Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Dublin Part Three - More Food - A Green Hen and a Town

10th October

Deb and I nearly getting blown off the penthouse balcony!
We got up at about 9am and pottered about until our breakfast arrived in the room and was laid out for us in the dining room.  It was lovely, and though morning are the times I don't usually have much of an appetite I wolfed it all down! It was sad to pack up our things to leave the penthouse, I doubt we'll ever be back. I went upstairs for one last look, and onto the balcony for a windy photo with Deb, the unseasonally mild weather had definitely given way to a more autumnal chill.. It also meant the end of my birthday celebrations, what a fab time I have had over these last few weeks, I wish I turned 60 every year.

We caught a taxi back to our apartment at Smithfield. Marian was out exploring, she was soon back, it's amazing how many things she managed to see in such a short time, she definitely made the most of her short time in Dublin! Unfortunately she had to return home and we saw her off to the airport later in the afternoon. Afterwards we all went to bed to try and get some sleep as the late night was catching up with us!  I rested, but could not sleep though I really wanted to.

Dianne in The Green Hen
That evening it was our girls night out, and Deb and Dianne were treating me as a last birthday gift, so kind of them as they had already been so generous to me bless them! For our Dublin trip we all chose a new restaurant to go to, tonight was my choice, The Green Hen in Exchequer Street, a French restaurant, can't go wrong with French food with me!  We got a taxi and almost immediately were stuck in a horrendous traffic jam.  The driver told us there was some big event happening in the city that night. We ended up being 20 minutes late for our table though the staff were completely unconcerned at that, I love that Irish laissez faire!

The restaurant was full, posters from old French films on the walls, the atmosphere lively but not too much so that you can't hear each other talk.  I had goats cheese salad with beetroot, walnuts and figs to start and it was scrumptious. Then duck confit with fondant potato, cherries and baby vegetables was equally fabulous it was the most succulent duck I've had! Portions were generous and none of us was able to find room for a dessert, we just had a cappuccino. Also, amazingly we had no wine at all! We all felt it was a very good idea to detox that night lol!
The Duck Confit Main

We had the Early Bird menu which was 19.50 Euros for two courses or 22 Euro for three, excellent value. Service was friendly and attentive, I felt sorry for the servers as they had to run down stairs to bring the food and also up another flight to tables upstairs, they must be fit!

We caught a taxi back to the apartment (no traffic jam this time). Dan had  had a pizza from the restaurant beneath the apartment block which he said was very good, he was pleased to hear we had enjoyed our meal so much. We didn't stay up very late, we desperately needed to catch up on our sleep!

October 11th

A sign in the Docklands
Too soon it was our last full day in Dublin we had vague plans but nothing definite. While in the city it had not escaped our attention that Bono was in town! A mutual love of U2 brought us all together over 20 years ago and because we get along as people and not just as fans, real friendships were borne form this. We did not expect the band to be in Dublin, as far as we knew they were in New York, but no, they were home. So we decided to go to the Docklands and check out their studio there, though we were aware that it looked like they had a new studio in County Wicklow, but we had to check :). We caught the Luas to Mayor's Square in the north Docklands, I can't believe how that area has changed, gone are the derelict buildings and now it's full of apartments and shops and cafes.

We walked over the graceful new Samuel Beckett Bridge and into the South Docklands and into the familiar territory of Hanover Quay. As we expected it was all quiet at the studio, though there was some pretty amazing non-U2 graffiti on the surrounding walls.

We had a leisurely lunch at the nearby Spar and enjoyed what was now a lovely sunny day.  After years of constant change during the age of the Celtic Tiger things were now static, there had been no changes since we had last been there in May 2012. The southern end of the quay still had areas untouched by the bulldozer, and the old, natural stone buildings still looked out over Grand Canal Dock as they have done for many, many decades. Where the concrete works used to be opposite the studio was now just a vacant lot within it's walls. Kind of nice that the concrete, steel and glass structure haven't taken over all of the Docklands.
The Beautiful Samuel Beckett Bridge
and where the big concrete works had been now was just a vacant plot.

We headed back to the Luas stop and then all did our own thing for a while, Deb went back to the apartment, Dianne and Dan went to The Writer's Museum and I went shopping. Later we all met up again at the apartment.

That night it was Dianne's choice of restaurant. It was not actually new to us, but had changed hands and was now called The Town rather than the Town Bar and Restaurant. Inside it had changed very little, it was a bit brighter, but still had the same relaxing ambiance. To start I had warm beetroot and goats cheese salad (for a change!) followed by a very tender beef fillet, cep puree, roasted onion, madeira sauce and colcannon. Again I couldn't manage a dessert, but Debbi and Dan managed to find some room, Deb finds it hard to resist creme brulee! Everyone enjoyed everything they had and though it is quite an expensive restaurant it is top quality. It was so nice to spend the last evening enjoying good food and wine with great friends, some of the best things in life.

We caught a taxi home and Dan got chatting to the driver who was from Nigeria. He said it was hard to learn to find his way round the city because: 1. the names of the street change - you can go down a straight road and at some point it will start to be called something else. I'd never really thought about that before, the same is true in the UK. 2. People often don't know the name of a road that a certain pub or restaurant is on, so he had to learn where all these places were. He also told us that there were 1,200 restaurants in Dublin, so it's some feat to learn where they all are.  Also, it means that there are plenty more new ones for us to try in the future!

October 12th

Dianne and Dan left at 9.30 on their way back to Canada via Heathrow, sad to see them go, but I knew that I would be seeing them again in December, so the parting wasn't as hard as it might have been. Not long afterwards Deb and I vacated the apartment and left our bags with the concierge before heading to The Clarence Hotel for a last drink.  Then it was the usual taxi to the airport, have a meal, mooch round the shops before flying - in a tiny Aer Arann propeller plane - back to Manchester. Sad goodbyes to Debbi, unfortunately she is not coming on the holiday at New Year, so it could be a while before we meet up again, but we still keep in touch a lot online.

So that was it, a fabulous week in Dublin. I want to say thanks to my all my wonderful friends for coming (and a special thanks to Deb for her organising!) it was special to share my official 60th with you all. Can I be 60 again next year??

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