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Almond Sponge, Strawberry Chantilly & Almond Brittle

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One of the major breakthroughs in my culinary life was when I was 19, newly legal (meaning, in Canada, legally able to drink) and I took to drinking a mixture of amaretto and 7-Up at parties. I thought I was so cool.

It makes me cringe now – amaretto and 7-Up? Today I would consider it sickly sweet, syrup-ey and wouldn’t be able to manage more than a few sips before giving up and going for some gin. But that was just it – I was a relatively new (albeit enthusiastic!) drinker, not a fan of beer (that would change over the summer) and after a very bad night was no longer interested in the trusty go-to of vodka and OJ (I’m still not over it – never, ever offer me a screwdriver!).

The amaretto was a revelation. I had never tasted anything like it, except at Christmastime when my mom would put almond extract in her buttercream and frost Christmas cookies with it. Before then, I didn’t realize how delicious the flavour of almond could be with the right combination. I didn’t even realize it was almond that I was tasting.

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Almond and amaretto continue to be one of my favourite flavours to work with. Who knew such depth existed in such a simple nut? An almond sponge is so easy and economical to make, it’s a great gluten-free dessert and it packs a punch of gorgeous flavour while remaining light and airy. What’s not to love?

I made this cake, soaked it in a simple caramel syrup and topped it with a dollop of fresh cream whipped with vanilla. I folded some Folláin strawberry preserve into the cream instead of adding sugar, then I garnished the cake with some almond brittle, made by pouring hot caramel over toasted, slivered almonds. It’s pretty simple, but makes a beautifully elegant dessert if you’re trying to impress someone.

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Almond Sponge, Strawberry Preserve Chantilly & Almond Brittle

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

6 room temperature eggs, separated

200 grams ground almonds

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

For the Chantilly:

250 ml fresh cream (35%)

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tbsp Strawberry Preserve

For the almond brittle

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds

Directions: 

  • Make the sponge: preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180 Celsius, no fan). Grease and line a tube or spring-form pan.
  • Separate your eggs. Beat the egg whites, gradually adding 1/4 cup of sugar, until medium peaks are reached.
  • Beat the egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla. Beat until ribbon stage is reached (pale yellow, doubled in volume, falls in a ribbon pattern). Stir the ground almonds into the yolk mixture.
  • Stir 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the almond/yolk mixture. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites until completely incorporated. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 40-45 minutes until set.
  • Bring finished sponge to room temperature before soaking in caramel syrup (to make the syrup: make a caramel out of 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Do not stir, but occasionally swirl the saucepan. When a golden caramel is achieved, add one cup cold water to the saucepan and bring to a boil once more. Cool this mxture and pour over the almond sponge to soak.).
  • Make the Chantilly: using a glass bowl and balloon whisk, whip the cream with the vanilla until soft peaks are reached. Gently fold strawberry preserve into the cream mixture and chill until ready to use.
  • Make the almond brittle: toast slivered or sliced almonds in a dry frying pan until golden brown. Spread toasted almond evenly over a parchment-lined baking sheet. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Cook this mixture, never stirring but occasionally swirling the saucepan, until a med-dark caramel is reached. Pour the caramel over the almonds, spreading it evenly over the almonds while still hot and workable. When the almonds are covered, put the brittle in the freezer to cool, about 20 minutes.
  • Slice the finished cake and top with Chantilly and almond brittle.

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Flashback: Our Cape Breton Wedding

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A year ago today Patrick and I got married. The wedding was in Cape Breton and it was the hottest, sunniest day of the summer.

We got married in a little church in Iona, next to the Bras D’or Lakes. My friends Rosie and Laura provided beautiful folk and fiddle music and nearly all of Patrick’s family (as well as a few close friends) made the massive trip to the East Coast to witness our nuptials. I got my dress from Cabaret Vintage on Queen West in Toronto and – get this – we forged our own wedding rings at The Devil’s Workshop (also found on Queen West in Toronto and highly recommended!).

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After the ceremony, we went to the two big red barns, where our highland cattle used to live, to have our photos taken. The hay was high and my cousin Sandy had put off mowing that field so our pictures would be *just right*. We then moved on to my community’s tiny gathering hall for the dinner and dance.

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A good friend and amazing chef (and owner of Charlene’s Bayside in Whycocomagh) catered our dinner – there were Cape Breton fishcakes, salmon, pork loin, bruschetta and, of course, plenty of biscuits and rolls to be enjoyed. We got our wines from Grand Pre Winery in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where I went to university (the area has it’s own appellation – Tidal Bay – and the wines are gorgeous). Dessert was provided by my family and friends and served buffet-style after the meal. No fuss; delicious.

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After dinner the tables were cleared and the dance floor made ready. My friend Rosie took the stage once more with her fiddle and we had a bit of a ceilidh before the DJ took over and everyone got way too drunk. It was an awesome wedding.

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It wasn’t perfect; there were hiccups. There was no air conditioning in the community hall so people were literally sweating buckets. I gave up on shoes by 10 pm and spent the rest of the night waltzing around in my bare feet. We forgot about cutting the cake til about 11 pm (lovingly made by my Aunt Joan and simply decorated by me). But I wouldn’t change a thing; it was just so much fun.

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A Cape Breton wedding can get a little out of hand at the best of times. We like to drink (usually out the trunks of our cars in the parking lot) and make a lot of noise, and we generally don’t like our fun to be interrupted. The Irish are the same. Combining the two was both the best party imaginable and serious trouble, all wrapped into one. I remember when the DJ announced it was last call at the bar, Patrick’s siblings and cousins bought about 30 beer. When the lights came on a few minutes later, they announced they weren’t leaving until the beers were finished. Because he’s a team player, my dad helped them drink their beverages before they were driven back to their hotel.

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Over lobster dinners, BBQ’s and singalongs, a lot of lifelong friendships were made that week (including the marriage of my friend and brother-in-law). My mom arrives in Ireland on Wednesday morning to be here for the birth of her first grandchild, and everyone can’t wait to see her again (my dad and eldest brother will join the fun in September).

Patrick and I will celebrate our first anniversary over home-cooked meals, a nice slice of cake and imaginings of how much our lives will be changed over the next few weeks.

Slàinte Mhath

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*All photos were taken by Brad Sampson Photography, Cape Breton

Rainy Day Pancake

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Pa jeon is one of my favourite foods. Since it’s known in Korea as “Rainy Day Pancake”, you’re technically supposed to eat it when it’s raining, but I’ve never really adhered to the tradition (although it did rain in Waterford yesterday!). In Korea, you eat pa jeon with makkoli – a fermented, alcoholic rice beverage that looks like milk and gets served cold in a large teapot. You share one big pancake with whomever you’re dining and drink the makkoli out of small bowls.

The main ingredient in this savoury pancake is green onion, but if you ever order it in a Korean restaurant the word “hae mul” will almost always precede it. Hae mul means seafood, often in the form of squid, mussels, bay scallops and shrimps, and is always a lovely addition to the pancake. It gets served with a soy dipping sauce; usually a combination of soy, vinegar, sugar and chilies. The outside of the pa jeon is always crisp while the inside is soft and comforting – I guess that’s why it’s such a great “rainy day” food.

The key to a crisp pa jeon is rice flour, but if you don’t have access to it (as was the case with me yesterday) regular ol’ all purpose will do the trick. If you’re ever in a Korean grocery store there are pa jeon mixes. I’ve never used them, but I imagine it’s a “just add water and veggies” kind of deal and would be super easy if you were in a hurry. Also, though, if you’re ever in a Korean grocery store, many will have ready made pa jeon on sale, often homemade by the shop owners, and they will taste a gazillion times better than the mix ever would.

This is my own recipe for pa jeon that I’ve adapted from talking to my Korean friends and acquaintances. Egg is not always included in a pa jeon recipe but I find it makes the pancake a lot fluffier on the inside. Also, when I’m feeling sneaky, I’ll grate a carrot or two into the batter with the green onion. Shhhh!

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Pa Jeon

Ingredients:

1 cup rice flour

1 cup AP flour

2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 1/2 – 2 cups water

1 large bunch green onion, washed and sliced into inch long pieces

1 tsp minced chilies

1 Tbsp soy sauce

Mixed, chopped seafood (optional)

Canola/vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mix the two types of flour (again, if you don’t have rice flour use two cups of AP) and salt. Add the egg and 1 1/2 cups water; mix. The consistency should be slightly runnier than a traditional pancake batter, but thicker than crepe batter. Add more water if needed.
  • Add the soy sauce and chili to the batter and mix. Add the green onion and, if you plan to use seafood, you can add it in at this point.
  • Heat a wok or non-stick (or cast iron) frying pan over medium heat. When the pan/wok is hot, add 1 Tbsp of oil followed by 1/2 cup of pancake batter (the pancake will not be crispy on the outside if the pan is not hot enough). Fry until crispy and golden brown on both sides. Repeat the process until all the batter has been used. Makes about six pa jeon. Serve with soy dipping sauce (1 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp chili paste, 2 tsp rice vinegar).

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Maple, Blueberry & Lemon Scones

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I’m always on the lookout for a good scone. When I say scone, I mean the type of scone you get in Canada – large, triangular, sweet, biscuit-style pastries laden with berries and flavourings, then sprinkled with sugar before baking or a glaze after. The perfect scone is crumbly, sweet (but not too sweet) and stodgy. It goes well with a hot cup of tea and, if un-glazed, sliced in half with a smear of fresh butter.

In Ireland I’ve already gotten into trouble with my food terminology. A biscuit is not a cookie; a scone is not a biscuit. Biscuits, to me, are similar to scones but much less sweet and not as large. A scone may be prepared in a similar way, but it involves an egg (something I’d never put in a biscuit), a bit more sugar and berries or sweet flavourings (cranberry scones with almond are a lovely flavour combination; if you’re ever in Cape Breton you can get them at The Dancing Goat in Margaree).

Biscuits are something we eat with seafood chowder or baked beans back home. Biscuits here, of course, are cookies (but not all cookies – for example, a chocolate chip cookie would not be considered a biscuit here, according to my in-laws).

Can you sense my confusion? Don’t even get me started on poitín and poutine.

Anyway, yesterday I had a craving for a really good scone to have with tea after dinner. I had some blueberries so decided to make lemon-blueberry scones with a maple glaze. I made these scones a bit smaller than I normally would, just for portion control purposes (it’s only me and Patrick eating them – my Mom comes next week so we’ll at least have some help then). This recipe makes a moist, crumbly, sweet scone. You can drizzle them with the glaze or leave it out entirely – they are sweet enough on their own.

This recipe will make 8 large scones or 16 small.

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Maple, Blueberry & Lemon Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups AP Flour

3 Tbsp white sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup cold, cubed butter

Zest of one lemon

1 cup fresh blueberries

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp room temperature butter

1-2 Tbsp milk

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius, no fan). Line a baking tray with parchment.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the cubed, cold butter and rub into the flour mixture until the butter is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Add the blueberries and lemon zest to the bowl. Mix briefly to combine. Make a well in the centre of the flour/butter/blueberry mixture.
  • In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk together until combined. Pour into the flour/butter/blueberry mixture and mix with a wooden spoon/spatula until just combined (do not over mix!).
  • Pour contents of the bowl onto a well floured surface and knead a few times (the dough will be sticky so keeping your surface well-floured is essential). Shape the dough into a rectangle, making sure the dough is rolled out to about 1 1/2 inch thickness.
  • With a floured knife, cut the rectangle in half, then cut each piece in half again. Cut the four pieces on the diagonal to create 8 triangular scones. Transfer the scones to the lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the scones are golden brown (if you’re not using glaze, lightly brush with milk or cream and lightly sprinkle with sugar before baking).
  • Make the glaze: combine the confectioner’s sugar, butter and maple syrup until well mixed. While mixing with a hand blender, slowly drizzle the milk until your desired consistency is reached. When the scones have cooled, drizzle the tops with the maple glaze.

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Hook Head Lighthouse, County Wexford

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We haven’t been going too far from home these days now that I’m full term and could pop at any moment, but that hasn’t bothered us at all.

One of the nicest things about moving to a new country and city is the ability to become a backyard tourist – every time we go for a drive I feel like I’m on vacation. Since the weather was so unbelievably great over the past week, we were able to take a few days out here and there when Patrick wasn’t working.

Yesterday, after enjoying my new favourite breakfast of freshly-baked Irish brown bread (it’s similar to soda bread, but made with cracked wheat, oats and other whole grains) with poached eggs, we got into the car and drove to County Wexford. Our destination? Hook Head Lighthouse, which is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the world. It sounds kinda boring when described that way, so let me elaborate on what makes this area special.

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The lighthouse itself was first constructed in the 1300’s and has been in use ever since, with much of the original structure remaining. The former lighthouse keeper-houses are now used as a small maritime museum, a café, a gift shop and an art space where you can attend workshops or paint some pottery. The front lawn is a bit of a zoo, with a small play area for kids and a picnic area for families (and it gets seriously busy).

It should be mentioned that there are no ATM’s in the area – the nearest one, according to Niamh Colfer from Hook Heritage Ltd. – is 10 km away from the lighthouse in Fethard on Sea. We didn’t realize at the time, but they accept all major credit cards and take debit at the café, so there are still ways to pay for a guided tour of the lighthouse if you’re cash-less. We will be back with my family in September, so we’ll do the guided tour then! It involves climbing 115 steps to the top, so the view is (most likely) spectacular. Thanks to Niamh for clarifying that for me!

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My favourite part of our trip to Hook Head, which took about 1.5 hours driving through New Ross from Waterford City and less than 45 minutes driving back taking the Passage East ferry, was not actually the lighthouse but the picturesque surroundings. The lighthouse is surrounded by volcanic-flow-type rocks that lead straight down to the churning sea. You can walk on the rocks, but I would be careful not to get too close to the water – rogue waves and the like!

Scuba Diving from the rocks

Scuba Diving from the rocks

We took a walk on the rocks around the lighthouse and had a quick chat a scuba diver who was checking out the surrounding waters. He said he had a great dive and saw lots of fish, crabs and other types of marine life. There were so many people out scuba diving! If you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can do boat dives to some shipwrecks and underwater caves, or you can just dive straight from the rocks on the shore. For more information on scuba diving around Hook Head, check out this website.

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After our walk, we thought we’d head back up the road where we saw a busy-looking seafood restaurant. Templars Inn is located in Templetown, Fethard on Sea and is about a 10 minute drive from the lighthouse. We ordered fried scampi & chips and a bowl of steamed mussels. The seafood was wonderful; so fresh and well prepared. The server couldn’t tell me where the chef sourced his seafood, but wagered it was local. The mussels definitely were – plump and juicy with bright orange flesh. The scampi was pretty heavily breaded and as a result tasted like fried bread, but the chips served with it were the best chips I’ve had in Ireland – hands down. We’ll definitely be back with my family.

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We took the ferry at Ballyhack-Passage East back to County Waterford and it was a much faster trip (8 Euro for one car trip; 12 Euro for a return trip). I liked going through New Ross, though. It’s a beautiful town with a famous link to John F. Kennedy and deserves a post of it’s own (next time!).

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The beautiful village of Passage East, Co. Waterford

The beautiful village of Passage East, Co. Waterford

Hook Head is yet another beautiful part of Ireland, but I enjoyed the surroundings more than the actual lighthouse. Sometimes driving aimlessly around the countryside is the best way to spend a sunny day.

Haddock, Tarragon & Lemon Fishcakes

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I am a true East Coast girl in every sense of the word. I like nothing better than swimming in rivers and oceans, picking wild blueberries, drinking Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale (the pride of Nova Scotia), BBQ-ing on the deck and gossiping with my mom and aunties.

Also, I’m kind of obsessed with seafood.

Mussels, lobster, clams, scallops, cod, haddock – these are some of my favourite things to eat, if they’re cooked right. Cooked right how? Well… barely cooked and served with some drawn butter is usually perfect, in my humble opinion.

No visit home is complete without a few trips to my favourite seafood-eating joints. I go to certain places for certain things. For example:

Lobster Sandwiches: The Herring Choker Deli, Nyanza, Cape Breton

Steamed Lobster Dinner (with all-you-can-eat chowder and mussels!): The Lobster Suppers, Baddeck, Cape Breton

Crab Legs, Mussels and Seafood Platters: The Rusty Anchor, Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton (Le Gabriel in Cheticamp also does a good platter)

Fish and Chips: The Cedar House, Bras D’or, Cape Breton

Fancy for wining and dining: The Chanterelle Inn, North River, Cape Breton

Seafood Chowder & Fishcakes with biscuits: Charlene’s Bayside, Whycocomagh, Cape Breton

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Fishcakes are some good eatin’. You’ll find them cooked different ways depending on where you are in the world. In Cape Breton, a fishcake is usually made with salt cod or haddock, onions and mashed potato. They get fried up and served with biscuits, baked beans and green tomato chow (only the yummiest condiment known to man). I love Charlene’s fishcakes so much, I asked her to cater my wedding and requested fishcakes with green tomato chow as the starter.

I like to make fishcakes myself every now and then. I play around with the type of fish and flavourings, but I always – always – make my fishcakes with mashed potato. It’s comfort in a small, disc shaped package. Fishcakes can be a lot of work if you make it a lot of work. I always do that – sautéeing, setting up an elaborate breading station, baking in the oven after frying… it really doesn’t have to be that complicated.

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In this case, though, I think I hit the mark. These fishcakes are simply flavoured, lightly breaded and seasoned so well you don’t even need a sauce with them. Since they’re made with potato, your starch is already taken care of. Lightly sauté some greens, or make a quick salad as a side dish, and dinner is taken care of. I served these haddock, tarragon and lemon fishcakes with some peas and spinach sautéed with garlic. And I’m salivating in remembrance.

What are your favourite spots in Ireland for seafood?

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Haddock, Tarragon & Lemon Fishcakes

Ingredients:

2 fillets fresh haddock, skinned and de-boned (I do this myself but you can get your fishmonger to do it, too)

4 medium sized potatoes

Juice and zest of one lemon

1 Tbsp butter

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh tarragon (you can use dried as well; add it in while the fish is cooking)

3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

11/2 cup bread crumbs

3 eggs

1 cup AP flour

Oil for frying

Directions:

  • Peel and cut potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Cover with salted water and boil until fork tender.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, sauté the onions and bay leaf in the butter. Add the haddock fillets and, as they cook, break them up with a fork.
  • Add the lemon juice to the onion/bay/haddock. Cook until the haddock is opaque and the lemon juice has reduced. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf.
  • Finely chop the parsley and tarragon, if using fresh. Add the herbs and lemon zest to a mixing bowl. Add the haddock mixture to the same bowl and mix well.
  • When the potatoes are tender, drain well and mash with salt and pepper. Add the mashed potatoes to the haddock/herb/lemon mixture and mix well. *Taste the mixture to check for seasoning at this point, while it’s hot. Food tastes differently at different temperatures, and you’ll be eating these fishcakes hot.
  • Lightly mix one egg and add to the potato/haddock mixture. Mix quickly so the egg doesn’t scramble. If you’re in a hurry, put the mixing bowl in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. If you’re preparing the fishcakes in advance, pop the mixture in the fridge for an hour.
  • While the mixture is cooling, set up your breading station. You need four plates – one for flour, one for eggs, one for breadcrumbs and the last one for the finished, breaded fishcakes. Season the flour with salt and pepper; whisk the eggs with a fork. Set them up in the right order – flour, egg, breadcrumbs, finished.
  • When the haddock mixture is cool enough to handle, portion into equal sizes and shape into discs. Lightly coat each fishcake in the flour, then coat in egg and breadcrumbs. Place the finished fishcakes on the clean plate. This mixture will make 5-6 large fishcakes (about 1/2 cup mixture per fishcake).
  • At this point you can continue to chill the fishcakes until you’re ready to serve, or you can heat up some oil in a pan and fry them on each side until they’re golden brown. I preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius) and pop them in for 10-15 minutes after frying to ensure they’re cooked all the way through.
  • Serve hot with salad, sauteed greens, baked beans (these would be great with French-style cassoulet), chutney or country relish.

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County Waterford Beaches

Over the past few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to get some serious beach time in. The weather’s been hot, the water’s been cold and refreshing and the scenery in our county of residence, Waterford, I have to say, is outstanding.

When we were about to move to Waterford, many of the people we told gave us looks that said, “Why would you want to live there?”

It certainly makes one feel a bit apprehensive. We had no need to feel that way, though. I love Waterford, almost as much as I love Tipperary.

We live on the edge of Waterford City; literally ten minutes from the nearest beach and a quick walk to the countryside. We have all the amenities you’d want from the city – a cinema, plenty of grocery stores/butchers/greengrocers/markets, gyms and spas and shopping centres – with the feel of living in a small town.

It’s also a university city, so there are lots of options for nightlife and we have some great restaurants. The house we rent is a ten minute drive to Patrick’s work in one direction and ten minutes to the hospital in the other (that was a big selling point for us).

No place is perfect and there are a few downsides to living here as well; I wish it were easier to access the downtown using public transit, for example. That said, I’m used to living in the middle of nowhere and this is far from the middle of nowhere. And. We. Live. So. Close. To. So. Many. Beaches.

I haven’t had a chance to try them all, but it is a constant work in progress. If you take the Copper Coast Drive between Tramore and Dungarvan, you’ll find numerous coves and beaches. On a hot, sunny Saturday, cars will be parked along the sides of the narrow road, so you can take mental notes on which beaches to come back to. Here are the beaches I’ve visited so far – I’ll be posting more as we visit them!

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Dunmore East

I love the coastal village of Dunmore East, and I’ve expressed the opinion several times already that I wouldn’t mind taking up permanent residence there. Although I hear it gets slightly gloomy during the off-season, in the summertime the beach is packed, the pubs are slammed and the hotels/holiday homes are at maximum capacity (especially this unseasonably hot summer). There’s always a lot going on in the village with live music in the evenings at the many pubs and restaurants. If you’re a golfer, there is a beautiful golf course overlooking the cove.

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Clonea

Clonea is located near the beautiful town of Dungarvan. The beach is large and sandy, and on hot days it’s full of holiday-makers. I love this beach because you seem to get more direct sun – it’s not as sheltered as some of the other beaches located in coves. Clonea is a great place to come with your kids because it’s closely monitored by lifeguards. There are also a lot of fun rentals – kayaks and boogie boards – that your kids will love. The downside to Clonea is just how busy it gets on a hot Saturday – it can be difficult to find parking, so getting there earlier in the day is recommended. I do like that they have public washrooms, though, and the water is cold and refreshing, even though there tends to be quite a bit of seaweed to wade through.

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Stradbally

This might be my favourite beach yet. Located near the village of Stradbally on the Copper Coast Drive and tucked into a sheltered cove, Stradbally Beach is sandy, less crowded, the water is shallow a long way’s out and it’s the perfect temperature for long, relaxing swims. The beach is surrounded by high cliffs on all sides, and near the edges of the cliffs you’ll find tidal pools full of sea creatures to keep the kids enthralled for hours (although the rocks are slippery and you’ll want to take care with small children). The downside? There aren’t lifeguards, there’s nothing close by (it isn’t in the village, but a few kilometres out), no public toilets, and there is a sign at the beach warning strong currents. It may not be the best beach to bring children to, but it’s still my favourite. Next time I’ll be bringing lots of snacks, though.

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Tramore

The beach at Tramore is massive. It seems to go on and on for days. It’s a haven for surfers, the waves are fun to play in and it’s got a carnival atmosphere to it (thanks to the many shops on the boardwalk and the fun fair on the opposite end). Tramore is a great beach for kids – whether for playing in the waves or searching for sea glass along the shore before taking them for fresh fish and chips and for a few rides at the fair. The downside? It gets crowded, it sometimes feels too big and the carnival atmosphere, while nice and fun, is not always what I’m looking for in a beach. We do love to take our nieces here, though; it really is number one if your looking for a kid-friendly beach.

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