7 days in Dublin (part 1)

Checked one of my bucket list cities that I’ve always wanted to visit and finally I have one good reason to finally visit Ireland, well my friend works here and it has been a long time since I told her one day I’ll come to see her there. And here I am..

Day one – First impression

Well I took my flight in the afternoon with Aer Lingus from Paris Charles de Gaulle. As my friend still had not finished her work, so she told me to take the express bus 757 or 747 to one of the famous tech-company. The bus driver asked me my destination, I said I was going to this tech company, but to be honest I had no idea what stop was. So the guy just told me you need to stop at the convention center. OK, which it was just two stops from the airport after passing through the tunnel. I’ve remembered my colleague told me that Dublin is not beautiful as Paris or London, but the Irish people are really humble and nice unlike Parisian. Well, that was true! When the bus arrived at the convention center, the bus driver took his time to explain me how to get to my destination. That will never happen if you are in Paris. You’re lucky enough if Parisian is smiling at you.

Day two – Hop on Hop off tour

You’re not visiting Dublin if you’re not trying the Irish breakfast – poached egg with avocado, sounds weird, but surprisingly pretty nice.

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Herbstreet brunch menu: Breakfast of Champions

Where to eat:

Herbstreet Restaurant
9 Hanover Quay, Grand Canal Dock,
Dublin 2, D02 KP20, Ireland

Since my friend was not available, I strolled around Dublin alone with Hop On Hop Off city tour bus with 20€ , actually it was really amusing, the bus driver was really funny explaining each area or landmarks, it made me feel like I wasn’t travelling alone.  My first stop was Saint Stephen’s Green area, is a city centre public park in Dublin, Ireland. The current landscape of the park was designed by William Sheppard.

The area is finally showing a pretty neighbourhood in Dublin with decent architecture of the surrounded buildings and houses.

The perks by getting on the green bus of Hop on Hop off tour bus, you actually got a free entrance ticket to go to The Little Museum of Dublin (it was worth 10 € by the way). So I decided to jump in. According to Andrew (The Museum’s guide) the museum is also known as a people’s museum, because most of the museum’s collections are given by the locals. The museum exhibitions include the 1916 Rising, U.S. President John F. Kennedy‘s visit to Dublin, and many other landmark events in Irish political and social history. The museum also recently opened a new exhibit that focuses exclusively on the success of the rock band U2. (Source: Wikipedia)

The museum address:

15 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, D02 Y066, Ireland

My next stop was The Temple Bar’s area. I thought it was just a bar that you must to visit. It’s actually a pretty famous and hype neighbourhood in Dublin. Beside bars, the area has lots of restaurants too, so you can eat at any hours.

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Last stop by the end of the day: Facebook office tour. (P.S. This is not a landmark as many tourists wish for, so unfortunately you can’t get in unless you know somebody who works there)

Day 3 – The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland

This is actually my favourite place in Dublin. It is located 5 km north-west of Dublin city centre and there’s no fee for entrance ticket as being a tourist destination and an amenity for nearby residents. The gardens are very huge, so you will spend at least half of your day to enjoy and have a nice walk there.

Address:

The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland
Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland

Don’t forget to have a big brunch before you visit the gardens. Here’s one of the fine one located in Dublin city centre.

Where to eat:

Brother Hubbard (north)
Address:
153 Capel St, North City, Dublin 1, D01 V9V0, Ireland

As I cannot fit all my 7 journeys in one article, I’ll promise you to give the ensuite of my journeys in Dublin. To be continued..

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Weekend in Bruges, Belgium

This was actually my second time visiting Bruges, but really my first experience of enjoying the sightseeing. I’ve slightly remembered the first time I went there, as it was only for couple hours in the evening, so I basically didn’t see anything.

I didn’t expect that Bruges has a lot attractive views and lovely architecture. It reminds me of Lille, France, only this one has canal ways.

Make sure you wear sneakers when you visit this town. The pathway made from old cobblestones, and you will do lots of walking. Normally, I’m kind of person that hate walking, yet I’ve really enjoyed walking trough the small streets and taking pictures of the city. If you are a beer person, you will be very happy. Bruges has bars in every single street (I might be exaggerated a bit), but I mean really, I’ve never seen too many bars and restaurants like every 10 m I’ve walked! 🙂

 

Where to stay

Hotel Jacobs

Address : Baliestraat 1, 8000 Bruges, Belgium

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The Jacobs Hotel Brugge is housed in one of the typical stepped-gable buildings that give Bruges its fairy-tale atmosphere, and is near the Langerei, one of the picturesque canals that once transported cargo for the medieval textile industry. (source: click here)

What to see

1.
The Market Square
2.
The Canal ways
3.
Flandres Architectures

 

Braised Guinea Fowl with Veggies

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I never thought to cook or buy this kind of bird before, until my nearest butcher was ran out of chicken supply. And I didn’t regret that as now I can proudly say I know how to cook a Guinea Fowl.

So I decided to make a braised guinea fowl with some vegetables that I have left in my fridge. Here is my recipe:

Ingredients:

  • A whole guinea fowl, ask your butcher to cut it properly
  • Mix of wild mushrooms
  • 4 teaspoons of veal stock powder (chicken)
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 or 4 carrots, cut in half, then chopped 5 cm
  • 500 gr of baby potatoes, washed and keep the skin
  • 50 gr of salty butter
  • 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • chopped parsley, to garnish
  • salt and black pepper for the rub.

Method:

1.

Prepare the stock using 4 teaspoons of maggie veal stock into 300ml of boiling water. Set aside.

2.

Boiled the baby potatoes  for 10 minutes. Drain it. Place some butter in pan, sauté de potatoes until their skin is golden brown. Set a side. Do the same thing with carrot – but you only need 5 minutes to boil it.

3.

Meanwhile, season the guinea fowl pieces with salt and pepper. Place the butter in a large frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the guinea fowl in batches until golden brown on all sides. As you cook the batches, spoon the browned guinea fowl pieces into a bowl and set aside, leaving any oil/butter in the pan, then put the shallots and garlic once the butter melt and hot. Stir fry until they golden.

4.

Add the mushrooms, and  cook over low heat until they soften. Return the guinea fowl pieces to the pan. Add the stock and rosemary, bring to a simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened slowly.

5.

Cover with foil and place in the preheat oven (180°) for 20-30 minutes.
Scatter with parsley and your dish is ready to be served! 🙂

 

 

Sweet & Spicy Beer Butt Chicken

After a long day at work, roasted chicken is one of dishes that I really like to cook for dinner. First, it is easy to make –  you just need to rub the chicken and put it on the oven, meanwhile you can have some rest and watch telly until your meal is ready. Second, lots of left over when you cook for yourself. So, you can bring it to work and re-heat it in the microwave, and your lunch is ready.

I found the original recipe  (again) from Jamie Oliver (please don’t blame me if I like his recipes a lot, in fact most of them are really easy to make and taste good too).

The way of cooking roasted chicken with beer is originally found in the US. The beer itself give very tasty juicy results.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 x 1.5 kg of whole chicken
  • 300 ml can of beer (I used 1664 Kronenburg)

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  • 4 tbs sweet & mild barbecue sauce
  • 2 fresh green chilies, deseeded.
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon of espelette powder
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika powder
  • 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil

Method:

  • To have a better taste roasted chicken, I always buy fresh whole chicken from the butcher couple hours / an hour before cooking.
  • Wash the chicken and put in the large casserole tray. Bash the rub ingredients to a fine powder in a large pestle and mortar, then drizzle the chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle over the rub and use your hands to massage all those lovely flavours inside and out.
  • Crack open the beer and pour out around two-thirds of it, then carefully lower the chicken cavity onto the can so it looks like it’s sitting up. Position the chicken so it’s upright on a roasting tray, then place in the oven and cook for around 45 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. To check it’s done, insert a knife into the thickest part of the thigh – the juices should run clear.
  • Brush the chicken all over with the barbecue sauce, then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, then re-brush again with the barbecue sauce and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. img_8838.jpg
  • In the mean time, finely slice the chilli and shallots and pick the coriander leaves. Once ready, carefully remove and discard the can, then carve up the bird, scatter over the chilli, shallots and coriander leaves, then serve with homemade chips.

 

 

The Holiday

Inspired by the movie The Holiday , I decided to travel alone to some cities I’ve never been before, so I would not feel kind of alone during the Christmas – NYE holiday. Sounds sad, but when your family is living in another continent of the world – spending the holiday and bumping at friend’s house or friend family’s christmas party is kind of tradition for me for 8 years already.

So I booked the train passes for two countries for 5 days journeys from Eurail (PS. This is only eligible if you do not have EU nationalities, and if you have EU nationalities you need to buy your passes from Interrail).

My first stop was Grenoble, France.

Is a city in southeastern France, at the foot of the French Alps. It took only 4h to get to Grenoble from Paris Gare de Lyon with TGV.

Bastille Hill

If there’s one place I always come back to, over and over again, it’s Bastille Hill. I’ve been dreaming to visit this landmark since a long time. The Bastille, an ancient series of fortifications on the mountainside, overlooks Grenoble on the northern side and is visible from many points in the city. The Bastille is one of Grenoble’s most visited tourist attractions and provides a good vantage point over both the town below and the surrounding mountains (source: wikipedia). To get to the Bastille hill, you need to take Grenoble-Bastille cable car, or well-known as “Les Bulles” (the bubbles) as it mostly looks like a transparent egg-shaped cable car.

 

My second stop was Milan, Italy

I actually only had one day out in Milan, well I kind of booked the train tickets at the last minute during the holiday season. So, I didn’t have much choice only to spend whole day in Milan. Here I’ve gathered a few of places that I’ve visited in one day.

Castello Sforzesco di Milano

It was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Extensively rebuilt by Luca Beltrami in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city’s museums and art collections. (Source : wikipedia)

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Piazza del Duomo

Is the main city square of Milan. It is named after, and dominated by, the Milan Cathedral (the Duomo). The piazza includes some of the most important buildings of Milan (and Italy in general), as well some of the most prestigious commercial activities, and it is by far the foremost tourist attraction of the city.

If you like historical buildings, this is the perfect place to visit.. What I did was standing in the middle of the city square and look all the stunning buildings surround you.. it was really breathtaking.

Duomo – Milano City

Milan Cathedral. The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is the largest church in Italy (the larger St. Peter’s Basilica is in the State of Vatican City) and the third largest in the world.

Honestly, I would not recommend you to visit Piazza del Duomo & the Cathedral during the holiday. Well, I was hardly enjoyed the walking and sight seeing in this area as it was too crowded and too many people did the same thing (read: taking pictures).

 

 

Naviglio Grande

The Naviglio Grande is a canal in Lombardy, northern Italy, joining the Ticino river near Tornavento (23 km south of Sesto Calende) to the Porta Ticinese dock, also known as the Darsena, in Milan.

It is actually pretty hype area to have a drink or social meet up after work. You won’t get thirsty arround here. The area is filled with pubs, bars and restaurants.

Where I stayed:

As I needed to catch up very early train to France, I chose to stay at this Hotel. 10 minutes walking from Garibaldi Train Station.

Holiday Inn Garibaldi

Address: Via Valtellina, 2-4, 20159 Milano MI, Italy

Good Address to eat:

Andry Ristorante Pizzeria
Address: Via Rovello, 10, 20121 Milano MI, Italie

Last time I went to Italy, I tried deep-fried seafood, it was really delicious, and it made me promise to myself, if one day I take another trip to Italy, I will eat the same dishes. So, I did! I went to the local pizzeria, not really far from the landmark Castello Sforzesco di Milano. I ordered Gran Fritto Misto, it was mix deep-fried seafood with fried courgette (zuccini).

Mün Fine Asian Kitchen
Address: Piazzale Baiamonti, 2 20154 Milano Italia

I found this place by chance in the Chinatown, as I supposed to go to Korean restaurant that permanently closed. It’s a very fine fusion japanese restaurant with reasonable price. I ordered different kind of dishes and everything tasted amazing.

Last stop before going back home – Paris, France

For some people spending NYE is very important, for some people might be not. But me, I like spending quality time with my closest friends, like most of French people do.

Where to stay:

I kind of booked the hotel couple weeks before the holiday started, so this was the one I found that pretty affordable during NYE. It situated in 11th arrondissement of Paris and pretty calm area. The room was comfortable and modern for Parisian hotels, but the most important thing is they provide you free mineral water and kettle for tea/coffee for each room.

Hotel Hor Les Lumières

address: 39 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris

Good address to eat:

After craving Korean food when I was in Milan, my friend finally brought me to eat some Korean food, and it was really good. Here’s the address:

Ossek Garden

14 Rue Rampon, 75011 Paris
What to order:
Korean barbecue (marinated beef )
Beef Bibimbap in a hot stone pot

Good address to dance:

We spent our NYE dancing at this place. But actually, the restaurant is also open during the day for simply having coffee, casual drinking or even lunching.

Brasserie Barbès

address: 2 Boulevard Barbès, 75018 Paris
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Photo credit by Brasserie Barbès