Aunt Benny, snow and flea market galore | Berlin, Day 5

My last day in Berlin was a Sunday which is flea market day in the German capital. So many markets happening every single week, I’m a wee bit jealous of you Berliners! They’re my favourite things to do on holidays so I made something of a military plan to cover as many of them as I could. But first I needed some fuel for the busy day ahead!
Berlin, Day 5

I went to the uber popular brunch spot, Aunt Benny, which was just down the road from my airbnb. I would lie if this didn’t majorly factor into my choice of accommodation (that and the cat of course). The place was already packed by 9.30am and as it was too cold to sit on the benches outside, the lovely waitress suggested I sat in the shoebox-sized adjacent bar. I ordered the quiche with a cup of sweet chai. It was simple but fresh and well executed. I also sampled the bagels and the homemade cream cheese, which gave me a whole new appreciation for the combination. And because I was still reeling from the previous night’s cheesecake fiasco, I may have had a naughty slice of New York cheesecake. So good!
Berlin, Day 5

The first flea market of the day was actually a couple of streets away from Aunt Benny and my airbnb. On Boxhagener Platz, the cute stalls were peppered around the square park and the little kiosk. As I got closer to the first stall, the snow started to fall heavily. I was having a real pinch-me-now moment. Everything looked so bright, kids were being pulled on their sledges by their parents between the stalls. It looked like a romantic film set, up until the path turned into an ice-skating ring and standing up straight was a matter of life and death… for my butt. I’m glad to say no damage was done and that I jumped on the tram for my next flea in one piece.
Berlin, Day 5

Mauerpark is like the mother of all flea markets. I can’t believe how big it was! Rows and rows of cardboard boxes full of junk, you could literally spend all day digging through old stuff. Once again, I was solely attracted to crockery so I reluctantly cut the research effort short knowing that it would be hard to bring anything back home. Nonetheless what a lovely way to spend a Sunday. If old stuff is not your cup of tea, there are lots of food stalls and crafted gifts. On a nearby snowy hill, kids were having a ball, sliding down on their sledges. Very picturesque! But the afternoon was getting on and I still had one flea market to check out.
Berlin, Day 5

Rathaus Schoneberg had a completely different vibe. Located in a quiet area in the West of Berlin, the market stalls were spread on the cobbled-stoned square facing the town hall. It was definitely not as busy but quite neighbourly. I had a quick browse and walked back through the snowy park to the U-bahn station where the train would take me back to Friedrichshain.
Berlin, Day 5

There, I had a little play around with the iconic photoautomat booths next to the train station before heading to the vegan supermarket. This might have been my favourite supermarket experience. What a wild statement. I love how fun the food was there. In the freezer, there was a whole fake turkey! With a limited luggage space, I had to settle on a couple small items so I picked white strawberry chocolate and vegan salami. They were so convincing. Next time I need to bring an empty suitcase to stock up!
Berlin, Day 5

For my last meal, I could not not have falafel. Luckily, I was standing a few meters away from Mustafa Demir’ Gemuse Kebap. It’s a hole in a wall kind of establishment so don’t expect comfort or chairs for that matter, you’ll have to dine on the pavement. But their falafel wrap is pretty amazing. I’d go as far to say that it was the most creative in terms of toppings I’ve had. So much going on between the flat bread, I couldn’t make out what half of it was but it was bursting with flavours, no greasy sauce needed.

That’s a wrap (!!) on my Berlin trip. Unfortunately, it was cut shorter than anticipated as Aer Lingus changed my night flight to a morning one the day after. I wish I had the time to visit the Charlottenburg palace and had it been warmer I would have definitely gone to Templehof Airfield and Spreepark, the abandoned theme park. I definitely need to plot another visit to Berlin. I hope the last few posts inspire you to do the same. One word of advice if you go, plan your trip during the warm season as I felt the city truly reveals itself while aimlessly wandering.

Day 1| Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

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Zwartbles Farm | co. Kilkenny

The weeks following the Paris Attacks, nothing seemed of importance anymore. Certainly not travel or my microadventures I usually like to write about here. One thing kept me sane though: reading about people’s kindness, about their humanity eclipsing the surrounding darkness. It reminded me then that I had met an extraordinary woman last year whom I hadn’t talked to you about yet and I promised myself I would write about her as soon as writing made sense again.
Zwartbles FarmZwartbles Farm

I was lucky to meet Suzanna during a blogging trip to Kilkenny last year. A handful of bloggers and I were invited to explore the county’s food and craft trails. Just as our journey was coming to an end, Suzanna very generously invited us all in her farm at the last minute. As our car pulled up in her courtyard, it felt like we had just entered the setting of an epic Victorian novel. The farm house looked like the cosiest place on Earth.

The woman of the hour, like an unwavering captain, gave us a brief introduction of her fleet and the work she does at the farm. After a few minutes, it became apparent to my untrained ear that there was a melodic American twang in her speech. Indeed, Suzanna was born in New York but she later moved to Ireland to manage the farm that has belonged to her family for generations. Against all odds, she invested in a few Zwartbles sheep whose black wool was rather unpopular. Undetered, Suzanna managed to get people on board with her project and she’s now famous for the beautiful dark blankets, rugs and yarn she produces from her herd.

Zwartbles FarmZwartbles Farm

She then led us in a tour of her property. First stop, the apple and pear orchard where crates full of produce awaited us. We were invited to pick some and this simple gesture filled me with glee, knowing that I would be able to cook with an ingredient that had freshly fallen from one of the happiest trees in Ireland. We also bonded with Bodacious, the cat shepherd which stunned Suzanna a bit as he’s not usually that friendly with strangers. They must have been some powerful cat ladies in our group!

It was then time to meet “Suzanna’s girls“. Here they come…
Zwartbles FarmZwartbles Farm
As soon as we stepped inside the Zwartbles pen, a wave of chocolatey fluffiness charged at us. I’m not going to lie, for a second I thought I was about to get trampled in a stampede. I had never witnessed such enthusiastic sheep behaviour, they jumped around us like excited puppies. Suzanna had a name for each one of them and the fact that she mentioned in passing that their meat tasted sweeter because of the apples they eat from the ground didn’t even make me shudder. She prides herself in giving her animals a good life and it showed, unequivocally so.
Zwartbles Farm

I could have photographed these little cuties all day, I actually was the last one to leave the pen while Suzanna was patiently waiting for me to close the gate. Unfortunately night was falling fast and in the dusk’s last breath, Suzanna quickly showed us her other pride and joy, a herd of Clun Forest sheep. Funnily enough, this breed stands on the opposite side of the personality spectrum. They’re rather frail and timid creatures, and in lieu of a friendly stampede, they felt more comfortable at a distance, observing us, their rabbit ears pointing towards the sky.

To my greatest joy, we also met some alpacas and discovered a rather amusing fact. They’re used on the farm to protect the animals from foxes. They’re actually very efficient guards as they’re able to knock the predators out with their fast side kicks. Who knew alpacas were ninjas in disguise?!

Zwartbles Farm
Zwartbles Farm
We then met the horses and had a wander through the kitchen garden where grew, to my surprise, grapes. Actual grapes in Ireland, isn’t that amazing?!

When it got to the point where we couldn’t see our own feet anymore, we followed Suzanna in her cosy kitchen for a cuppa and chats. Inside, she surprised us with lamb chops, sprigs of sage and a recipe of her own including all of the ingredients she had so kindly given to us that eve. I unfortunately couldn’t stay as I had a train to catch but one thing I’ll say is I felt energised and inspired by this meeting, I love how Suzanna went with her gut feeling and made the ‘black sheep’ happen in Ireland but above all I admire how she’s in tune with nature, working with it to place on her table and her customers the most beautiful produce.

I’ll end this post by warmly recommending you to follow her on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter if you haven’t done it already. I’ve never seen a business use social media in such fun and genuine way before. Every day, she involves her followers in the daily tasks of a farmer. From the birthing of a lamb to Bodacious, the cat shepherd, sleeping in the crockery, her and her companions will make you smile, sometimes several times a day; and lately, I’m sure you’ll agree, we all need that extra dose of cheerfulness.

More information on Zwartbles Farm and its shop on their website.

Eating out in Brussels: 3 recommendations

I don’t know about you but I can’t seem to get in the festive spirit this year. November was a rather dark month and I hope that wherever you’re reading this from that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.
I am not quite ready to roll on the Christmassy posts, hopefully as the 25th approaches, I’ll be a bit merrier and share what Dublin has to offer at this time of the year. In the meantime, I really want to post about my hometown, Brussels. Seeing it portrayed by the media as a macabre terrorist den and the numerous shots of post-apocalyptical empty streets shook me a bit. Maybe it’s a tad shallow and silly but I wanted to fight off the gloom by reminiscing here the good times I had this Summer when I visited family and friends. Brussels is a joyful city with so many great spots to enjoy a meal or a drink so here are a few recommendations from me to you to celebrate Brussels awesomeness (by the way if you’re visiting Brussels this month, you’re in for a treat, the Christmas market is blooming lovely).

Cook & Book
Cook & Book
COOK & BOOK

I had made a mental note to check out this restaurant ever since I saw it featured in the National Geographic’s Top 10 Bookstores in the world. Cook & Book does what it says on the tin, you eat in the middle of a bookshop. Food and books, isn’t that Heaven?! The restaurant counts 9 rooms, each with a different theme. For instance, you’ll find the cookbooks in the diner, general fiction in the main hall where books cover the ceiling or the English bookshop is in a cosy tea-room. My friend surprised me by booking us a table in the travel section… Obviously! In the middle of the room stood a caravan and our tables were lit by repurposed Campbell tomato soup cans as lamps. It was the perfect setting for an overdue catch-up with a life-long friend over a lovely meal, topped off by scrumptious American pancakes.

Place du Temple Libre, 1
1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert
http://www.cookandbook.be

Knees to Chin
Knees to Chin
KNEES TO CHIN

My friend Celestine really knows all the best places to eat in Brussels. I always look forward to seeing where she’s going to take me whenever I get to meet her. This time, she presented me with a short list and her description of Knees to Chin immediately tickled my fancy. This place specialises in rice paper rolls, which I’ve been absolutely obsessed with this year. I started making them at home after seeing this recipe on the Minimalist Baker’s blog, so I was excited to sample some in an actual restaurant. There were delicious and a great source of inspiration. I also loved the cute location which manages to mix conviviality and minimalism in a very photogenic way.

Rue de Livourne, 125
1000 Brussels
http://www.kneestochin.com

Forcado
Forcado
FORCADO

This is another of Celestine‘s awesome finds. Ever since going to Lisbon, I’ve been dreaming of sinking my teeth into another pastel de nata. Unfortunately, it ain’t an easy feat in Dublin. But back in Brussels, Celestine introduced me to the sweetest pastelaria called Forcado. Not only their Portuguese egg tarts are on par with the ones I ate in Lisbon but they add their own little twist to the 200 year old recipe: flavours. Yes, flavoured pasteis de nata, isn’t that genius? There were lemon, chocolate, coffee and speculoos ones … and the menu is updated regularly with limited editions. Cherry on top of the cake, the sweet treats can be enjoyed in the cafe’s highly instagrammable space blessed with bright light, marble-top tables and a Scandinavian feeling infused with a modern Portuguese design.

Chaussee de Charleroi, 196
1060 Saint-Gilles

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

There’s been a distinctive lack of posts around here, I hope you won’t hold a grudge but I’ve been trying to keep my head above water with assignments and general anxiety, so the mood hasn’t been very conducive to writing blog posts. But yesterday I was out and about in town for a job and I thought I would take a few pictures to show you Dublin in all its Autumn splendour. It’s probably  the season when Dublin is at its prettiest (although I’ll probably say something similar come Spring). If you’re looking into visiting the Irish capital, I’d recommend you come at this time of the year as there are generally quite a few events and festivals knocking about and the weather is generally what you would expect, so no disappointment there to have (as opposed to our underwhelming Summers).

Yesterday started with a bit of Dublin Bus drama, I was on my way to town when a guy decided to hold the bus hostage because the driver allegedly overcharged him. Nothing abnormal for a weekday but a bit of a pain when you’re trying to get somewhere. So I squeezed past the angry shouting men and decided to walk the way to town. This turned out to be a bloody good thing as it meant I had to walk through Stephen’s green. The park is a true Autumn Wonderland at the moment. I slowly let go of the commute tension, breathed full lungs of the musty air and gleefully stepped on the dry colourful leaves.
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

My first port of call was the National Museum of Archeology. It was my first time visiting it and if I hadn’t had to for a job, I’d probably have never stepped inside. If you read me regurlarly you know I’m a sucker for period rooms but I can’t say that anything happening before that time captures my imagination. So while the exhibits left me a bit cold (bar the very thing I was coming to photograph, it left me a bit shivery that… I’ll probably talk about it later), I was completely enthralled with the building itself. The tiled floors are some of the best I’ve seen and the domed ceiling in the entrance is one pretty amazing sight.

A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
I then walked around the beautiful squares of Georgian Dublin to look at the red ivy creeping on the bricks here and there. The temperature dropped so I stopped by Yogism to get a hot drink. I opted for a matcha with almond milk which I’ve been meaning to try for the longest time. It was actually quite nice, would go for it again! (sorry I destroyed the pretty latte art because you know, SUGAR).
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
I was also looking for some new stationery so I stopped by TK Maxx and Article in the beautiful Powerscourt Townhouse. I already waxed lyrical about Article here but I could have bought everything, this shop is curated to a T.
Later as I was passing by Dublin’s City Hall, I stepped in to admire another phenomenal domed ceiling. I would have never guessed that such a jewel of a design was there to be admired if it wasn’t for Emily’s blog. #thepowerofblogs
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin
A Crisp Autumn Afternoon in Dublin

The day ended with a couple of pictures taken at St Audoen’s Church and a walk by the Liffey to catch my bus home. Doesn’t it look like the banks could belong to Paris the way the light hits the stone? 

What’s your verdict of Dublin in the Autumn? Doesn’t it look glorious? 
As Halloween is fast-approaching, I thought I would set the mood on the blog next week so I hope you’re ready to get spooked x

Flower market, pizza slices & tower blocks | London, Day 4

Columbia Road Flower Market
COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET

Sunday mornings are made for markets, right? One I had been meaning to check out for a long time is the Columbia Road Flower Market. That weekend, I finally managed the early rise necessary to enjoy the market before it gets too crowded.
I’m not a coffee drinker but that morning, I really needed a caffeine fix. I was on full Zombie mode. Luckily, Jane knew a great cafe stall, which was located in the courtyard of the pub The Royal Oak (on Columbia Road). The coffee there was so smooth, I swear, I didn’t even need to put sugar in it! Thank the Lord, I don’t live anywhere near that place, I would have started down the dangerous slope of caffeine addiction at full speed.
I enjoyed the market a lot, I walked back and forth several times to look at all the flowers and to get all the shots I wanted. The light was quite stark, the sun shone brightly on one side of the market while the other one was in the shadow. Switching from one side to the other, in between the people, was a great camera exercise. It forced me to remember the settings and not to rely on my screen anymore. I feel like I made some progress that day! I’ll show you the pictures in a later post where I’ll talk more about the market and the surrounding shops.

Columbia Road, London E2 E7RG
http://www.columbiaroad.info

The City of London Police Museum

After the market, I mooched around in Shoreditch. It’s such an energising area. So many incredible shops and eateries, one can easily lose track of time… and money. I took note of two beautifully curated shops on Calvert Avenue: O’Dell’s and Luna & Curious. My stomach reminded me of its presence and I went on a food mission. I ended up grabbing pizza slice in the snazzy Voodoo Rays. It was pretty good and it gave me the energy I needed to walk all the way to…

Barbican Centre
THE BARBICAN CENTRE

If you’ve never heard of the Barbican Centre, it’s a housing estate slash arts centre slash music and drama school slash conservatory… I probably forgot something but it’s an imposing structure and walking among its halls, I felt like I was on the set of a working-class film from the Sixties. Again, I’ll talk about it in more detail in a later post.

Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
http://www.barbican.org.uk/

Leadenhall Market
Leadenhal Market
LEADENHALL MARKET

The rest of the day was spent walking in the City of London, which is a district I’d never really explored before. I took my sweet time, nose in the air as usual, getting lost sometimes, but always inspired by London’s great architecture and its different variations. And speaking of astounding architecture, my last destination that day was Leadenhall Market. It’s one of the oldest covered markets in London. It dates back from the 14th century. If it looks slightly familiar to you, it is probably because you’ve seen it before in the first Harry Potter film. It is a bit magical, even in real life, even on a Sunday when the shops are closed and the galleries deserted.

London EC3V 1LT
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visit-the-city/eat-drink/leadenhall-market/Pages/default.aspx

And that’s day 4 over! Only two more days left of my trip to London to tell you all about! If you missed any of the previous days, here is a recap:
Day 1: Audrey Hepburn & Ice-Cream along the Thames | Day 2: Spicy falafel, Totoro, golden gates & confettis | Day 3: Canal walk & neon signs

Spicy falafel, Totoro, golden gates & confettis | London, Day 2

Portobello Road
Day 2 was a Friday and I kinda got that itching of going back to Portobello Road. I hadn’t browsed the market for years and back when I was living in London, it was one of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday. Even though it’s super touristy and crowded!
I don’t think I’d ever visited the market on a Friday and it was definitely more chilled. I also went the furthest I had ever been along the Road, past the Westway flyover to check out the Falafel King (pictured above). I googled for the best falafels in London and this is one of the places that came up. This was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone!
I enjoyed their falafel pitta and fresh lemonade in the blinding sun and made my way back, after my tongue recovered from the hot sauce (I made the mistake of asking for all the toppings, including two types of hot sauce and a chilli pepper… greedy, me?!).
Portobello Road
I then noticed on my right a cute little shop called Lavender Home (pictured above) where I found the meaning of the word ‘Kawaii‘: Japanese Stationary, artworks, postcards and various knicks and knacks were stocked on the shop’s shelves. I wanted everything, especially all the Ghibli merch. I managed to restrict myself to a fluffy little purse, which I’ll show you in a second.

The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to wandering about in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. I wanted to see the St Luke’s Mews which are located just next to Portobello Rd. They’re those cute colourful houses converted from old stables, I’ve seen them featured on Instagram so many times. There are many mews in London but the light was so stark that I didn’t manage to capture any on camera. All I have is that little bridge view below.
Kensington & Chelsea Kensington & Chelsea
Kensington & Chelsea The Churchill Arms
I kept walking northward as I wanted to go window-shopping on the posh King’s Road. On my way, I made sure to stop by The Churchill Arms (see picture above), a pub famous for its incredible floral display. It looked like hundreds of flower bombs exploded on its facade.
I also took a breather in the beautiful Kensington Gardens. I sat on the grass to look at people go by and admire the intricate gilded gate of the Palace. I really wanted to visit it but couldn’t justify the price, especially after converting it to euro. Gulp. Looks like you’ll have to hold on to that change for a little while longer, new purse!
Kensington Palace & Gardens Kensington Palace & Gardens
Kensington & Chelsea Kensingon & Chelsea
As the sun was setting down, I finally made it to King’s Road. The remains of a wedding ceremony stopped me in my tracks. I looked down at the pretty confettis then headed to Anthropologie, a homeware shop, so I could day-dream of what I would do when I finally get that winning lottery ticket.

If you missed Day 1 of my trip in London, here it is! Hope you’ll come back tomorrow for more x

Rialto Market | Venice

Rialto Market

I visited the Rialto Market January this year in the early hours of the afternoon. So these pictures have a definite end-of-market vibe. Which suited me perfectly as it meant I could take pictures without disturbing anyone.
You see, I was a bit nervous as I had been shouted at for taking pictures of food a few days before. Venice is magical and all that, but the truth is, as a shutter-happy tourist, it can be a bit daunting. I made more than one Venetian roll their eyes at me while capturing a moment; a moment I ended up not wanting to keep anymore for feeling like an absolute dork.
I don’t know if it was because the market was about to close down and the sellers were relaxed and happy to go home soon but they made me feel welcome, greeting me with gleeful Buongiorno’s. So my camera and I were once again happy together, taking portraits of heart-breakingly beautiful artichokes and those weird vegetables that look like Rastafari martians called ‘Treviso Tardivo‘ (I had some on a pizza on my last day, they taste like mild chicory).

Rialto Market
Rialto MarketRialto MarketRialto MarketRialto Market

Rialto MarketRialto MarketRialto MarketRialto Market

I’ve wanted to see the market ever since I stumbled upon Skye McAlpine’s instagram (she also has a dreamy food blog). She seems to always bring the most beautiful produce and flowers from the market. I couldn’t see any flower stalls (is there a specific day for the flower market, does anyone know?) but her instagram was certainly telling the truth, everything was looking well delicious and fresh. I only wished I had rented an Airbnb so I could bring some home and slice, sniff, taste and cook to my heart content… Do I sound like a vegetable pervert?

Rialto Market
Practical Information

Rialto Market
Campo de la Pesceria
San Polo, 30125 Venice

Opening Times
8am-1pm; it can be a bit earlier or later (Mon-Sat; Fish Market Tue-Sat)

Vaporetto
Rialto Mercato (line 1)

Last Minute Gift Guide: Christmas Shopping in Dublin

I don’t know about you, but each year, i feel it’s the year of change. Every time November rolls around, I firmly tell myself, enough is enough, the Christmas shopping will start now and come december, I’ll be armed, beribboned and wrapped-ready for the holidays. Maybe I’ll even have a colour design and fancy handmade tags for the wrapping. And without fail, a few days before Christmas, my Santa’s sack holds nothing but a sad echo and I convince myself that newspaper is totally cool and edgy to wrap presents.
Well, here it is, the week before Christmas, 2014 was no different, not one name has been crossed off my list. Instead of banging my head against the wall in shame, I thought I would share a little gift guide with you in solidarity for all the last-minute shoppers out there. Believe me, I know how you feel. This list features items that I secretly covet but also some I love and use on a daily basis. Hopefully you’ll find something in there to fill a stocking or two. This post is also an invitation for you to check out some of the awesome shops in Dublin.

christmas gift guide dublin 2014 with prices

Gobshite Mug (€12)
Please tell me, I’m not the only immature one who giggles at the sight of this cup.

Jam Art Factory
14, Crown Alley
Temple Bar

64, Patrick Street
Dublin 8

Bewleys Christmas Chai tea (€2.99)
I normally have this little tradition of buying loose Christmas tea in a specialised shop every year, but I stumbled upon this box of Bewleys Christmas chai tea in my local supermarket a few weeks ago and decided to give it a go. It’s very much on the fruity side which is an interesting change from other Christmas tea offerings I’ve sampled before that were predominantly spicy. Basically, it’s like drinking mince pies. I’m completely hooked and plan to stock up to hold until next Christmas!

Bewley’s Café
78-79, Grafton Street
Dublin 2

Iittala votive (€22)
This cute little votive is totally on my Christmas wishlist. I keep seeing them on Scandinavian blogs peppered around perfect minimalist white decor and while this style is probably out of reach for little old messy me, I see this candleholder as a little piece of the nordic interior dream. And luckily, Dublin has a design shop for all things Scandi!

Inreda
Royal Hibernian Academy
15, Ely Place
Dublin 2

Atlantic Aromatics rosewater (€7.95)
I have gone through bottles and bottles of this Irish organic rosewater and I can’t see myself stopping here. I love what it does to my skin, a few spritzes get it all smooth. I use it as a toner, sometimes make-up remover combined with an oil and it helps me to wake up in the morning. Also, if I need a little pick-me-up while working, it’s always within reach on my desk during the day. It’s fair to say I’m addicted to the stuff and I seriously couldn’t recommend it enough!

Nourish (6 shops are located in Dublin)

Mark’s Inc diary (€14.50)
I was browsing in Article a few weeks back and stumbled upon this Japanese stationary brand and fell in love. It’s very minimalistic and maybe later in the year I will miss polka dots and gold details but right now I feel like it’s been made for me. The layout, the size, the font, … it just works!

Article
Powerscourt Townhouse
South William Street
Dublin 2

Dyflin candle (€35)
Dyflin is the Norse word for Dublin. This candle evokes the Viking past of the city with notes of juniper, birch and camphor. It is a unique scent and would make for a sweet present for someone who misses Dublin.

Indigo & Cloth
9, Essex Street
Temple Bar
Dublin 2

Damn Fine City by Annie Atkins (€60)
Not sure if it’s something that made the news outside of Ireland but there was a lot of talk this year that the Poolbeg chimneys should be destroyed. For anyone who’s never been to Dublin, you could say it is our double Eiffel towers. It is a recognisable landmark that can be spotted from anywhere upon the Dublin coastline. For me, they mean ‘home’ as they signal the end of the journey when I travel back to Ireland by ferry.
Amidst those talks, Annie Atkins designed this striking blue poster featuring them. You may remember I visited, earlier this year, the exhibition dedicated to her work on Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel.
I don’t think you could get a cooler gift than this.

Damn Fine Print Block T
Smithfield Chambers
Smithfield Square
Dublin 7

Kilkenny Food & Craft Trails | co. Kilkenny

Abbey House b&b

Here is Day 2 of the blogger tour of Kilkenny I took part in at the end of the month of October. If you missed Day 1 and want to get caught up, you can find the summary of the day here.

After a cosy night at the Abbey House bed & breakfast, I woke up to a beautiful autumnal view outside my window. I packed my stuff and all of us went to Goatsbridge Farm for breakfast. We gathered around Mag & Ger’s table to hear the story of trout fishing in the region and how his father started the family business. The visit of which was our first stop of the day on the Kilkenny Food trail.

goatsbridge trout farm
goatsbridge trout farm
Goatsbridge Trout Farm

Ger gave us a tour of the farm, telling us all about trouts from egg to mature fish. We had a look at the different ponds where the fish hang out in what seems like a constant rush hour, swimming against the current.
Goatsbridge, as well as being a farm, is also a visitor centre and a shop where they sell their beautifully packaged trout products: trout caviar, fillets & pate. They even have a snazzy website with an online shop if you want to have a look and treat yourselves to some local fish delicacies.

Goatsbridge Trout Farm
Thomastown, co. Kilkenny
http://www.goatsbridgetrout.ie
Opening Hours: 9am-5.30pm (Mon-Sat)

karen morgan ceramics
karen morgan ceramics
Karen Morgan Porcelain

Next, we visited Karen Morgan’s studio & shop, where we admired her beautiful homeware collection. She makes these elegant flowy pieces, inspired by the movement of clay and water. Her jugs, cups and dishes have that whole Scandinavian minimalist vibe that is so pleasing to the eye. She also stocks in a couple of places around the county, and she has an online shop as well.

Karen Morgan Porcelain’s studio & shop
Market Street
Thomastown, co. Kilkenny
http://www.karenmorganporcelain.com/
Opening Hours: 10am-1pm/2pm-6pm (Tue-Sat)

jerpoint glass
Stoneyford
Jerpoint Glass

We then managed to squeeze a speedy visit at Jerpoint Glass Studio. There was no glass blowing demonstration unfortunately that morning but Roisin led us in the gallery and told us all about the story of Jerpoint glass. Back in the Sixties, her father went to Sweden to train as a master glass blower and then decided to come back in Ireland and set shop in a beautiful converted barn in Stoneyford, co. Kilkenny. You will find there today a gallery, a shop where they display their colourful creations and you can also attend glassblowing demos. Added bonus, the view outside the barn rolls out on miles and miles of a patchwork of fields. I couldn’t help snapping a quick picture on my way back to the car.

Jerpoint Glass
Stoneyford, co. Kilkenny
http://www.jerpointglass.com/
Opening Times

knockdrinna cheese farm
Knockdrinna Cheese Farm & Shop

At Knockdrinna Farm House, we discovered that Helen’s business started in her back kitchen where she decided to experiment with cheese making about 10 years ago. Fast forward to today, Knockdrinna Farm house holds a visitor centre, cheese making classes and a cute little shop-cum-café. You’ll find there cow, goat and sheep cheese and this month they released a nifty little thing, a combination of soft cheese and pesto, or relish, on top, that looks a bit like those fancy yogurts with jam on top (for my Irish readers, I think it is available in Supervalu). Helen generously gave us a little prototype pot and I can tell you one thing  it was such a success that it hardly had any time in the fridge.

Knockdrinna Cheese Farm, Shop & Café
Stoneyford, co. Kilkenny
http://www.knockdrinna.com
Summer Opening Hours: 9.30am-6pm (Mon-Sat) / 11am – 5pm (Sun)

feta & beetroot salad
Cafe Sol Bistro

For lunch, I was happy to be back at Cafe Sol Bistro where my feast took place the night before. I decided to go for a lighter option this time and picked the feta & beetroot salad, which was very tasty but also filling. Beetroots are my faves <3

Cafe Sol Bistro
Low Street
Thomastown, co. Kilkenny
http://www.restaurantskilkenny.com

thomastown school of food
francis nesbitt
Thomastown School of Food

After lunch, we went on the site of a former boys’ school in Thomastown. This is where the food education centre, the whole county has been raising money for the night before, will stand. Francis Nesbitt, the project coordinator, gave us a tour of the grounds and explained us where everything will be. Once the school is up and running, chef training and public cooking classes will be available. If I’m not mistaken, construction is supposed to start this month but they haven’t reached their target quite yet… Almost there, though! So if you want to give the little push they need, here is the link to donate.

zwartbles farm
zwartbles farm
Zwartbles Farm

And lastly, Suzanna kindly invited us over at her farm where she raises a cuddly fluffy breed of black sheep called Zwartbles. She sells yarn, rugs and blankets made of their unusual wool. What a tremendous place and what a freaking amazing woman. I felt like I had been propulsed inside one of those big countryside saga novels. I left truly inspired and I wish I had more time to roam around, pet the sheep (we were losing the light fast) and unfortunately, I had to catch the bus back to my urban surroundings. Sigh.

Zwartbles Farm
co. Kilkenny
http://www.zwartblesireland.com

I’d like to dedicate a whole post to some of these places so keep your eye out for that if you enjoyed these Kilkenny posts. Also, I wanted to apologise for the few phone pictures inserted in these, I had just opened an instagram account and sometimes forgot to take photos on my DSLR when taking instagrams. I hope you don’t find them too offensive.
A huge thank you again Dee, Susan, Mag, Ger and all the Kilkenny producers for this splendid introduction to Kilkenny. It was amazing to hear all your stories. And finally, I wanted to thank my fellow bloggers Elaine, Billy, Margaret, Janine, Sadhbh & Miriam for their awesome company.

(For transparency purposes, this is not a sponsored post, but accommodation & meals were kindly provided)

Savour Kilkenny Festival & #1000Feasts | co. Kilkenny

Kilkenny Day 1
Last month, I was super lucky to be invited along with a handful of Irish bloggers to a trip to discover the food and craft scene in Kilkenny. I had never been to the city, or the county for that matter before, my knowledge of Kilkenny city extended to ‘somewhere there is a castle‘ (which, in fairness, could apply to pretty much anywhere in Ireland) so this weekend ended up being the most perfect introduction one could dream of really. I have to say Kilkenny found a cosy warm little spot in my heart after two intense days of exploration and meeting the lovely people behind the local food and craft scene.
I thought I would reminisce with you what happened during those two days and I’m crossing my fingers that I manage to somewhat convey the warmth of this beautiful county through your screens.
Here is Day 1.

Kilkenny Day 1

On the first day, Dee from Green and Vibrant and Mag from a local trout farm welcomed our little group of bloggers in front of the castle (that castle!). The blogger tour was taking place as part of the #1000Feasts campaign (more on that later) and Kilkenny food festival Savour Kilkenny. After all the introductions were made, we had a little wander around the festival, smelling and sampling the best food of the county.
We then headed to listen to a talk on ‘War Stories from the Kitchen‘, an insight into the Irish restaurant business. It was an interesting peek behind the ‘kitchen curtain’.

Kilkenny Day 1
Wild mushroom gnocchi in the Bula bus #1000Feasts #kilkenny

Then all of a sudden, it was lunch time and we made our way to Billy Byrnes pub which shelters the Bula Bus in its backyard. A literal hidden gem.
The Bula Bus serves street food with foraged seasonal goods. I absolutely loved that take on the cuisine genre and the place oozes so much coolness, what with the double decker rescued from the Manchester public service and its street art makeover.
I had the wild mushroom gnocchi which were little mouthfuls of melting joy, accompanied with a side of sweet potato fries. The garlic sauce was so on point, it wasn’t even funny.

Kilkenny Day 1

Replete, we had a little mooch around the town. Kilkenny is quite the charmer what with the cute shop fronts and the river running in its heart.
I was looking forward to have a closer look around the castle and had my mind blown to find a breathtaking autumn wonderland within its walls.

Kilkenny Day 1
Kilkenny Day 1Kilkenny Day 1
Another surprise and a bit of a culture shock also awaited for me inside. The Irish Conker Championship was taking place that very day on the castle grounds. I had never heard of the practice before but I soon found out that it is actually a very popular game in Irish and English school playgrounds. I watched grownups hitting nuts on a thread for a while and felt that I may have missed out on something in my childhood.
Kilkenny Day 1
After this entertaining if not slightly surreal interlude, it was time to go back to Savour Kilkenny where we were to meet some of the new food producers on the county scene. I sampled some tasty cakes from Eadaoin’s Kitchen and chatted with the sparkly Joan from Joan and Bob’s Juicy Jams. Artist husband and wife have put their creativity into the business of jam-making, in every steps from the beautiful drawn label design to the surprising flavour combination. Can you think of something more decadent than putting Strawberry, Peach & Prosecco jam on your toasts for breakfast?
Kilkenny Day 1
The festival closed its doors and it was time for us to head to our accommodations to freshen up before dinner. I stayed in the Abbey House B&B, just next to the Jerpoint Abbey in Thomastown.
Dinner parties were hosted all over the county for the night of the #1000Feasts. The campaign had for goal to raise money for the building of a food hub in Thomastown. The place will serve as a school to train chefs but also provide education for healthy eating and growing with a community garden. This is an important project not only for the county but also for Ireland as a whole to improve and build upon their food destination status. The operation was a great success but the target has not been reached quite yet, so if you’re feeling generous, here is the link if you wish to donate for a great cause.

Kilkenny Day 1

My feast took place in a little cosy restaurant in Thomastown called Cafe Sol Bistro. For starter, I chose the plate of halloumi cheese and orange, the combination was actually incredible. I would have never thought of it! For the main, I had a courgette roast, it was as delicious as beautiful to look at. All the flavours came perfectly through without it being too seasoned or spicy. A mistake I found is often made with vegetarian dishes. I was really chuffed with my choice.

For the second part of the feast, we met again with Mag, she welcomed us into her home where we enjoyed a tasty slice of cake for dessert and lively chats. Her husband Ger even treated us to a little impromptu singing performance. And there it was, in the candle light glow, the infamous Irish hospitality which made the whole campaign a success and a night to remember for years and years to come.

 I will tell you all about day 2 next week so do come back for more awesome Kilkenny people and cute fluffy sheep – edit here is Day 2. Also do check out my fellow bloggers who were also present on the trip: Margaret, Janine, Elaine, Sadhbh and Billy.