Entries tagged with “Americans in Dublin”.


When I lived in Los Angeles and worked as a freelance writer, one of my favourite afternoon breaks involved going to the local art house movie theatre for an escape. The Laemmle Theatre in Pasadena always featured a good mix of indie and foreign films, plus they’d turn a blind eye when I’d sneak in a cup of good coffee from the cafe at  Vroman’s Bookstore next door.

I typically chose European films for the ambiance. What is it about skirts fluttering against the tailwind of a Vespa that sparks a desire in every woman to live out her own Fellini-esque fantasy? For two hours I’d sit alone in the dark, quietly sipping coffee whilst absorbed in these fanciful flights of imagination.

I’d dream of one day visiting the seedy piano bar in The Beat That My Heart Skipped or the muted rouge-hued cafes in Amelie – with a dashing European suitor, of course. Like the young schoolgirl who spent her evenings envisaging a new life abroad whilst singing along to Sur les quais du vieux Paris in An Education, I too would aspire to one day turn my Francophile fantasies into reality.



If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that in the last few months I’ve really gotten into making my own bread. The seed was sown last year when I became addicted to the Great British Bakeoff, and was nurtured by a steady diet of Paul Hollywood’s Bread episodes and various River Cottage shows, which frequently sees the curly mopped-topped Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall whipping up batches of fresh baked breads and cakes.

There’s just something so satisfying about the process of making your own bread: the mixing, the kneading, proofing and of course watching the pale ball of dough transform into a golden, crusty loaf. That said, I have found it difficult to find the time to bake bread regularly and up until now it’s been an every-second-weekend hobby. Mixing the dough by hand means making a goopy mess of the bowl and your fingers, and the kneading process requires a clean worktop (meaning you need to sanitise it first!), 10-12 minutes of pushing and pulling the dough and then of course the clean-up afterward.

Spelt Bread Irish Baking 2

Sometimes during this laborious process, I’ll think of my beloved stand mixer, which is still sitting in a dark storage space in my hometown of Los Angeles. Put simply, when it comes to breads and cakes (and a million other edibles), it does the work for you and makes it easy to have homemade baked goods without having to schedule a chunk of time in your diary.


Irish Curried Potatoes

As I sit here typing this blog post, I’m looking outside at the wind and rain and bracing myself for the sleet that is forecasted for this evening. If Irish people are buying that this is Spring, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. The only thing that’s Spring-y about this weather is, well, nothing.

Still, it could be worse. And despite Mountaineering Man’s grumblings about the cruel and unrelenting Irish weather (and financial crisis and corrupt politicians), I still love it here. It’s funny how many times a day I get the OMG WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE FROM LOS ANGELES double-take from stunned Irish people. It’s typically followed by a statement about how bad things are here and how they can’t imagine why anyone would actually want to move to Ireland.

The sentiment I get from blog readers abroad is the complete opposite. I get a dozen emails every week from people all over the world who are dying to live here. They dream of the rolling green hills, the cosy pubs and great Irish craic and they ask me a lot of questions about how they can make that dream a reality. Their love and admiration for the country is palpable; they speak of Ireland with the kind of dreamy enthusiasm that many express about places like Paris, Tuscany and Manhattan.



Editor’s note: Today’s post is written by my husband Cormac, better known to you blog readers as Mountaineering Man. For my birthday a couple weeks back, he offered to cook me a homemade meal, which was a bit of a surprise; though he has become really good at making baked fish, roasted potatoes and the like he’s never made an entire meal using recipes. Here is his story.

WHAT do you cook the girl who’s eaten everything?

Well, anything.

At least that’s what Clare told me she’d happily have for her birthday meal.

It was a significant birthday so this was going to be a significant meal. So the amount of planning and prep was going to be – you guessed it – significant.

Now we live in a home filled with cook and food books. From the Larousse bible to Bourdain, from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to Julia Child, there was no shortage of ideas on the shelves.

This is the point where I would usually admit my shortcomings, go for the simplest thing possible and pray that enough butter (the chef’s ace in the hole) would carry me through.

Not this time.



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.


Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes 2

The other day as I was chatting away with a fewvendors at the Honest 2 Goodness farmers market, I realised that somewhere between arriving in Ireland on March 4th, 2010 and last Saturday, I’d managed to create a life here.

When I first landed, I had a few friends I knew from years ago but as they all lived in a different area it was common for me to walk around town (Drogheda, which was my first home here) and not know a single face. I’d go grocery shopping, sit and read at a café for hours, stroll around the streets without seeing a single person I knew. I stumbled my way through getting to know the one-way streets and the opening hours of the post office and Tesco and which roads allowed free parking and which ones didn’t.

Ocean Water

People say you either sink or swim, but for the first several months I was doggy paddling rather soppily – and doing a pretty good job at staying afloat. I couldn’t quite open my eyes underwater and sometimes I’d bump my head into a wall, but I kept kicking. After meeting Mountaineering Man and dating for several months, I made the move to Dublin and started that process again – the getting-to-know-you part – finding my way around the city, making new friends and creating a home. And I kept on paddling.


po boy

Even though a sandwich seems simple enough, it’s really hard to find a great, well-constructed sambos these days. The ratio of filling to bread, the texture of the bread (overly toasted means it tears up the roof of your mouth; too soft means not enough support for innards), the right size and balance of filling…it ain’t rocket science but there is definitely an art to making the perfect sandwich.

It was this idea – one of the perfect sandwich, which in this case was the classic po’ boy – that brought us together one breezy Saturday afternoon. For several weeks now, some of us Irish Foodies including Bill & Sharon Gunter, Aoife, Kristin and a few others filled the Twitterverse with chatter about having a po’ boy party; after a few email exchanges it was decided we’d meet at the Gunters’ for an afternoon of sandwich-making.


The po’ boy is a New Orleans invention and usually consists of a baguette filled with fried oysters, shredded lettuce and slices of tomato. There are also beef, chicken, veggie, catfish and other varieties of po’ boy, but as New Orleans is famous for its oysters, that is the one I’d consider the pure po’ boy. There’s a story behind the name (as with many great dishes do): Back in 1929, during the streetcar employee strike, restaurant owners Benny and Clovis Martin served the striking workers free sandwiches. Because the all-male strikers were referred to as “poor boys,” the sandwiches took on the name; with the Louisiana accent, it sounded more like “po’ boy,” and it stuck.


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.


Dublin Church When I moved to Drogheda from Los Angeles just over 14 months ago, I was looking for a break from big-city life. I spent the first part of my childhood in Tokyo, my formative years in Los Angeles and my college days in San Francisco so living in a small town (well, small for me) was something out of my comfort zone.

It was an adjustment but that year in Drogheda was a good one. I learned to navigate narrow country roads with ease; I got used to seeing people I knew around town; I found ways to deal with the lack of variety when it came to restaurants and food shops. But even though I’m now back in a big city, it’s still a world away from where I originally came.