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!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Help!! My Instagram account has disappeared

I was a late convert to Instagram, even diligently avoiding it for a long time, for some reason that I now cannot remember. But in early 2015 I created my account (joanne.cronin), and I started to upload my photos. 

As someone with in excess of 4,000 followers on Twitter, I obviously wanted to try to recreate that success on Instagram. Bit by bit, I found myself developing my own posting style for Instagram, and both my Following and Followers counts grew. I got selective in the accounts that I followed - if you posted too many selfies or inspirational messages, you were out. And I followed many new accounts from across the world with great imagery and stories. 

By the end of 2015, I had posted 487 photos, and was thoroughly enjoying myself. As you can see from my "Best nine" summary below, there were a lot of cocktail photos with tasty food coming a close second. My top-rated photo? A picture of one of the alleyway entrances into Cork's English Market. 
I found Instagram superb for quickly posting pictures of the moment. If I was having a nice cocktail, or saw something interesting, then I posted a quick photo. (Well, quick is a misnomer with Instagram. Editing the photo and adding your hashtags can take a few minutes!). And I took a lot of joy in scrolling back down through my timeline, reliving the memories behind my photos. 

I woke up on Saturday January 16th, and wanted to post a picture from the previous night. I opened my Instagram app and prepped the picture. But when I hit "Post", the app logged me out, prompting me to enter my log-in details. I tried, and I failed. I scratched my head and tried "Forgot your password" only to find that "That user does not exist". I tried logging in via Facebook to no avail and finally, when I visited my timeline page, I was greeted by "Sorry, this page isn't available".
The sickening feeling hit me. My Instagram account had been nuked. And I no longer had access to my pictures or memories. 

It also turns out that Instagram don't do customer service. To date, I've tweeted them, messaged them via Facebook and submitted two help requests via their Support section. To zero avail. Not a single acknowledgement from them about my missing account. 

I'm sure that the Terms & Conditions I accepted when I signed up protect Instagram in eventualities like this. But for me, there are memories missing. I am missing connections with people I followed. I feel quite bereft. And ultimately I feel ignored. Epic #fail #instagramfail

UPDATE 31-Aug-2016

Many readers have contacted me since I published this post as they have found themselves in the same situation. It seems that Instagram have a tendency to remove accounts, without any warning or communication to the impacted parties.

In my case, I contacted Instagram multiple times via webforms and via Twitter. I did not get one single response. I had just about resigned myself to losing the account and data forever, when a friend got in touch. He had a friend working in Facebook in Dublin, who may be able to look into my account. I gratefully accepted the offer, and lo, within a day or two, my Instagram account was back up and running.

I am so grateful to my friend, and friend of my friend. In the end, human kindness and goodwill won out. But there are no thanks due to Instagram whatsoever. So, if your account is deleted, it appears your best bet is to know someone working in the technical side of Facebook!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

[Review] Bastible, South Circular Road, Dublin 8

Early in 2015, I signed up for the Level 2 WSET qualification in wines and spirits. Many of the attendees on the course were already involved in the food & beverage industry, with only a few non-industry stragglers, like myself, taking part. One of the attendees was a young chef, Barry, with his wife and their story of a soon-to-be-opened restaurant.

Little did I realise that Barry was Barry FitzGerald, former head chef at  Dublin hotspot Etto and, prior to that, the Harwood Arms in London. And in due course, his restaurant Bastible did open, perched on the junction of Leonard's Corner. 

The interior is very modern masculine with dark green walls and an open kitchen located to the rear where Barry and the chefs work with smooth, calm efficiency. In fact, the whole affair is sleek and smooth, starting with the impeccable sourdough bread and delicious butter followed by two potato crisps topped with tartare and onion. I don't know if the chefs at Lock's and Bastible are sharing notes, but that's two amuse of crisp potato slices I've received in the past few months.
Little amuse of crisp potato with tartare


Saturday, January 2, 2016

The year that was 2015

It's time for a little recap on the year that was 2015. For me personally, it was a better year than 2014 which had left me exhausted and bruised. I took charge of myself in 2015 and made sure that I had a higher quality of life. It's such a simple lesson, but one that we are bad at remembering. We have to make time for happiness in our lives, which in turns helps us balance the stresses of life. 

Anyway, 2015 was the year that luxury dining returned to Dublin. At the start of the year, I dined in John Farrell's SMS Pop-Down, but by the end of the year, the space had been transformed into the super-luxe, red-velveted Luna. While this restaurant is charmingly named after John's young daughter, it's not a restaurant for kids, with whopping great steaks, fine wines and gins and a New York dining club vibe. 

2015 also saw rising restaurant prices in Dublin, indicating a gradual return to the boom times. This was probably mainly stimulated by rising rent costs, but the question has to be asked if some of the price increases can be attributed to good old-fashioned desire to make more money? I re-wrote my guide to the Top 10 set menus and Early Birds in Dublin, and I was struck by the decrease in availability and value for diners. 

Finally, I think 2015 was the year that pop ate itself for restaurants in Dublin. Gluttonous, belt-stretching brunches were everywhere and expensive (even over-priced) cocktails appeared in any self-respecting trendy restaurant. It's time for a return to simpler dining. 

I ventured to Belfast at the start and end of 2015, topping and tailing the year with two excellent meals in Ox and Deane's EIPIC respectively,  both of which earned Michelin stars this year. The cocktail scene is also booming in Belfast, where I particularly enjoyed the 5 star luxury of the cocktail bar of the Merchant Hotel and the speakeasy New York vibe in APOC.  I think Dublin could benefit from a truly luxurious and professional cocktail service in one of the 5 star hotels. Who will step up to the mark?

Speaking of cocktails, Irish bartenders performed highly on the world stage in 2015. Karim Medhi from Saba reached the semi-finals of the Bacardi Legacy World Championships while Anna Walsh from MVP competed at the Diageo World Class competition and claimed Best Bartender in the Irish Craft Cocktail Awards. It was sad to see the temporary closure of Upstairs @ Kinara Kitchen following their Best Restaurant Cocktail Bar win, but things are looking good for a re-opening early in 2016.

No-shows continued to haunt restaurants, particularly smaller venues. It was truly saddening at times to read about restaurants being 50% empty due to no-shows on confirmed reservations. This kind of shitehawk behaviour puts jobs and businesses at risk. Some smaller venues will lose relative fortunes because they simply trusted a customer to show when they said they would.

As this is a summary of 2015, I suppose I should hand out some awards! I'll keep the list short. My best fine dining was undoubtedly Amuse on Dublin's Dawson Street. This small venue produces exquisite Asian-French food and is just sublime. 777 continues to be my choice for best casual dining in Dublin. On the drinks front, it's a draw between Upstairs@Kinara Kitchen and MVP for my favourite cocktails. 

This year, I decided to fulfil a long held wish and I enrolled for the WSET Level 2 qualification in wines & spirits with Premier Wine Training. I was delighted when the results envelope arrived informing me that I had passed with distinction. I think this is the start of something special and I've started to add more wine reviews to the blog.

A huge smile was put on my face when I was invited to judge the Pitmaster Competition at the Big Grill BBQ Festival in Herbert Park. Off the back of this event, we've purchased a column smoker for our back yard and are getting acquainted with the finer arts of low and slow BBQ. 

My views on blogging and the blogging community have continued to evolve over the last year. I've been blogging for over 7 years now, and I've seen a lot of change. The strong Irish food blogger community that was fostered several years ago has somewhat faded, and it's been replaced by the rise of the lifestyle blogger. Either way, I've continued to post in my own style, writing the reviews that I want to write and crafting a blog in my own voice. Even so, I was disappointed not to make the Food & Drink shortlist at the Irish Blog Awards in 2015 and my requests for feedback went unanswered. 

Finally, 2015 was the year that I adopted Instagram (follow me here). Interestingly, Instagram has taken partially taken over from blogging, allowing me the freedom to quickly share images with my followers. While I think Snapchat might be a step too far for me, Instagram just works. 

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