Ice Cream News for the Last Weeks of Summer

School is back in session and that Labor Day in the States has come and gone. School uniforms are in and white shoes are out. Ice cream, however, needs not live by the calendar in the same manner as clothing and school supplies.

While the weather remains a bit balmy, and if the sun decides to show its face, there is no reason ice cream treats shouldn’t be enjoyed. Last week when it was still “technically” summer, and the sun and temperatures backed up the calendar, we made two trips to Dun Laoghaire’s seaside for two very different ice cream experiences.

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My Cousin Teddy at Teddy’s in May. All Teddys should get a free 99. Right?!

The classic Irish ice cream cone is the 99, and the best place to get it is Teddy’s in Dun Laoghaire. It’s simple, creamy, cool, and tastes, literally, like summer. The 99 always has a Cadbury’s flake stuck in one side and when and how a person decides to eat the flake and cone combo can tells a lot about their personality.

Queue’s for Teddy’s go up the road on most weekend afternoons, summer or not. The service is efficient and everyone comes away happy. There’s no flair. Teddy’s doesn’t need flair.

Flair is the order of the day at the newest Dun Laoghaire ice cream mecca, Scrumdiddly’s. Scrumdiddly’s also has queues out the door on most days. Allow me a digression: one of my favorite things about Irish people is their ability to eat ice cream no matter what the weather. Summer, of course, calls for it, but even on a rainy October Sunday afternoon by the sea there will be plenty of people with ice cream cones. These ice cream habits are another reason I fit in so well here.

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Irish Summer Classics: Ice Scream and Socks ‘n’ Shorts

Scrumdiddly’s is not so conveniently located for people traveling to DL in a car. Parking is harder to come by. C and I managed it on a Tuesday afternoon and though we found a spot for the car, the queue was still around the corner.

It’s more of a sweetshop than an ice cream place. The idea is that you get to put sweets of your choosing into a tub of ice cream. They are called “tubs”. It’s similar to the famous Blizzard at Dairy Queen in the States. There is nothing simple about it. You don’t come to Scrumdiddly’s for a vanilla cone.

C was sent in to do the ordering, and he felt slightly overwhelmed. He returned to me with two options: tubs of sticky sweet, gooey coldness. One was slightly coconut flavored, the other chocolate and cookies.

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There IS Ice Cream in There, I Promise

I’m nursing a baby up to eight times a day so most things taste amazing to me. I’m also an ice cream fan from way back. I mention these facts because I might not be the best judge of quality at the moment. Both tubs of goodness were tasty, to be sure, but both were a bit over-the-top. After a few bites both C and I felt we would have been happier with just a 99 from down the road. What it came down to (C noticed this, I did not, could not in my state, but I do agree) is the fact that the quality of the ice cream at Scrumdiddly’s does not come close to Teddy’s. But you don’t go to Scrumdiddly’s for the ice cream. You go for the ability to personalize your ice cream with your favorite sweets and creative culinary panache.

There is absolutely a place for both of these ice cream venues. Some days you feel like a simple 99, other days you need to add cookies, gummies, and fudge sauce. If you find yourself needing both on one day? It’s about a ten minute walk along the sea wall from one venue to the other. So treat yourself!

Ice Cream News for the Last Weeks of Summer

New House Cocktail. Or Mom-Tail.

IMAG6741_1I won’t fight in anymore. I will bore you with more new mom discoveries. This discovery will make anyone’s late summer afternoon or evening happier, whether you are a new mom or not. I promise.

I’m a gin lover from way back. Summer evenings at my grandparents’s house in Connecticut smelled like Ritz crackers, white cheddar cheese, and gin and tonic. Drinking a gin and tonic makes me feel warmer and sunnier even here in Dublin. The combination is one I rarely enjoy from October-May because it’s too summery. I’m a seasonal drinker. I like to look forward to a summer beverage.

Gin has obviously been off menu all summer for me this year. I am not overly strict with wine or beer intake, but I stayed away from the hard stuff. I miss gin. I miss it more now that the sun is out and the summer days are fading. The desire for gin has nothing to do with my lack of sleep. Then again, I wouldn’t swear to that.

I found some tonic in the ‘fridge left over from a house party a few weeks ago. I had two spare limes and one lemon that had seen better days. Waste not, want not. I had also just picked up one of those annoying mint pots from Lidl. Why can’t they sell mint as sprigs and not the full plant? I had all the pieces of a perfect gin and tonic puzzle.

However, I still feel that a full cocktail while I’m breastfeeding might be a bridge too far. So I challenged myself to see if I could trick myself into imagining that I was enjoying a delicious late summer gin and tonic.

I succeeded, and I didn’t even need to use my imagination that much. My new gin-free house cocktail is delicious. It’s too simple. Make one for yourself this afternoon!

MOM’S HOUSE COCKTAIL

Serves 1

Half a Lime, sliced in two.

Quarter of a Lemon.

Fresh Mint

Tonic

Ice

-Step One: squeeze all citrus and drop in a tall glass.

-Step Two: add mint

-Step Three: Muddle mint and citrus. A lot.

-Step Four: Pour tonic over. Muddle some more.

-Step Five: Add ice. And a straw if you’re feeling fancy.

ENJOY! Happy end of summer.

 

 

 

 

New House Cocktail. Or Mom-Tail.

Union 8

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When we moved to Dublin 8, we knew what we’d miss most about Rathmines was the plethora of dining choices right at our finger tips. Dublin 8 has some great cafés and lunch spots but not many nice dinner options. Union 8 saves the day.

On the crossroads in Kilmainham, Union 8 doesn’t seem like the ideal place to stop. Located at a busy intersection that most people fly through on a bus, in a car or astride their bikes, it catches attention. The busy intersection is actually made a feature by the restaurant: the giant windows allow you to watch the world go by from the simply, classy interior.

For a restaurant pretty far out of town by Dublin standards, I was slightly surprised at how pricey the menu is. The quality would have to be pretty high to demand those prices, I thought.

The early bird menu, though, does provide a great deal. The early bird menu is also perfect for parents of small children. Apologies if this blog is getting a bit child centric.  It’s my life at the moment. And Union 8 makes this baby moment of my life feel slightly more grown up.

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We went for the early bird, four adults and one tiny baby. We were all treated with respect and a full welcome. I appreciated that the early bird menu is the same as the normal menu just for a different price: 23.50 for two courses. There is a seven euro supplement for the steak, which two of us had, but that is fair enough. The steak was a lovely fillet and the pepper sauce was thick and spicy. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

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Each of us had a different appetizer. My nettle soup with chorizo oil was heavenly. Summery yet warm. My mother had beautiful beets with fluffy goat’s cheese. We all agreed the smoked salmon wasn’t quite salty enough, and the scallops, though delicious, were overshadowed by the black pudding lump next to them. We were all satisfied with the openers, though. No complaints.

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My husband drank a really delicious house cocktail that tasted to me like Christmas morning. It came in a gorgeous, huge, glass. That’s what you want in a cocktail. It lasted until just before his steak arrived.

So, yes, then steaks arrived and the fish special for the other two. The fish portions were large and after the well portioned starters, almost hard to finish. That’s another thing I appreciate about Union 8: the early bird’s well-sized portions. It means a lot to hungry, tired new parents like us (there I go again . . .).

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We went back earlier this week with friends who also have children. The restaurant managed all of us and our three babes very well. We were out by 7.30. Home for baths and bed.

Ok, I’ll stop now. About babies and kids. Union 8 is obviously great for that, but I suspect it is great for date nights, meet-the-parents nights, or simply a treat yourself evening. It’s worth the trip “out” of town.

Union 8

A New Dublin

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I was well aware that my life would change dramatically when I had a baby. I was not prepared for how much my view of Dublin would change. Walking around the city with a buggy full of human flesh that could explode in a desire for food or a splash of yellow poo at any moment turns Dublin a new color. Not necessarily yellow poo color, but it’s a completely different city I have to navigate now.

The idea of popping into get a coffee at Clement and Pekoe is a thing of the past. There are five steep stone steps leading up to it. Deciding to go to lunch at the Pepper Pot caused my brain to do a Mission Impossible-style run down of entrance and exits points into Powers Court. Then I realized I didn’t even know where the lifts were in the building.

Lifts. I never would have concerned myself with them in any shop in Dublin. Now they are a number one necessity that decides whether or not I can enter a store.

Did you know Brown Thomas has an incredibly nice changing/breastfeeding room in the men’s swim suit and underwear section? Unclear if the designers of the store thought about what a nursing mother wants to see just before she breast feeds.

Arnotts is another store on the pro-mama, pro-babe, pro-breastfeeding train. Arnotts is not a store I would have frequented in my pre baby days, but I’ve been twice since my Seedling arrived. My mother was the one who pointed out that it’s perfect for mom’s: there are wide aisles for buggies, spacious lifts, easy street access with wide ramps, and always a good sale somewhere in the building. Not to mention a very nice breastfeeding area in the baby section by the café. It comes complete with rocking chairs, sheep skins, and a water dispenser.

I sat there the other day and fed the babe while my mother and her friend walked around and brought me items to look at and decide if I wanted to purchase. I just sat in my rocker and watched the Olympics on my phone.* This is the BEST way to shop. I will never go alone into a department store again.

Being out in a city with a new babe is challenging, but it’s fun to see this whole new side of Dublin uncovered. And my husband might be the recipient of a few new pairs of underwear because of it.

 

*Shout out to the RTE Olympics App which made this possible.

A New Dublin

Dublin Cookie Co.

I’ve been away from this blog for a while and here’s why: I had a baby. And here’s what I’ve discovered are the things I want most in my first month of motherhood: extra sleep, lots of lanolin, and comfort food. Extra sleep is a dream not to be realized any time soon, lanolin is a non-glamourous fact of my life now, but comfort food I can certainly have some fun with.

Another fact about new motherhood is the constant questions over how my newborn is doing. Is he thriving? Is he sleeping enough? Too much? Is he too hot or too cold? Is he eating enough? I don’t think these questions will cease to be a part of my life in the same way a good night’s sleep might not happen for a while. However, one way to ease the worry of some of these questions is to go once a week to the community health clinic to get the baby weighed, to meet other breastfeeding mothers, and to talk to a nurse about each little worry I have. This nurse looks at the mothers with a kind eye as she repeats to every single one of us: THIS IS NORMAL.

NORMAL is what you want to hear. And when I do hear it, I want to celebrate. With comfort food.

As well as having a baby, I have also just moved house. The classic combination. We’ve left Rathmines and are now happily set up in Dublin 8. This means my community health clinic is in a part of town I don’t know very well. The very good news is that it is right around the corner from the Dublin Cookie Company.

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I’ve been hearing about the Dublin Cookie Company for some time but never had the motivation to get to Thomas Street and see what it’s about. I also didn’t feel that I needed that kind of addiction while I was pregnant. Now that there is literally NO excuse not to go once a week, addiction will be hard to avoid. I’m feeding a child eight times a day, after all.

Dublin Cookie Co is a small shop front on Thomas Street. The smell of Guinness hops hangs heavy outside, but it’s all butter and sugar once you cross the threshold. It’s white and bright and a selection of cookies greets you in the case as you step in. There are plenty of flavours to choose from. You can buy them as single cookies or in boxes of 6 or 13. There are two types of Whoopie Pie cookies, an American classic I was eager to test drive here. I can report that DCC has #nailedit.

I’m a cookie fan to be sure. The sea salt caramel cookies were outstanding. However. My favourite fact about the DCC is the flavoured milks available to go with your cookie. What is a cookie without milk? There’s normal milk, chocolate milk, coffee milk and cookie milk. Coffee milk is a favourite of mine from WAY back. In fact, the last time I had coffee milk I was about twelve years younger. The combination of the coffee milk and the peanut butter and chocolate whoopie pie was, in the parlance of the over dramatic, To Die For.

No, I didn’t try the cookie milk, but the baby is getting weighed again this week and you’d better believe it will happen. Cookies will forever now be associated with my son’s first few weeks. I can’t think of a better start to life.

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Dublin Cookie Co.

Alan Hanna’s Bookshop and Bark Coffee

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In keeping with the theme of trying places I’ve walked past for years and never ventured into, here’s some good advice: a place doesn’t have to be new and hip and full of men in beards to warrant a visit. In fact, when a place has been there for a while (long enough for me to walk past it for years), I’ve found some little gems of Dublin. And this is another one!

Alan Hanna’s Bookshop is a Rathmines stalwart, located on Upper Rathmines Road. They opened a little coffee  shop in the back and had an A-frame out front advertising this fact. This had never drawn me inside until the A-frame read: Kimchi Cuban! Special Sandwich of the day!

I like a Cuban Sandwich and I love Kimchi so this seemed a sign made especially for me. I ducked into the bookshop and headed to the back where the coffee shop is. It is larger and busier than I thought it would be back there. There were plenty of people sitting at tables enjoying their lunch and coffees.

There are no windows which I think can be tricky in a café. It’s nice to look out, even on a rainy day and I called in on a gorgeous sunny day. They make up for it here by putting up huge posters of penguin books to keep you in the book-ish cocoon. I still wanted to escape back to the sunshine, though, so I ordered my Kimchi Cuban to go.

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The other sandwiches on the menu are less adventurous and what you would expect in a café/sandwich shop. They are all made to order, so I am certain there is some personalization that you can do if you wish.

There are brownies and some other cakes, scones, packets of crisps and popcorn and some candy bars on offer. It’s simple but there is something for everyone.

The Kimchi Cuban was delicious. It was warm and tasty. The kimchi was homemade and not too strong. I could certainly have done with stronger, but I appreciate the fact that new comers to kimchi-land may like a lighter introduction.

Check out the A-frame outside the bookshop on Upper Rathmines Road and see if they can entice you in for a book, a coffee or a hefty sammy.

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Alan Hanna’s Bookshop and Bark Coffee

Simon’s Café (Or That Place In George’s Arcade That Smells Like Cinnamon)

 

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One of the best things about walking up George’s Street Arcade from the direction of Drury Street is the blast of sweet warm cinnamon that emanates from Simon’s café. If you don’t immediately want a cinnamon roll, you should worry about your inferior sense of smell.

I have resisted turning left into Simon’s for pretty much most of the time I have lived here. The smell of cinnamon has been enough; the idea of a gooey cinnamon roll propels me forward with a smile on my face. The truth is that I am always frightened of being disappointed by the cinnamon roll. How sad would it be to be drawn into a café by the delicious smell only to find the actual bun lacking?

I’ve had some good cinnamon rolls in my lifetime. I wasn’t really willing to risk the illusion of perfect cinnamon goodness at Simon’s. And then? I did.

I had a meeting and the suggested location was Simon’s. I arrived early determined to order a tea only. But there they were: a stack of fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls right on the counter. I defy anyone to not ask for one in that situation, let alone a six months pregnant person who has been drawn to mostly bread-based products for the length of the pregnancy.

It’s research anyway, I said. I’ll have one, I said.

Simon’s is a throw-back kind of place. It has been there forever and it feels like it. There is nothing fancy or hipster about it. Sandwiches are pre-made and wrapped in plastic and kept in the chilled case. Baked goods line the counter and there is not a gluten free or paleo option in the lot. You can get instant coffee. There is a special “tea bag” dump right on the counter in front of the till so that you can dunk and remove your bag before you head to your tables.

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The tables are communal, wooden and basic. The crowd is like a crowd at a good, local pub. It’s mostly men over forty who don’t take off their jackets, carry tiny note books, wear caps and may or may not have facial hair. The smoking seats out in front are always full. Your tea comes in a mug. The walls are lined with posters for upcoming gigs. The lighting is bad. I get the sense that many of the patrons don’t even have to order, they just get “my usual.”

And the question you’ve all continued reading this post to have answered? The cinnamon roll is fantastic. It tastes homemade, it’s not too sweet. It’s a bit crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy once you get to the centre. I told myself I didn’t need to eat all of it. My brain said, “nope. You do. Eat all of it.”

I enjoyed it with a mug of tea. My meeting partner arrived and went to order a tea as well. Came back with a tea and cinnamon roll. “How does anyone resist?” he asked. “Do you need to?” I asked back.

NO. You don’t need to resist. If you get pulled in by the smell, be confident that you are about to have a delicious cinnamon roll in a classic dublin café.

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Simon’s Café (Or That Place In George’s Arcade That Smells Like Cinnamon)