Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

[Wine] Torres Purgatori

We spent a recent weekend in the stunning Priorat wine region, which is located a bit under a 2 hour from Barcelona. It's one of just two DOQ wine regions in Spain, the other being Rioja and it's a majestic place, renowned for powerful red wines which possess incredible minerality. When you see the steep, sun-baked terraces, perched on the sides of the hills and mountains, it just all makes sense. 

If you travel even further inland far away from the sea, through the Priorat and near the city of Lleida, you will enter the territory of DO Costers del Segre. It's a harsh, semi-arid region with dry, hot summers and colder winters. According to Spanish winemakers Torres, the monks of the famous Montserrat abbey would carry out their penance at the Desterrats estate in Costers del Segre, working the land to produce food for the diocese. In the manner typical of monks all over the world, they also managed to produce some excellent wines in the region, which now inspire the name of Purgatori, the first Torres wine from this region. 
Image taken from Torres website

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Monday, August 7, 2017

[Opinion] A tale of two cocktails

The incredible growth and creativity that the Irish cocktail scene has exhibited in the past few years is a wonderful cause for celebration. The parallel explosion in the Irish spirits industry, including whiskey, gin and vodka, has given Irish bartenders expanded access to top quality ingredients for their creations. 

Many bars and hotels now have a cocktail programme of one form or another, which can range from the pedestrian but decent, to the original and highly creative. From a business sense, cocktails and premium drinks can offer an attractive profit margin which makes it worth while to invest in staff training and inventory. But in order for a cocktail programme to be successful and gain a solid reputation, bartenders need to exhibit consistency and adherence to quality standards. 

Let me illustrate with an example...
Stitch & Bear - A tale of two cocktails
The original on the left, the second on the right

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

[Event] Tiger Street Eats

The recent announcement of Michelin-starred street food in Dublin, courtesy of Tiger beer, definitely caused a bit of buzz. At €10 per ticket, the Tiger Street Eats event offered the chance to try the world famous chicken from the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle street food hawker stand.  Tiger Street Eats is a concept designed to showcase the vibrancy of Singapore streets, and has already travelled to Auckland, Kuala Lumpur and New York. Dublin was the first European venture, and as you'd expect in a city that would go to the opening of a postcard, the tickets quickly sold out. 
Stitch & Bear - Tiger Street Eats - Placemat
Tiger Beer Street Eats
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

[Review] Caffe Amore, South Georges Street, Dublin 2

This is going to be another quick mini-review. I simply don't have a lot of time available at the moment to write lengthy detailed reviews. And given the fact that lunch at Caffe Amore was also a quick daytime affair, it feels appropriate. 

Caffe Amore is on South Great George's Street across from the junction with Fade Street, and I had passed it many times without fully clocking it. But one Saturday morning when walking past, the daily specials board caught my eye. And so my lunch plans were made. Caffe Amore opened in 2015, when Neapolitan Luli Montagne realised his dream with the help of Lino and Marino. And ever since then, it's been serving up pizza, spritz and other Italian favourites. 

We take a small table in the compact dining room, from where we can see the open kitchen. Italian pop radio fills the little dining room, and there's an immediate sensation of Italy, even though I can see Dublin passing by outside. Two glasses of fresh and crisp Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi  (€7 each) complete the transformation from Dublin to Italy.
Stitch & Bear - Caffe Amore - Daily Specials
Daily specials at Caffe Amore

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

[Review] Klaw Poke, Capel Street, Dublin 1

Keeping on top of food trends isn't an easy thing to do in our Instagram world. And it's even harder to identify which trends will translate into long term market success. Here in Dublin, restaurateur and seafood lover Niall Sabongi has firmly gotten behind poke (pronounced POH-kay), a healthy Hawaiian staple that's been steadily growing in popularity across the globe. 

I first came across poke while watching Guy Fieri travel through Hawaii and I was intrigued by the simple, sushi-like concept of marinated chunks of raw fish served atop bowls of rice. Last year, while working in Amsterdam, I got the chance to try poke for the first time. And I've got to say that I liked it very much. It was both tasty and allowed me to pick and mix various poke ingredients to create varied, healthy lunches for myself. 

At Klaw Poke, Niall has created a selection of pre-defined poke bowls to help the uninitiated or undecided, or you can mix it up as you want. For my first visit, I opted for the Octopoke, a mix of grilled octopus, radish, macadamia nuts, samphire, salty pineapple and radish atop a mix of rice noodles and leaves, dressed with nam jim. Fresh, light and fragrant, it definitely ticked all the virtuous boxes. 
Stitch & Bear - Klaw Poke - The octopoke bowl
The octopoke bowl

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

[Review] Madina Desi, Mary Street, Dublin 1

Today's post will be a short one. But it does feature a little restaurant that I love to visit time and time again. It's affordable, tasty and authentic. And in a city full of Indian restaurants, Madina Desi is one of the very few that I know of which serves Indian street food dishes. 

My first favourite dish is the humble dosa. Hailing from the south of India, a dosa is a light, semi-crispy pancake made from a fermented batter, often using rice or black gram. It's considered to be a pretty healthy option due to the increased protein content and the extra vitamins produced by the fermentation. Health benefits aside, it's a satisfying snack, pulled apart piece by piece, dipping each piece into the accompanying sambar and coconut chutney (€7.95). 
Stitch & Bear - Madina Desi - Dosa
The basic dosa served with sambar and coconut chutney
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Sunday, June 11, 2017

[Review] Eatyard, South Richmond Street, Dublin 2

Food markets have been floating around Dublin for several years now, but most are daytime events, servicing local office areas. Irish Village Markets currently run three weekly markets around the city, while the market operated by Waterways Ireland on the Grand Canal at at Lower Mount Street was recently denied a renewal of its planning permission following objections from local businesses and residents. It's such a pity to see lunchtime food options and entrepreneurship being curtailed. 

While I was working in Amsterdam, Market 33 opened up in the Zuidas district. Open all day, it's a clever offering in the middle of a mixed residential and office area. Office workers can grab pho, sushi, poke or even a burger during their lunch break, before returning later in the evening for a drink and some bitterballen with their friends. I used to head there most days for lunch, rotating between the different stalls. 

Here in Dublin, the incredibly successful team from the Bodytonic group have given us the wonderful Eatyard. Open from 12m on Thursday to Sunday, this compact collection of box containers and food trucks offers some of the best and most vibrant street food in the capital. 
Stitch & Bear - Eatyard - Entrance
Eatyard entrance, next to the Bernard Shaw on Richmond Street

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