Mother’s Day 2018 – A Gift Guide

If you’re lucky enough to have a Mammy that’s half as fabulous as my own, I really hope you’ve got this one sussed already. Although, hope as I may, I know rightly that in the lead up to the 11th of March, you’ll all be frantically running around like headless chickens looking for a box of Milk Tray and a bouquet of Tesco’s finest flowers. So, since we’re all house-bound by Storm Emma for the next few days, I thought I would magic up a list (most of which can be bought online) to help prepare you for Mammy’s favourite day of the year so you don’t have to go home with your tail between your legs this year.

A Trip to the Morelands Grill:

 

 

Alright, so this one only applies to those of you who have the luxury of living within travelling distance of Dublin city but for anyone who does, a trip to the Morelands Grill is so worth the visit, especially for a special occasion like Mother’s Day. I actually celebrated my birthday in this restaurant in August and to date, it’s been one of the nicest meals that I’ve had throughout my six years in Dublin. The staff are lovely and the atmosphere in the restaurant is casual and homely so it’s a safe bet to impress Mammy. Plus, if you can’t make it for their Mother’s Day Lunch Menu, the Morelands have lots of other menu options, including a “Gin and Jazz Brunch” on Saturdays. For some more info, you can visit their website here.

Replica “Beach Walk”:

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This perfume by Maison Margiela smells like summer in a glass bottle and it’s absolutely gorgeous. As with all perfumes, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but if your Mum loves warm, fresh fragrances that aren’t strong or over-powering, I think she’ll love this one. With notes of lemon and pink pepper, “Beach Walk” smells like the Atlantic Ocean, rather than a tropical beach resort so it’s definitely not sickly sweet. Instead, it smells like ocean spray and the wild coast. It’s top of my own wish list for summertime beauty buys and it can be purchased here, from Brown Thomas.

Sass & Boho “Incense – Citrus Intense”:

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If you’ve been watching my Insta-stories lately, you will already know how OBSESSED I am with this candle from Sass & Boho. It retails at £29 which is far cheaper than the expensive Jo Malone candles that Sass & Boho have actually surpassed in terms of quality and burn time. This particular candle that I love is double-wicked so it burns evenly, regardless of how long you light it for and the scent is heavenly. Anyone who knows me personally will already be aware that I’m obsessed with everything “lemon-y”. I love the taste and the smell of lemons but unlike some of the other citrus candles I’ve purchased, this one from Sass & Boho offers a soft, luxurious citrus scent, rather than one reminiscent of bathroom cleaning products. The wax is infused with citrus oil, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and cedarwood so it offers a beautiful, rich and relaxing fragrance. I really can’t recommend this one enough and it’s available here.

Lauryn Rose “Gold Bar Necklace”:

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I think that a necklace from the Geometric Collection by Lauryn Rose is the ideal gift for any lady in your life. Recently, I had three of these necklaces engraved with mine and my closest friends’ nicknames as my “adult” version of friendship necklaces and I think that both girls loved the sentiment. Why not pick one up for your Mum as a Mother’s Day Gift? Or better yet, if you know any new Mums – wouldn’t it be gorgeous to get their first baby’s name engraved as a keepsake for their first Mother’s Day? The “Gold Bar Necklace” is my pick of the Geometric Collection and you can have a look at it here.

Clarins “Youthfully Radiant” Skincare Gift Set:

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Find me an Irish Mammy who doesn’t love Clarins, and I’ll tell her that she simply hasn’t tried the right products yet. I actually used to view the brand as one that catered exclusively to the Mammy/Granny target market until I tried a few products and realised that I was missing out on some absolute gems. The Clarins “Double Serum” is now my favourite facial oil/serum of them all. This stuff is what skincare miracles are made of and one of the very few products in my skincare collection that offers immediate, visible results. Clarins “Beauty Flash Balm” is another effective product that never lets me down so I reckon it’s worth buying the set which is better value and is also currently discounted online from Debenhams.

TheBalm “Nude ‘Tude”:

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If your Mum loves make up and would get a giggle out of theBalm’s cheeky packaging, then this palette is a fool proof purchase. The shades are pigmented and silky smooth so they’re easy to blend. They’re also universally flattering colours that can be used to create both soft and extra-glam looks. Again, this product is currently discounted here from Debenhams.

Charlotte Tilbury “Pillow Talk” Lipstick:

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There are very few ladies out there who don’t appreciate the power of a good lipstick. I recently published a full review of Charlotte Tilbury’s “Pillow Talk” lipstick which you can find here but it’s safe to say that this is a fool-proof purchase because the shade is universally flattering and fabulous. It’s available to purchase online here.

 

And there you have it, my complete Mother’s Day gift guide. Now, do share and tell us what you’ll be buying Mammy in the comment section.

Rouge x

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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

“Le Drunch” at the Marker Hotel – Review.

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I’m the Queen of brunch. Almost every Sunday, I will drag myself from my cosy nest of blankets and pillows and traipse across town in search of a yummy “Eggs Benedict” or my all-time favourite “Coco Pops French Toast”. The only issue I have with this is that, the odd time, I’m feeling a little fragile after a night of partying and getting up at 10 am for brunch becomes a little less appealing. However, the Marker Hotel know what’s up, and they’ve come up with a solution to my little problem. Let me present “Le Drunch”.

“Le Drunch” is a combination of dinner and brunch and it is served from 2pm on Sundays, out in the very picturesque setting of Grand Canal Square. A fortnight ago, I ventured out to sample some of the dishes, with the help of my lovely Mum, in celebration of completing my final exams. My mouth is currently watering just thinking about it…

We kicked the celebrations off with a thirst-quenching cocktail. In the Marker, they present you with the option to “build your own” Mojito. So divine… This one was my choice and was infused with strawberries. Mum had the cocktail pictured on the right. This one is the “Marker Dream” and was infused with Beefeater Gin, Chambord, elderflower, grapes and lime juice. She loved it, and may have had another one over the course of the meal but ssshhh..

In order to make complete pigs of ourselves, we decided to order three courses during “Le Drunch” and pictured above were our “Start Plates”. I had the “Chipotle Spiced Chicken Wings” while Mum tried the “Tiger Prawns”. Now, of course I sampled both.

The chicken wings were the most unusual that I’ve ever tasted. Whilst I am very dedicated to my generic “hot sauce” style wings, the Marker’s wings were a refreshing change from the ordinary. These wings were glazed to perfection and tasted spicy, while retaining some sweetness with the sprinkle a pomegranate.

Of course, Mum the star dish. Her prawns were the highlight of the entire meal. The prawns were served with garlic, shallots, chilli & French baguette. And, oh my goodness, they were amazing. The meat was tender, succulent and cooked to perfection. I would return to “Le Drunch” at the Marker, even if this dish was the only one on the menu.

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Next up was the main course. When we entered the Marker Hotel, we decided to leave the diet at the door so, we ordered from the “Comfort” section of the menu. There’s also a “Equilibrium” section that offers healthy alternatives and would be a great option for any one who considers themselves to be “fit fam” material. This time, I ordered the “John Stone’s Butcher’s Secret” dish while Mum had “The Marker Charolais Irish Beef Burger”.

The “John Stone’s Butcher’s Secret” was essentially a really tender cut of meat, served with champ, roast shallots, mushrooms and peppercorn sauce. The meat could be described as “melt in your mouth”. I’m starving just thinking about it! Also, I’m a stickler when it comes to any kind of mashed potato and in this instance, the champ was completely “lump-free” and creamy. I cleared my plate..

Mum said that her burger was really well cooked and juicy. She enjoyed the Parmesan truffle fries and, the homemade tomato relish was gorgeous. However, if we had to pick a winner in the main course department; my choice comes out on top.

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I can barely breath thinking of it, but there was no way we could have left without sampling the dessert on the “Le Drunch Menu”. If the truth was told, I would have to admit that I would have gladly eaten every dish on the menu.. Yes, I do have a sugar addiction. So, to finish, Mum had the “Baked Alaska” (pictured above) and all I can say is; why on earth isn’t this dish served everywhere? It was essentially a plate of fluffy, meringue and ice-cream goodness. I was raging that I didn’t order this dessert myself!

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I decided to try the “Banoffee” which is my absolute favourite dessert. Now, don’t get me wrong; it was absolutely delicious but, I was so full that I only managed a few bites before admitting defeat. Banoffee pie is always a very heavy dessert so, I would only recommend ordering this one if you haven’t just eaten your weight beforehand. Still worth it though!

Overall, “Le Drunch” at the Marker Hotel was one of my favourite dining experiences in Dublin, to date. The staff were lovely, the setting was stunning and the food – well, the pictures speak for themselves.

If you want to take a look at the food menu you can do so here. You can also take a sneak peak at the cocktails/drinks menu here. It is a little on the pricey side but as they say, “treat yo self” – it’s definitely worth it!

If you have anymore dining recommendations in Dublin, I would love to hear them. You can let me know here (in the comment section) or over on Instagram (username: rougewritinghood).

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 

 

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

The Gotham Cafe – Foodie Review.

If this blog isn’t making you gain weight, you’re not reading it properly. Today, we’re taking a trip to The Gotham Cafe on South Anne Street, Dublin. A hidden gem, located just off Grafton Street, this place is definitely worth the visit. You will be greeted with quirky, retro decor and a big welcome from the really friendly staff. The Gotham Cafe is bustling with shoppers, natives and tourists alike so it’s the perfect place for a break from reality.

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Myself and my fabulous friend Tanya had the good fortune to visit The Gotham Cafe on a gloriously sunny day. Therefore, we sat outdoors to enjoy the buzzing ambience of the city. Opting for the lunch menu which is great value, I selected the “Chargrilled Herbed Chicken Ciabatta Sandwich” while Tanya had the “Chargrilled Steak Ciabatta Sandwich”. Both were equally flavoursome and delicious!

First up, we have the chicken sandwich. This treat  was layered on ciabatta, smothered in sweet chilli & basil crème fraîche and served with homemade fries and mixed salad. A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips but worth every second. The chicken was succulent, the dressing was tangy and full of flavour while the bread was fresh and crispy.

So, what about the steak sandwich? Personally, I’m not a huge fan of steak sandwiches – I always find that the steak is cut too thinly and usually overcooked. However, I had a little taste of Tanya’s dish at The Gotham Cafe and can vouch for the fact that it was nothing short of delicious! The sandwich was accompanied with garlic mayonnaise, rocket, tomato, relish and homemade fries. Thinly cut, yet cooked to perfection – the steak was of the ‘melt in mouth variety’ and like my own, the fries were crispy on the outside and perfectly fluffy on the inside.

All this food came in at under €20, so you won’t feel too guilty about treating yourself.

Let me know if you try it – I love hearing your feedback!

Rouge x

The Brunch Of Champions.

A Manhattan ritual, Sunday brunch is my favourite meal of the week and as it becomes more and more popular in Dublin, I’ve resolved to discover the best and reveal it to the masses. This week, we popped into San Lorenzo’s on Georges Street. Famed as a NYC style eatery, I had high expectations of this establishment. So, did they deliver?

 

You bet they did! Credited by Dubliners as “The Brunch of Champions”, the fry-up was nothing short of divine. A huge portion to satisfy even the worst of hangovers – this is a treat to the taste buds!
   

Forever a slave to my sweet tooth, there was one dish in particular on this menu which caught my eye and stole my heart. San Lorenzo’s have created “Coco Pops French Toast” – an exciting mixture of French toast, coco pops, caramelised banana, peanut butter and Belgian chocolate sauce. Heaven on a plate is an understatement!

 

No brunch is complete without cocktails and San Lorenzo’s do not disappoint. I sampled the ‘Boris Karloff’ which was a combination of gin, elderflower liqueur, lime, egg white and club soda. The cocktail was expertly mixed with a fabulous zingy citrus flavour – perfectly refreshing after a night of clubbing! Also, a thank you to the lovely barman who welcomed us at the door and chatted with us about his recommendations, regardless of the fact that he was rushed off his feet. 

Let me know if you have any more brunch suggestions!

Rouge x