Farmer Brown’s Lands in Rathmines!

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Another weekend, a new brunch spot for Rathmines locals. Farmer Brown’s has migrated up the canal from Bath Avenue Dublin 4* to make it’s home in the cursed location on Rathmines Road across from the Swan Leisure Centre. I use the word “cursed” lightly, ok? I’m not a practitioner of witchcraft, but there is something definitely unlucky about the location. Two restaurants in the past two years have tried to make it work there and nothing has stuck. Is it because it’s set back from the road and you can’t peek inside? Is it because the inside is actually tiny and not very well laid out? Is it because sometimes you walk right past and forget it’s there?

Maybe all of those reasons contribute to the fact that other restaurants have failed, but Farmer Brown’s has a good, solid reputation behind it. They also have twigged the fact that it’s a tricky location because they have gone for the hard sell by putting up HUGE signage which is hard to miss from the road. So fingers crossed the locals will swarm like moths to a giant neon sign.

I don’t think this location would be so cursed if it were not in Ireland. With it’s really lovely sun-trap front patio, it is ideal for warm weather. If it were in Portugal, or Greece, or even France in the summer, I’m sure the place would be hopping. But the fact remains that even on glorious spring days like we’ve enjoyed recently it can be too cold to sit outside. Even in a sun trap. Hence the restaurant immediately loses 50% of it’s space.

The FB’s team has made it look quite retro though, fitting it out with white and yellow tiles and little potted plants. On a sunny morning, it will be great.

We did not visit on a sunny morning, however, and my brunch dates and I crammed into a little table by the door. The place was packed, but it’s packed where there are about 15 people in there. It’s one of those eateries where you want to face a wall, not the room, so as not to see the chaos of people squeezing past each other to get to the service bar for coffees, up the stairs to the bathrooms, or past each other waiting in the queue for food. It’s cramped. That makes it not relaxed.

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The coffee is very good and the service was cheerful and pretty quick considering the cramped quarters. The brunch menu is heavy. There is a lot of bread, a lot of hollandaise, a lot of eggs. I ordered off the regular weekday breakfast menu, opting simply for eggs on toast with a side of sausage. Even that was not a casual breakfast. The bread was delicious and really buttery which I appreciated. Eggs are eggs are eggs, and the sausages were fine. I felt full when I’d finished.

C ordered the “healthy option” brunch which consisted of four slices of brown (not white sourdough like I had) toast, avocado (you simply cannot, will not, have brunch in this city without an avocado!), poached eggs, pomegranate seeds (interesting), bacon, tomato bits and rocket. It was also heavy. He was also full when he’d finished. The portions are downright American.

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I hope Farmer Brown’s Rathmines will be successful because I feel bad when places are not successful. I am just not sure how much I will be able to contribute to it’s overall success. In my older, more experienced brunching years, I don’t completely enjoy eating such heavy food packed elbow to elbow to elbow with strangers while knowing there are people waiting for my table. I don’t find the popularity relaxing. I know the stodgy brunches will appeal to many living in the area (read: the ones with hangovers on weekend mornings), and those younger and more vulnerable brunchers will surely not have the same issue with overcrowding that I do.

The prices are fair and, as I said, on a sunny day, you’ll get a tan with your eggs. What’s not to love?

Follow the giant sign and get your Rathmines brunch on.

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*The original Farmer Brown’s is still on Bath Ave in D4 if you are down that way.

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Farmer Brown’s Lands in Rathmines!

My Two Winters

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NOT Dublin

We are properly enjoying winter in Ireland this year. C and I have not been in Dublin during a January in three years.

Yesterday morning there was frost on all the rooftops and cars. As I cycled down my road, I noticed a car running on the street with no one in it. The door in the house across was open and a woman darted out with her kettle steaming. She poured the hot water all down the front windshield, turned on the wipers, and ran back into her house to return the kettle.

I saw C do this five years ago when I first moved to Dublin when there were freak snow storms for a week before Christmas.

“That is GENIUS!” I thought of the kettle trick. “Why did we never think of that?!”

I grew up in Connecticut, where there are plenty of frosty mornings. Far more than there are here in Ireland. And yet instead of a quick hot water fix, we run the cars, blast the defrost and get out the scrapper and scrape away at the ice until you can see out enough of the windshield to drive.

Winter is no joke in the Northeast of the States. I already feel as though my winter toughness is lessening. I mean, those few frosty days may be as wintery as it gets around here. There will be crocuses and snowdrops in a few weeks. Daffodil shoots are already bravely poking up. Spring comes sooner here, and thanks to the kind Gulf Stream, winters aren’t that cold.

I do miss the smell of snow in the air and going to bed in a world of brown and green and waking up in a winter wonderland. I miss the drama of a big blizzard. I’m worried I won’t remember how to drive safely in a snowstorm or what to do when I hit black ice. I miss ice skating (which is actually far better when there is NO snow) and sledding, but I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it every day. I’m also grateful that I can still get around Dublin by bike. And that spring is actually just around the corner.

But even during these chilly days, the Irish have some good winter tricks up their sleeves.

 

 

My Two Winters

From California Sunshine to Irish Autumn

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C and I just spent a really wonderful two weeks in Southern California. I grew up in Los Angeles, so landing at LAX always feels like “home!”, even though I haven’t lived there for longer than I have lived there.

The day after we arrived we drove up the coast to Santa Barbara. The Pacific Coast Highway is a great drive. The big, dry mountains down to the pacific waves couldn’t look more different to Ireland. This stretch of road It is mostly populated and there are houses hanging over the sea and built into mountain sides. You’re never far from humanity in California.

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We also spent time out in the desert, staying in Palm Springs for three nights and Joshua Tree for one. The desert landscape feels completely foreign to me. The lack of green, the dryness, the browns and beige and soft colours are the opposite to the lush jewel tones of autumn in Ireland. The harsh sunlight is also a clear difference as well.

There is something quite wonderful about waking up and knowing the sun will shine. Seeing a perfectly blue sky, palm trees, and the sun every day really does make it feel like a holiday. It was a treat to spend time in pools, lounging in the warm shade, and getting to leave all “outerwear” safely packed away.

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I think it is good for the soul to get a chance to be in landscapes so completely opposite to those you live with every day. Parts of Joshua tree were almost like a joke: piles of rocks and sand and cacti. It was like being on the set of The Flinstones movie.

It was a relief to come back to turning leaves and cool autumn air. Driving on the motorway yesterday was like being inside a pumpkin; the orange and yellow glowing along the road against a dark sky.

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I am certainly more suited to this Irish climate, but it is lucky to be able to get out and remember to appreciate it. That blast of heat and sun and sand and memories of all those palm trees will carry me through the dark winter that is descending.

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From California Sunshine to Irish Autumn

April Showers

Though my last post was a celebration of the warm spring air and sunshine in Dublin, it is April, so there are obviously showers. And it’s Ireland, so what do we expect?!

An American ready for the Irish elements. Patagonia? Check.
An American ready for the Irish elements. Patagonia? Check.

When it rains in Dublin, you can always spot the Americans. They are the ones walking around with their fancy Patagonia rain gear and large umbrellas. If the American is also a female under 30, she will certainly be wearing a pair of trendy Hunter Wellingtons.

Most Dubliners take the rain in their stride and let it fall on them no matter what they are wearing. Umbrellas are used, but not as often as you might imagine. Unless an umbrella can fit in your purse or handbag or satchel it’s not worth bringing one around for the day. Huge umbrellas often get left in cafés or shops unless the rain is heavy and consistent, so it’s not worth it.

On a sunny day, this would be packed with people at lunchtime.
On a sunny day, this would be packed with people at lunchtime.

Americans are always prepared. Hooded raincoats, Wellies, and sometimes waterproof trousers. Always an umbrella. Because they have been told that it rains all the time in Ireland.

Being an American living in Dublin, I fall somewhere in between total rain preparation and rain ignoration**. I have all the gear, but I rarely wear it unless I am doing some kind of active activity outside the city. I almost never wear my Wellies*. I never have an umbrella. The only one C and I own is huge and can’t be brought on our bikes. My birthday is coming up, though, so perhaps a small umbrella can go on “the list”. I can’t be sure I would ever remember to take it, though.

My rain gear and Wellies match my daisies.
My rain gear and Wellies match my daisies.

And anyway, aren’t April showers meant to give way to May flowers?!

*my Wellies are hand-me-downs from girls I used to babysit in NYC. I wouldn’t spend over $80 on plastic boots. That I didn’t buy them makes me feel a bit better about not really ever wearing them.

**if Shakespeare could make up words .. . .

April Showers