Showing posts with label ely wine bars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ely wine bars. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Days in Dublin. Capital Food and Fun

Summer Days in Dublin
Capital Food and Fun
View of Dublin Castle and surrounds from rooftop garden of Chester Beatty Library

 Just back after a terrific trip to Dublin in the sunshine. And I enjoyed every minute (almost!)  of the three sunshine filled days. On the fourth day, it rained and we met our one and only grumpy taxi-driver of the break, but we were then starting on our way home. Before that, we had very courteous humorous taxi-drivers and the fares seemed reasonable throughout.


Our first trip though was by Luas and that took us close enough to our base, the Trinity Lodge. Didn’t know much about it when we booked a few months back. It is very convenient for the city centre, situated on Frederick Street (just off Nassau Street), next door to Dunne & Crescenzi.



Dublin Castle and State Apartments yard
It is spread over four Georgian houses. There was no lift in our building and the breakfast room was across the street. But everything was up to scratch. Very welcoming and helpful with city information (including maps and taxi calls), a good choice at breakfast (no buffet here - cooked from scratch), there is free Wi-Fi and security is excellent and an Air Coach stop is just 50 metres away.

That afternoon we headed for the Teeling Distillery (€14.00), a new operation in the heart of the Liberties where we had an excellent tour and tasting.
St Patrick's
Next stop was at the nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral. Admission here is five euro. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican communion) and also serves as a popular tourist attraction in Ireland.

No shortage of history here as you'd expect and there are busts of Douglas Hyde and Erskine Childers (both Irish presidents) and Jonathan Swift ( dean of the cathedral). There too you’ll see the Boyle monument, erected by Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, in 1632 in memory of his second wife.
Queue for Book of Kells
 Then the mood lightened as we reached Grafton Street and its entertainers. This became a daily stop such was the high standard on offer. All kinds of fun on the street including music, magic and acrobats. You know you're in a capital city when you have to slow down to stroll through the crowds. Later, that evening we had a capital meal, and a great welcome from Cork chef Ross Lewis, at Chapter One .


The sun continued to shine on day two. After a stroll around St Stephen’s Green, we entered Trinity College (€13.00) to see the Book of Kells . We took the general tour - you sign up just inside the main door. It costs just a few euro more than the Book of Kells admission and is well worth it. Our guide, Johnny, took us around the grounds, explaining the buildings, the place and its people (past and present) with no little humour.



Arnaldo Pomodoro's 'Sphere Within Sphere' at Trinity
We had to join a “five minute” queue tour for the book itself. And it was crowded inside as people squeezed in around the display. Might be better to come here in the off-season! The famous Long Room in the Old Library is also part of the tour. Here some 200,000 of the library’s oldest books are stored, the heaviest on the bottom shelves, and all are overseen by a great collection of busts that include Mr Swift again!

The afternoon was spent at the Chester Beatty Library (free). Here the emphasis is very much on the Middle East and Asia, the source of the world's main religions and, in the permanent displays, you'll see a massive collection of related books and other materials (including the “armour” of a Japanese warrior) illustrating the religions and the cultures of that part of the world.
Grafton Street

The current exhibition is Damsels for Dinner: Tale of Oeyama. The Chester Beatty’s mid-17th- century version of the story, produced in a set of three magnificently illustrated scrolls, is on display in the ‘Arts of the Book’ gallery until January 2016.  

Downstairs, you'll find the highly rated Silk Road Café which offers a range of mouth-watering menus from Afghanistan, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Morocco and Palestine, as well as Ireland. You will, of course, pay for your meal but there is no admission charge for the library itself.



Ely Dessert
That evening, on the way to the 3 Arena, we called to Ely at CHQ for their fabulous Early Bird. Great value too at €22.95 for two courses. The restaurant - they have another one in Ely Place, off Stephen’s Green - is noted for using local produce (much of it from the family farm in Clare)  and its fabulous wine list. Highlight was the main course of Braised Beef Cheek with a vegetable tagine and butter beans, tender and delicious. Very convenient for the arena, and other venues, but well worth a visit in its own right.


There was a great buzz there on that Friday evening, packed upstairs and downstairs. The vaults downstairs reminded me of the old bond in Cork. Wonder would Ely be interested in taking that over?



Diamond's forever
Off then to see Neil Diamond. Think I'd have been better off if I had booked dinner, rather than Early Bird in Ely. But I must also say that mine was very much a minority opinion. The place was packed with fans and he told them they loved him and they enthusiastically agreed. Good finish with Sweet Caroline but lots of the earlier songs, even those from his new album (one of which, Art of Love, took five years to write!), sounded old. Glad to get out in the fresh air.


Got a taxi up to the fantastic Botanic Gardens (free) on Saturday morning and had a great couple of hours there. Read the account here. You can walk through a gate from the gardens to the Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum. Here we saw the graves of many famous Irish men and women. We’ll call again as there is much to take in. Time was running out for us, otherwise we'd have taken a guided tour.




Tower marks grave of Daniel O'Connell
 After getting the bus back to the city and working our way through a protest march, we felt we deserved a beer. And we got a very good one from the micro-brewery in Sweetman’s Pub on Burgh Quay, just at the south side of O’Connell Bridge. They have seven of their own beers on offer but I settled for the outstanding Pale Ale. Great buzz there and very highly recommended. Oh, by the way, they do sell other craft beers and some ordinary beers as well!


Another call to Grafton Street and its entertainers on the way back to the Lodge before heading out that evening to a splendid finale at Restaurant Forty One where we absolutely enjoyed the meal and a little chat with chef Graham Neville. A great way to finish a fabulous few days in Ireland's capital city.



Glasnevin grave of O'Donovan Rossa
Chapter One Restaurant
National Botanic Gardens



Saturday, March 1, 2014

44 Hours in Dublin

44 Hours in Dublin
Well over 2000 years between the Meathman (below) and Jedward. But look at the hairstyles. Gel (probably imported from Spain or France) was used, certainly by the Meathman! The Meathman, one of bodies recovered from Irish bogs, may be seen in the Museum of Archaelogy, Jedward in the Wax Museum (Dublin) 
I spent a pretty “busy” 44 hours in Dublin this week. My base was at Albany House, an elegant Georgian guest house just off St Stephen's Green. The 3 star establishment, about one hundred yards down Harcourt Street, was so well placed for the events I needed to get to and at a total of €108.00 for the two of us (two nights B&B), it was also very economical.

They do not have an elevator in the building, but offer all the other amenities you would expect from a modern 3-star city centre guest house. Well kept clean rooms (much bigger than you'd find in city centre hotels in Paris or Rome) include free Wi-Fi throughout. An extensive continental breakfast is available every morning, and is included in all room rates.


That breakfast, by the way, is taken in a gorgeous room. You’d easily imagine you were in Ballymaloe or Fleming’s but for the green Luas purring by on the street outside. There is 24 hour reception and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Easy to reach too from Heuston Station. If you have some baggage, you'd be better off to get the 145 bus to the green; travelling light, and with time on your hands, you might opt for the red Luas to the city centre and then cross the river and stroll up through Temple Bar and Grafton Street.
No blogger was harmed during taking of this photo.

Our first call (after a 2.00pm check-in) was to the Wax Museum in Temple Bar. Spread over four floors, it is pretty cramped but very interesting. It has a children's section (with a crawl through tunnel), an eye-opening hands-on Science and Discovery Room (a tribute to the many Irish pioneers), a Chambers of Horrors, even a recording studio, all included before you reach the Grand Hall of Fame, the museum’s best display and a tribute to the stars of movies and music. There is an admission charge.

That evening, we headed off to the other side of the green towards Ely Place and dinner at the ely Wine Bar. See separate post here.

Wednesday was to prove a packed day. First up was the Liberty Wine Portfolio Tasting in Fallon and Byrne. After a pleasant couple of hours we left there and made our way past the green to Leeson Street Lower and eventually to lunch at the Forest Avenue Restaurant, see post here

Ardagh Chalice

Our next call was the National Museum of Archaeology in Kildare Street, again quite close to Stephen’s Green. No admission fee here but there really should be. It is a superb building - take  a look at the ornamented interior doors as you go around and do look up at the magnificent domed ceiling in the entrance hall.

There are many enthralling exhibitions here including The Treasury (which includes rare finds such as the Ardagh Chalice and the Derrynaflan Hoard) and Ireland's Gold (an amazing amount of it, and in so many amazing shapes, including huge box earrings!)


Gold Collar (Co. Clare), 800-700BC

Perhaps the outstanding section is the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibition that concentrates on a number of recently found bog bodies dating back to the Iron Age. Here you come face to face with your ancient ancestors, some of them cruelly dispatched.

The evening ended on a much lighter note, some very high ones actually. We went to see New Jersey Nights at the Gaiety, the story of Frankie Valli and the four seasons, song and dance from start to finish, including numbers such as Oh What a Night, Bye Bye Baby, Sherry, Rag Doll, Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don't Cry. Lots of big girls in the audience too - they outnumbered the much quieter fellas by about nine to one, out-sang them too. Great night out and then it was a short stroll back to Albany House.






Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Cracking Madeira and So Much More at Liberty Tasting

Liberty Tasting
“Before you go, you have to try the Justino’s Madeira Colheita 1996,” she said.

I saw she was serious so, before she’d make a song and dance about it, I thought I’d better try the wine. Oh, it was fabulous. A real star of the wine world, just like Miss Susan Boyle  who gave me the tip! 

There were many stars on view, thanks to Gerry Gunnigan and Liberty Ireland, over 200 wines I think, from well established areas such as France and Italy to newcomers such as Armenia. And there was quite an impressively large attendance as well at Fallon & Byrne yesterday.



Ian Brosnan (left) of ely Wine Bars
with Yours Truly.
Started off with a couple of Grüner Veltliner from Austria. The 2013 Lois was fresh and fruity as you might expect (you’d certainly expect so if you were getting it in one of heurigers on the outskirts of Vienna). But the more serious Loimer 2012 Kamptal, from one estate, was the better of the two.

New Zealand also had a couple of GV’s on show and Tinpot Hut’s 2012 McKee Vineyard effort wasn't a million miles away from the Lois. The Paddler’s 2012 Marlborough was really engaging, loved its fruit and good length.

Now it was time to compare a couple of Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon in what turned out to be a Bordeaux v Margaret River contest. Great to meet Emma Cullen again as she poured her 2011 Mangan River. Just one word here: superb!

France would have to go some here to match that and the Chateau de Rayne Vigneac took up the challenge with its 2012 Le Sec Bordeaux Blanc, a wine new to the Liberty portfolio. There was a distinct aroma of celery, unusual, but it is quite a fine smooth wine and refreshing, though without having quite the same heft as the Cullen bottle.

Emma was also showing a smashing new red, the Margaret River Mangan Vineyard 2012 Malbec/Petit Verdot/Merlot. Malbec has the lead role here with 54% while the Petit Verdot has 29%. It is an exciting blend and an excellent wine. Look out for it!

Bordeaux would come into its own with the reds and we had a few good ones in a row. Started off with the basic Bordeaux Superieur (2011) from Chateau de Mahon Laville, an excellent effort at that level, full of flavours and with a good finish.

The standard raised another notch with the Château Tour de Capet, St Emilion Grand Cru 2010, a superb wine. That got a close run from Clos St Vincent, also a St Emilion Grand Cru, also 2010. This too was very good but my vote goes to Tour de Capet. Must call to one or two of those when I’m in the area in June!

Tried some very good Italians also, including two gorgeous Amarones, but Bordeaux had stolen a march and we left it that. Well, not quite. We sipped happily on the Valdespino NV Manzanilla Deliciosa before ending on another high with that gorgeous Madeira*.

*Gerry told me that Cork readers will find the Madeira at O’Brien’s in Douglas.

My 44 Hours in Dublin. Accommodation, lunch, dinner, more. Details all here

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The excellent ely Wine Bar

The excellent ely Wine Bar
When the folks at Dublin’s ely Wine Bars  go home to Clare they collect most of their meat from the family farm and get the lamb from the farm next door on Craggy Island. In Ely Place (Dublin), we had some of that lamb last evening and it was a highlight, slow cooked and superb. And a huge choice of well priced wines to choose from.
We had started with a glass of sherry and were soon into our starters. Mine was a delightful Roast Cauliflower and Parmesan while CL tucked into the family farm beef:  Organic Burren beef carpaccio with artichoke and radish. 
We had been going through the extensive wine and decided on the Chateau Fongaban Puisseguin St Emilion biodynamic and it proved a superb wine and a superb match. The lamb was something else, slow cooked and served with sun-dried tomato pesto, goat cheese mousse, shaved fennel, a big bowl of lovely lamb’s lettuce and jus.
 Amazingly, there was room for dessert. And some pretty amazing desserts, I might add. CL went for the Poached Rhubarb served with vanilla ice cream and ginger crumble and that went down well with the recommended Chateau des Fesles, Bonnezeaux Chenin ‘05.

My pick was the 70% Chocolate Truffle Tart and Raspberry Sorbet. This was divine. Didn't take the recommended Banyuls but was very happy with my choice the Chateau Haut Mayne, Sauternes ‘09.

And that was it, a lovely end to a very satisfactory meal indeed, Time then to walk it off with a round or two (well, half a round really) of Stephen’s Green.



 44 Hours in Dublin. Accommodation, lunch, dinner, more. Details all here