Asian food Dublin


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Resolutions – everyone has an opinion about them. Some friends of mine refuse to partake in this annual New Year tradition while others write entire lists of what they’d like to accomplish over the next year.

Me? Well I personally like to take advantage of that bright-eyed, optimistic feeling that comes with every new year. And I like to go big – I mean, why not? I think the last few years have taught me more than anything that aiming high and dreaming big can only lead to great things; less than three years ago I was a single gal living in LA, frustrated with dating and wondering where my life was going. Today I live in Dublin, an married to an amazing man and work in the digital creative agency business. I find myself smiling sometimes when I’m walking down the coast road, looking out at Howth from Bull Island and buttoning up my coat thinking, “Wow…this is my life.”

clare cormac nye 2012

I guess my point is that if you aim for the stars, you might just reach them – and even if you don’t, you may reach the treetops, a mountaintop and maybe some low-level clouds, and that’s higher than you were before.

With that in mind, I’m starting the new year off by aiming to shed the extra weight I’ve been carrying for a number of years. I’m not seriously overweight or have any weight-related health issues, but if I’m being honest I’d say I could stand to lose 20 lbs. (about 9 kilograms) and moreover could do with some toning and strength training. I have some back issues and tennis elbow problems (not from playing tennis but from repetitive typing) and getting into better shape will help alleviate those issues. I also desperately need to finish a book proposal I’ve been working on for far too long and get back to blogging on a regular basis.

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Communion

Father Tom Tehan (with the beard) of Co. Meath at our First Communion; I think that’s me raising my candle and my sister in the back row (we’re identical twins and even I get confused!).

People here always ask me if I have any Irish blood coursing through my veins, and I always replied that I do not. I’m half-Japanese, part German, perhaps a bit Czech and maybe even a little Yugoslavian. But Irish, no – at least that’s what I thought.

And then several weeks ago my dad emailed to tell me that he was looking through our ancestry files and was reminded that his great grandmother (which would be my great, great grandmother) was one Hanora N. McDonough born in January 1872 in…County Mayo, Ireland!? She immigrated to the United States and married Bernard Henry Cook on the 17th of September 1890. So there you go, I’m a bit Irish after all.

Relatives aside, my family has some long-standing Irish connections that I either didn’t know about until recently or just forgot about. Growing up in Japan, we had a very close family friend in the form of an Irish priest: Father Tom Tehan, who hails from County Meath of all places. My parents met him when we lived in Japan, and he has remained close to us over the years; he even flew out to Arkansas to give my sister and me our First Communion. Shortly after I moved here to Ireland, I met with Father Tom for a cup of tea and a chat when he was here for a short visit with his siblings.

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Pho Beach

Took this during my shed time yesterday, which involved a long walk on the beach with my friend Ela.

When I first moved to Ireland, I observed a noticeable divide between men and women when it came to socalising. Every time I’d go to the pub with my friends (back when I used to live in Drogheda), the men would separate from the women seconds after walking into the bar. For the first hour or so, it was guy talk on one side of the room and girl talk on the other. Once all the catching-up was done, everyone mingled.

On the surface, I suppose this scene would seem a bit antiquated. And if I’m honest, I found it slightly jarring at first. But lately I’m beginning to appreciate this understanding that guys need their designated guy time and girls need theirs – I’m not sure why but the Irish seem to get this better than most Americans I know. There’s no offence taken or need to make excuses or apologise, which is refreshing.

easter cupcakes

Mountaineering Man’s dad meets up with a couple of his buddies at a café every weekday morning. He explains it as a time to just talk shop with the fellas. MM’s mother has a regular weekly card game with the ladies. My dad has lunch twice a week with a couple of his friends, and my mother has dinner with her Zumba class friends after a workout once or twice a week. I like that they don’t feel the need to make their plans opposite each other’s; there’s none of this “Well since you’re having a guys’ night I’ll go out with my friends” tit-for-tat style competitiveness; they understand that each person having his/her own time makes them better as a couple.

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I remember back in the early days of living in Ireland – Drogheda, Co. Louth to be specific -  I often felt helpless. There were so many unfamiliar things and places and people; from laser cards (don’t have ‘em in the U.S.) to bagging your own groceries at the shop, everything was a learning experience.

As time went on, I started to figure it out and things got easier. But much like a videogame, there are many, many levels of adjustment and understanding that don’t end after mastering the basics. Sure I figured out the rules of the road and that the post office doesn’t deliver on Saturdays and how a storage heater works. But it’s those little, only-locals-know type things like the quickest route from SuperValu to the dry cleaners or what park is good for a Sunday stroll that takes a while to learn.

Fish n Chips

Then there’s the food-related stuff: Where can I buy fresh bay leaves? Does anyone in Dublin serve authentic tacos? Is there a shop that sells that super light airy French roll for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches? These are things that I’ve had to dig for, and only recently do I feel I’ve gotten a good understanding of where to get what I’m looking for. It’s taken a lot of research – Twitter, Facebook, Google and just plain ol’ going around Dublin personally trying bits and bobs here and there and talking to shop clerks and asking my food blogging friends for advice. But it’s all worth the effort when I find what I need.

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sushi 1 

Oh man, this place is soooo J.

This is something my sister would say if we walked into a particular type of place. What does “soooo J” mean? Sooooo Japanese. This comment would be appropriate is if my sister and I walked into a shopping centre that reminded us of one in Tokyo, maybe because of the items it sells or the general vibe of the place. Or if we walked past a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles full of Japanese people, we might say This place must be good, look at all the J’s in there!

Living here in Ireland, I rarely see Japanese people but the odd time I do I tend to make a verbal note of it – probably because it’s so unusual. Of course now Mountaineering Man has picked up on my use of J to refer to Japanese people; as he has a mischievous sense of humour, he’ll abuse the reference. Pretty much any Asian person we see will elicit a Look, there’s some J’s! He’s just being cheeky of course but I will admit I do find it quite funny. Moreover it’s interesting to observe his growing knowledge of Japanese food and culture, which he’s picking up in bits and pieces from me.

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home organics broadbean bread 2 Nearly two weeks into being a Dublin resident, I’m still trying to get the hang of things around here. I remember going through a similar adjustment when I moved from Los Angeles to Drogheda in 2010, though back then I was utterly clueless about anything Irish whereas now I’m just trying to learn my way around a new city.

Queen Dublin

Of course I happened to move here right in the thick of the craziest week Dublin has ever seen. There’s Queen Elizabeth’s visit, her first EVER to Ireland, which is currently going on. Tonight is the UEFA final (football) and Saturday is the Leinster Cup final (rugby), and both are huge sporting events (so I’m told) and both in Dublin. On Monday, President Obama comes to visit for two days. All these events have Dublin on major lock-down: streets are closed off, public transportation is limited and there are literally 10,000 cops patrolling the streets.

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Irish boys small town Though Drogheda showed some last-minute ingenuity to get me to stay, I am now an official resident of Dublin. Let me explain.

For my last night in The Drog, I booked Mountaineering Man and myself a room at the d Hotel. I’d spent the better part of the week packing, hauling and cleaning and I wanted MM and I to have a relaxing last evening in town. We went to Eastern Seaboard with my Collon friends (Sinead, Aoife, Earnan and Grainne) and retreated to our lovely room at the hotel, delighted at the knowledge that there were only a few more boxes and items left in my perfectly-clean apartment to take the Dublin the next day.

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We slept in, MM went for his usual 10k run (this time in the hotel’s gym instead of outdoors) and we had a sumptuous breakfast at the d’s restaurant before heading out to get the last of my things. I found the perfect loading zone space right near the entrance to my apartment and we made a few trips up and down the lift, filling my tiny car to near capacity. It was on our second-to-last trip to the car – I had a few small bags and MM had my big television set – that I realized I’d locked my keys in the apartment. Just when I thought I was out it pulls me back in! After ringing the building manager several times with no answer, we had no other choice but to call a locksmith and pay up (though in fairness the guy was very fast and only charged me 40 Euro, not bad at all). Drama resolved and crisis averted, I said goodbye to Drogheda and we headed off into the sunset. Well, it was the M1 but it actually was sunny…so there.

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