Come Dine With Me Behind the Scenes: Shopping

procesco with messy kitchen

Strawberry Champagne (Prosecco) in my messy kitchen

Two weeks ago, we had our first heat of Come Dine With Me.  As I said earlier, I was waiting for all of the votes to be sent in to our neutral score keeper until I revealed what went on behind the scenes.

I think I managed to maintain a stress-free good-host exterior, but I can now reveal that I did, in fact, have a bit of a freak attack on the Friday of CDWM.

You see, I had gone to great list-making lengths of organising myself for the evening.  I made different lists for shopping – not only what I needed to get but in which shops I would get them as well as what times I would be going to the shops and in what order etc.

I had also made an organisational plan of my cooking process.  I had everything included, like what time I would start peeling the spuds, when I would wash the strawberries, to when I would take the spuds out of the oven, etc.  Everything.

Now, being organised does not come naturally to me.  So it was no surprise really that about an hour and a half before the guests were arriving, I realised that I had LOST my bloody cooking plan!  That really says it all.  It threw me into a tizzy which poor Niall had to bear the brunt of.  We laughed about it afterwards (much later afterwards, mind).

Let’s start at the beginning, though, before the panic attacks and tears and throwing down of aprons in frustration.  I finished work at around 1pm and set off to get my ingredients for the night.

First stop was Avoca on Suffolk Street (near to Grafton Street for out of towners), where I needed to pick up my place mats and napkins for the evening.  Doesn’t matter how much of a tomboy you are, one foot inside Avoca and you catch Girly, making you squeal with delight over the frills and sparkly things everywhere.  Beautiful shop.

avoca kitchenavoca rugs
avoca displayavoca stuff

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Coppinger Row


Myself and Niall enjoyed a slightly squiffy Saturday lunch at Coppinger Row in Dublin earlier today.

Coppinger Row is a newly opened restaurant on a little lane in my favourite part of Dublin.  It’s housed in the lane that runs between South William Street and Clarendon Street.  For more Dublin style directions, it’s the lane between Magill’s Meat and Grogan’s Pub (toasted special and pint of Guinness, beautiful).

The vibe in Coppinger Row is somewhere between chilled out and super chic.  The interior of the place is done out in old-school utility type chairs and bits and bobs of antique pieces, lending itself to the cosy feel of the space.

We sat outside and pretended we lived in Europe for the afternoon.  It was sunny and we had the best seats in the house for watching the folk walk by  in their summer gear.

little fishies

As you can see in the pics above, we started with some beautiful fluffy home-made bread and shared a bowl of Fried Whitebait and Lemon (€4.50).  The wee fishies were delightful; they were very lightly fried with a subtle batter that was so tasty, it distracted us from the fact that our little fishies had eyes.  Staring at us.  Sorry, fishies, you were too delicious to take pity on you.  Had to eat ya.  Get in me belly.

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Come Dine With Me Grub

cdwm folks

Aoife, Collette, Alan, Jocelyn and Alan (Niall behind the camera!)

So, we had our first Come Dine With Me last Friday night.  Thanks for all the support on twitter!  It was a fun night.

I’m only going to post the pics of what I cooked for Niall, Alan, Collette, Jocelyn and John.  I don’t want to tamper with their vision of me as the cool, collected hostess.  Which of course I was.

So once all their marks are in, I’ll post a further in depth look on the night (and day of cooking!) as well as the recipes etc.

strawberry champagne

Strawberry Champagne – with Proseco, obviously.  Recession, anyone?

strawberry salad

Strawberry, Halloumi and Parma Ham Salad

fishy leeky mess

Fishy Leeky Mess with Spudsyou can see how it got its name!

muscovada heaven

Muscovado Heavean with Amaretti Biccie

As soon as our neutral judge Fintan receives everybody’s scores, I will be posting a full disclosure on the night that was.  Including a video which may or may not include drunken dancing to Billy Ocean’s Get Out Of My Dreams and Into My Car

Come Dine With Me


My menu for our first Come Dine With Me tomorrow night!

Every Sunday between around 4.30pm and 7pm, I am at the most unproductive of my entire week.  This is entirely down to Come Dine With Me.  Oh, how I love it.

Which is why I decided to get a few friends together and do our own Come Dine With Me.

Tomorrow night, I will be hosting the first of three nights, and as you can see from my menu above, I’m going for a light summery menu which will hopefully be delicious (and stress free!).

My guests are our friend Alan and his lovely lady Collette, my friend Jocelyn and Alan’s friend John.  Tomorrow night will be the first time I’ve met John, and it will be the first time that Jocelyn has met Alan, Collette and John.  So we all have a stranger to please and woo with our sensational hosting skills.

Oh, gleeee! I’m really excited now.

I’ll be cataloguing the trials and tribulations of each night and of course we will be scoring each other’s nights based on presentation, ambience and food.  I might even try to do a few videos but, we’ll see what happens.

Stay tuned for details on how Friday night goes.  Wish me luck!

Taboo Foods with a side order of Gonzo, anyone?

oyster shots topoyster shots side

Okay, folks.  This one is not for the veggies.  Or the faint-hearted.

Last Sunday, myself and Niall went down to Ukiyo Bar on Exchequer Street to experience the Evolution of The Ciaran Crawford Acion Figure Doll.

The low-down is essentially this: Ciaran Crawford is an Irish chef with a rambunctious personality, a love for life, and a passion for food.  I’ve never  met the man, but having tasted his food and hearing a few tales, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to.

A few years back, he teamed up with his mate Dylan Scott to write an alternative cookbook.  It’s a collection of short stories in Dylan’s stream of consciousness style, and highlights the art of creating food, highlighting thoughts on some choice times spent with Ciaran, while Dylan was “experiecing Dublin as a New Yorker.”

The idea of the Evolution of The Ciaran Crawford Acion Figure Doll night is that Ciaran cooks a six course themed tasting experience, while Dylan reads excerpts from the book between courses.

Tonight’s theme was Taboo Foods.  Nice.  We were seated with the lovely Ciaran from Le Cool, who had been to the last installment of the night, a fortnight previously.

First course: The “Bloody Marie Dripping on the Bathroom Floor Oyster Shooter”

oyster shots big

Charming name aside, this is a pretty fantastic shooter.  A squeeze of lime into the gazpacho style salsa liquid with a big, fat, juicy oyster swimming around in the middle.  Delicious.  And not so taboo, no?

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A Sunday Steak Salad

Steak Salad

Darn it, it’s so hard to get the colours right in these food pics!

The food in the pic above looks horrendous but I assure you, the salad was lovely!

Yesterday morning being Sunday, I trotted off to the shop to get my mitts on The Observer, as it was Food magazine month hurrah!  I was pleasantly surprised when I got home to see that it was the 100th Issue of The Food Monthly.

To mark the occasion, a list of the 10 easiest, fastest recipes ever made up the bulk of the supplement.  The Steak with Warm New Potato and Rocket Salad by Tom Norrington Davies caught my eye.

The pic in The Observer was obviously more beautiful than the one above.  And I promise you that on our plates the salad and steak didn’t look as brown and dirgy as they do in the pic above.

This took me about 35 minutes to make because I’m a bit bumbly (new word for clumsy and awkward, just made it up) and can NOT multi-task.  Just can’t.

The end result was really delicious and I’d definitely make it again.

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Marmite Soldiers and Boiled Egg? Really??

close up eggs

I was about thirteen the first time I tried Marmite.  As is no doubt a pretty normal reaction, I spat it out instantly and retched dramatically while scrubbing my tongue in protest.  God, it was vile.

I came around to Marmite sometime last year.  My flatmates BenAnna started spreading it ever so slightly over their toast.  There was something about it that looked…well, yum.

I tentatively tried it one morning, spreading the tiniest amount of the stuff over some nice toasted Polish bread.  By gum, it was yum!

Since then, I’ve gradually upped my doses of Marmite on toast, and I positively crave the stuff when I’m hungover.  It must be all that B12.

I got this little breakfast idea from The Jamie Oliver Magazine. It’s great.  If you’re a fan of Marmite, go for it.  If you’re not a fan, give it a try.  You might be surprised!

Jamie’s Marmite Soldiers with Boiled Egg

Boil up your eggs as you like them.  My perfect egg is achieved by popping the egg into salted boiling water and leaving it for 5 minutes.

Get some nice white bread, toast it up and add butter and marmite. Be as generous or as stingy with your Marmite, according to your taste.

Chop up your toast into Marmite Soldiers, take the top of your egg and dunk.  You don’t even need salt in the egg because of the saltiness of the Marmite.

I washed mine down with some coffee and the 100th Issue of The Observer Food Monthly, which is packed with loaaads of recipes as well as Alex James from Blur giving out about the lack of decent cheese at Glastonbury.  Tee hee!

egg with mags

Come Grime With Me

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Big up to my bud Fenster for pointing me in the direction of this. It’s Come Grime With Me!

And a little heads up for y’all…this won’t be the last Come Dine With Me related posting in the coming weeks….oooh the intrigue!

Ah no, I may as well tell you.  Me and a few mates are getting together to do our own little Come Dine With Me.  The food we eat and the scores we give and receive will of course be outlined on this here blog.  And I might even throw a wee ‘Making Of’ video.  Oh, what fun!

This is Come Grime With Me, a version of Come Dine With Me, only all of the cooks are players in the UK Grime Scene.  Featured here are DJs Manara & Bok Bok, MC Donae’o, L-Vis 1990 and the inimitable Warrior Queen.


Part One

Part Two

Gruel…I love you. There. I’ve said it!


So, yeah.  Gruel is officially my favourite restaurant in Dublin.  It has its faults, but in my eyes, it’s the closest to (my kind of) dining perfection that I’ve had the experience of tasting in Dublin.

When I bring friends to Gruel, I feel the same way as I do when I show an out of towner around Dublin.  I really love the place and, so, I want them to see it at its best too.

There have been a few occasions when friends of mine and Gruel just haven’t clicked.  It can be very crowded in the upstairs part of the swamped restaurant on a weekend night, and yes, some of the staff can be a bit distant (never the sweet Italian lady with the glasses though, she’s lovely).  A little gripe  people have with the place is the compulsory 10% service charge, whether or not you liked the service.

But I have always gone back for the food and the cute little kitschy vibe of the place.  They have exactly the same glasses that my Nanny McElwain used to give us Orange Squash out of circa 1988.

wine glasses

Some people object to being served wine in these little glasses, and although I do agree that it must affect the taste of the wine, damn it all if the wine doesn’t go down fierce quick out of them! (Erm…that’s good in my book!)

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posh chips

So wrong, yet so right!

Ah man, this one is a bold one.

I had meant to make this dish, which looked fairly balanced and quite nutritious, despite the frying part.

But I forgot to pick up the broad beans on my way home yesterday, so all I had were a few wee spuds, some pancetta and a bit of parmesan.

This recipe is not a friend of The Diet.

But it’s totally a new Guilty Pleasure.  I even managed to pair it with a sly episode of Sex & The City.  Hah! Double guilt.

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