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Posts from the ‘Waterford’ Category

Where to Eat for Winterval

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You may or may not know this, but when I first moved to Ireland I lived in Waterford. Actually, up until last June I lived in Waterford. It’s Ireland’s oldest city and has a crazy, awesome history that includes (but is not limited to) vikings, war, disease, the British, boats and, of course, blaa.

When most non-Irish think of Waterford (if they’ve heard of it at all), Waterford Crystal generally comes to mind. If you’re Irish and don’t live in Waterford, you might remember the TV3 series The Estate (which only really represented a small portion of Waterford’s population).

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Having lived there, given birth there, made friends there and attended events there, my opinion of Waterford as a city is that it’s… awesome. Coming back for a visit actually makes me emotional. For someone moving to Ireland from abroad, Waterford offers so much – as a city and a county. There’s a thriving arts scene, amazing food and scenery and the people are nothing short of wonderful.

Waterford also hosts Ireland’s largest annual Christmas festival, aptly named Winterval. This year, the festival started on the 21st of November and will continue on until December 23rd (read my post on last year’s event here). It brings thousands of visitors to the city each year to indulge in some Santa-visiting, ice-skating and hot-chocolate-drinking.

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The chef’s homemade creme de cassis at La Boheme

I don’t know about you, visitors, but when I first moved to Waterford I had absolutely no idea where (or what) to eat. There is very little online information about Waterford’s wonderful food destinations, so here is a list of my favourite haunts. During Winterval there are plenty of kiosks selling all kinds of festive foods, but if you’re looking for something specific this list might help. Happy Winterval-ing (and eating!).

Coffee & Snacks

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Portico Coffee: These guys can really sling espresso and I was so happy when they opened their little café opposite the City Square Shopping Centre.

Location: 1 Peter Street, Waterford City

Arch Coffee: Having just opened, Arch Coffee is giving Portico a run for their money – they know their stuff and make a mean flat white.

Location: George’s Street, Waterford City (opposite Guiney’s)

Arch Cafe

Arch Cafe

Aoife’s Café: Gorgeous little spot located in the historic 33 The Mall building.

Location: 33 The Mall, Waterford City (close to Waterford Crystal)

The Park Lodge Café: The only café located within The People’s Park – a haven for mothers of young children or those with an affinity for cake.

Location: Newtown Road, The People’s Park, Waterford City 

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Lately…

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Hi All!

I’ve got a lot to say before I head to Canada on Thursday. Here’s a bit of a (random) round-up of what’s been going on in my world these past few weeks:

Silage Cookin’:

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‘Tis the season! The farm is buzzing with activity as we race against the weather to get all the silage cut and gathered. Of course, this means we depend on our neighbours, friends and family for help. Having plenty of good eats on hand is a must to show our appreciation of everyone’s hard work.

I spent the majority of last week baking and cooking; keeping the kitchen stocked for when the workers could pop in for a cup of tea. Working in the hot weather is just the worst, but it’s the best time to do silage, unfortunately!

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Wexford Food Festival: 

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A few Sundays ago Pat, Maeve and I headed to Wexford town to check out their yearly food festival. I had never been to Wexford so I was excited to see the town and check out the Artisan Food Market (which featured lots of local artisan products as well as a selection from Wales). I loved the curry samples on offer and Pat enjoyed a pulled pork bap.

I wandered around Greenacres before lunch. What a great shop! They have an amazing selection of European wines, local cheeses and fine foods. They also stock an excellent array of kitchen supplies. I’ll be back to stock my kitchen as we renovate the farm house in Tipp.

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For lunch, we went to a lovely Italian restaurant called La Dolce Vita. The owner is really outgoing and makes a great bowl of pasta (and the bread… the bread!). I ordered a bowl of bucatini amatriciana and it was perfect. Al dente noodles, fresh tomato sauce with just the right amount of heat from the chilies.

Ballymaloe Litfest:

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The weekend before Wexford, my friend Grace (who works as a television food stylist and was visiting from Toronto), Maeve and I went to Ballymaloe Litfest. It was even better than last year, if that’s possible.

The farmer’s market in The Big Shed had a great variety of food producers (including some of my favourites – Highbank Orchards, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Rocket Man to name a few), there was a cookbook shop set up in another of the sheds and the usual workshops and discussion groups were well put-together.

Rene Redzepi, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi were just a few of the fantastic chefs involved in this annual festival. I met Yotam and we bonded over our napping children – neither of whom slept well the night before. He’s a lovely man.

Larder:

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This is a new shop on The Quay in Waterford specializing in local artisanal products. They also serve coffee and offer daily, fresh baked goods. The spelt brown bread is addictive and the owner, Patrick, is the kind of inspirational businessman you want to support and see succeed. I’d love to see more of these vacant shops on The Quay revitalized the way Patrick’s done to Larder – it’s trendy and well stocked, with seating out on the sidewalk to sit and enjoy your cuppa on nice days.

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Cupcake Heaven:

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Another great Waterford business. I was in Kaffeine (on the pedestrian shopping street) to get a latte before catching the bus and the girl behind the counter gave me one of their cupcakes to try. The cupcakes are made by a group called Cupcake Heaven and they are, hands down, the best in Waterford. They always have samples in the coffee shop so go in for a taste! My favourites are the coffee and chocolate.

Top 50 Restaurants in Canada:

Auberge du Pommier, Toronto

Auberge du Pommier, Toronto

On May 22nd, the 3rd annual Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list was launched by Vacay.ca. I chaired the Top 50 again for the second year and had such a great experience. We had fabulous judges, including some of Canada’s most iconic chefs, and everyone seemed happy to be involved.

As with any restaurant list, it’s hard to really “rate” a restaurant – I mean, at the end of the day, it’s a personal opinion. But I really believe this list is a great resource for anyone planning a foodie visit to almost any part of Canada and I’m proud it’s so democratically driven.

Botched Attempt at Father’s Day?

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So, since Mother’s Day is on two different days in Canada and in Ireland I figured it must be the same for Father’s Day. I must not have been reading the signs, but in Tipperary there were all kinds of “last minute” things on sale for Father’s Day. I assumed that must mean Father’s Day was last (last) Sunday. I got Pat a little present and a card from Maeve and made him his favourite breakfast, only to find out Father’s Day actually took place this past weekend. *facepalm* I’m blaming baby brain.

He still got a sleep in, a nice breakfast and a family hike out to the Devil’s Bit near Templemore (will post about that soon).

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Happy Father’s Day anyway, Pat. I’ll get it right next year. (Also: Maeve’s first taste of nutella!).

Crazy Full Moon at the Farm:

I took this shot the other night after a long day of hauling/cutting the silage:

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Cool, huh? Apparently we won’t see a moon like that again in our lifetime (at least, not on a Friday the 13th).

Ombre Obsession:

Last but not least, here’s my first attempt as an ombre cake:

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I’ll leave you with that.

Until next time! xx

Mahon Falls, The Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford

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A few weeks ago on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Patrick, Maeve and I set off down the N25 for a leisurely drive through the Comeragh Mountains.

Like many places in County Waterford, before moving here I wasn’t aware that these mountains existed. Now that I know, I’m saddened thinking about how many other Canadians come to Ireland and never make it to the Sunny Southeast.

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Although it seems to be a stop on many bus tours, Waterford doesn’t feature in as many travel articles or commercials. I’m not sure why that is – the weather is lovely, the beaches are gorgeous and relatively secluded, and the Comeraghs – well, the Comeraghs have some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever experienced.

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In the far reaches of the mountains, there is a short hike to a place called Mahon Falls. This walk is highly recommended. Small children and seniors will have no problem walking to the falls and back – it took about 20 minutes of brisk walking for me to reach the end. The backdrop of mountains on one side and rest of County Waterford on the other is breathtaking, to say the least.

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When we arrived, we looked back at Maeve and discovered she was sound asleep. Patrick and I looked at each other, each trying to think of a way around the situation. In the end, I walked to the falls by myself and Patrick said he and the baby would follow if and when she woke (she didn’t; she was still snoring when I got back about an hour later).

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The path is well marked and maintained and when you reach the falls there are numerous spots for picnics. Just beware of the wind – it can be really harsh and cold, even on a sunny day. Higher up on the hills, if you squint, you can see sheep grazing on the stumpy grass and heather. It’s amazing to see how high they can climb.

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Mahon Falls is about 40 minutes from Waterford City. You’ll see a sign for the waterfall about ten minutes before reaching Dungarvan on the N25 roadway. The hike will take at least another 40 minutes depending on how long you stay to admire the view.

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My Favourite Places #4: Butlerstown Farmer’s Market

Caolan Harrington, market founder and vendor at Crough Farms Venison

Caolan Harrington, market founder and vendor at Crough Farms Venison

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love farmer’s markets.

I’m sure I’ve talked about the Brickworks in Toronto or the Wolfville Farmer’s Market in Nova Scotia, where I went to university. These are the two best markets I’ve ever been to – as far as what’s sold, the level of community support and how much of my weekly shopping I can get done, these two win out for me every time.

It took me awhile to find a market in Waterford. Not that there’s any shortage of markets; just the contrary: there are so many on different days of the week and with different vendors, it’s hard to find a market where I can consistently get a lot of my weekly shopping done.

Also, I need a weekend market in my life. I don’t drive, so midweek marketing in another town is not an option. I’ve heard good things about the Thursday market in Dungarvan, but since Pat works during the week I can’t get there.

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This all leads to the Butlerstown Farmer’s Market, which is this month’s favourite place!

It takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am outside the Harvey Norman on Waterford’s ring road. A consistently great bunch of vendors gather here every weekend. There’s great banter – always music playing and picnic tables set up. There’s hot food, baked goods, venison and a really talented espresso slinger on hand. Really, it’s what I was looking for in a market.

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Caolan Harrington, one of the founders of the market and also a vendor, strives to make Butlerstown Farmer’s Market a one-stop shopping destination and is always on the lookout for new vendors.

I personally love the baked goods and specialty products that are on offer here. I like the fact that I can grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat before getting my veggies and meat.

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Vendors include (but are not limited to):

There are always fresh, seasonal vegetables on offer, too. A great way to do your weekend shop!

You can find The Butlerstown Farmer’s Market on Facebook and Twitter – they update regularly!

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Taking Part in Bumbles of Rice’s A Week in Dinners

Bumbles of Rice is a parenting and lifestyle blog I like to read. Lately, the author’s been posting some of her family’s real life dinners – the good, the bad, and everything in between. I think it’s cool to see how food bloggers really eat – especially since you usually only see the successful dishes on the blog – so here’s my family’s last week in dinners (please note: I’m a mom of one and am still technically on maternity leave, so my dinners probably haven’t changed too much since before Maeve was born).

A week in dinners from April 27th to May 3rd:

Sunday

I had planned a big Sunday roast. We still try to avoid bad stuff during the week (though we fail a lot more these days as you’ll soon read) so Sunday was going to be our big dinner day. But then Maeve hadn’t slept well the night before and I suddenly felt ill and exhausted. Sooo Pat got us Supermacs. That would be a quarter pounder burger with all the fixins and chips with garlic sauce on the side, please. I was “good” and got a bottle of water instead of coke. Maeve had rice porridge for dinner and then complained until I gave her a chip (bad mommy).

Monday

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Maeve goes to a child minder on Mondays and Wednesdays now (as I am flat out busy working on the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada for Vacay.ca). Since she was out of the house, I had a bit of extra time and made that pork roast I had planned for the previous day. So much for eating healthy during the week! I stuffed it with breadcrumbs, lardons, onion and apple. I made mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower, green beans and a rich gravy to go with. Maeve loves cauliflower and green beans – not so keen on the pork.

Tuesday

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I had some ground lamb in the freezer and we were pressed for time last Tuesday so I made my never-fail, 30 minute baked lamb koftas. Ground lamb, spices, garlic and ginger – mix, shape and bake. I served them with some brown rice, a small salad and a tahini-buttermilk sauce. This is one of my favourite dinners. Maeve had fruit and porridge earlier since we ate past her bedtime.

Wednesday

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I had some leftover spice mix from the koftas, so I sprinkled it on some salmon filets, placed some sliced lemon over top and baked them for about 10 minutes. I served the salmon with sriracha-mashed sweet potato. Maeve loves both salmon and sweet potato – we just have to make sure there are no bones in the salmon before giving her a piece.

Thursday

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I made my version of cashew nut pork. It’s so quick to make, healthy and, in my not-so-humble opinion, better than a takeaway. Broccoli, sliced pork, onion, garlic, ginger, toasted cashew nuts, chili, a sprinkle of brown sugar, soy sauce and rice vinegar and you’re good to go. We had leftover rice in the fridge from the koftas so I fried it with an egg. Simple. Maeve had already eaten at this stage but wanted some broccoli. I sucked off the sauce and let her chew on a floret (gross, I know, but that’s me).

Friday

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I had been craving a curry all week, and as it was the Friday before the bank holiday weekend I went all out and made Vij’s Chicken Curry and homemade naan bread. Vikram Vij is one of Canada’s greatest chefs. His restaurant was #1 on our Top 50 list a few years ago and remains a contender – it is just so good. His chicken curry is full of depth, has a touch of heat and is full of melt-in-your-mouth chicken pieces. You don’t need rice with it – just scoop it up with the naan. Maeve loved her naan bread, but the curry was a bit too spicy for her.

Satruday

We were in Tipperary for the long weekend and it was quite late before Pat and his dad came home from the farm. A new chipper had opened in the village so we tried it out – as suspected, it was pretty terrible. I got curry cheese chips. Blah. Maeve was sound asleep by the time we sat down to supper.

So there you have it – a typical week of dinners for me and my little family. Looking back, I think we eat too much junk on the weekends. That will have to be remedied! Thanks Bumbles of Rice for inviting your fellow bloggers to take part in the real life dinners series! If you want to share your dinners and see what others have shared, click here.

What’s On My Mind:

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  • Over the April long weekend we took a gorgeous drive along the Copper Coast from Tramore to Dungavan. I’ve been hearing about The Moorings‘ outdoor patio for some time now. As every Canadian knows, there’s nothing better than beers on a patio on a beautiful, sunny day. This patio didn’t disappoint (and neither did the food or beer).
Scrummy fish chowder & zingy chicken wings at The Moorings

Scrummy fish chowder & zingy chicken wings at The Moorings

  • Breathedreamgo is one of my favourite travel websites. It specializes in travel – mostly to India but also to other areas – and focuses on solo women travelers. Even though I’m married with a bebe I still like to travel alone and I enjoy following the author, Mariellen, on Twitter to see what she’s up to. There’s an amazing giveaway on her website right now: a 14 day food adventure to India, in partnership with Intrepid Travel. You can enter here.
  • I know Maeve’s only 8.5 months old, but I think she may have a promising future in hip hop. She poo-poo’s Raffi but goes crazy for Wu Tang. I’m both proud and slightly scandalized.

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  • The World’s 50 Best Restaurants was announced last night and I wasn’t surprised to see there are still no Canadian restaurants making the cut. As chair of Vacay.ca’s Top 50 Restaurants in Canada I know there’s some pretty amazing stuff happening in Canadian restaurants, from old-school Newfoundland cuisine to fine dining with Aboriginal flair. Maybe more 50 Best judges should visit more often.
My favourite Huevoes at Mildred's Temple Kitchen, Toronto

My favourite Huevoes at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Toronto

  • I ate at La Bohème again last Friday. They have some great value prix fixe menus – an early bird for €29 and a Market Menu, which is four courses for €35. The Market Menu had more interesting selections so we went for that. We also indulged in a kir royale made with the chef’s own creme de cassis – amazing. So many fine dining restaurants fail to hit the mark for me – trying to be creative, they get lost along the way. Chef Théze sticks to his French roots and doesn’t mess around when it comes to flavour.
Waterford Lamb Rump with Almond Cream at La Boheme

Waterford Lamb Rump with Almond Cream at La Boheme

  • I have been loving the spring-time weather in Ireland! Warm, sunny and beautiful. It puts you in a great mood. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

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A Very Nutty Nougat

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Well folks, I can’t believe it, but it’s been a year since we moved into this little house in Waterford. A whole year. So much has happened, and yet it’s gone by in a flash. Our cat sadly died, our beautiful girl was born, we got a new puppy (who I threaten to get rid of on a daily basis – she won’t stop stealing food from the kitchen counter!), members of my family came to visit and went home again. I remember this summer seeming so far away back in September when I had to say good bye to my parents and brother.

But I shouldn’t have been so dramatic. The past six months have flown by. In a few weeks we’ll be welcoming one of my best friends to Ireland for a long-planned visit. In mid-June, the baby and I will be boarding a plane (Westjet now fly from Dublin to St. John’s!) and taking the four hour trip home to Canada. Yup, just four hours. It took my parents longer to fly to my brother on the other side of Canada. It’s a small world, really.

In between, there are first communions, a few fantastic food festivals, and lots to see and experience around the country. In Canada, we’ll be welcoming a new baby boy into the family. Good things are on the way.

A Beautiful Cape Breton Summer

A Beautiful Cape Breton Summer

This summer, I’ll be freelancing, blogging and cooking in Cape Breton for a good 2.5 months. I can’t wait to swim in the river, to pick wild blueberries, to taste the wines of the Annapolis Valley and visit the beautiful beaches we boast in Nova Scotia. I’m going to eat donairs, garlic fingers and poutine til I’m fit to burst. I’m going to really enjoy lobster season. But mostly, I can’t wait to see my family and introduce them to my baby, who have, mostly, only seen Maeve via Skype or Facebook.

I was in a celebratory mood yesterday. In one year we’ve come a very long way. This blog is almost a year old, too! I’ll be commemorating that in a different post. Yesterday, I wanted to make something indulgent.

French nougat is one of my favourite confections. It’s chewy, sweet and versatile. You can mix in whatever combination of dried fruits, nuts or sweets you want. My favourite way to have nougat, though, is with lots of toasted nuts to add a bit of earthiness and cut through the sweetness. Adding a handful of dried cranberries will add a bit of tartness which blends well with those toasty nuts. You can flavour it with citrus rinds, vanilla or spices. I chose cinnamon this time.

Any combination of nuts will do – yesterday I had some almonds, walnuts and cashews, so that’s what went into my nougat. Pistachios and hazelnuts are also good options (and the green pistachios look really pretty against the white). Kids might like their nougat with some caramel or chocolate chips added in, but for me that’s a bit of a sugar overload. At least the fruit and nuts give the illusion of it being a healthy snack!

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Nutty, Fruity Nougat

Ingredients:

1 egg white, room temperature

pinch of sea salt

pinch of ground cinnamon

1 1/3 cups white sugar

1/2 cup honey

2 Tbsp tap water

1/2 cup each walnuts, cashews, almonds & dried cranberries

Vegetable oil

Directions:

  • Toast and roughly chop the nuts. Set aside.
  • Grease and line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap. Then, cut two pieces of parchment and lightly grease those as well. Make sure there’s plenty of overhang when you line the cookie sheet with plastic wrap.
  • Add the sugar, water, cinnamon and honey into a saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar and then turn on high. Boil this mixture for 3-5 minutes. You can use a candy thermometer here but its really not necessary (if you do, it should register around 120 degrees Celsius when finished). You want the sugar and honey to reach the soft-ball stage of cooking – that means, if you drop a bit into a glass of cold water it turns into a firm, but soft ball.
  • While the sugar mixture is boiling, beat the egg white and sea salt until soft peaks form. Once the sugar mixture has reached the right consistency, gradually and slowly pour the mixture into the egg white while beating on med-high.
  • As the sugar mixture is absorbed into the egg white, you should notice the meringue becoming stiffer and glossier. This is what you want. When all of the sugar syrup has been poured into the meringue, continue to beat for 8-10 minutes until you’ve got a firm, but still pliable and mix-able meringue.
  • Now, you can add the nuts and dried fruit to the mix while it’s still pliable. Use your hands (the mixture might still be pretty warm, so be careful!) like I do or a strong wooden spoon. If using your hands, grease them with a bit of vegetable oil before working the nougat.
  • Once the fillings are mixed in, move the nougat to the lined cookie sheet. With one greased parchment sheet on the bottom, press the nougat into the corners and flatten it out with your hands. Put the other greased parchment sheet on top to smooth and even it out over the cookie sheet.
  • Allow to set for at least two hours before removing it from the cookie sheet. When you move it, use the overhang from the plastic wrap to lift it up.
  • Use a knife dipped in boiled water to portion the nougat. If you think it’s too sticky, you can coat the nougat in icing sugar. That will make it easier to handle. It will store in an airtight container for a week.

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