Dublin: bars and pubs

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When I visited Dublin last year I had the perfect tour guide; my Irish friend Sinead who lives there. After brunch, shopping and a mid-shopping coffee on the Saturday, we were ready for some vino in the afternoon. The first place we went to was the cute The Bailey Bar with stripy canopies and pastel colours. We managed to snag one of the outdoor tables and spent an hour or so chatting and people-watching. What a treat at the end of October!

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Next we went to one of the most famous pubs in town; Kehoes (try pronouncing that!), and I realised I had been there when I last visited Dublin. It’s a great mix of tourists and locals here, and it still feels genuine. Plus it has the prettiest ladies room I’ve ever seen in a pub!

The Bailey Bar, 2 Duke St, Dublin, Ireland

Kehoes, 9 South Anne Street, Dublin, Ireland

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Cape Cod: Spanky’s Clam Shack in Hyannis

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The second day in Cape Cod, we managed to catch the boat to Nantucket and explored the pretty island for the day (top tip: book your ferry in advance!). When we arrived back into Hyannis, we headed straight for dinner, eager to eat at a more socially acceptable time than the evening before.

We went o Spanky’s Clam Shack, which seemed like the place to eat in this little town, and joined the queue at the bar. I’m really not a fan of waiting or queuing in general but when I can sit at a bar and sip a drink (in this case frozen strawberry daiquiri) I really don’t mind.

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When we were shown to the table (after only a ten minute wait) we got snacks straight away, like they could sense our hunger. I really liked the crab dip and crackers, although the presentation could have been improved on. But this is one busy restaurant so I can see why they like plastic bowls and wrapped crackers.

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We got our starters quickly too. Sinead got another mountain of crispy calamari with a tomato chilli dip.

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I tried something completely new for me; a stuffed quahog (no, not a Family Guy reference, it’s the actual name of the clam). It’s a huge clam filled with breadcrumbs, butter and herbs, and I really liked it. But it’s quite compact and therefore really filling.

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While we were munching on our starters we saw lobster after lobster leaving the kitchen.

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We got the main courses while we were still eating our starters (we had already sent them back once so felt bad if we did it again). But considering the size of the starters it would have been nice with a pause in between courses.

Anyway, Sinead’s chicken with kale and fries was really nice.

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But I think my clam bake was even better. The lobster was huge and perfectly cooked and the corn was the best I’ve ever had. I also had a plate full of a local type of clam and as I hadn’t come across them before I got a lesson in how you peel and eat them from our lovely waitress (it required removing them from the shell, pull of a membrane and then soak them in stock for quite a while to remove the sand). It’s always fun to try new things, and the clams were quite nice but I prefer the regular sweet ones. I also got a baked potato which I barely touched as the lobster, corn and clams were more than enough for me.

I really liked this place, but be prepared for big huge portions and a quick pace.

Spanky’s Clam Shack, 138 Ocean St., Hyannis, MA 02632

Cape Cod: Black Cat Tavern in Hyannis

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The first evening in Cape Cod, we decided to have dinner at one of the restaurants in the Hyannis Harbour. We’d been driving around the Cape during the day so got to the restaurant we had decided on,  Black Cat Tavern, quite late. We were the last guests to arrive and eventually we were the only people left (bar the staff).

We thought that was why our main courses arrived while we were in the middle of eating our starters. I don’t like to be rushed when eating as it always give me a stomach ache, but we were to polite to say anything as the restaurant was emptying out around us.

But the following evening when we went to another restaurant, the same thing happened, although we had dinner much earlier and the restaurant was full. In the middle of our very substantial starters, we actually told the waitress we wanted to wait. She completely understood but the kitchen seemed to insist to get the food out, so when it arrived again, after five minutes we let them put it on the table.

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I don’t understand this culture of rushing your guests through a (large) meal. Is it just in this area, or is it because of tourist season or what’s the reason?! Please do tell me if you have an idea.

Anyway, the food was nice in both the places, and I really like how understated the seafood is here. In Europe where oysters and lobster are luxurious and quite expensive it’s served a certain way or in certain places. Here, where you have lobster and oyster in abundance, you can enjoy it in your flipflops straight from the beach and I really liked that.

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At Black Cat Tavern I had Oysters Rockefeller (baked oysters with a spinach and cheese topping and in this case cured ham as well) as my starter and they were really nice. Generous portion too!

Sinead had a minor mountain of calamari with a chillie dip – also really nice!  As I was a little bit stressed by the time our maincourses arrived I only manage to snap a picture of my own plate of bakes scallops (a first for me), with baked potato and creamy lobster sauce, but I do know that Sineads food was nice as well.

Black Cat Tavern, 165 Ocean St, Hyannis, MA 02601, USA

Cape Cod photos

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My summer holiday was just lovely. First five days in New York; eating, shopping and drinking our way around the city. Then five days in glorious Cape Cod with blue skies, great beaches, boats and lobster (and a few days in Boston before heading home). We drove around the cape singing to the 90s songs the local radio played, only caring about where to stop for pancakes.

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It was as idyllic as it sounds (and looks), and we had a great time taking in the New England style houses and pretty little towns.

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Sadly we didn’t have enough time on the beach but it was still a lovely few days.

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One day we explored Nantucket and wished we could just stay there for the rest of the summer. It’s such a little paradise.

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But we also enjoyed the fabulous gay-town Provincetown at the end of the cape; filled with pride flags, drag queens and a wonderfully warm atmosphere.

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Oh, take me back!

Eating NYC: takeaway from Whitefish Poké

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One of the days in New York I met up with my friend Malin from London who moved to New York a while ago. We usually meet over food and as it was lunch time Malin suggested a takeaway from  Whitefish Poké, which we ate on the roof terrace in her building.

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It was the first time I had poké; the Hawaiian rice bowl topped with raw fish, but it’s popular in London too. Whitefish Poké is a bit like a Chipotle but for poké; you start off by choosing a base, then which fish and lastly which toppings you want. I had white rice, half tuna and half salmon, and topped it with jalapenos, crispy onions, cucumber and spicy mayo. Really nice!

It was the perfect food for a hot summer’s day in Manhattan, cold and fresh, but more substantial than a salad.

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I had such a lovely time catching up with Malin, and later the same day with my friend Lama, and I thought it was really nice to see what their lives are like here. To get to peek into their homes and see their neighbourhoods, so I easier can picture their lives here.

Thanks guys! ❤

Whitefish Poké, 263 West 19th Street (just east of 8th Avenue), New York, NY 10011

Eating NYC: amazing ABC Kitchen

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When I was in New York in August I met up with two friends I know from London. One has moved there for the first time, and one has moved back. And they both recommended ABC Kitchen to me. As I trust these friends, I made a reservation that day. For the same evening!

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So off we went, Sinead, her friend Hazel from home, and I. After waiting only a few minutes at the bar our table was ready (which was good as it proved near impossible to get a drink at the bar). As we walked through the restaurant I noticed the lovely interior. Part Scandi chic with lots of clean lines and white, part romantic with a few rustic touches and pretty pastel flowers.

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We ordered wine and some starters and really enjoyed our dishes. My crab toast with lemon aioli was lovely and fresh. And Sinead’s salad of roasted carrots, avocado, crunchy seeds and citrus was amazing! (I got a little food envy actually.)

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Hazel’s heritage tomato toast was simple but nice. Good produce goes a long way.

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For her main course Hazel had the lovely fettucine with peas, sweet onions and basil and pistachio pesto.

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Sinead had the fried chicken with collard greens and a basil and hot sauce butter. A little spicy but really nice.

I decided to go all out with a whole baked lobster with oregano and a lemon and chilli vinaigrette. And mash on the side. Maybe not the most conventional choice but the kind waiter assured me plenty of people order lobster and mash. The lobster was seasoned very differently to what I’m used to but stunning! Can’t wait to come back here on my next New York trip.

ABC Kitchen, 35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003

Eating NYC: brunch at Upland

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New York is the brunch capital of the world (at least in my opinion, I have no facts to back this up), and so of course Sinead and I booked a brunch in a new great place while we were there. My friend Marie-Louise recommended Upland and we were very happy with the suggestion.

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I liked the place straight away. The decor was relaxed yet classy and had a definite New York vibe I can’t really describe in words, but I think you know what I mean.

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The food was lovely too. I had an amazing frittata topped with roasted garlic mayonnaise, espalette and chives.

Sinead had two eggs any style (in this case poached) with bacon, fried potatoes and sourdough. It was definitely enough to sustain us shopping for the rest of the afternoon.

Upland, 345 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10010