Guinness, Falafel, Pigeon & Green Curries in Dublin.
Is it me or are our cities and our foods globally converging?
When you tell folk in England that you are off to Dublin they presume stag weekend. When you say you are working there they have some knee-jerk Victorian stereotype about subsisting on cabbage, potato and Guinness.
I wonder when it was actually like that? If it was ever like that? Work has sporadically brought me to Dublin for approaching fifteen years and I have had many great meals here. I don’t recall a bad one.
Take lunchtime the other day. Being a Thursday there was a food market at the canalside on the Mespil Road. It was thronging with hungry officeworkers who were keen to enjoy a brisk early autumn hour in the sun.
What to choose?
As far as I could tell, there was no Irish food on offer at all. Thai noodles, Keralan street food, Schnitzel, Burrito, Paella, wood fired Pizza. No wait. Aha! There’s a jacket spud wagon which I dismiss to avoid the mid-afternoon dip it would convey. Herr Schnitzel – who appears to be from about as German as Father Dougal – woos me with a cheeky, cheery invitation. I balance on a the swing beam of a lock gate to tuck in and people watch. €5 well spent.
The day before? It was the lunch-time special at the local noodle bar. Watching Dubliners rush by as you shovel tasty noodles with chopsticks makes the mind wander. Firstly, Dubliners rushing. An oxymoron? Far from it. There’s an energetic, purposeful urgency around. People who look like they’ve on their way somewhere. Although if they are in cars, then they are not on their way anywhere as the traffic is crap. Huge increase in the number of push bikes though.
The evening before that the team met at a local independent one-room-and-a-kitchen terraced house restaurant: The Camden Kitchen. OUTSTANDING. What a great dinner! Wood pigeon with pate on brioche to start followed by tender braised Ox cheek. A bourbon panacotta with a beautifully matched Aussie dessert wine to wash it down. A colleague attempts to tell a local about it only to be stopped: “I’ve no need to hear about how grand it is, you can’t move for great food around here.”
At the top of the league for the week? The Keshk Café Restaurant (bring a bottle). A Dublin Lebanese served by Poles, washed down with (Italian) Peroni and (Argentine) Malbec. A work dinner where the conversation stopped when the food started. All we were left with was a noisy collection of umms and ahhs.
Even the hotel bar food – usually the first call for mediocrity – is sumptuous. Hearty burgers, delicate curries, decent portions.
Two weeks ago I was eating noodles in Shanghai. Just as tasty and only marginally cheaper.
I get to do it all again next week. Wondering what the new crop of food outlets will offer? We have spied a few…