Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Traditional Afternoon Tea at Ariel House

One of my missions in life is to sample as many afternoon teas in Ireland as possible. It’s a slow, sugar filled but very enjoyable activity! There are the old reliables in Dublin such as the Westin, the Westbury and the Shelbourne where generations of women meet and wile the afternoons away. Then there are places like the Clarence or Fota Island Resort that do great afternoon teas but that aren't the first to spring to mind when trying to think of a place to go. Then once in a while, a place you never knew existed, comes along and makes all your inner Downton fantasies come true and all without breaking the bank!

This place is Ariel House, a beautiful Victorian house located in the heart of Ballsbridge. I first got to experience the beauty and hospitality of Ariel House at an event way back in December. The place looked wonderful with a giant Christmas tree in the living room and roaring fires in the fireplaces. I knew then that I had to return with friends and family and share this special place with them. 


So on a bright sunny Saturday in February Mrs G and I met up for one of our usual sessions. By sessions I mean copious amounts of tea, cake and three hour long gossips! We were seated in the beautifully bright sun room with a view of the Aviva and their Victorian garden. One of the first things that just made us go ‘Aww’ were the table settings. It was beautifully laid with delicate china and our inner Cath Kidsons were screaming 'I want to bring this all home'!! 


 

First up were the sandwiches with delightful cucumber ones, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise and mustard and ham all on offer. There was more than enough for the two of us and after them we were ready to get stuck into the sweet stuff of which there was an abundance. 

 

Plate after delicious tiered plate arrived at the table. There were vanilla melting moments, plum and frangipane tart, scones, tea brack, coffee cake, strawberry shortbreads and more. We also got an amazing chocolate dessert which I thought was a great addition. One of the lovely things about what you get served for afternoon tea is that a lot of the recipes are from Irish cookbooks such as ‘Like Mam used to Bake’ or Rachael Allen. There was a stack of cookbooks on the windowsill beside us and I have to admit we did flick though them to see if we could find our favourites of the day.


 

The staff in Ariel House were fantastic and we had a constant supply of tea and coffee brought to us throughout our stay. We were so well looked after that we didn’t even feel the time pass. Before we knew it we had sat there for three whole hours chatting about everything under the sun. As my friend said it was like having a wonderful visit to a friend’s house. It was one of the most relaxing afternoon teas I have ever experienced. Afternoon tea cost us €17.50 each which is one of the best priced ones around. I am a bit loathe to let this great afternoon tea secret out of the bag but it’s ok because I have already booked my next visit back with 14 friends and family in tow!

Ariel House
Address: 50 Lansdowne Rd, Dublin 4 
Phone:(01) 668 5512

Thursday, 3 April 2014

April's Food Festivals & Events

There is a proper touch of spring in the air today and hopefully this bodes well for the month of April. There is lots happening around the country and with Easter in between it is a very welcome month and not just for all the chocolate that has been promised! Have a good one and make sure you get out and about and shake off those winter blues!
If you would like to have your food event or festival added please contact Kat at thepurplepageireland (at) gmail.com. Dates are always subject to change so please check the event website before getting all geared up to go out!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Turning Japanese: A Ramen Masterclass & Easy Japanese Homecooking

Japanese food is one of my big loves. It is a cuisine I have really only discovered in the last few years basically because not many Japanese restaurants existed in Dublin! The scene has changed dramatically over the past few years and now I have my regular gotos, such as Musashi, Zakura, OCHA and Wagamama for my fill of sushi, ramen and noodles.  It is a cuisine and culture I love learning more about and jump at every opportunity to do so.

My Marinated Eel Ramen


Recently I was lucky enough to get invited to two events all about Japanese food. First up was a Ramen session with Wagamama’s head chef and trainer Juan Carlos Manteca. Wagamama opened in Ireland in 1998 and was actually the first place I ever tried ramen so I was delighted to go back to learn more. The morning started off with a very interesting presentation about ramen from Juan and was filled with loads of interesting facts. Did you know that ramen was actually brought into Japan by China and that nearly every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen! 

Juan Carlos Manteca

Next up was a ramen cook-off. We were introduced to all the ingredients  that the Wagamama kitchen uses and were free to sample them. I was particularly taken with the marinated eel as it was something I had never encountered before. I also never realised that Wagamama uses Irish seaweed in some of its dishes which I thought was fantastic. Then it was time to make up our own ramen. We choose our broth, cooked our noodles and picked out our toppings. Then it was down to a taste test between all five. Happy to say I won but I think the choice of marinated eel swung it for me! 

Feeling very proud of my dish!
It was a very informative and well spent morning learning about a chain I regularly visit and one of the dishes that I love the most. Wagamama provides customers with chance to eat high quality, tasty, fresh fast food and you get to eat it with chopsticks. Need I say more!  

A few days later I attended an Easy Japanese Meals demo in the Miele Gallery run by Fiona Uyema. Fiona, who blogs at Fiona’s Japanese Cooking, has recently become very well known in Ireland for her easy to follow Japanese style recipes which mix contemporary and traditional tastes. I had previously attended one of her sushi making classes so this demo was a broader take on Japanese food. 


Fiona telling us all about lotus root

She started off the session by introducing us to the ingredients that are regularly used in Japanese cooking. I took pictures of all of these so I can remember what they are! We were then introduced to a series of recipes including Yakisoba, Chicken Katsu Curry and Poached Fish in a Teriyaki sauce. Fiona made sure the demo was fun and interactive and fielded a lot of questions from the audience.  The great thing about this demo was that it showed us how easy and quick Japanese meals can be. The demo has inspired me to tackle the Asian market and to start cooking Japanese at home!

Some of the Japanese dishes we got to sample

Her next demo is on the 14th April and costs €25. Just email her at fionasjapanesecooking@gmail.com if you would like to book a place. 

Disclaimer: I was invited to these events free of charge but at no point was I asked for a review. I am sharing this information as I think it is of interest to my readers. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Dr. Oetker Easter Bake-Off

Dr. Oetker is calling on bakers nationwide to grab their aprons and mixing bowls because the Easter Bake-Off is about to begin! The prize is every baker’s dream kitchen appliance, a top of the range Kitchen Aid stand mixer worth over €500. The winner will also receive a gorgeous hamper of designer bakeware. With weekly prizes of Dr. Oetker baking goodies up for grabs, this competition will set every baker’s heart alight!

The Easter Bake-Off is open to all levels of home bakers, and the winner is the person who bakes the most creative cake, bun, cupcake or dessert using at least one of the following Dr. Oetker products: Wafer Daisies, Wafer Butterflies, Giant Chocolate Stars and Giant Chocolate Hearts. 

To enter, contestants simply ‘like’ the Dr. Oetker Baking Ireland Facebook page and upload a photo of your creation via the dedicated competition app. The competition runs from the 24th March until 20th April 2014, so there’s plenty of time for baking enthusiasts to whip up a one-of-a-kind creation.

Dr. Oetker have also devised some delicious Easter recipes which are sure to inspire you for the Bake Off. The decadent White Chocolate Pistachio Cake tastes as good as it looks and is the perfect addition to an Easter afternoon tea. If you’re having an Easter party for kids, the Marzipan Chick Truffles and Easter Chocolate Slab are sure to put a smile on their faces. 

Dr. Oetker Wafer Daisies, Wafer Butterflies, Giant Chocolate Stars and Giant Chocolate Hearts are all on promotion in-store during the competition, and there will be lots of tips, recipes and baking inspiration on Facebook (Dr. Oetker Baking Ireland) and Twitter (@DrOetkerBaking).
Sounds just like my kinda competition!