Tuesday, 26 March 2013

St Patrick's Day in Dublin.

If I could give you one piece of advice about Dublin it would be this "Do not arrive in the middle of the St Patrick's Day Parade". You might think that this is obvious and wonder why somebody would do such a thing but we did. Going on this trip on St Patrick's Day was a total coincidence, we had some time to go away in March and I wanted to cross Ireland off of my 30 before 30 list so we just took our available dates and ran with it. It should have become obvious when we tried to book a hotel and everywhere was either fully booked or extortionately priced but, nope, it didn't dawn on us until after we'd booked the surprisingly expensive hostel! It worked out well in the end and after a bus that stopped halfway to where we wanted to go, lunch at chain restaurant Wagamama, and an uncomfortable taxi ride with an incredibly homophobic man we were finally ready to take on Dublin.

We originally picked Generator Hostel as our city base because of the aforementioned silly hotel prices but it was awesome. I'm a big fan of hostels, especially as so many offer private rooms, because really what else do you need apart from somewhere to sleep when you only have a short period of time in a city? Nick, up until now, has been less of a fan but I think this stay went some way towards winning him around to my scuzzier travel ideals!

After some exploring in the rain to look at the green-lit buildings...

...and a lot of sidestepping incredibly drunk people in Temple Bar we headed to Cornucopia for dinner. I'd read a lot of good things about Cornucopia and they definitely didn't disappoint. We ordered one of the meals from the blackboard, the Irish Stew, which came with two salads, your choice of bread & a glass of wine or juice.

The stew was filled with hearty root veggies, seitan and barley and I chose an orange and carrot juice and some Irish soda bread to accompany it. There were about 8 or 9 salads to choose from and I went for their signature potato salad and a broccoli salad with slivered almonds, red onions and a tangy orange dressing. The potato salad was my favourite part of the meal, the garlic mayo dressing was perfect and it was plumped up with amazing roasted hazelnuts. This is definitely something I'll be trying to recreate at home. The meal cost €14.95 which is definitely reasonable for such an enormous meal. We had leftovers which we popped into a takeout box and ate for breakfast the next day.

As we were in Ireland and it was St Patrick's Day I was determined to hunt down a pint of vegan stout. I used to drink the occasional Guinness before I went vegetarian but given how grim drinking something thats been filtered through fish guts is I went on a googling mission to find a suitable beverage.

The stouts I found that are definitely suitable for vegans are D'Arcey's Stout made by Dublin Brewing Co and O'Hara's Carlow Stout made by Carlow Brewing Co. Luckily Generator Hostel had O'Hara's on tap as well as a great selection of beers by Brooklyn Brewing Co and Fentiman's soft drinks. Cheers!

The next day we went back to Cornucopia as everywhere else I'd bookmarked was closed due to the bank holiday. I decided on something a little lighter for lunch and picked the wrap.

The Cornucopia wrap is stuffed full of carrot & diakon slaw, smoked tofu, cashew & coriander pesto and spring onions. It was genuinely the best wrap I've ever eaten, I loved the combination of flavours and the perfect crunchiness of the salad. It was also only €4.95, Dublin's a pretty expensive city so a filling meal for this price was great news.

For dessert I tried a piece of the Lemon, Blueberry & Coconut Torte.

These aren't flavours that top my list of dessert fave's but I really wanted something sweet and the fancy style of this slice jumped out at me. Overall I enjoyed it, especially the blueberry topping, but I find that coconut can be quite an overpowering flavour and I was left wishing that the flavour of the lemons had shone through a little more.

After lunch we headed to the Leprechaun Museum which was as ridiculous as it sounds. We learnt a lot about Irish Folklore, got to pretend to be leprechauns by clambering about on giant furniture, and ran through a rainbow to find a pot of gold! We decided not to go to Cornucopia for our third meal in a row, partly because we were planning breakfast there the next day and partly because we didn't want to look too creepy. I kid. Kinda.

As it was still raining, a theme in Ireland, we decided to go to the indie cinema to see Robot & Frank (we both enjoyed it, I cried a lot!) and as Milano, the Irish version of UK pizza chain Pizza Express, was almost next door it seemed like the perfect choice. Pizza Express isn't somewhere I usually get that excited about because I love me a cheesy pizza but on a cold, wet evening something about a tonne of dough and fresh tomato sauce really appealed.

At Milano, like at Pizza Express, the bases and sauce are vegan so you just need to omit the cheese and throw on whatever veggies you fancy. I went for roma tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes, and, at Nick's suggestion, garlic oil, which I have to say elevated the pizza to a new level of awesomeness. We also got a side of dough balls to share. These usually come with garlic butter but they can switch that out for garlic oil which even my meat and dairy loving dad thinks is better!

The next morning we went to Cornucopia again to try their breakfast which is served until noon. The breakfast menu has some set breakfast options but we also decided to take advantage of the individual portions section to add some favourites to the meal.

From the set menu we chose the Scrambled Tofu with roasted peppers, onions & tamari which came with two slices of toast and a cup of tea or coffee.

We then added two veggie sausages, a portion of breakfast beans and another slice of toast.

This turned out to be just the right amount of food for two people. We enjoyed the mustard seed filled scramble and loved both the basil and granary toasts. The homemade veggie sausages were the standout from this meal though, upon seeing them I was a little unsure but as well as being super unusual they were super delicious and I loved the flavour and texture that the sesame seeds added. The only thing we were a little disappointed by was that the hash browns weren't vegan. This disappointment was eased pretty quickly when I spotted this Spring Onion Scone and I grabbed it to go for our road trip to the west coast. 

It came with a little tub of soy butter and a knife and it was damn good. I wish I was this good at baking scones! I can't wait to go back to Dublin to eat at Cornucopia again, everything we tried there was great, everyone we met working there was lovely and the atmosphere was really mellow. The place is also pretty big so even when it seemed ridiculously busy we were always able to find a seat.

Our final stop in Dublin was Blazing Salads, I'd been wanting to try this place for the whole trip but every time we walked past it was closed.

We grabbed a piece of the Tofu Pizza and a Spring Roll for the road.

I found the spring roll a little disappointing. Blazing Salads is quite a healthy place, with sugar free cakes and the like, and I think that I prefer my spring rolls deep fried. The tofu pizza on the other hand was delicious. Whilst it was a slightly challenging thing to eat in a car it was well worth getting slightly oily fingers for. The crust managed to stay crisp even after two and a half ours of the three and a half hour journey and the basil, tofu and veggie topping was great. Next time I'm in Dublin I'll definitely be re-visiting Blazing Salads.

As you can see eating out in Dublin was super easy, we also found plenty of vegan snacks and staples in the Spar stores dotted around the city. My next blog post takes us across the country to the west coast where we stayed in a cottage by the sea for a few days before heading on to Galway.


  1. Wow your trip and food looks great! I'd love to try that tofu pizza. It's so strange that I was thinking about going to Pizza Express today and I was wondering about the vegan choices but that has answered all of questions! Excellent telepathy there, thanks ;) x

    1. Awesome blogger telepathy right there! Pizza Express have a whole allergens bit on their site with info about what is / what can be made vegan http://www.pizzaexpress.com/uploads/allergy.pdf

    2. Ah that's fab thank you :)

  2. I had Irish Stew and Soda Bread on St. Pat's too!! My meal looked almost the same....except I wish I'd had that potato salad. :-)

    1. I saw! So funny! The potato salad was properly awesome, you'll have to visit Dublin sometime.

  3. I've never had a savory scone. I will have to give baking some a shot!

    1. Do it! My friend Laura makes an amazing vegan cheese scone.

  4. Aw, I love Dublin and have been many times over the years. Cornucopia is ace. I was just going to suggest that you go to Juice if you go back but when I googled it seems it's closed:( I'm a big fan of hazelnuts in potato salads too and can highly recommend this recipe which uses sweet potatoes.

    1. I'll definitely be going back to Dublin! I had no idea hazelnuts in potato salad was a thing, I'll have to try that recipe... although I'd probably switch out the sweet potatoes for regular!

  5. it must be hard to watch the calorie intake when you are vegetarian as everything looks and tastes so good!

  6. Your posts always make me hungry!!
    That stew looks so good!

  7. Oh wow. I haven't been to Ireland before. I want to go to the Leprechaun Museum!

  8. Thank you so much for the blog post - I'll be printing this out. How good does that pizza look! Mmm


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