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irish food bloggers « An American in Ireland

Entries tagged with “irish food bloggers”.


Like Mam Used To Bake - Google Chrome_2013-09-25_20-04-54

When I first moved to Ireland in March 2010, I only knew a handful of people. Because I was working from home and living in the (new-to-me) town of Drogheda, I turned to food blogging as a way to pass my free time and to make new friends.

Roseanne was one of my very first food blogging friends, and since she lived not too far from me I invited her to my house for dinner one night along with a few other bloggers I’d met online. Since then we’ve become good friends, going on double dates with our respective hubbies (usually at L Mulligans or Eastern Seaboard – two of our faves), meeting up at blog events or just chilling out and having a good gossip session over tea and cakes.

The last time I was at Roseanne’s place, she showed me the print-outs of her book pages and we reviewed them together whilst stuffing our gobs with her famous pavlova. If you read her blog, you know Roseanne’s obsession with pavlova; she makes one nearly every week for her [very lucky or long-suffering, depending on which one of them you ask!] husband, J.

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You can find the recipe for this incredible dessert – the perfect combination of crunchy/chewy meringue topped with beautiful heavy cream and a truckload of fresh fruit – in her newly released book Like Mam Used to Bake. The book is full of mouthwatering treats like Caramel Macaroons, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, Coconut Cake and so much more (there are even some bread recipes in there like Farmhouse Rolls and Wholemeal Soda Bread).

To celebrate the launch of the book, I have one signed copy to give away. Just name your favourite dessert and why you love it so much in the comments section below, and on Friday morning I’ll do a random draw for the winner. Best of luck to everyone – and congratulations to Roseanne on this incredibly impressive accomplishment!

Competition open to anyone in the island of Ireland!

*Photo of pavlova from LikeMamUsedToBake.com

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For the first year after I moved to Ireland, I lived alone in a lovely upper-floor apartment in Drogheda. And for several years prior to my move to Ireland, I lived alone without any live-in beaus or roommates to speak of.

I don’t look back on this with any sadness or regret; in fact, when I finally decided to ditch the roommate situation and branch out on my own, I was beyond ready to go solo. My last roommate (in Los Angeles, where I lived at the time) was an actress who didn’t have a day-job, which meant she was in our apartment all the time. It got to the point where I’d pull into our driveway after a long day at work and groan when I saw her car there – just once I wanted it and her NOT to be there, laying about on the couch and nagging me about everything from whether I’d read her magazines without asking to when I’d planned to move the unwashed fork from the sink into the dishwasher.

Though for the first few weeks I was a bit chicken (one unfamiliar noise in the dark would almost make pine for the company of that lay-about actress) I settled into bachelorette living and embraced having my own space. It was nice to come home from work, fix myself dinner and not have to worry about whether someone else had already tuned the television to some stupid show I had no desire to watch. I could literally kick off my shoes, flip on the telly and eat cereal out of the box if I so pleased.

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I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Ireland has been good to me. Not only in the love-life department (see last post, lol) but in many other regards as well. My job at a digital creative agency here in Dublin is going very well, and thanks in part to my food blogging I’m working with some significant food and beverage clients.

And it’s not just me. I look around at my fellow food blogger friends in Ireland and am amazed at how far everyone has come since we first came together at the inaugural meeting of Irish food bloggers about two-and-a-half years ago. Though there were a few bloggers who’d been doing it for a while, many were just starting out – including moi.

In a country that’s still trying to claw its way out of a recession, these food bloggers have created opportunities with a lot of hard work, determination and a belief that Irish food is important…and has a story that needs to be told.

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Donal, who was one of the first food bloggers in Ireland, is an incredible success story with multiple cookbooks to his name and two successful television series. He recently announced he’ll be a judge on the BAFTA-nominated Junior Masterchef, making the leap from Irish television to being on telly sets all over the UK and much of Western Europe. I have no doubt that he’ll conquer America next!

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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.

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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.

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Gals Tarte

About 15 months ago, I got an invitation for a night out in Dublin. It was from Aoife of the ICanHasCook blog, and she wanted to have me up in the city for a “night of culture and fun.” At the time I was living in Drogheda and I was busy discovering all things small town (well, small for me considering a few months before, I’d moved from Los Angeles) and was frequently writing on this blog about how much I missed the culinary and cultural offerings of a city.

Gals Yuzu I took the train up and had my first proper night out in Dublin. We hit about a half-dozen places with Aoife “Veg” and Catherine “The Runcible Spoon” and I ended up crashing in ICanHasCook & Nialler9’s guest room at 4 am. Looking back on that night now, it’s hard to believe how confused and overwhelmed I felt in Dublin – I had no idea where I was and no idea how to get to Point A from Point B in anything but a taxi. Though back then it was all a blur, I now know we went to Bernard Shaw for a pre-dinner drink, Rotana for dinner, the Workman’s for another drink, the No Name bar for more libations, a warehouse to see a graffiti-off between a English and Irish artists and a loft somewhere to see Alarmist and then to PantiBar for a nightcap.

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pork belly Beautiful pork belly by Maire Dufficy

My friends and I are dining at a restaurant, and my starter of grilled tomato atop garlic-rubbed grilled bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil with a dash of sea salt arrives. I say something about the beautifully ripe tomatoes and note the perfect grill marks on the bread before whipping out my camera (cue collective groan from friends) for a close-up shot of the dish. I snap away, taking breaks only to rearrange the food on my plate to get the perfect angle.

This type of pre-dining behavior is not appreciated by my friends. They even have a nickname for me – Nikon (pronounced knee-con here) as I’m hardly ever without my camera. So imagine my absolute glee when I walked into the Bord Bia offices in Dublin last week and saw a room full of camera-toting foodies – I could finally let my freak flag fly! The event, sponsored by Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) and organized by cookbook author and fellow food blogger Donal Skehan was a day of photography, cooking demonstrations, lectures, and – of course – food! Needless to say, I felt I’d finally found “my peeps.”

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Living in a new country has had its challenges, and not surprisingly my friends here do whatever they can to make the transition as painless as possible. They’ve introduced to me other people who’ve quickly become new friends; they’ve answered endless questions on everything from television licenses and immersion heaters to farm slang and bank holidays. Whatever I may need, they are here for me and I can’t imagine surviving without them.

But part of creating my own life in Ireland is about developing both personal and professional relationships outside my circle of friends. In a very short span of time, I’ve found a supportive and fun group of people within the blogging community here in Ireland. And though I haven’t even met most of them in person, they provide great inspiration and encouragement (often times without even knowing it!). Here are a few of my new blogging friends:

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The Daily Spud

There is no vegetable or starch as popular here as the potato, and if you want to try something new with the beloved spud, Aoife Cox of The Daily Spud can give you a few [hundred] ideas. From the classics like Champ (a velvety potato mash topped with melted butter) to eye-openers like Fruity Potato Milkshake (don’t knock it ‘til ya tried it!), Aoife has the scoop on Ireland’s favorite veg. But she doesn’t stop there; the blog offers lots of non-spud recipes, restaurant and product write-ups and even a few gardening tips, all written with dead-on dry humor and wit. I will be forever grateful to Aoife for accompanying me to a much-needed sushi night out in Dublin. She may be The Daily Spud but I refer to her as my Sushi Partner in Crime.

 

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I Married an Irish Farmer

Imen McDonnell gave up her fast-paced urban life complete with an exciting entertainment-industry job for the love of an Irish farmer. She now resides with her family in the Irish countryside where she’s more likely to sport Wellies than Manolos. But with her inherent sense of style and natural glamour, Imen has created a fashionably fabulous farm life that resembles something off the pages of Country Living magazine. The best part? She also has a heart of gold. After reading one of my blog entries about a rough day, she reached out to me to offer advice and friendship. A former city-dwelling American herself, she understands how frustrating the transition to small-town Irish life can be and her support is a real gift.

 

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