Food, Glorious Food: Tim

Food, Glorious Food:

When you think about European cuisine I wouldn’t blame you for thinking of Italian pasta and pizza, French coq au vin and croissants, a German bratwurst or Spanish Paella. When you think about Irish food I would bet $100 the first word that comes to your mind is potatoes. And that the second word is also potatoes.

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The Irish cuisine section of the supermarket

Yes, it is true that Ireland has a huge history associated with the potato (a quarter of the population died or emigrated during the Potato Famine of the mid 1800s) – but I’m here to convince you there is more to food here than just this humble vegetable.

Coming from New Zealand I found the food to be incredibly… the same. Years of British colonialism does that to you, with classic meat and three veg reigning supreme, your favourite fast food chains on every corner and the normal mix of international restaurants and cafes found at home. However, there is one difference. In Ireland, the pub dominates everything. There is a pub everywhere you turn in the city, suburbs, small village and sometimes in the middle of the countryside. An entire area in the central city is even named after a pub, of course the famous Temple Bar. While you think these pubs might be places just for a quick pint of Guinness after a long day, they do some incredible pub food, too. Which let me tell you – it is just what you need on a cold night. So here’s my rundown of the top 3 Irish pub foods that you are guaranteed to get everywhere…

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Temple Bar

  1. Fish n chips. You can’t go wrong here with fresh fish, the ubiquitous potatoes and a side of mushy peas (which are actually a lot nicer than they sound).
  2. Beef and Guinness Stew. There is only one word to describe this traditional Irish dish, and its hearty. Simply beef, potatoes, celery and carrots all swimming in a delicious gravy almost always served with fresh bread.
  3. Shephard’s Pie. Inevitably also served with potatoes and vegetables, just what you need to warm the heart and soul.

You can find these foods anywhere, but some of my favourite pubs have been in the smallest of villages in the Irish countryside filled with locals where it almost seems like you can taste the tradition in the lively atmosphere, or even just enjoying a simple Fish n’ Chips from the takeaways at the seaside.

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Fish n chips in a pub in a seaside town just out of Cork

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Hearty beef and Guinness stew, and pie

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You can’t go wrong with Fish n’ Chips by the sea!

Talking about Irish food wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t also mention the desserts, and the importance of the humble bottle of Bailey’s.

From a Bailey’s cheesecake to a Bailey’s hot chocolate or an Irish coffee (actually made with whiskey) there are some really delicious ways to finish a great meal. Even if you don’t like coffee, it should be at the top of your list of foods to try in Ireland. And this is coming from a non-coffee drinker myself!

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Bailey’s cheesecake with an Irish Coffee

There is of course a rise in gastro-pubs which offer a more modern and fancier twist on these pub classics, and there’s a huge range of fantastic European and Asian restaurants across the city giving a real multicultural feel – where you can find something that everyone will like!

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To be honest… the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had!

Perhaps most peculiarly, Dublin has recently got a taste for, of all things, burritos and doughnuts. With Tolteca, Boojum and Zambrero to name a few there is a bunch of places you can go for all your taco bowl needs, and you can stop off at Empire Donuts, The Rolling Donut or my absolute favourite Off Beat Donuts for a sweet treat after. These fast and delicious places are taking the city by storm with the most incredible doughnut creations and a Boojum food truck practically living permanently on campus. Speaking of campus, there are a bunch of food options for lunch or dinner any day with cafes, Subway, the Centra convenience store (you have to try the chicken fillet roll for only €2.95) and a food court style restaurant, so there’s never a shortage of new food to try everywhere. So when you get sick of potatoes, I hope I’ve given you a few ideas of food to try if you ever find yourself in Ireland!

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Heaven on Earth at Off Beat Donuts

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Who knew Oscar Wilde was such a fan of doughnuts?

 

Accommodation Awards: Tim

There’s plenty of student accommodation around UCD, but I was still lucky enough to be able to get a room in the University residences on campus considering the sheer volume of people who applied. Of all of the residences though, my one is obviously the best with Ashfield Student Residence standing out in the category of student accommodation and being worthy of several awards this year in the Biannual 360 International Accommodation awards. So without further ado;

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Ashfield Student Residence
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The inner courtyard

The “Weirdest wall artwork” award
Each apartment in Ashfield is spacious with six bedrooms with ensuites and an open plan kitchen/dining/lounge area. They’re arranged in four buildings around a central courtyard with about 20 apartments each and being brand new last year are modern, clean and kitted out with fancy appliances. However some interior designer must have gone mad at the cheap IKEA wall art as every room has mysterious artwork nailed to the wall. Every night I have to sleep under the watchful gaze of a Macaque monkey, while dinner is presided over by strange deer/people hybrids standing around a car. But I suppose you get used to it.

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The bedrooms are super spacious
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I’ve never had my own ensuite before!
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He watches while you sleep
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Even when you eat, you can’t escape the deer-people

The “You never know how much you miss an oven until you don’t have one” award
Yup this is a pretty big one. Toaster, kettle, microwave, stovetop all check but alas there is no oven. For a nice big modern kitchen that was a bit of a shock upon arrival, but aside from mum’s dearly missed lasagne recipe I found that you can still make a lot with just a stovetop. Rice, pasta, couscous, stir-fries, eggs, steak and more are all still on the menu, and anyway if I get really desperate I can always buy a microwave meal for one to get me through the cold winter nights to come.

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Lament of the lost oven

The “Most convenient convenience store” award
This is actually a shout out to one of the other residences on campus here; Merville Student Residence has a convenience store in it, like literally in the same building. Midnight snacks and emergency milk have never been so easy, and plus they do a mean chicken roll for lunch.

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It barely even counts as leaving the house, so pyjamas are totally acceptable in the store right?

The “However the nearest actual supermarket is a half an hour walk away with no direct bus” award
I mean Centra is great, but sometimes doesn’t quite cut it.
Although fantastic, it has to be said that even moving to the other side of the world has not allowed me to escape the housing crisis as Dublin has it even worse than Auckland, with rent for a semester (particularly on campus) costing up to €4000. Overall though I think it’s worth it. Being on campus means that you’re in the thick of everything that’s going on, and it’s an easy walk to any classes, the health centre or gym. My flatmates are awesome, we’re all exchange students so have become good friends and with 24 hour reception there’s no worry about if anything goes wrong and no concerns about security.  If I’m going to be stuck here for the next 10 weeks, I think I’ve got a pretty good deal.

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First Impressions: Tim

Well, after almost a year of planning and prepping and 7 weeks of travel through the UK and Europe I’ve finally made it to the other side of the world to University College Dublin in Ireland! I’ve been here a grand total of two weeks now and it’s been full on getting everything set up and launching back into classes. From having to last-minute change papers (or modules as they’re called here), visit the Immigration Office to approve my visa and the endless bureaucracy of setting up a bank account, to the excitement of being in a new city and country and exploring all of the things Dublin has to offer there has been a lot to take in!

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To start the story off, UCD is located about a 20 minute bus ride south of the centre of Dublin on a self-contained American-style campus, but it’s still super handy to get into town with a Student Leap card giving you discounted fares on public transport across the city. In the centre of the campus is a pond complete with fountains and swans, with the main axis of faculty buildings stretching away down either side. The campus is surrounded by sports fields, student accommodation and plenty of green space and trees to relax and read on a sunny day, and if you sit still for long enough an inquisitive squirrel might even come over to say hi! It’s a truly different experience to Auckland, the campus feels like a real community and it’s enjoyable to walk around the modern buildings between classes or grab lunch in the restaurant and you’re never far from something going on.

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Checking in to accommodation was easy, and kicked off orientation week which was packed with campus tours, welcome events, faculty orientations, a Céilí (traditional Irish dance), walking tour of the city, exploring the pubs and clubs in the evening, but most of all meeting so many people from around the world and Ireland too. There were too many events to be able to go to them all but the highlight for me was definitely trying my first pint of true Irish Guinness at the storehouse brewery in town, with grand views across the whole city.

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Weather in Ireland is a bit fickle though, and it was a shock to the system being back in the wind and rain most days (I even had to break out the hat and scarf on the first day of class), but there have been some stunning days thrown in and some adventures already. To cap off the first week I took a road trip to go camping with some new Irish friends to the Cliffs of Moher which tower 120m above the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. It was pouring with rain when we first got there but we got to wake up in our tent to stunning views along the coast and a brilliantly sunny day which all the more made up for it. Oh and castles. On the drive home we even stopped in a country pub to watch the All Ireland Gaelic Football final, which was louder and crazier than any rugby match I’ve ever seen. I could barely understand the rules or the other people in the pub shouting at the TV but it was a sure-fire way to launch into the full Irish cultural experience! I have a sneaking suspicion the next four months are going to be a lot of fun!

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