Barcelona Eats


Catalan Cream a la Cal Pep 

I wasn’t planning on posting about our eats in Barcelona, which we visited a few weeks back.  In truth, most of our time in Gaudi’s canvas-of-a-city was spent either living it up at Primavera Sound festival.  And when we weren’t doing that, we were recovering on the beach.

However, in the two weeks since our trip to this most brilliant of cities, the memory of one spectacular meal has lingered, finally nudging me to do this belated big-up post to an understated yet ah-mazing tapas bar in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter: Cal Pep at Number 8 Placa de les Olles.

It was a post over on Niamh’s blog Eat Like A Girl that had put Cal Pep on my list of food spots to try in Barcelona.  We were in Barcelona for five days, three of which were entirely consumed with the festival.  We found Cal Pep on the first night but as there was a large queue and we were with a big group, we settled for an okay-ish place on the same square.

We walked past Cal Pep every day for the next three days.  Each time, there was a queue outside the door, once with a queue forming before it had even opened for the evening.  It kept coming up in conversations with friends we met at the festival.

By this time, I was getting anxious about this little place.  I knew it was going to be awesome.  But would I get the chance to try it??

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Getting Our Greens On


Last week, myself and Niall spent a jolly-well wonderful few days in Barcelona at the not-for-the-faint-hearted music festival Primavera Sound.  The festival itself was rather all consuming, but we did manage to squeeze in a few decent meals along the way, including one exceptional one.  That we enjoyed in Cal Pep, a little place in the Gothic Quarter with a perpetual queue outside its door.  We queued for an hour and ten minutes for lunch, a wait which proved to be more than worth it.  Definitely, definitely hit it when you visit Barcelona. And make sure you order the omlette.  To. Die. For.

As for the festival, we partied like it was still 1999.  But we all know it’s not 1999 anymore.  And so, we flew home with our tails between our legs and a terrible bout of The Fear in our suitcases.  We dragged ourselves home from the airport feeling about a hundred years old.

After a particularly excessive weekend or holiday I crave green foods as a way to increase the recovery process.  I’m not sure if it actually scientifically helps but it certainly helps me psychologically.  And that’s good enough for me.

Here’s a great little recipe which I came up with combining an idea on 101 Cookbooks for pan-fried chickpeas and a fantastic dressing I picked up on Home Organics’ blog.  Best thing is this only takes about 20 minutes and is packed full of soothingly salty flavour.  So it’s perfect for a super healthy but tasty treat for when you’re not feeling your best, whatever the reason.

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Chicken Hotpot Hugs


Sometimes, after a long week or a hectic weekend, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a comforting hotpot.  These all-in-one-pot dishes are super simple to put together and there’s not much to wash up after.

I made mine with leeks, bacon, potatoes and carrots and let it cook in the oven for 35 minutes.  What came out was a delicious stew that made our Sunday night supper a delight.

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Bloom In The Park Tickets Competition Bonanza!


Ok, well, it’s not really a bonanza as such, but I do have one pair of tickets to give away for this year’s Bloom In The Park.

Taking place in Phoenix Park on the June Bank Holiday weekend from Thursday the 2nd and Monday the 6th of June from 10am to 6pm daily, this year promises to be the festival’s best yet. I know festivals say that every year, but truly, Bord Bia are bringing together some of the loveliest food and foliage folk in the country for this year’s Bloom.

If you would like to enter a draw to win one pair of one-day tickets for Bloom, please leave a comment by next Wednesday the 25th of May telling me who is your favourite Irish food producer and why.  

I will pick a winner at random on the 26th of May, so there’ll be lots of time for your tickets to arrive in the post.

Tickets for the festival are a brilliantly reasonable €15 for a day ticket and weekend tickets if pre-booked.  They’re €20 if bought on the day so it’s worth booking in advance.  Kids under 16 go free all weekend!

If you were going to choose between Taste of Dublin and Bloom, I’d say Bloom wins hands down for value for money.  Without a shadow of a doubt.

Have a look at the Bloom In The Park website for details of all the fabulous events that will be taking over the park on the June Bank Holiday weekend.



Wisdom Tooth Food Doesn’t Have To Suck


Home-made super quick frozen banana yoghurt

I’m just going to admit it.  I am an AWFUL patient.

Honestly.  Sometimes I think I’m not a real girl.  Ladies are supposed to deal with moderate illnesses stoically, right?  While I’m actually pretty good at dealing with initial pain – injections, piercings, etc – constant, dull pain drives me crazy.  And I make sure I let everyone around me know about it.

When I am a little ill, the one thing that puts a temporary stop to my whining is a good feed.  Chicken noodle soup for colds, chocolate for headaches and a toasted ham and cheese for a twisted ankle.

Last week, I had a wisdom tooth removed.  Although it was only a singular tooth, just one little tooth, after The Operation I managed to wail my way through the better part of three days, knocking back more Solpadeine than was probably healthy.

Or necessary.

Knowing that eating was not going to be a straight-forward placebo after my wisdom tooth op, I had armed myself (well, it would be more accurate to say I had armed Niall) with a handful of recipes for soft, but not gross, food to help get us through the recovery period.

It’s probably one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.  We got through those torturous few days post-op on a diet of delicious dishes.  All which happened to be mashed.

And, hey, I promise getting your wisdom teeth out isn’t actually all that bad.  As long as you have lots of nice soft things to eat.

My wonderful friend and co-columnist Aoife Barry sent me this recipe for frozen banana yoghurt on Choosing Raw.  It is so easy to make and it really soothes a sore mouth.  Wisdom tooth problems or not, this recipe is a winner for anyone, anytime, anywhere.  It’s delicious.  And so easy to make!

Have a look after the jump for the recipe, as well as a few other ideas for Wisdom Tooth Food That Doesn’t Suck.

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Donal Skehan: Kitchen Hero


Donal Skehan, already a favourite of his fellow food bloggers, is set to become Ireland’s newest Kitchen Hero with the launch of the book and TV series of the same name.

Donal has been an active member of the food blogging community for the last few years.  He’s always been very generous with his knowledge of food and food photography, he’s helped food bloggers and Bord Bia get together, he loves cooking, and he’s totally adorable.  Seriously.  What’s not to love?

I’ve had my own copy of Kitchen Hero for a few weeks since its launch in April.  Myself and Niall have been getting great use out of it for simple mid-week suppers.  There’s lots of inspiration within this beautifully photographed cookbook and it’s ideal for beginner cooks.  The recipes aren’t intimidating and are laid out in the Anyone Can Cook style of Jamie Oliver.  And the chef from Ratatouille.  Of course.

Donal also started holding online Dinner Parties, otherwise known as Twinnerparties.  He picks a three course meal, you invite some friends over and cook Donal’s meal following his recipes.  Best of all, Donal stays on Twitter for the duration of the Twinnerparty – in case you need some help!  His next Twinnerparty is taking place tomorrow night, Thursday the 5th of May.  Have a look at his website for all further details – there’s still time to join in.

Kitchen Hero is in all good book shops around the country – I got mine in The Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar – and the accompanying TV series premières on RTE One at 8.30pm on May 16th.  Exireh!!

Donal’s Chilli, Garlic and Lemon Mackerel and Sophie’s Squashed Potatoes as cooked by Aoife and Niall

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Come Dine With Me: The Grand Finale


Coronation Chicken Terrine a lá Emma and Wendy 

You may have been following my school friends’ epic colour-themed Come Dine With Me battle that’s been going on since my partner Fiona and I hosted our Mellow Yellow evening back in October of 2010.  The Orange Team held their night in November, followed by a Green evening in February of this year.

Last Friday night, it was time for the final evening of our Come Dine With Me series.  The Red Team were up and as it was April 29th, it would have been rude not to acknowledge the Royal Wedding in some way.  And so it was that I went to a Royal Wedding Themed Come Dine With Me dinner last Friday night.  And what jolly good fun it was, too.

A big thank you to Emma, Fiona, Frances, Jenny, Judith, Sarah and Wendy who made this year’s CDWM even more fun than the years before.  And also a shout-out to Edwina and Julie Anne who joined us for the soirée last Friday night.

Have a look after the jump for more pics of the Royally Red evening and to find out who walked away from this round as the winners!

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Broad Bean and Black Pudding: True BFFs


Time for another McCarthy’s of Kanturk delight.  This chocolate and pistachio black pudding was the first thing I tasted from Jack McCarthy’s family butchers’ repertoire.  Talk about a sweet introduction.

I mean, what is it?  A cake?  A black pudding?  What?!

I don’t care what it is.  It tastes amazing.  It’s not available in shops yet, as Jack is testing out different variations on the chocolate black pudding theme.  It made an appearance at Inishfood, which led to a few of us experimenting with it at home.  I popped it on top of some broad bean purée while Tara over at the Tasty Tart road tested it by wrapping it around some delicious looking monkfish.  Holy wow!

I’ve tried it just on plain toasted bread with a bit of olive oil.  I’ve tried it with some Irish blue cheese and a bit of Ballymaloe relish.  I also tried it with the broad bean purée.  It’s so incredibly rich that it’s probably best enjoyed on its own.  The broad bean purée however works amazingly well with less complex black pudding.

Have a look after the jump for the broad bean purée recipe to sit under your black pudding of choice.  This is a great little snack, perfect for a dinner party.  It takes very little time to make, and as the only cooking involved is the frying of the black pudding, it makes a great rustic dinner party canapé or starter.

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22 Hours At The Waterford Food Festival


Veal cannelloni at The Tannery, Dungarvan

Last Friday, myself and Niall headed to Waterford for a twenty-two hour pitstop in Dungarvan to catch a snippet of The Waterford Food Festival.

We arrived at 5pm on Friday evening and left at 3pm on Saturday, but, boy, did we fit a lot in.

We enjoyed fresh and local asparagus and rhubarb, grown about 100 yards from where we ate it, and picked that day too.  We slept in one of the loveliest guesthouses we’ve ever stayed in.  We tried freshly shucked local oysters on the shore of the oyster beds from whence they came.  We had a tour of Dungarvan Brewing Company’s brewery and met the owners, while supping their beer at a tender 10:30 in the morning.  We had a fish demonstration as Gaeilge in Waterford’s Gaeltacht.

Not bad for 22 hours.  We missed loads of stuff though.  The Waterford Food Festival was held from the 14th of April until Sunday the 17th of April.  We didn’t get to O’Brien’s Chop House (next time!).  We didn’t get to taste Dungarvan Brewing Company’s Coffee and Oatmeal Stout.  We didn’t get to check out the Farmers’ Market on the Sunday.

Clearly Waterford, and Dungarvan in particular, have got it going on.

Skip the jump for more photos of the ah-mazing Tannery in Dungarvan and of our whistle-stop tour in general.

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Leek + Bacon + Pasta = Win


Pasta, pasta, pasta.  I could eat it forever.  I really could.  It’s so comforting and easy to work with, and the sauce possibilities are just endless.  Total amazeness.

For most of us, a home-made pasta lunch is usually only possible on the weekends.  But in truth, that’s the best time for it as you’re then able to indulge yourself in a post-pasta snoozefest.  Lovely.

This is a super quick and startlingly simple pasta sauce that puts the always delicious leek and bacon/pancetta flavour combination to good use.  Perfect for a lazy weekend lunch or a quick and snappy mid-week dinner.

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