Brunch @ Forest Avenue

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Isn’t the whole concept of brunch such a wonderfully indulgent thing? Brunch on a Sunday is even more enjoyable; for Sunday brunches make the weekend feel longer and make Mondays a little less of an infliction.
The concept of brunch is ideal. The concept of a tasting menu brunch is even better. The thoughts of being able to try lots of different tastes and textures seemed like the perfect  breakfast-lunch hybrid progression. After reading about it a few months ago on Lovin’ Dublin, naturally I wanted to try it out.

At just €24 per person, we were suitably impressed at what was served up to us. We spent such a lazy afternoon there, chatting away and catching up over what seemed like hours, and feeling in no way rushed at all.

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Forest Avenue is a large clean and bright space. When I say clean, I’m talking about a minimalist warehouse feel – white walls, walnut tables…an open and airy kitchen. The tables are set immaculately too, with a great deal of style and proficiency. The glasses were sparkling, the cutlery gleams from an orange cloth pouch (the table’s dash of colour) and we saw very quickly we had everything we needed – a little menu each, sugar bowl, tiny milk bottle, pepper and a little square dish of salt complete with tiny wooden spoon. A+ on the table presentation; innovative and functional without cluttering our environment or experience in any way.

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We started off with wonderful little ecláirs (which were served in a little bowl of vanilla cream) and filtered coffee. The ecláirs were very light – just the right size. A nice touch to get us settled in.

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Our second course was yoghurt, granola, spiced bread and prunes. When I saw prunes were in the granola, I’ll be honest – I wasn’t bowled over..I’m not a prune fan. But all the flavours blended so well and the prunes themselves were so tender, I didn’t even notice they were in there. The pumpkin seeds added a nice crunch.

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The beef hash, tartar sauce and fried egg was probably my favourite dish. The presentation was cute, the taste was strong (I love strong flavours) but not overwhelming and although my dining partner found it a little salty, I thought the beef softened any brackish taste and the flavours tied together very well.

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Doesn’t this look impressive? Serving food on darker plates is such a clever way to lift the dish. Another aesthetically pleasing dish at Forest Avenue, and I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of long stem mushrooms! It’s not often that I see Enoki. I guess it’s just the little things! And it’s the little things I love about brunch. You’re out of your pajamas, being social, waited on, served amazing food and no one judges you if you have a cocktail in hand when it’s barely the afternoon.
This dish was roast chicken, cooked perfectly. Very soft meat, crispy skin and the sauce was delicious, perfect for dipping the crunchy asparagus into.

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We were given a nice break to let everything settle before we were served our final dish, rhubarb and coconut cream. I loved the cream, the presentation, the sorbet and the tart flavours of the rhubarb. The cream was definitely the winner for me. It was light and colourful finish, and I felt comfortably full after brunch. I enjoyed every morsel without feeling anything was too much.

Brunch at Forest Avenue is a really cool experience, and it was made even better that particular Sunday as it was a beautifully sunny day!
Forest Avenue is quite popular – I reserved this table two weeks in advance so I would advise the same if you’re planning on making a visit. Parts of the menu change often enough so a few dishes may differ from my experience.

For more information, click here for the website. Forest Avenue is quite easy to find, and if you go on Sunday, parking in the area is free.


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Spring Shades and Daylight Savings

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Ah, the forgotten daylight savings post. As per usual, I’m behind with entries and therefore things seem like forever ago and as a result, I tend to skip over them altogether. April has been busy so far though. I don’t think I’ve been in a single night since it began..a bad thing for regular posting but a very good thing for blog fodder, considering my camera is full of food shots and new restaurant experiences. I need to get it together, as I truly admire all the bloggers out there who have crazy hectic schedules but still have time to throw up a post or two. I’m going to be that person. Eventually…I hope!

Back to the post. There’s not much to it really, except for the fact that the images here really mark Spring for me. The night I took these photos, time literally changed (sounds dramatic) and evenings became longer, brighter and generally more enjoyable. On this night I also happened to arrange a little dinner for my Dad’s birthday. He’s a huge fan of his birthday. He wants to be suffocated with fuss and attention, and doesn’t care who knows it! None of us mind either of course, because he does a hell of a lot for us and he works incredibly hard.

My Dad is probably the person I have to thank for my foodie ways. We’re pretty similar in our food and wine tastes. And out of our family of five, we’re definitely the most adventurous in that area. To complete his birthday week of celebrations, he chose the menu for dinner and I got to cooking. Everything turned out great, and it’s nice to know that I can cook a meal for six after a Friday night of debauchery with old friends. I wouldn’t recommend it though. Especially if you’re the nauseous hungover type. Anyway, enough of that. I’m trailing off topic again.

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I started with the Hummingbird Bakery’s pecan pie. I nearly always start with dessert. Doesn’t everybody? The recipe called for chopped pecans…fun fact on that- chopping wastes time! Pecans are so soft, I just crushed them to a pulp with clenched fists. Worked a treat. You’ll notice in the background there that the pie crust is already done. Next time I’m going to make it look a bit more neat and professional, but sure no one is perfect so pie crusts don’t have to be! Next time I’ll also source a disposable aluminium pie tin, so I can remove the pie and serve it that way. I used golden syrup (I don’t think you can buy dark corn syrup here) and the whole thing was a breeze to make. I would also serve it warmer next time, as the filling tends to take on a jelly like consistency when it’s cold. Recipe is here. I love trying new recipes and learning what works best.

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Next I got to work on the main course. It was a pretty simple choice, but a new recipe for me – the humble fish pie. I followed Neven Maguire’s Killybegs recipe. I seasoned handfuls of cod, salmon and smoked coley, added a few bay leaves and poached everything in milk

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…before peeling off the skin and flaking the fillets. It’s not all glamourous, you know. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed it. The Neven Maguire recipe was interesting and I would make it again – you use the milk from poaching to make a sauce, mixed with crème fraîche and lots of vegetables. The recipe also calls for pesto, as does the mashed potato topping so it was a nice twist on the classic fish pie dish. The pie was served with steamed mangetout, green beans and carrot and parsnip mash.

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Dish three was the fastest. Prawn and corn chowder. Chowder is such a comforting winter food and it’s really easy to make. This Jamie Oliver recipe for prawn and corn chowder was a lot lighter than your usual chowder and probably took about ten minutes in total. Very easy effort with maximum effect. I love how bright the colours are…this was before I drowned everything in cream and stock. The recipe was taken from Jamie’s Ministry of Food (which is an excellent book, by the way) and it features here on RosieCasie’s blog.

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The last thing I made was a plate full of gougères. I’ve wanted to try making these for a while now, after I saw the recipe on Mimi Thorrison’s blog, Manger. It’s such a beautiful blog, full of gorgeous stories and recipes that Mimi creates and photographs beautifully. She makes everything look so elegant and simple and her ingredients are sourced in the most organic way, where her and her family live in Médoc.
On her blog, Mimi says gougères are typically served at Michelin star restaurants and go wonderfully with champagne. What better event than a birthday, right? A complete arm workout later (a lot of rapid stirring is required) I had perfect gougères on a plate. I don’t know why it took me so long to make them before – I’ve heard choux pastry can be difficult to master but her instructions were excellent so they turned out great and were loved by all.

The key to choux pastry seems to be timing. They’re definitely going to be my dinner party thing now! I wanted to use Gruyère cheese but ended up using Emmental – Gruyère is not that easy to find, let me tell you…but Emmental is a little milder and worked fine for my first time.
I would definitely recommend trying her very straight-forward and invaluable recipe. I guess I would call it a gateway recipe…I feel confident now to try profiteroles, éclairs, beignets…
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Even Meems was curious when it came to the gougères. She had never seen one before.

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(I really love these paintings)

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Wine and conversation flowed and we have a long leisurely satisfying meal, followed by cheese and port (with homemade tomato and chilli chutney..I didn’t make it myself but I’m now inspired!) pecan pie and cream.

It was a memorable evening with family and friends, a (hopefully) memorable birthday, and the best way to lose an hour.


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