Review: The Rolling Donut | Dublin, Ireland

(Photo courtesy of The Rolling Donut)

An American walks into an Irish donut shop…

It’s been a while since I’ve written a review, and there are a couple of reasons for that, but I’ve been sitting here for months thinking about a particular donut shop that I went to when I was in Dublin, last time I was there. Now, to start things off, you should know that I LOVE donuts. Of the five things I missed the most, when I was living in France, it was donuts—that’s how serious I am.

That being said, I was so happy to find a donut shop the last time I was in Dublin. The sad news is that it was pretty empty every time I walked by (despite being located in a very busy area), and the workers looked like they hadn’t spoken to anyone in days. BUT, that didn’t stop me from popping in and having chat. The workers were SO nice, and they gave me not one, but two, delicious raspberry filled donuts that were out of this world.

I mean, really, I’m still sitting here thinking about them and that was almost six months ago. If you’re in Dublin, I would definitely recommend taking quick trip to this little shop. It’s one of my absolute favorites.

Ordered: Two raspberry filled donuts

Where: 34 Bachelors Walk, North City, Dublin 1, D01 YN15, Ireland

Went: January 2017

Wifi: No

Reservation Needed: No

Website: https://www.therollingdonut.ie/ 

Tip: All of the sourdough donuts are made fresh every day in the bakery with all fillings, glazes and toppings produced in-house. They use only fresh & locally sourced ingredients where possible. AND they have Vegan donuts!

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8 Things That Inspired Me When I Traveled In The UK

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I’ve been to the UK/Ireland quite a few times, and I’m going back in January. My mom’s family is very proudly Scottish, Irish and English so I grew up hearing a lot of stories about these magical places called Ireland and Scotland. I wanted to visit so much that three years I finally packed a backpack and headed out solo. I’m so incredibly glad I did. I’ve met so many amazing people throughout my travels, and I love how different and beautiful each trip proves to be. Here are some of my favorite things about traveling throughout the UK (we’ll do another one on Ireland, I promise).

Glasgow, Scotland: A bun can always go higher up on your head

I’m not really sure if there’s some kind of competition for buns in the UK, but they are no joke. Glasgow is one of the funniest cities you can go to on a winter Friday night because the girls are known for their high buns, and their short skirts. And since it’s Scotland, you can imagine how cold that kind of fashion becomes. As someone who wears their hair in a bun 80% of the time, I was inspired when I went to Glasgow for the first time.

London, England: Pastries as far as the eye can see

I adore bread in all of its many forms, and the UK has some of the best sugary (not savory – that all goes to the French) breads and pastries I’ve ever tasted. I don’t know what the trick is, or how a country manages to tackle pastries with such perfection, but they are simply to die for. Something I’ve learned about Europe is that the flour there tastes so much better than what we have in the U.S. Even just from living in France, the recipes don’t work the same, and it’s so much more difficult to cook using French flour when you’re used to American. I assume there’s something similar in the UK and that what’s there is something from some mystical world, as well.

Stratford-upon-Avon, England : Tomatoes – a nutritious part of every breakfast

Okay, so I’m not sure how many people are already on this train, but I never ate tomatoes (or really vegetables) with my breakfast until I travelled around the UK. Now, I really prefer to have them with some eggs and toast and tea. It’s SO GOOD. English (or Scottish) breakfasts really are just the best, and again, I’m not sure what they do to make the food so good, there, but it really is out of this world.

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Edinburgh, Scotland: Walk Through Cemeteries to Get Writing Inspiration

Okay, Harry Potter nerds. You knew this was coming. A fun fact that I learned when I was in Edinburgh was that JK Rowling stole. Yep. Flat our robbery…of names. It’s true! Many of JK Rowling’s character names come from dead people in Edinburgh cemeteries, including the notorious Tom Riddle aka Voldemort. Brilliant, huh? I’m really excited to go back this January and explore more of the geek side of Edinburgh. I was only there for a day and a half last time and it really was not enough time to satisfy my geekiness. Click the photo below for more info on the cemetery where Tom Riddle is buried.

 

London, England: Brown eggs are better

I grew up with chickens. And we ate their eggs. Thank god we didn’t slaughter them, as well, but my mom was pretty inclusive of the “fresh egg” policy. Unfortunately while having chickens, we also had a rooster who liked to get it on with the ladies. That being said, there were a couple of times when our lovely fresh brown eggs got cracked open into a pan with a underdeveloped chick coming out. Talk about trauma. It’s a wonder I’ve ever eaten eggs again. Luckily my mom had sympathy for me not wanting to eat brown eggs after that. The funny part was that the first time I went to London I realized there was nothing else but brown eggs in the store. Ha. Kill me. Needless to say, I got over my fear, found out brown is better, and now I won’t even buy white eggs.

Glasgow, Scotland: You will never forget the first time you see an original Van Gogh

I love Van Gogh. I always have, and I always will. Up until 2013, though, I had never seen an original (at least, not that I can remember). Scotland wouldn’t probably be the first place that you would look for an original, but that is (accidentally) the first place that I saw one. In fact there were two. And when I saw them I couldn’t believe they were real. It was a bit like that time I was in Rome and thought, “Wow, that looks just like the building from Gladiator,” as I was driving by the Colosseum.

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Edinburgh, Scotland: Always visit the worst club, with the best people

On the authority of three natives, I have (without a doubt) been to the worst club in Edinburgh. How did such a blessing come about, you may ask? Well, it really comes down to striking up conversations with the locals, rather than always staying with the group. I actually can’t remember the name of the club we went to, but my pesky memory could probably find it if I was back in Edinburgh (#photographicmemory) but I can assure you – it was all it claims to be.

All the UK: Cuppa Tea, Tea, Tea, Tea

I have an addiction to tea and I, first off, blame the BBC. But secondly I blame traveling around in countries where you basically get it shoved down your throat. Word from the wise: NEVER say no when you’re offered tea the UK. Even if you just barely sip it, just take the damn cup.


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Have you been to the UK? Comment below with what inspired or shocked you! 

Review: Pasta Bella

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Seattle isn’t exactly the Italian capital of the world, but there are a few spots that are well worth the visit. I’ve posted this place before, but I wanted to do a review just for good measure. We went there last night, and apparently I’m not the only person who agrees that the food is fresh, well made and an absolute pleasure to eat.

pasta_bella-1I’ve loved this place since the first time we went there, last memorial day weekend, and after last night I just had to share. This spot is small, quaint and you might even drive passed it, if you didn’t know to stop.

Ordered: Spaghetti Bolognese, House salad, Bruschetta (which is the best thing ever)

Where: 5909 15th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107

Went: Friday October 28th, 2016

Wifi: Don’t know, don’t care.

Reservation Needed: No, but it might be a good idea to call ahead to see if you need one. Every time we’ve been there it’s getting busier. They do take reservations, and you can call for pick-up.

Website: http://pastabellaseattle.com/

Review: Macleod’s Scottish Pub

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Let me tell you about a story about a girl who missed Scotland and never thought she’d find anything close in comparison to the food she had eaten there. Fish and chips were her favorite food in all of the world, but she never thought she would find anything close to the glory of the British Isles (and Ireland – duh). Then she stumbled upon this place: Macleod’s Scottish Pub.

Can I just tell you: This place has the best fish and chips that I’ve ever had in the United States, and the only thing that comes even close is 4,000 miles away. I don’t know what the recipe is, and to be honest I don’t really care. If you have any self respect for fish and chips (and a bunch of o6c3acf2b75b472277fb7715662d54404ther yummy British inspired dishes) make your way to this bar.

The music, the vibe. We didn’t even know how to handle how great a time we had. The service was great, the food was amazing and I’m so happy to have found a nearby spot to help with those “homesick” days (aka every day that I just feel like I need buy a plane ticket to Europe). The best part? The price. My plate, steaming with chips (for you Americans, that means fries) and a giant burger filled with in-house tarter sauce and a hearty size piece of fried and battered line-caught cod. All this accompanied by a tall glass of the best Lemonade ever. Total cost? $15. Come. On.

Ordered: Fish Burger and Chips, Lemonade

Where: 5200 BALLARD AVE NW / SEATTLE / WA 98107

Went: Friday June 10th, 2016

Wifi: Psh. You won’t even look/care.

Reservation Needed: No

Website: http://macleodsballard.com/

Notes: There is a Foosball table upstairs. If you’re not feeling up to a bar vibe, you can also experience a more diner-like experience next door.

I went back, again, and tried the Shepards Pie. Another beautiful dish that honestly was the best version I’ve ever had. A must try!

Review: Cafè Besalu

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Fact: Pretty much every food item tastes like dirt in comparison to its French alternative. And this fact has not escaped my notice. Because, the truth is, France has completely ruined my taste buds. And it wasn’t until someone suggested this little cafe to me that I realized that not all was lost, just because I’d moved back to the U.S.

Cafe Besalu is THE most authentic French food I’ve had since being back in U.S. without a doubt. Sure, I’ve tried out some other spots in Seattle but they’re either priced by the deranged or completely off the mark. I was so happy to not only find this spot, but to have it just down the street from my house. J’adore.

Ordered: Hot chocolate (w/ rice milk), pain au raisin

Where:  5909 24th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98107

Went: Too many Saturday mornings to count

Wifi: No

Reservation Needed: No

Tip: On the weekends, get there before the 10:30AM rush!

Website: http://cafebesalu.com/

Review: The Chairman

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To bun or not to bun? That is the question. “What kind of bun would you like?” is more of the question. I was so glad to find this little shop this week, among my lunchtime shenanigans with my coworkers. At this shop I had, what has now OFFICIALLY been documented as the best hamburger of my life (even though the people at the front counter would like to add that it is like a hamburger, not a hamburger…it’s a hamburger) and I got a salad the size of Rhode Island. In addition (oh yeah, there’s more) I also ordered some delicious apricot soda, which was completely weird at first, and then my favorite thing ever. The location of this venue, while seeming a bit on the rough side, is worth pressing through to get to this delicious food. I’m no foodie – but I’ll be raving about it for years to come.

Ordered: Coca-cola braised pork baked roll, seasonal salad, apricot soda

Where: 670 Larkin St San Francisco, CA 94109

 

Went: Thursday January 7th, 2016

Wifi: ? (You’ll be too busy eating to notice)

Reservation Needed: No

Tip: Do your research to see if you would prefer a baked or a steamed roll!

Website: http://www.hailthechairman.com/#modern-baos

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Kid Friendly Recipes Worth Keeping

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If you’re an au pair like me, or even a mom or dad who just wants to get your kids to actually eat a meal, you know that feeding kids can be tricky. Eating healthy while eating yummy aren’t always two peas in a pod, but over the past year I’ve picked up some recipes which have proven to be fail proof with my kids.
I’m not gonna lie, this year has been especially challenging for me because I’m feeding an age range of 5 to 21 years old, so the taste buds are anything but similar. But regardless of how difficult, each night I have four ravenous boys pacing my kitchen for food. What’s a girl to do!?

At this point I can honestly say I don’t know what I would have done this year without Pintrest. It has been such a help when I’ve had no idea what to do, or what to feed this family. Because let’s be honest, it’s not only important to find food that tastes good and makes everyone happy. We need meals that also work with the very real issue of time constraints!
All of these recipes I’ve found I can make into a dinner in 30 – 45 minutes (total – cooking + prep time) – because let’s face it, no nanny has 3 hours to dedicate to feeding her children. Sound familiar? Here are my top 5 go-to recipes for kids (just in case you find yourself swamped with salivating children).
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Whoever was the first person to come up with the idea of fajitas (or their cousins burritos/tacos) deserves a nobel peace prize. Not only do my kids love to eat food they can use their hands with, but they also like the independence of being able to put whatever they like on their plate, wrapping it up in a tortilla and calling it good. I really like being able to find recipes for copying store-bought items, so this recipe has been great for seasoning chicken, turkey and hamburger to wrap our little tortilla blankets around. CLICK HERE for the recipe!  Note: I usually throw in some canned diced tomatoes with the seasoning, to help with flavor/consistency.

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Everyone has their favorite pancake recipes, and I don’t want to add to the clutter of the internet, but this recipe makes simple honest to goodness buttermilk pancakes which are easily matched up with some eggs and bacon to make the perfect meal of breakfast as a stand in for dinner. This is a great meal to have when you don’t know what to make, can’t make it to the store, need something your kids love and want to use things already in your house. In my book (and my kids minds) it’s always a win. NOTE: This recipe is liquid heavy, so make sure you only add in enough of the liquid ingredients to moisten the dry ingredients to a silky texture – no one likes watery pancakes. CLICK HERE for the recipe!

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I actually made this with regular (boil to prepare) ravioli and my boys loved it. Again, it’s bringing together really basic items (ravioli, pasta sauce, meat and cheese) and making something wholesome that kids love. The prep time wasn’t much, but it does take a bit of time to cook, so make sure that you have some chopped veggies for your littles (or bigs) to munch on while it’s cooking, if you get a late start! CLICK HERE for the recipe!

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Okay, so this one isn’t really a meal, so much as just a life saver. Sometimes slapping a piece of cooked meat and some vegetables on a plate isn’t quite enough to fill the stomachs of your hungry children, and this is one of the easiest filler items you will ever find (not to mention, super fun for kids to help with). Add in a plate of these bad boys and you’re on a smooth path to baking your way into your children’s hearts. Just don’t expect leftovers – these things fly off the plate. CLICK HERE for the recipe!

IMG_1814b copyWarning: Once you cook this recipe your kids probably won’t stop asking for it. I’m not a crazy creative cook, but I do love to put food in front of my kids that is filling, wholesome and leaves them with smiles on their faces. This recipe does it all. Not only will it make your house smell mouthwatering, but while the chicken is cooking (with only a 10 min prep time! Hallelujah!) you can be putting together a salad, mashing some potatoes or making some buttermilk biscuits ( *wink *wink). By the time the chicken is done, you’ll be in good shape to have everything for dinner ready to go! CLICK HERE for the recipe!

What are your favorite recipes for kids? Let’s share!!

 

A Day In Paris: Picasson Museum, Merci Cafe

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Life in Paris isn’t all crepes and picturesque walks along the Seine. But sometimes they are, and I think it’s fun to share with all of you darlings what one of the fun outing days of my life looks like! This time the feature was the Picasso Museum along with some other beautiful spots in Paris.

We started off in the 3rd Arrondissement, which is the most “hipster” spot I’ve found in Paris (so far). There are lots of little shops, chic cafes and art shops and galleries. If you’re looking for a more low key artist vibe while in Paris this is the spot to head to.

Our first stop (because rule #1 is never go to a museum hungry) was a sweet little cafe located near the Picasso Museum named Royal Bar. This little cafe was the quintessential Parisian experience. It was filled with art and made me feel like I had been transported back to the Paris of Hemingway. The tea was lovely (although, fair warning – when you order you’re ordering a pot, not a cup, so it’s a bit more expensive) and the man working there gave us some of the best lemon square type deserts I’ve ever had. It was sublime.

After we had had some caffeine and some little desserts we headed over to see Picasso, because if you’re in Paris and don’t see Picasso what are you even doing with your life? It has kind of become ridiculous how many original pieces of classical art I’ve seen since living in Europe. It’s like my history books have jumped off of the pages, and it’s pretty incredible. Picasso hasn’t really been a favorite of mine, in the past, but I’m a strong believer that seeing work by “The Masters” makes an artist more rounded.

The museum was such a beautiful building, I loved being able to see the amazing architecture and I fell in love with the floors. Yes, the floors. There’s something about black and white checkered floors that will get me every time.

After we’d tipped our hats to Picasso, Cezanne and Matisse we headed over to walk along the shops surrounding. We found this absolutely beautiful shop called Papier Tigre. I loved the geometric feel of their designs and the minimalism. If I wasn’t a broke expat I would have bought the whole store.

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Our next stop was for some yummy drinks and the best wall decoration any place can have – books! This was actually our second time at this Merci cafe because the first time we went we made the mistake of going on a Saturday. In case you don’t know about Paris, some of the best advice I have for actually getting into places is to not go on Saturdays. Go any other day of the week, but Saturday is the “going out” day (while Sunday is more for staying in with family) in France. My partner in crime ordered a Pear flavored alcohol and I grabbed a banana, apple and kiwi smoothy which was just so good (even though it sounds awkward). It seemed fitting to end our day with a such a lovely cafe. Our day was so lovely and I love finding new spots that make me feel a little less like a stranger in Paris.

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Review: Merci Cafe

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This cafe is one of the most hipster cool experience you’ll find (Paris or otherwise) while begin a great cafe, it’s also filled wall to wall with used books. In addition to the antlers hanging on the walls, there are also vintage chandeliers that are just lovely. There is also a lovely store adjoining that has everything for your hipster needs ( no really, you’ll understand when you walk in).

It took us a couple of times to get into this cafe because the first time we tried to go it was a Saturday – which was a mistake in the first place. In fact, I would advise staying away from such establishments on Saturdays in general. Saturdays are the French “go out-hang out” days, so you’ll probably find yourself packed in a place if you do. Sundays, in contrast are a great day to go out (especially early) because most French people stay in with their families on Sundays, or do things that don’t involve going out (unless it’s to a park or something).

Overall the experience was great and our servers were just the nicest.

Ordered: Banana, Apple and Kiwi smoothy (so good!)

Where: 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais 73003 Paris, France

Went: Friday, March 6th, 2015 around 1pm

Wifi: Unknown. I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot to check.

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Review: Royal Bar

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This little darling cafe feels like you’ve passed back through time when you walk through the doors. While feeling like I should have been writing the next great American novel about the war torn past I never had, I enjoyed a pot of the most delightful tea and nibbled on lemon squares that were out of this world.

The space is small and intimate, so I can imagine it could get crowded quite easily during rush hours, but when we went it was just simply us, one older gentleman and the server – absolute bliss.

Ordered: Black Tea, Lemon dessert

Where: 19 rue du Parc Royal 75003 Paris, France (Marais Nord, 3ème, Marais)

Went: Friday, March 6th, 2015 around 10am

Wifi: Nope. In fact there’s a sign that says to leave your computer

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