Queen of Tarts

Found this gem in the great city of Dublin, Ireland

I later found out that there are actually two of these cute cafes in the city. I happened to visit the smaller of the two – and I strongly recommend it to others

Located on a bustling main road, this quaint red store manages to hide and yet stick out like a sore thumb. And while small, this café possesses an undeniable charm.

18362547_1513239668748182_1592927886_oThe café offered different herbal teas and coffee, tarts, cakes, desserts and (of course) breakfast food. Amazing.

In my opinion, if a café or restaurant’s menu makes your decision hard, its the place for you. In this circumstance, I had to ask the waiter to return in 5 minutes… let just say more than once.

I eventually settled for the Chocolate and Pear Almond Tart. I was not disappointed. Rich, but not heavy, flavoursome but subtle. I’ll say it again – amazing.

This is one café that I would heavily recommend anyone staying in Dublin should visit. As you eat, you can get a fantastic view of a city monument, and may even spot a cavalry re-enactment.

Velvet Spice

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The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

29th September: save the date

Macmillan Cancer Support runs an annual coffee morning in aid of cancer research. Supporters are invited to host their own coffee mornings in their houses for friends and family. All proceeds are sent to Macmillan. For two years now I have participated in this event. Last year, my family and I hosted it in our house… which smelled of sugar for a month afterward. 18406278_1517730264965789_1439063225_o.jpg

In addition to being for a good cause, the coffee morning gave us all a chance to experiment. We baked old favourites such as macarons and brownies, but we also tried new recipes… to interesting effect. The cinnamon roll dough decided to quadruple in size, effectively overflowing the bowl AND worktop. Its curious how ‘hilarious’ and ‘alarming’ overlapped so often during those times.

I also gave new cake recipes a try. Lavender and lemon cake was a surprising success. After putting too much lemon into the cake, I had to even it out with an absurd amount of fresh lavender. I was sure the cake would be too much but apparently my oven drains flavour… as a result, the cake went down a ‘treat’ (I will never apologise for excellent puns).

I was also able to experiment with frosting. I learned how to make roses 18426500_1517729021632580_1749769718_o.jpgand new techniques for piping. I discovered that adding lemon flavouring to frosting is ALWAYS a good idea. Always.

So while stressful, the event was definitely fun, and for a good cause. I would recommend for any fan of baking, especially since all proceeds are sent to Macmillan Support. If I remember correctly, we raised over £400 from donations.

The ‘aftermath’ is the only way I can describe what our house was afterward. Our kitchen looked as though the Terminator had torn through it: sugar covering every surface, dough on the walls, colouring spilled on worktops, every free surface piled high with dirty dishes. And the rest of our house had crumbs and (somehow) paper plates everywhere for days after, not matter how much we hoovered and cleaned.

Be warned, people. Bake sales are a battlefield.

 

 

Velvet Spice

Ireland

Fantastic food and where to find it…

Even though Ireland is a hop skip and a jump away from Glasgow, I had never actually visited before. It had always been a dream of mine (after a passionate school project on the Giant’s Causeway) and last week I finally got the 18426886_1517642558307893_1499092231_o.jpgopportunity.

My apartment was in Dublin city centre, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t travel. I was able to see Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway, Howth and various Game of Thrones sites (amazing) in addition to Dublin. And the food…oh the food…

The first restaurant of note  was Sophie’s. Near the city centre, this restaurant was a bit pricey but ultimately fantastic. The restaurant is high up with seating available indoors and outdoors, with heating. The view from the top is great, the food even better. We shared a pulled chicken, red onion, gorgonzola and porcini mushroom pizza, with roast veg and parmesan chips… coupled with the active yet dignified atmosphere, the restaurant was amazing. 18451820_1517643368307812_142959669_o.jpgEspecially at night when the city is lit up and the energy in the restaurant reaches its peak. I highly recommend this to any traveller willing to pay extra for more.

Furthermore, there were little surprises I found along the way, such as the Eatyard in the Rathmines area. While wandering the city we came across this market. Comprised of various stalls, the Eatyard sold a number of different  goods. Plants, food, your general flea market. I eventually settled for a cone of fried chicken with lemon mayo, grated lime and linseeds… pretty damn amazing.

Howth had some amazing fish on offer. To be completely honest, we spent a full hour ignoring the sea and instead focussing on the fresh fish available at the many many fishmongers. After a chilling walk along the coast, we found a cosy place to eat 18379312_1514568318615317_1988187048_ocalled The Bloody Stream. They used fresh, local fish in their meals. I chose a prawn and parmesan linguine while my friend opted for a fish platter. Her prawns were slightly disappointing, but aside from that the meal was a success. Howth: recommend, recommend, recommend.

Our last day included a trip to a confusing pancake store. While they had a variety of toppings on offer, it wasn’t entirely made sure which toppings we could have, especially since our waiter pretty much chose for us. The pancakes also turned out to be high protein, which you could tell once the food settled in your stomach and then STAYED THERE. However, we learned about ‘Cleantella,’ a healthy form of Nutella, which sparked some interest an potential experimentation…

Our last meal embodied the phrase ‘best til last.’ After visiting the Guinness Factory, we ate at the restaurant on the top level. This was the cherry atop a perfect trip. We shared sticky Guinness wings, oysters and mushroom crostinis. All of it was outstanding, to the 18426902_1517642541641228_1868824831_o.jpgpoint that we were completely stuffed and still eating. Incredible food with an equally incredible view of the city: since the restaurant was on the factory’s top level, and our seat was right beside the window, the entire city was visible.

I definitely recommend a trip to Ireland. Besides the outstanding food and whiskeys that could even rival that of Scotland, the people here were great. Incredibly helpful and pleasant, they really made our trip.

There were, of course, other places we visited but these were the highlights. You can find the review of Queen of Tarts in my ‘Review’ section. It was too good to mention briefly.

If you are a lover of good food, good sights and good people, I recommend Ireland 100%… Just remember your jacket.

 

 

Velvet Spice