Showing posts with label Chester Beatty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chester Beatty. Show all posts

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Eastern flavours and culture at Silk Road Café in Chester Beatty Library

Eastern flavours and culture at Silk Road Café
 and Chester Beatty Library

During one of the first Culture Nights in Cork, the Kay Harte of the Farm Gate Café had Abraham Phelan down from Dublin as guest chef and the queues were long. You can still find Abraham’s food in Dublin, at The Silk Road Café, a mecca for students, artists, other gallery visitors and more, in the Chester Beatty Library.

Here, the dishes served reflect the global reach of the collections - with Middle Eastern, North African, Mediterranean, vegetarian and coeliac friendly dishes served on a daily basis. No shortage of choice here when lunch begins at noon as they have about a dozen different offerings. Earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon, they serve teas and coffees and lots of good things, including baklava.
Quite a dining room at The Silk Road;
the kitchen and other rooms are to the right.

We had been taking a look in the Library itself and came down to the café, splendidly situated in the atrium, at noon. There is no written menu but the staff are very helpful here and soon we were sorted.

Breakfast had been generous and there was a big dinner on the horizon so nothing too much was required and we picked a three pronged small salad (8.20) and a vegetarian moussaka with salads (11.50).

Their selection of 12 dishes changes daily and all are served with rice and vegetables or with two of twelve vegetarian salads. 

The main courses could include a lamb moussaka as well as the vegetarian one. You’ll find a fish dish and a number of chicken offerings including curry. There may also be a pie and freshly made falafels. 
All cakes, biscuits and breads are homemade and you will find mixed berry scones shoulder to shoulder with chocolate brownies, fruit tarts, fig cake and baklava. 

To finish up, we ordered tea and the good value here was underlined with a pot (of at least two cups) for two euro.

We were fit for more walking after that and went back up the stairs to the museum. Entry is free but donations of a fiver are suggested.

You may have seen something of the current major exhibition “Gift of a Lifetime: Treasures from the Chester Beatty’s Collection” on TV. 

It includes folios from the Beatty Rosarium (a collection of devotions to the Blessed Virgin) consisting of 8 amazing miniatures. There’s an equally impressive late 12th century Deluxe Gospel Book from the pinnacle of the Byzantine period and also a 13th century Gospel Book, also from Turkey and one of the most important copies of the Qur’an in existence.

On this floor, you’ll also find the Art of the Book, everything from tiny snuff containers to large Dragon Robes but mainly displaying fascinating manuscripts, books, schools and bindings.
A summertime view from the roof garden of the Chester Beatty

Another floor up and you’ll wander through the Sacred Traditions Gallery, all about the world’s major religions, most of them from the east, including of course Christianity and Islam. The library reaches out to young and old with, among other things, lectures, tours and workshops. You may also explore some of the collections online. Check it all out here.

And don’t forget to visit the rooftop garden. The views are restricted, probably for safety and security reasons, but you do get a good look out over the area, including Dublin Castle to your left.

That Abraham Phelan visit to Cork was in 2011 (how time has flown!) and among the tasty bits he was busy serving up were Spanah Fatayer, Fil Fil Mahshy, Musken, Dagaj Bil Lemon and Patingan Mahshy.  (Hope those spellings are correct!).

While going through the info at the Silk Road website, I saw they do an Afternoon tea with a twist. There are no finger sandwiches or any scones but sweet and savoury treats from more than 15 countries. Sushi, chicken shawarma parcels, small bowls with paella are mixed with Persian love cakes, date truffles and Indian burfi. Click here for the Menu.

also on this Dublin trip:
The Little Museum of Dublin

Pearse Lyons Distillery
Café en Seine

Heading east

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