“All Roads Lead to Rome” – A Travel Guide.

Two weeks ago, we headed off to Italy for a week’s holiday. I was celebrating the end of my exams and Shane was celebrating starting a new job so I knew it was going to be a “treat yourself” affair. We’re talking eating out three times a day and more Prosecco than should be consumed on an annual basis. I was posting pictures on my Instagram during the trip and I had a few questions on what I would recommend food/drink and activity wise. So, I decided that the easiest thing to do was put it all into a blog post.

Getting There:

We flew Ryanair from Dublin to Rome Ciampino (€50 per person, one way). The airport isn’t centrally located but there are good transport links. We took the bus to Rome Termini (bus station) in the city centre for less than €5 each. The journey took approximately 30 mins.

Where We Stayed:

We stayed in the “Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel” which is a 5 Star hotel, located a very short walk from the Pantheon. The hotel was modern and luxurious – I slept like a baby every single night because the bed was so comfortable. Our room was nice and spacious and the bathroom was stocked with Aqua di Parma. I’m entirely predictable so yes, the luxury toiletries were a high point for me. Although, my favourite part of the hotel was the rooftop terrace where they served breakfast in the morning and drinks/snacks in the evening. The view was unbelievable and the cocktails were even better so even if you’re not staying in the hotel, I recommend dropping by for awhile, after a trip to the Pantheon, for a drink on the roof.

What We Saw:

Let’s just say that we got our 10,000 steps in everyday – and then some! The standard of public transport is poor so the easiest way to get around Rome is on foot. It’s worth mentioning that the city is filled with cobble stones and steps so I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who has difficulty walking. It’s definitely not a wheelchair friendly city, which is very frustrating to see in this day and age.

We spent most of our time in Rome wandering about, seeing the usual tourist sights. We walked around the Vatican, the Traveste area and visited the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps at night. I highly recommend taking the time to visit both the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps in the dark as they’re particularly breathtaking when they’re lit up.

We opted to take a guided tour of the Pantheon, as well as the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We both agreed that this was the best way to see the sights because the tour guides were knowledgeable and filled us in on little facts that we never would have learned, had we simply been walking around by ourselves. Choosing to pay for the guided tour also meant that we got to skip the queues at the Colosseum, which was definitely worth the extra few euro. If you’re thinking of booking a tour, I recommend checking out Viator to book in advance.

Where we Ate:

Most of the people who sent me a DM on Instagram during my trip, were asking me for restaurant recommendations. Of course, the best part about a trip to Italy is the food. We visited so many restaurants and found a few gems along the way. My top picks are listed below.

Lión Restaurant:

Lión is a newly opened restaurant/bar and is located just a five minute walk from where we were staying in Rome. The staff at our hotel recommended that we eat here on our first night in Rome and we were absolutely delighted that we did. We had some cocktails to start, which were divine. The drinks were served with delicious aperitifs, free of charge. I was in my element. We both had mains – Shane had a delicious pasta alla Amatriciana and I had a salad. Obviously, the carbs were the better choice and his dish was delicious. Mine was nice and fresh but it’s safe to say I didn’t choose salad over pasta or pizza for the rest of my stay. Who was I kidding?

Anyway, we both highly recommend Lión if you’re looking for some cocktails and dinner. We sat outside for the heaters and watched the world go by as we ate – absolute bliss.

Ristorante Pizzeria Pasquino:

Shane and I are both in agreement that this place served the best pizza that we tried in Rome. Admittedly, we were starving when we arrived but the pizza that we order was so delicious, it disappeared almost as soon as the plate landed on the table. We also shared a cheeseboard that was the best we had during our trip (and we ate A LOT of cheese). This restaurant also runs pasta making classes, which seems to be of interest to a lot of followers who are planning a trip to Rome. Maybe that’s something for our list, when we return.

Mimi e Coco:

We’ve thought long and hard about our favourite meal in Rome and I think we’re both in agreement that Mimi e Coco was a little step above the rest. I had the best lasagne of my life in this place. It’s also very, very affordable and we paid €40 for a starter to share, two mains, two shots of limoncello and two glasses of wine. One thing that is worth pointing out is that Mimi e Coco don’t take bookings in advance so its best to arrive before 7pm, if you want a table.

Mr 100 Tiramisu:

I had researched places to eat in Rome, long before we made the trip. I’ve got a serious sweet tooth so this particular place stood out. As the name suggests, Mr 100 Tiramisu serves 100 different kinds of tiramisu. My idea of heaven. We popped into this restaurant on a rainy day during our trip and sat for a few hours. We had lunch which consisted of a selection of crostini, meats and cheese. I can’t even describe how tasty it was and the lovely staff working in Mr 100 Tiramisu were really knowledgeable about the food they were serving so it made for a lovely dining experience. It’s worth pointing out that the wine selection available in Mr 100 Tiramisu was not only extensive, but affordable. And, the highlight? Definitely the Snickers flavored tiramisu. Overall, this restaurant is a great little place to relax and spend a few hours gorging on local Italian produce.

And there you have it, a quick summary of my trip to Rome. If you have any questions, please let me know. Also, if you try any of my recommendations, I would absolutely love to hear what you think.

Rouge x

Camile Thai – Brunch Review

Last weekend, myself and two of my besties were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of Camile Thai’s new brunch menu, at their first “sit-in” restaurant in Phibsborough, Dublin. Those of you who are familiar with the Camile brand will know that they are famed for their Thai takeaway restaurant chain, so I was a little surprised when I heard that they were launching a brunch menu and I have to say that I really questioned what on earth “brunch with a Thai twist” would consist of.

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It turns out that “brunch with a Thai twist” is delicious and it’s EXACTLY what one needs to recover after a night out on the town. The brunch menu at Camile offers a wide range of options from classic breakfast dishes like “Eggs Benedict” to more substantial dishes like their “Katsu Chicken Fillets”.  The restaurant doesn’t offer a large selection of brunch cocktails yet but, the girls and I started our afternoon with a “Kir Camile” which is a lovely fruity combination of Prosecco and Creme de Cassis. It should be noted that they serve a really good quality glass of Prosecco that’s fairly light but has gorgeous almond, pear and apple flavours – for me, this is really important because I’m so sick of the “muck” that’s often served at some of the “bottomless brunches” that have become a fad in recent times.

 

 

Moving on to the food. First up, let’s talk about the “Eggs Benedict”. My friend had this dish, so I’m giving you the low-down from her point of view. This is probably the best time to mention that the three of us could be classified as “food snobs”. We have all worked in the hospitality/food industry, so our standards are pretty high. A brunch menu is not complete without the addition of an “Eggs Benedict” dish and Camile’s version consists of two poached eggs, rashers and chilli hollandaise sauce – all served on a toasted muffin. The presentation of this dish was brilliant and as you can see from the photo, it looked really appetising. There’s nothing particularly Thai about “Eggs Benedict” but, my friend really enjoyed the kick that the chilli hollandaise sauce gave to the dish. It’s a small but effective twist that transformed a dish that can be quite bland, to a flavoursome option – if you’re popping in for a quick breakfast, this is a great choice.

Next up, we have my dish of choice, the “Katsu Chicken Fillets”. This is the PERFECT option for anyone who is feeling hungover and needs a spicy pick-me-up. The crisp chicken fillets were accompanied by green curry sauce and fried potatoes that were seasoned with garlic, chilli and salt. This dish is ultimately a high-end version of the “spice bag” which just happens to be my takeaway of choice if I’ve had a few too many cocktails the night before. The chicken was cooked to perfection – the coating was perfectly crisp but the meat itself was juicy and full of flavour. The potatoes were the kind of “roasties” that melt in your mouth – they were fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. I detest under-cooked or soggy fried potatoes but these were some of the best that I’ve tasted and the seasoning was great too – spicy but not too salty. The only minor issue that I have was that I would have liked more green curry sauce to be served with the dish but this is just a small hiccup and is easily resolved by simply asking for more sauce.

 

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The final dish that we sampled was the “Salmon Fish Cake Slider” which was served with a toasted muffin, roccola, siracha mayonnaise and fried potatoes. Now, I’m not a big fan of salmon but the lady who ordered it is. She described it as zesty with a kick of spice and loved the siracha mayo which added flavour to the fish. Again, the spiced fried potatoes were great. I have to admit that this dish looks divine!

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Calories don’t count on Sunday so all three of us opted to try the “Warm Death By Chocolate” dessert. I’m a “dessert person” and would usually choose sweet over savoury but I’m afraid that for me, this dessert fell a little short of the mark. It was light and tasty but it wasn’t exactly “death by chocolate” which, in my opinion, translates to calorific and smothered with rich chocolate sauce and/or caramel. Again, the presentation was great and this might be a good option for those who don’t enjoy heavy desserts but I would like to see a more luscious dessert option on the menu. The dessert didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the brunch experience, it’s just a little constructive criticism for the restaurant.

We had a brilliant afternoon at Camile – it was a fabulous place to recover after a night out/ The decor is really nice and relaxed, the staff were absolutely lovely and the customer service was flawless. Again, having worked in hospitality, we see this as something that either makes or breaks a restaurant. All three of us have agreed that we will definitely return at some stage – maybe next time we’ll opt for an evening meal with some of that delicious Prosecco.

Thai Brunch at Camile, Phibsborough is available every Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm and all the dishes are priced between €5.95 and €13.95 – it’s well worth a trip!

Rouge x

Catch 22, Dublin – A Foodie Review.

It is notoriously difficult to find great quality food, at affordable prices around the Grafton Street area. This is mainly because the well known shopping district has developed into a tourist trap, littered with chain restaurants and fast food joints. However, I am delighted to announce that I recently stumbled across a diamond in the rough. Let me introduce Catch 22.

Catch 22 is located opposite Kehoe’s on South Anne Street and they pride themselves on their simple, yet delicious seafood menu. The décor which consists of tiled flooring and bleached timber panel walls screams ‘sailor’ and, I am delighted to report that there’s nothing pretentious about the atmosphere of the restaurant.  Alas, a word of warning: this place is tiny and they operate on a “first come, first served” basis so you can only reserve tables for parties of 5+. But, if you are lucky enough to snatch up a table on arrival – you are in for the most delightful treat.

I have been to Catch 22 on two occasions now and I’m happy to report that they have my full seal of approval. On my first visit to the restaurant, I ordered a portion of calamari with hand-cut chips. More often than not, Irish eateries get it wrong when it comes to squid – we’ve all had the over-cooked, rubbery type. However, the deep-friend calamari in Catch 22 was soft and succulent, and I have to admit, surprisingly fresh. The calamari was served with chilli mayo which was tangy, rather than spicy – delicious.

  

The menu at Catch 22 provides for the addition of two specials, sourced and cooked fresh everyday. So, on my second visit to the restaurant I opted for one of these specials; prawns tossed in Marie Rose sauce, layered over home-made brown bread. The prawns themselves were moist and bursting with flavour and freshness. I expect that they were sourced directly from Dublin bay – no phoney frozen fish here! The sauce was simple, yet tasty and complimented the fresh seafood perfectly. And as an added extra, the hand-cut chips were cooked to perfection – fluffy on the inside with perfectly crispy skin.

  

And there you have it – unpretentious, wholesome comfort food at surprisingly affordable prices! 
What do you think? Worth a visit? Let us know in the comments!

Rouge X 

 

Dealz Winter Wonderland.

Maybe Christmas he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to preview the Dealz Christmas collection. Now I know what you’re all thinking – Christmas in October, really? However, as the saying goes; fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Now, I didn’t know much about Dealz before I attended the event other than the fact that everything costs €1.49 and that my mother absolutely loves the store. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to discover an array of bargain buys – sure, I could fill a basket for under €20. What’s not to like? Whether you’re looking for decorations or stocking fillers, check out these Christmas steals!

Christmas Gift Bags

Every single Christmas Eve, I find myself running around the house in a panic, searching for gift bags. Usually, after all the shops have shut. Dealz have some really cute options such as the duo pictured above. Two gift bags for €1.49? Sure, that’s practically making money.

Christmas Red Wine Glass

If you have lots of visitors in your home over the Christmas season, your dishwasher will be in over-drive. Dealz have lots of home-ware options so why not stock up on some extras? These festive wine glasses are my personal favourite. Red is my self-declared power colour so I think I will be using them all year around.

Christmas Sack

If you have children in your home, you need to run to your nearest Dealz store and purchase as many of these sacks as you possibly can. My inner child is squealing with delight at the notion of personalised sacks, straight from Santa’s workshop.

Dealz Candle

Festive candles are a must in my household, and my mother’s scent of choice has always been cinnamon. Now, usually we purchase a few luxury candles, ranging in price from €15 to €40 but after smelling the candles which were burning in the Dealz Christmas showroom, I will be saving my money for other treats instead. Available in a few different scents, these candles are really fragrant and long-lasting – SOLD!

Jewellery Gift Box

If you’re on a bit of a tight budget for Christmas, a great option is to purchase some affordable accessories in high street stores, remove them from their plastic packaging, and deposit them into swish jewellery boxes. Nobody need ever know that their gorgeous necklace came from the sale section in Penneys. This two pack of jewellery boxes is available in stores nationwide for €1.49.

Frozen Santa Stationary

The reality is that Christmas is all about the kids and at the moment, almost every child in Ireland seems to be obsessed with Frozen. I know a particular baby brother who would be delighted with this Frozen stationary set for writing his letter to Santa.

Frozen Anna and Elsa

Alright, I know I said “kids” but you’re never too old for Disney, right? Could I please have these baubles for my Christmas tree?

Minion Cracker

I thought that these individually packaged Christmas crackers would make fabulous stocking fillers.

Peppa Pig Advent

And, it isn’t Christmas without an advent calender. I have very fond childhood memories of scoffing all 24 chocolates in one go, only to mourn the loss for the remaining 23 days so maybe it is wise to purchase a few back-ups for any greedy chocolate monsters.

Freddo

And, if that wasn’t enough chocolate for you, Dealz have a huge range of Christmas sweet sets. Smarties, Freddos, Malteasers – calories don’t count at Christmas!

Everything pictured in this post goes on sale in Dealz in November for €1.49. Will you be stocking up on any of the goodies?

Rouge x

My Fall Favourites.

I was very kindly nominated by Sarah Jane of Siren and Soul to complete a list of questions about my fall favourites. I love these ‘ask and tag’ type posts because they give me a real opportunity to interact with other bloggers and our followers. Here goes:

Favourite Halloween Costume?

It took me awhile to hunt down this photograph. I once dressed up as Katy Perry and actually won €100 in my local nightclub. Granted, I probably spent that purchasing the sweets to super-glue on to the dress.

  

Favourite Candle?

I am obsessed with Yankee candles. They’re the only scented candles that produce a scent that lingers for a considerable amount of time. My favourite scents at the moment are from the ‘Out of Africa’ range – I’m loving ‘Serengeti Sunset’ in particular. It is a citrus and floral scent, perfect for Autumn.

  

Favourite Fall Movie?

I will admit that I am definitely not a film fanatic. But, ‘Dirty Dancing’ – always!

  

Favourite Lip Colour?

How can I pick just one? At the moment, I am loving Wet n Wild’s ‘Bare it All’. It retails at €1.99 and I find myself reaching for it more often than any of my high-end lipsticks.

  

Favourite Fall TV Show?

I love a good TV series so please leave any suggestions below. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is my favourite and ‘Gossip Girl’ will always have a place in my heart – mainly because Chuck Bass stole my entire heart!

  

Favourite Drink?

Is it too early for mulled wine? Never too early..

  

Favourite Thanksgiving Food?

There’s no Thanksgiving in Ireland but I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes with marshmallow crust. Now I’m starving!

  

Favourite Blush?

The weather is getting chilly so the majority of us will be seeing a natural pinch in our cheeks pretty soon. For that reason, I will probably be sticking to cream formula blush – perhaps MeMeMe’s ‘Boho Balm’. You can find my full review here – this one is a handbag essential.
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Favourite Clothing Item?

I am MADLY in love with these boots from River Island. They’re €85 and worth every single cent. You can read more about them and view all my footwear picks for AW15 here.

  

Who I Tag? 

To continue the ‘Fall Favourites’ challenge – I want to nominate a few of my favourite bloggers. Check them out:

  1. The Pharmers Journal.
  2. Cool Rhubarb.
  3. The Fashionista Observer.
  4. Pure Irish Sugar.
  5. Shawna Beauty.

Ladies Day at the Dublin Horse Show 2015 – Hair Fascinators by Michelle Foley.

I enjoy hats. And when one has filthy hair, that is a good accessory. -Julia Roberts.

Many of you will already know that I attended ‘Ladies Day’ at the Dublin Horse Show this year and thoroughly enjoyed the event. As a first time attendee, I didn’t know what to expect from the show but I was majorly impressed by the fantastic atmosphere. A day filled with fun, food and fashion? What more could a girl ask for? A few of you have asked that I share my outfit details and as ever, I aim to please.

  
One of my favourite shops at the moment is Ollie and Mac, a boutique based in Co. Meath. They have an excellent selection of elegant party-wear and from there I picked an irresistable tulle skirt in a lavender shade. I paired it with a simple cream, halterneck top from Topshop – similar can be found here.

  

However, the stand out piece of my outfit on the day was definitely the hat. Lots of you have been complimenting the design all week, and I’m delighted that you loved it as much as I did. The hat was a bespoke piece from Hair Fascinators, created by my favourite milliner of the moment, Michelle Foley. Taking the time to discuss ideas with me, Michelle focused on creating a hat which would accentuate my outfit. I highly recommend contacting Hair Fascinators if you need a hat for any occasion – I know that the A/W ‘wedding season’ is fast approaching!

  

Above are some more hats designed by Michelle, aren’t they exquisite?

Let me know what you think of the look, I would love your feedback!

Rouge x

My Deliveroo Review. 

Everyone knows that dining out is the ‘Holy Grail’ of my hobbies. So, imagine my joy when I heard that I no longer have to leave the house in order to source ‘restaurant quality’ food. The food delivery app ‘Deliveroo’ has launched in Dublin and promises to deliver from many major eateries across the city, straight to your door. Yes you heard me – restaurants such as Nandos, Aussie BBQ and many more straight to your door!

Last week, my friends and I decided to give the app a trial run by hosting a foodie party. In the mood for pizza, we chose to order from McGarry’s Pub and Restaurant in Harold’s Cross, Dublin. €50 supplied three large pizzas, two portions of chips, one portion of wings and a side of garlic bread topped with mozzarella. 

  

The service was super fast with the food arriving within 35 minutes of ordering online. The food was delicious and travelled well, tasting just as it would had we eaten it in the restaurant. The app itself is really easy to navigate – suitable for technophobes city-wide.

  
I can’t wait to see what else ‘Deliveroo’ have to offer. Considering we fed five people on €50, I don’t think I’ll be cooking next time I host a dinner party. 

For more info you can check out the website here

Let me know if you love it!

Rouge x