Dublin: brunch at Dillinger’s

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For Halloween last year I went to Dublin for the weekend to visit my friend Sinead and the city was bustling to say the least; in part because of Halloween but it was also the Dublin Marathon that weekend and of course there was a big rugby game on (like most weekends in Ireland).

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I arrived late on the Friday night so we only had time to catch up over a bottle of wine, but spent the next day out on the town. We started with a delicious brunch at Dillinger’s in the cosy Ranelagh area.

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The place was packed when we arrived but we got a nice table (can’t remember if you can book or not) and started to read to menu. For a brunch menu, this was one of the best I’ve seen; I wanted to eat everything!  In the end I decided on the hash brown with guacemole, poached egg and smoked salmon while Sinead had the waffles with fried chicken and maple syrup. Both dishes were really nice (just a tad too big for us).

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We also had bellinis drink (appropriate when on holiday) and coffee.

Our lovely Saturday continued with some shopping, both in Ranelagh and central Dublin, and some drinks outside before going home to change and then on to dinner.

Dillinger’s, 47 Ranelagh, Dublin 6, Ireland

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Breakfast at The Wolseley

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Despite having lived in London for 8 years now (yep, time flies) I haven’t had the pleasure to eat breakfast at The Wolseley until this year. Bad planning on my part, obviously. But at least I’ve been there for several lunches, dinners and afternoon tea. But there is something special about breakfast in this fabulous art deco space with perfect eggs and perfect service. If you fancy reading up on the subject (and get the recipes), I highly recommend A.A. Gill’s book Breakfast at The Wolseleyit’s very good.

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For me, this is the ultimate breakfast experience because it’s so different from having breakfast in your own kitchen. There are lots of waiters and they’re there to pour water, take your order, serve the food and fetch you whatever you want. Their attentive and efficient and together with the perfectly executed food it makes it such a special experience.

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I had breakfast here with two of my best friends from Sweden when they were visiting. We needed some morning luxury and thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast here with Eggs Florentine (spinach, poached egg and hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin) and an excellent bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

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We also enjoyed cappuccinos and freshly squeezed orange juice, and to finish this lovely basket of pastries. My favourite was the plain croissant, wonderfully buttery and flaky. If you also need this breakfast experience in your live (you do), I urge you to book a table well in advance as it’s a very popular weekend treat.

The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB

Spaghetti with courgette and smoked salmon

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When work is busy I usually cook pasta for dinner. It’s quick and easy yet satisfying. This version with creamy spaghetti, courgette and cold-smoked salmon feels fresh after a long day at the office. If you cook two portions it allows for a packed lunch for the following day too. Bonus.

Spaghetti with courgette and smoked salmon, serves 2

2 portions spaghetti (I prefer de Cecco)

120 g cold-smoked salmon

1/2 courgette, thinly sliced

50 ml white wine

a dash of concentrated fish stock

50 ml cream

chopped chives to serve

Cook the spaghetti al dente. Slice the salmon. Pour the wine into a small saucepan and let the alcohol evaporate and the liquid to reduce a little. Add cream and stock, let reduce a bit further and season. Add the courgette slices and let them soften in the liquid. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce and salmon. Serve with chives.

Farfalle with smoked salmon, broad beans and chives

Although I love cooking, I don’t particulary enjoy to cook for only myself. If I need to I want something that’s quick, but still enjoyable. There are other times when that type of cooking is required too. Like when Christopher is working late and not home until 10pm.

This dish is for such occasions. Apart from podding the beans it will only take the same amount of time as it does for the pasta to cook. In my case that was 12 minutes. And the result was summery and lovely.

Farfalle with smoked salmon, broad beans and chives, serves 2

250 g farfalle or other pasta

400 g fresh broad beans in their pods

150 g cold-smoked salmon

100 ml Philadelphia

juice from 1/2 lemon

chives

salt

white pepper

Pod the beans. Cook the pasta. Fry the beans in butter until soft. Add some lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix the Philadelphia with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Drain the pasta. Top with smoked salmon, beans and cut chives. Perhaps add some freshly ground black pepper and dig in.