did. It was breath taking. I couldn’t take a picture,  I don’t know why my hands were shaking and my legs like jelly. Loved every moment of this. There is nothing better than been in the fresh air to clear your mind, and your soul  and be tankful to god for been alive.

Giants Causeway was next. It’s just up the road from the Rope Bridge I was told…. do you think I got lost again?

A really enjoyable 15 min walk down to the Causeway. Nice fresh wind in your face. I could have been anywhere in the world.  It has been  quite a few months since I felt so happy. This trip was so much more than I expected it would be. This trip woke me up from the torture I was putting myself through.

I was getting me back.

Pictured below is some lovely fun pictures I took on the streets.

Thank you Northern Ireland, you gave me more than I expected.

Pizza and a Pint 

After a very busy day yesterday with back to back meetings I was way to tired to cook. So we decided to go to The Central for something to eat. 
I’m usually in the central for coffee or drinks. When you have a chronic illness like mine eating out can be extremely difficult, painful and sometimes embarrassing. 
Pizza and a  Pint offer was on. David the very friendly waiter took our order. I had the veggie with no cheese and I was very impressed. We ordered a side  of the sweet potato fries also, my new favourite. 

The deal is available Monday – Thursday and costs an amazing €9.95. 

Highly recommend and looking forward to having this again. 

Corks cafe and Wine Bar

Headed over here yesterday for lunch. The place is quite deceiving from the out side, much bigger when you walk in. The decoration is lacking variety, lots of Windows so great light coming into the place. In my opinion it could do with a face lift and some funky lights. 

I ordered their lunch special a cup of soup and a wrap. Changes had to be made to the wrap, no meat or cheese. This wasn’t a problem. The soup was roasted red pepper, missing seasoning and a little sweet, but very enjoyable. Presentation wasn’t great with the soup dripping down the side of the cup. 


The wrap was delicious and was served with leaves underneath. Fresh with a lovely spicy dressing. 

Service was unsatisfactory , no cutlery was dropped to the table or a napkin. My guest had sea food chowder, but didn’t have a knife to butter his bread. Tryed several times to get the waitress attention. She did apologise and advised that she was new, poor girl seemed to be the only one working. The wine list looked very average and not as big as I expected from a wine bar. 


The food was lovely but the building lacked any kind of atmosphere, it was cold and dull. It has great potential to be so much better. 

Yorkshire……. Gods own Country 

Gods Own Country  was first used to describe the Wicklow mountains. Several other countries followed suit like Australia,  Wales and even the United States. I recently had the pleasure to visit Yorkshire, but I didn’t get to see much of it as my trip was to visit family in Hull.

I found Yourkshire people are very friendly and polite. And can see why my sister loves to live in such a beautiful place like Yorkshire. There are so many places I would love to see, I would love to visit the Peak District in South Yorkshire, and visit the greenest city in Europe Sheffield and try and count all the trees. The North York Moors looks like a lovely place to visit also. More trips to visit my sister I think. 

Saramique Studio is a family friendly pottery painting studio and coffee house. 

We were in Hessle village for breakfast and popped here after a nice walk around the shops for a coffee. The coffee is locally roasted, their signature Jones blend is very smooth and slightly bitter. Really good coffee. 


Lovely little outside seating area to the front and a great big courtyard  area out the back. 


Their pottery is not just for kids,  but they have adult nights too with a BYO Policy. Sounds like a nice girly night out. I’ll be back. 

I love the decorations in this place. On one side of the room its light and airy where you do your pottery and on the other side is a more relaxed chill out area with comfortable seats. They have sweet treats and local crisps and lemonade. I love love love that they support local. 

This place is good for loads of reasons. A quite cup of coffee, a nice chill area, or pottery. I’m looking forward to popping in again on my next visit. 
Well done guys.