Why I love Dublin

After spending 4 months in Dublin, I think I have a pretty good idea about what to do and where to eat because obviously I had to keep myself fed and entertained.

These are the things that made me fall in love with Dublin, after the AMAZING people of course!

As far as things to do/must see tourist traps:

  • Guinness is a must. It’s actually really cool and the view from the bar when you get your Guinness at the end is totally worth it.

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  • The Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) was a really cool look into the history of Dublin and the tour guides make it really entertaining.
  • The Little Museum of Dublin is the only museum I recommend going to. It’s another great example of the impact of a great tour guide, plus they have an entire room dedicated to U2!

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  • Grab lunch at one of my suggested spots below and have a picnic in St. Stephen’s Green. Great people watching and nice green grass to plop down on.

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  • Browse the shops on Grafton St. Make sure to get some cheese at Sheridan’s Cheesemonger’s and skip the tempting gelato from Gino’s.
  • Hop on the 6 euro train to a city named Howth on the coast and walk around for the afternoon. You can do the cliff walk up to the top, which was great, or just hang around the main city area and eat at the Oar House for fresh seafood. Also, if you go on Saturday or Sunday they have a little market right outside the train station for you to pick up some little cupcakes, macarons or a massive Irish pork sausage. I went 3 times while in Dublin, so it’s a must visit.

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  • Just jump in a cab with a local Irish driver and you’ll learn all you ever wanted to know about Dublin and their family, or in one case for me, his horses.

Let’s move on to the food now.

I ate out a fair share and was never was disappointed in a meal, which is saying a lot because Dublin’s food scene is only average.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite must eat at restaurants in the city:

  • Little Ass Burrito Bar— no seating, so grab a “box” or burrito and head to the park.
  • Crackbird— super hipster, but great chicken goujons (tenders) and even a great sweet potato and bacon salad located right in the middle of the city.
  • The Boxty House— a “boxty” is an Irish version of a potato pancake and they do multiple dishes involving these “pancakes.” They also have a lot of traditional Irish dishes that don’t disappoint.
  • Black Sheep— reminds me of any craft beer selling restaurant in the states, but they also have great food. I reccommend the chicken salad with butternut squash and a huge wheel of goat cheese on top.

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  • The Chophouse— great place to take someone to impress them, because it’s expensive, but recommended by Anthony Bourdain– and me– so it’s an obvious winner.
  • Brother Hubbard— incredible brunch spot, but limited options so be warned if you’re picky.

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  • Hatch and Sons— located outside the Little Museum of Dublin has the cutest little patio for when the weather is actually nice and I highly recommend ordering the baked eggs with bacon, sausage and AMAZING Irish brown bread.

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  • The Cake Cafe— located in an alley behind Dublin’s hottest clubs. It’s a tiny, colorful little cafe with great desserts and huge sandwiches on homemade bread for a great price.

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  • Zero Zero Pizza— it may not have a roof but this pizza place can be tracked down at multiple markets throughout the week, and they’re serving up amazing Neopolitan style pizza. Some of the best I’ve ever had, and you can enjoy it sitting by the canal.

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  • San Lorenzos— another great brunch spot. I highly recommend the french toast stack with 40 strips of bacon or if you wanna feel like death the rest of the day, get the Coco crispy french toast. French toast coated in sugary cereal for the win. Or not…

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That concludes my personal guide to eating and entertainment in Dublin. Now I just wish I could go back and experience them all again right now.

Until next time my love 🙂

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Croatia: Europe’s Best Kept Secret

I knew that when I came to Europe to study abroad that I had to go to Croatia, but for some reason no one that I met was on my same wavelength, so when it came time to plan our last trip in May no one wanted to come with. I did end up convincing one of my guy friends to join me on my trip. All I said was “it’s super cheap” and he was down.

A friend of mine said to check out Bus 2 Alps for a completely planned trip in the tourist city of Split, Croatia. I saw that there was a trip white water rafting and island hopping so I immediately hopped on 😉 buying the ticket. We opted for the “Fly-in” option to avoid sitting on a bus from Florence or Prague for 12 hours.

We ended up flying from Nice, France to Zadar, Croatia on Wednesday morning. Spent the night in the beautiful city of Zadar. It’s an easily walkable and gorgeous old port city in the northern half of Croatia.
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On Thursday morning we took the GORGEOUS 3 hour bus ride (with free wifi) to Split, Croatia. The bus wound around the coastline all the way down to Split. Once in Split we found our hostel that Bus 2 Alps assigned us. It was located right in the city center and only a 5 min walk to almost anything worth seeing.

View from bus to Split from Zadar.

View from bus to Split from Zadar.

Walked around Split before settling on a restaurant for some wine and an squid salad for me and ravioli for my friend.

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We woke up Friday morning to get a free breakfast and then catch the bus for white water rafting down the Cetina River. It was a long 4 hour trek down the river, but we were rewarded with a whole trout (head and all) dinner with wine, which made it all worth it.

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Saturday morning was island hopping day to the island of Brac. It was a perfect sunny and hot day for it.
Obviously this Minnesotan was going to get burnt after not seeing the sun in Ireland for over 3 months… Got to relax on the beach all day and soak up the sun before I headed back to dreary Ireland for my last 2 weeks.

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Where did it all start?

I haven’t always been a food fanatic. I was a “closet foodie” prior to college, but I “came out” shortly after I discovered Colossal Cafe with my Mom before my Freshman year of college. There was no turning back after that fritatta. I immediately went back and had to try their famous “Flappers” which have been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, for all you Food Network watchers. After that first bite of Flapper, my coffin had been sealed. I became fascinated with trying restaurant after restaurant, and really becoming knowledgeable about the local food scene. I’m also fairly certain I did more restaurant research than actual work at my job sophomore year of college. That’s productive, right?

I’ve definitely proven that I can purchase some really good food not just in Minneapolis but all around the world now, but I can also cook pretty well too. My passion for really challenging myself in the kitchen all started with my endeavor to make a perfect French Macaron. I was obsessed with them after moving home after freshman year, but nowhere in my small-town sold them. So, I had to put matters into my own hands and literally whip them up myself. After reading recipe after recipe, I chose one and attempted it and to my own surprise they came out with perfect “feet” and a smooth shell on the first try. Mission semi-accomplished…

One of my cookie dough Macarons!

Once I realized that I could almost master something that most people find impossible to get right, and on the first try too, I knew there was no stopping me. I’ve made everything from the perfect pie crust to enchilada lasagna with homemade tortillas as the “noodles.” Baking from scratch is the only way to go.

After taste testing recipe after recipe, I realized how much my diet is affecting my ongoing stomach issues. I’ve been dealing with stomach pains my entire life, despite having a generally healthy diet outside of my baking, of course. I decided to switch to a grain-free, sugar-free and somewhat dairy-free diet in the last few months. I’ve tried the “gluten-free” thing but I didn’t find that just cutting out gluten was working, so I turned to cutting grains completely. My new “paleo” diet is something that I find hard to do at times, but once I remember how much better I feel not eating all that processed stuff all the time I can usually get my mind and stomach back into it. I love veggies and fruit and I love meat and eggs, so I’m a happy camper past lunch time, which is when I need a sweet. Sometimes a girl, just needs some super sweet chocolate, or for me, A HUGE PANCAKE!!

Not being able to eat a carb loaded pancake all the time anymore can be tough, but I’ve found other pancake recipes that satisfy my craving for fluffy discs while still leaving my stomach intact.

I’ve learned a lot about my body since moving to college almost 4 years ago, and I’m finally figuring out how to add food back in a healthy way. I’ve never felt better than when I’m eating “paleo,” but I also having an understanding with my stomach that I can allow myself a little something wrong every once in awhile and she’s supposed to stay calm. I still want to be able to eat what I grew up loving without being bedridden for a week.

Life is a delicate balance 🙂