What to See & Do In Dublin

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 Posted by

dublin

 

If you are looking for a lively and versatile holiday destination which offers something for every age group and personality, why not consider Dublin? Located on the east coast of Ireland, where the famous River Liffey joins the Irish Sea, the capital city is an ideal choice for a family break, a romantic weekend or a fun getaway with friends. In this blog, we suggest a selection of top things to see and do during a visit to Dublin.

 

jeanie_johnston_under_sail

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Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship & Famine Museum

The historic Custom House Quay, which was constructed in the late 1700s, is home to the The Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship and Famine Museum. The tall ship is a replica of the original Jeanie Johnston, a cargo ship which took numerous Irish emigrants to the United States of America during the mid-19th Century. Tours of the ship are offered regularly throughout the day, to give visitors an idea of what life would have been like for the emigrants who made the journey to escape the famine in Ireland. Life-size mannequins and a gloomy under-deck area create an atmospheric setting, while with the knowledgeable guides who tell the stories of real people that took the life-changing trip make this a fascinating experience.

 

st stephens green, dublin

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Grafton Street & St Stephens Green

Considered to be Dublin’s leading commercial zones, Grafton Street is a paradise for anyone who loves to shop. High street stores rub shoulders with designer boutiques, beauty salons and delicatessens, and there is an excellent selection of restaurants, cafés and bars in this bustling and stylish area. While in the area, make time to spend a peaceful moment or two in Dublin’s oldest city park – St Stephens Green. Opened in 1880, the 22 acres recreational area has been kept with its original Victorian layout and has an ornamental lake and children’s play area, as well as a garden for the visually impaired and several statues of important figures from Irish history.

 

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Dublina

Dublina is a trio of exhibitions focused on the Medieval and Viking history of Dublin. Ideal for visitors of all ages, and particularly popular with youngsters Dublina is a fun and educational attraction with lots of interactive elements. The Viking exhibition includes a Viking long-ship and weapons, the chance to dress up in Viking gear and a reconstruction of a Viking house, while the Medieval exhibition takes you back in time with a Medieval street, traditional games and more. The third exhibition is focused on archaeology, demonstrating how historians work with artefacts to uncover Dublin’s past.

 

gravity bar

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Guinness Storehouse

One of Dublin’s iconic attractions and a must-visit for Guinness lovers is the Guinness Storehouse. Attracting millions of tourists since opening in 2002, the Storehouse is a historical building which has been developed to include some clever features – including the world’s largest pint glass. As you explore, you’ll discover everything there is to know about the story of Dublin’s most famous brew and the secrets of the production process. The Storehouse also has a gift and memorabilia shop, a restaurant serving dishes cooked with Guinness, as the Gravity Bar, where you can enjoy your pint and the marvellous panoramic views of the city.

 

Are you planning a trip to Dublin, and which attractions do you plan to see? Or is there an attraction that you think we should have included in our blog? Comment and let us know your thoughts.

 

 

 

Flowers have long been used as dining table decorations, but did you know that many of them are also suitable for eating? In this week’s blog, we look at the topic of edible flowers, and introduce you to some ideas of how to use them in the kitchen.

 

 yellow rose

 

Which Flowers Are Edible?

There are a wide variety of flowers that are safe for us to eat and it can be great fun to experiment, discovering the variety of flavours and textures that can be offered. Rose and violet are probably the best known – you’ve probably seen crystallised petals (coated in sugar for a sparkly look) on cakes and sweets. However, you might be surprised to find out that carnations, nasturtiums and chive flowers are edible too. Carnation petals have a clove-like taste and aroma, while vibrant nasturtium blooms have a surprisingly peppery kick and chive flowers have a subtle flavour reminiscent of onions. Other tasty florals include lavender, pansy, mustard-flower and borage.

 

 camomile tea

 

How To Use Flowers in Your Recipes

Flowers can be used in a wide variety of ways to bring colour, texture and unusual flavours to your dishes. To start, you could try sprinkling petals or small flowers over a salad, freezing them in ice-cubes or using them as an attractive garnish for cocktails and desserts. Other interesting and simple uses for edible flowers include infusing them in hot water to make an herbal tea, blending into a vinagarette or using them to make a syrup.  As your confidence for working with flowers grows, you can get more creative – stuffed courgette blossoms are a delectable seasonal treat and a seriously impressive dinner party starter, and dandelion petals are wonderful mixed with batter and fried to make fritters.

 

Top Tips

  • Only use flowers which you can positively identify as an edible variety. There are many excellent guide-books available to help you learn more.
  • Avoid picking road-side flowers which may have been contaminated by car exhaust fumes.
  • Buy edible flowers from organic suppliers or florists who don’t use pesticides or chemicals. Another alternative is to grow your own – many seed merchants now offer a specialist selection of seeds for edible blooms.
  • Pick the flowers in the coolest part of the day, when in full bloom. This ensures you get the best quality and taste.
  • Be cautious of consuming flowers if you suffer from asthma, hay-fever or other allergies.

 

 

Has this blog inspired you to try experimenting with flowers in your recipes? Or perhaps you’ve successfully used flowers to garnish or add flavour to your recipes in the past – why not share with us

 

 

Three of the Best Summer Salads

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 Posted by

 

family outdoor eating

 

If you are looking for healthy and tasty ways to feed your family this summer, then this week’s blog is for you. We’ve gathered three of the best summer salad recipes to help inspire your menus and bring fresh flavours to the table.

 

chopping board

 

Leafy Chickpea Medley

This delicious vegetarian salad is full of essential nutrients and has a lovely citrus dressing that makes it very refreshing as a light lunch or supper. Start by gathering your ingredients – a good mixture of salad leaves is the basis for this recipe, along with juicy cherry tomatoes and cooked, tinned chickpeas. Choose a couple of different types of lettuce (we like a mixture of red-leaf and romaine) as well as rocket, baby spinach, dandelion greens and lamb’s lettuce, as available. Tear larger leaves into bite-sized pieces but keep smaller ones whole. Prepare the cherry tomatoes by slicing in half and rinse/drain the chickpeas. To make the dressing, combine lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil with a crushed clove of garlic, a pinch of salt and black pepper, plus finely chopped parsley, and mix thoroughly. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well.

 

seafood salad

 

Thai Seafood Salad

This exotic salad is a delicious combination of seafood and Thai flavours that is perfect for lunch with friends or family. The easiest way to make this salad is to start with a pack of (pre-cooked and frozen seafood (look for one that includes shrimp, mussels, squid and scallops) as this cuts back preparation time considerably. While the seafood defrosts, shred up a generous quantity of iceberg lettuce leaves, cut a cucumber into cubes and finely slice some spring onions. For the dressing, blend lime juice and fish sauce with sugar, chopped green chillies and crushed garlic. Serve on individual dishes for each guest, decorating with a wedge of lemon or lime.

 

tuna pasta salad

 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

With a Mediterranean theme, this filling salad is best made in advance and packs up perfectly for picnics and al-fresco dining. Begin by cooking your preferred pasta – shells, twists and tubes all work well. The other ingredients for this recipe are red and yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes, black olives and red onions, as well as canned tuna chunks and feta cheese.  When the pasta is cooked and cool, simply combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. This salad can be dressed with olive oil and a splash of lemon juice, or you could opt for a vinaigrette made from balsamic vinegar, wholegrain mustard, salt and olive oil. To garnish, sprinkle with crushed fresh basil leaves.

 

Do any of these tickle your taste buds? Will you be making any today? Let us know if you have any better recipes.

 

 

Traditional Foods of Costa Rica

Posted on: July 7th, 2014 Posted by

costa rica

 

With exotic beaches, a tropical climate and a vibrant culture, Costa Rica is a dream holiday destination for a beach holiday or romantic break. It is also a fantastic choice for foodies, with a distinctive cuisine that utilizes the ingredients available locally and is said by some Costa Ricans to be the secret of their vitality and longevity! In this blog, we take a look at some of the traditional breakfast and main meal dishes of the Central American country, as well as drinks and desserts.

 

gallo pinto

 

Breakfast Dishes

Many Costa Ricans start their day with a dish known as gallo pinto (spotted rooster). Despite the name, it does not feature chicken but is made from the staple ingredients of rice and beans mixed together with onions and red pepper. Gallo pinto is often served alongside scrambled eggs, sour cream and slices of fried plantain.

 

casado

 

Main Meals & Snacks

Costa Ricans tend to eat their main meal at lunch-time, with a combination plate called Casado being a firm favourite. Casado means married man, and includes a combination of (you guessed it!) rice and beans – in this dish they are served separately and not mixed together as in Gallo Pinto – along with beef, pork, chicken or fish, salad, fried plantain and omelette. Other popular main meals include the soups Olla de Carne (made from squash, potatoes and cubes of meat) and Sopa de Mondongo (for the more adventurous eater – it is made from cow-belly). For snacks, Bocas are rather like Spain’s famous tapas – small bites of delectable treats often served alongside beer. Black bean dip or chimmichurri with tortilla chips, and ceviche, a marinaded fish dish of Peruvian origins are favourites with the locals.

 

tropical fruit

 

Drinks & Desserts

Popular drinks in Costa Rica include coffee, which is usually served weaker and sweeter than visitors will be used to drinking at home, and hot tea with a slice of lemon. Fruit based drinks which incorporate tropical mango, pineapple, papaya and other more unusual ingredients are widely available and are served freshly juiced and on ice, or mixed with milk. One particularly refreshing beverage is Pipa , which is literally a green coconut sliced open with a machete and drunk through a straw. Desserts include Tarta de Tres Leches which has a sweet flavour and gooey consistency, and flan, which is a rich custard. Fruit also often shows up on the dessert menu – either served on its own, or sliced up into a fruit salad.

 

Do the traditional foods of Costa Rica appeal to your tastes? Which dishes would you most likely try or have tried?