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!

Monday, June 27, 2016

[Events] Hooked by Aldi in support of Foodcloud

Over the last few years, Aldi Ireland have established themselves as a regular attendee at Taste of Dublin, which they cleverly use to showcase their range of Irish ingredients. Two years ago I dined on a steak feast inside a wooden hut, while last year's meal was enjoyed in a space decorated by Peter Kelly, better known as Weddings by Franc.

This year, the theme was Irish seafood, hence the moniker Hooked by Aldi, and the venue was a fun beach-style hut in bright blue and white. But the real innovation this year came in the form of support for Foodcloud. Established by Iseult and Aoibheann, Foodcloud is a social enterprise that connects businesses (like Aldi) who have surplus food to local charities. In other words, rather than throwing out unwanted or unsold food, Foodcloud ensures that it does not go to waste, but is used instead to feed people who need it.

I genuinely cannot stand food waste, and I feel terrible when I have to bin uneaten lettuce, veggies or meat from our fridge. Not only do I feel bad at the thought of throwing out food, and by default, all the effort that went into growing it, but I also hate the idea of literally chucking money in the bin. I suppose that I'm finally starting to take after my mother in earnest. (I'll be stockpiling jamjars soon). So it's a no brainer that I think Foodcloud is an excellent initiative and one that's well worth supporting.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

[Review] EATily Pop-up, Parliament Street, Dublin 2

What does an award-winning chef do when faced with the challenge of developing a new restaurant bang in the middle of Dublin city centre? If you're Oliver Dunne, former holder of a Michelin star at Bon Appetit, you launch a very time-limited pop-up while thinking about the more permanent presence.

EATily, located at the former Fiorentina premises on the corner of Dame Street and Parliament Street, is the result of a collaboration between Dunne and chef Aaron Carroll, formerly of Casadelmar in Corsica and Dunne's own Bon Appetit. Dunne  has long been a proponent of Italian food, and one of the finest meals I've ever enjoyed was his celebration of La Pergola in 2013. With a name that's confusingly close to New York's "Eataly", the concept at EATily is simple. It's a fixed price menu for three courses, with cichetti (little bites), tea/coffee with petits fours and a bottle of house wine. Wine upgrades are available at an additional cost.
Pre-dinner Negroni cocktail at EATily
We enjoyed a brief catch-up with Graham Dunne, Oliver's brother and more than capable front-of-house-man, as we relaxed with two fine Negronis, from a short selection of Italian-inspired cocktails. The selection of cichetti (an Italian phrase for small plates or bites, originating from Venice) were a welcome warm-up. Crisp grissini with ricotta and pesto, glazed roast Chantenay carrots, hummus and finally olives. We decided to go with the bottle of Sicilian house white wine, which turned out to be a very enjoyable dry, minerally wine.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

[Review] New cocktail menu at MVP

The team at MVP, possibly Dublin's most original and modest cocktail bar, have developed a new menu for the summer months. This new menu lists some tempting new drinks, as well as retaining some MVP classics. In case you didn't know, MVP is home to Anna Walsh, the Irish winner of the World Class Cocktail Competition in 2015, so trust me, this bar is pretty damned good at making cocktails. 

Out of the drinks we tried, two stood out for me. One was the Heléna, a mix of Olmeca Altos tequila, apple kimchi and violet. Apple kimchi sounds quite daring, but the effect is elegant. Served in a salt-rimmed, vintage style glass, the combination of slightly sour and spicy, shrub-but-not-quite-a-shrub, along with a rich mouthfeel and deep colour really impressed me. The second winner was the Poitín Colada, made with coconut-washed Bán Poitín. This is a fun, but grown up Irish take on the classic pina colada, but it's so much more refined with the addition of clarified pineapple juice and PX sherry.
The Heléna


Saturday, June 11, 2016

[Wine] June BBQ wines

If you've been following me on my social media channels, you'll know that we've been doing a lot of BBQ'ing in the recent good weather. Having some good wine to drink alongside your freshly cooked food is obviously very important, so here are my recent top 3 wines. Cheers!

Trentenare IGP Paestum Fiano 2015
Purchased on holidays Italy, for approx €15

Fiano is a white grape variety grown widely in Southern Italy, and on our recent holiday on the Amalfi Coast, I enjoyed some very fine bottles of Fiano. From Cilento in the Campania region, Azienda Agricola San  Salvatore is a combined producer of wine and olive oil as well as a buffalo farm. Perhaps that explains the slogan on the bottle, "I've seen a buffalo through the grapevines and I've drank wine. I've seen a buffalo and it has seen me". This wine is well structured, with good body, yet it retains a lot of freshness, and the typical minerality of the region. A very lovely summer wine.

Terre da Vino Essenze Barolo 2009
Purchased in Marks & Spencer, reduced to clear, around €30

This wine caught my eye on a recent browsing of the wine shelves in Marks & Spencer, who are currently clearing out some of their top end reds. I don't remember the exact prices, but it had been reduced from over €30 to under. From the start to the very last drop, I thoroughly enjoyed this 100% Nebbiolo Barolo. It displayed as ruby with garnet tinge in the glass, with delicate notes of violets and vanilla, balanced with leather and spicy, dark fruits. It felt a little light in the mouth, making me think that there isn't much bottle life left. 

Cazas Novas Vinho Verde 2015
The Corkscrew, Chatham Street, Dublin €14.95

Typically fresh and bright, this vinho verde comes from a small holding, and displays less effervesence than the vinho verdes you may be used to from holidays in Portugal. Made from local grapes Avesso and Loureiro, it's lovely, fresh and crisp, with citrus and pear-like fruit.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

[Review] Heron & Grey, Blackrock, Co Dublin

Blackrock Market is not exactly the kind of place where you'd normally expect to find a fine dining restaurant, but I suppose that this modern world is all about inverting the norms.  Plus I'd imagine that the rent is considerably cheaper than in the middle of town. Heron and Grey, named after owners Andrew Heron and chef Damien Grey, has taken over the premises of the former Canteen, and following a brief refit early in the year, it's now open under its own vision. 

It's a small dining room, the kind that estate agents would term bijou, with the open kitchen located at the rear. Every inch of storage space is astutely used and absolutely nothing is hidden from sight. In order to keep the kitchen running smoothly, diners are synced together so that plates can be prepared at the same time. Waves of plates are spread out on the counters and dishes are assembled with care. Watching Damien and co as the food is plated makes me realise how much prep work is undertaken at Heron & Grey in order to ensure a smooth, continuous service. 

We dined first for lunch (three courses for €26) and following that we were more than sufficiently intrigued to return for dinner (five courses for €48). The ingredients used are always fresh and completely seasonal, with the menu changing every two weeks. I'm told that dishes are never repeated which means that every meal at Heron & Grey will be unique

We started with a wonderful plate of butternut squash flavoured with vanilla and accompanied by blobs of Pedro Ximenez vinegar. Textures and contrasts abounded on the plate. Next was a single plump raviolo of ox and octopus, which had an intriguing texture, dressed with crisp reindeer moss and juicy samphire. 
Butternut squash

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