The Line Failed Me

The Green Bench Cafe in Dublin, IrelandI’ve written before about how I’m powerless to resist a line-up for food.  Yes, some restaurants can be over-hyped, but generally speaking if a place is popular enough to generate a long line, the food is probably pretty good.

So I got pretty excited when I saw the line at the Green Bench Cafe, a takeout joint (or “takeaway,” as they call it here) that’s well known for its sandwiches.  I mean, look at this crowd:

The Green Bench Cafe in Dublin, Ireland

All those people can’t be wrong!

The Green Bench Cafe in Dublin, Ireland

Or maybe they can.  I got the beef brisket sandwich, and it wasn’t bad — there was actually a lot about it that I quite liked.  But the beef (and you can’t really tell from the picture, but there was a lot of it) was super dry.  It was somewhat jerky-esque.  It kinda sucks all the moisture out of your mouth.

Crispygate: The Conclusion

Aungier Danger in Dublin, IrelandIn case you haven’t been following Crispygate (i.e. the most important story of 2017), you can catch up here and here.  Basically, the doughnut shop Aungier Danger served me a doughnut with a crispy exterior, and I proceeded to spend way too much time thinking about it.

After concluding that no, the Irish do not like their doughnuts crispy, I figured the best way to close the book on this thing would be to go to a different Aungier Danger location, try a doughnut, and see if it’s crispy.

So that’s what I did.  I got the HoneyFoam doughnut, which is filled with “honeycomb infused foam.”  A couple of things:

  1. The doughnut was not crispy.  This officially closes the book on Crispygate.  As I suspected, this must have just been a frying mishap.
  2. Holy crap, the doughnut was so damn good.  The “foam” actually tasted like a super fluffy buttercream; between its perfect, rich texture and its deliciously subtle honey flavour, it might have been the best doughnut filling I’ve ever had.  And the doughnut itself was great, with an amazing balance of lightness and chewiness.  So good.

Drinking Guinness at the Source

Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, IrelandIf you walk around Dublin for long enough, you’re going to see someone holding a bag from the gift shop at the Guinness Storehouse.  It’s definitely one of those must-visit places for tourists.

Well, I’m a tourist.  I like must-visit places.  I also quite like Guinness, so yeah, it’s a no-brainer.

Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland

And the Guinness Storehouse is neat, but it’s hard not to compare it to my recent tour of the Glengoyne whisky distillery, in which we got to see every step in the actual production process.

The Guinness Storehouse is a slick multimedia experience that’s compelling to walk through — but it has very little to do with how the drink is actually made.

Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland

You get to see a bunch of historical equipment, and there’s a lot of talk about things like the perfect temperature to roast barley (232 degrees) and the number of nitrogen bubbles in every pint (30 million), but almost no insight on how Guinness is actually produced today.  What machines do they use?  What does the factory look like?  Who knows!  There are photos and videos of what the factory looked like decades ago, but pretty much nothing on how it looks now.

Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland

Still, it’s an enjoyable enough way to spend an hour or so, plus at the end you get to go up to the Gravity Bar (which is surrounded by windows offering amazing views of the city) and have a pint of the black stuff.  Anything that ends with you drinking a glass of Guinness can’t be all bad.

Crispygate Update

The Rolling Donut in Dublin, IrelandYou’ll recall that a few days ago, I posted about the doughnut I ate at Aungier Danger, which had a bizarrely crispy exterior.  I wondered: was that supposed to be crispy?  Was the oil just at the wrong temperature?  Or do Irish people like their doughnuts crispy?

Clearly, this could be my Watergate moment.  Are Irish doughnuts crispy?  The world needs to know about this.  I’ve gotta blow the lid off of this thing.

So I went and ate a couple more doughnuts, obviously.

The Rolling Donut in Dublin, Ireland

The first one was from a place called The Rolling Donut.  I got the salted caramel pistachio doughnut, which was pretty good — pistachios turn out to be a surprisingly good compliment to the slightly salty, sticky caramel.  The doughnut itself was a little bit too dense, but otherwise not bad.  More importantly: not crispy.  Not even a little bit.

Krust in Dublin, Ireland

On to the next one.  I got the Ferrero Rocher doughnut from a bakery called Krust, which was kind of ingenious in that it looks like a standard ring doughnut, but it’s been injected with Nutella at multiple points along the circle.

Krust in Dublin, Ireland

Like the other doughnut, it was good but not great, and like the other doughnut, it wasn’t crispy.

So there you have it: the Irish people don’t eat crispy doughnuts.  Aungier Danger just make them that way for some reason.  Case closed.

McDonald’s Around the World: Ireland Edition

McDonald's in Dublin, IrelandYou may have noticed that there was no McDonald’s Around the World for Scotland (what?  You didn’t notice?  And you’re baffled as to why I’m spending so much time and energy on McDonald’s?  Yeah.  Sounds about right).

Well, in case you did notice, the menu at McDonald’s in Scotland was identical to the one in England, so I didn’t bother.

The Ireland menu was pretty similar as well, but I did manage to find a couple of things interesting enough to post about.

(Also: the McDonald’s I went to had a microwave out that the customers could use, which is odd.)

McDonald's in Dublin, Ireland

The first was a veggie burger called the McVeggie — not to be confused with the McBean from Sweden, which was actually completely different.  This one was much less mushy and was quite falafel-esque both in its texture and flavour.  It wasn’t bad.

McDonald's in Dublin, Ireland

The next was fish fingers — these weren’t bad (and I actually think they were pieces of fish and not the reconstituted fish slurry that you might expect), but they really needed some kind of sauce.  They’re pretty plain.

McDonald's in Dublin, Ireland

Take a Hike

The Bog of the Frogs in Howth, Dublin, IrelandI don’t know that I’ve ever actually gone on a hike before.  Also: I’m honestly not entirely sure what differentiates hiking from walking.  I mean, is it basically just walking, but in nature? If so, maybe I have hiked?

I’m fairly certain that this is the first time I’ve been on a predefined hiking trail, so there’s that.

The Bog of the Frogs in Howth, Dublin, Ireland

There’s an area just outside of Dublin called Howth, and it features a lot of stunning cliffside vistas, and yes, a hiking trail.

The Bog of the Frogs in Howth, Dublin, Ireland

Four, actually.  The official map rates them from easy to hard, and I figured, hey, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this.  I went with the 10 kilometre “hard” trail, The Bog of the Frogs.

The Bog of the Frogs in Howth, Dublin, Ireland

I actually enjoyed it way more than I thought I would.  There was something oddly compelling and almost soothing about just trekking along in nature.  The scenic beauty of the area certainly didn’t hurt.

Plus, as someone who can barely even tell left from right without thinking about which arm my watch is on, I appreciated the frequent sign posts, which make it nearly impossible to get lost.

The Bog of the Frogs in Howth, Dublin, Ireland

And thanks to the sheer amount of time I’ve been spending walking around the last few months, the 10 kilometre hike wasn’t too exhausting (though it was quite a bit more strenuous than the city walking I’m used to).

So now I’m wondering if I really like hiking, or if that was just a particularly good hiking trail.  I guess I’ll just have to go on more hikes to find out?

Crispy Doughnuts? Yeah, I’m Into It

Aungier Danger in Dublin, IrelandThere’s a fairly well regarded doughnut joint in Dublin called Aungier Danger, and the doughnuts there aren’t quite like any other doughnut I’ve had — they’re crispy.

They have a bunch of really interesting looking flavours, but I went with the Dublin Death Trap, which is pretty straightforward: it’s filled with vanilla custard, and topped with a chocolate ganash.

Aungier Danger in Dublin, Ireland

The flavours were great — the filling was really rich and custardy, and the ganash was admirably restrained in its sweetness, with a very pronounced dark chocolate flavour.

But the doughnut itself was just odd.  The whole bottom was weirdly crispy, and as you can see from the picture below, there was a fairly thick layer of grease that soaked into the pastry.  I have no idea if this was intentional or if there was just an issue with the temperature of the oil, but it actually wasn’t bad.  It was a bit off-putting at first, but once you get used to it the crispy/chewy contrast is actually pretty satisfying.

Aungier Danger in Dublin, Ireland

I wonder if the crispy exterior is an Irish thing?  I guess I’ll just have to eat more doughnuts to find out.  Such is life.

The King of Full Breakfasts

Matt the Rashers in Dublin, IrelandThough both England and Scotland have their versions of the full breakfast, based on the version I had at Matt the Rashers in Dublin, Ireland can’t be beat.

The full breakfast at Matt the Rashers comes on a plate that has been precariously overloaded with: eggs, hash browns, bacon, tomato, liver, black pudding, white pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, and sausage.  It also comes with two slices of very hearty soda bread.  It’s the breakfastiest breakfast in the history of breakfast.  You can’t have more breakfast than that.  It’s physically impossible.

Full breakfast at Matt the Rashers in Dublin, Ireland

It’s amazing.  The white pudding and the liver are what differentiates this from the English and Scottish versions (though from what I can tell, the liver is more of a Matt the Rashers thing than an Irish thing).

White pudding is like black pudding, but without the blood.  It’s quite tasty, though it’s basically just a slightly blander version of the black.

Everything on the plate was super tasty, and the soda bread — which has a very dense, almost cakey texture — is a great accompaniment.

It’s not even close; I liked the other two full breakfasts a lot, but this one is hard to beat.