A different kind of January – Food, Drink and Dining

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Sunday morning + coffee + walk around the city in the sunshine = functioning member of society

This post was brought to you by the very cup of coffee you see above, taken just this morning before I sat down to write about January two. zero. one. seven. It gave me life! A flat white* with the most satisfying microfoam bubbles and a dainty little heart that complements the beauty of the city and my immediate surroundings when I took the shot. To my right, the cathedral. To my left, one of Granada’s many babbling fountains. I sure do love living here. The city is a dream.

*Flat white, €1.90, is from La Finca – Hands down, Granada’s best coffee shop.

JANUARY, you’re a weird one. You’re quite the mixed bag of emotions. You spend a lot of time on people’s lips, and you are easily one of the most talked about months (though you’re not a patch on December.) Many use you as a benchmark to do their best to make a change, embrace a fresh start and rise like a phoenix from the ashes after another year has met its end. And then there are others don’t give a flit about you, and see you as nothing more than the cause of a couple of months of absentmindedly writing the date down wrong.

I tend to fall into the first category, promising all the run-of-the-mill resolutions most people tell themselves at this time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, resolutions are a good idea for setting goals and visualising what you want to achieve. Many people stick to their resolutions and smash their goals month to month, and that’s great! That being said, I do believe that goals can be made at any time, not necessarily when the clock strikes 12. A clock chiming to signal a new year won’t change who I am or my habits or what I’d like to improve on.
So this year, I didn’t bother. I have plenty of goals I want to achieve this year, sure! But I’m approaching them differently, as the pressure I usually put on myself each January means guilt or a feeling of inadequacy, which usually results in the inevitable – falling off the resolutions wagon 5 days in. And nobody should ever feel like that. You want to start the year as you mean to go on, being kind and patient with yourself and others. Right? Right!

One thing I do try to do every January is to keep busy. Try new things, visit new places. This year was no different when it came to making myself busy, but without the confinement of resolutions, it was easily the most eventful January I’ve ever had. A January in overdrive! If every month is like this one, I’ll be more than happy.

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New Year’s Eve set the framework for a great 2017. I spent it with close friends at a house party in Dublin city. House parties can’t be beaten! We had a few drinks in PMac’s before heading to the party in Portobello where, by pure coincidence, there were lots of Spanish in attendance. I felt like I was back Spain already. We drank, we danced, we chatted (well done to Eimear and her housemates for the party, the place was packed) and we did the countdown with grapes, a very Spanish tradition. The first week of January I had some amazing and memorable meals at some of my favourite Dublin spots, and catch up with friends before heading off on a very early flight to Madrid, where I saw my first sunrise of 2017. Just look at that fireball orange sky!
I stayed in Madrid for a week, my parents came for a couple of nights and we went back to Granada together. Where I am right now. Talking to you lovely folk.

Here’s what I got up to, between the three cities. Food first. Food is always first.

Food

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As you can see, January wasn’t a month of abstinence. I mean, I could get hit by a bus, you know? You never know! I’ll admit, not all these dishes were mine, some were those of my dining partners. Good company needs good food and wine. Or is it the other way around?
Another confession, this isn’t even all we ate. As I’m sure you’re already aware, clever reader, when you order a drink in Granada, you get a free tapa. And it’s a different one with each round. It never gets boring! I’ll mention the best in my Granada travel guide coming soon, as sharing them all would be insane. After all, it IS still January. I have to ease you into these things. This post is long enough as it is! Which is one of my worst blogging habits. I leave too much to pile up, and this happens! Perhaps a new 2017 goal?

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Dublin:

  • Nautilus, Marine Court, Malahide –  Easily one of my top three favourite restaurants. Always an amazing and incredibly relaxing experience. We went for on New Year’s Day for my Mother’s birthday, as we usually do. The ingredient combinations are exciting and work incredibly well together, without being fussy. The desserts are refreshingly creative and they just seem to get everything right. They offer an Early Bird menu which is excellent, but in my opinion, it’s worth spending a small bit extra for A La Carte. You won’t regret it. Try: The beef carpaccio to start, or the mushroom dish. For the main course, their amazing seafood platter, or the fillet of Tipperary beef.
  • San Lorenzo’s, George’s Street – Always a winner and always consistent. Excellent food, excellent Early Bird, and fantastic staff. I have been here for brunch a couple of times, once for an event where the team couldn’t do more for us, and recently for the early bird. Good vibes right in the city centre.
    Try: Pan fried gambas to start, the chargrilled Irish Hereford steak for mains, and of course, the Nutella baked cheesecake for dessert!
  • Cape Greko, New Street, Malahide Great Greek food, an unbeatable Early Bird (€20, 2 courses, available until 7pm Mon-Sat, all day Sun) and a huge menu with plenty of choice. It gets busy, it gets noisy – so book in advance!
    Try: Mydia – fresh Irish mussels to start, prawns in ouzo sauce, or the mixed souvlaki

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Madrid:

  • Restaurante De María, various locations A top notch Argentinian restaurant, with various locations around Madrid. A lovely spot with crisp white tablecloths and nice little touches as well as delicious high-quality cuts of juicy meat and impressive sides. A must visit if you’re in Madrid and are looking for a nice upmarket restaurant. Iñaki’s parents took us for dinner there and we had such a good time, I love how they order – different types of meat to start, different cuts of meat for mains, and we shared some desserts. It meant I got to try a bit of everything. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many cuts of meat in one sitting! Try: Chorizo, molleja or provolone to start, short ribs for mains (asado de tira), or the rib eye, and potato soufflé for sides.
  • Florida, Retiro, Paseo de la Republica de Panama, Parque del Retiro (pictured bottom right)Retiro! It’s one of my favourite parks, and I love the atmosphere there. Especially when the sax player is around; the world going on outside the park seems non-existent.
    During my last Madrid visit, Iñaki and I found an area just on the outskirts of the park with a very glam looking restaurant and just beside it in the same building, a gorgeous open-air bar we thought would be perfect for my parents. So the four of us went together for lunch after a walk through the park on a gorgeously sunny afternoon. We got a few different things to try, all of which I’d recommend, except for the ceviche as the fish wasn’t cut thinly enough.
    Great presentation and atmosphere, prices are reasonable, the service is a little slow, but this was a Saturday afternoon so we weren’t in any rush.
    Try: The breakfast muffin (poached egg and Iberian ham) the curry (slightly sweet and spicy Thai style) the mussels and the entraña (skirt steak) All delicious.
  • Platea, Calle Goya 5-7 – This place is nuts. So many lights, so much going on. Platea is a chic eatery with all sorts of food, drinks and entertainment. There’s a restaurant, patisserie, club, gigantic stage for national and international performances, a cocktail bar, tapas area and El Foso on the ground floor where you can try foods from around the world.
    Try: ‘Sushi Bar’ which was by far the best sushi I’ve had in a very long time.Order the ‘sushi box’ to share for €18, 14 pieces of fresh delicious sushi (rolls, uramaki, maki and nigiri) Wine will only set you back €3 a glass.

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Granada:

  • Loft, Calle San Antón 6 – A really good all-rounder in the centre of Granada. Loft serve really good breakfasts, coffee, brunch, lunch, dinner, healthy options, sandwiches, burgers, salads, smoothies, everything! Service is impeccable, prices are pretty decent and brunch at Loft is very enjoyable. If you need a break from crowded noisy tapas bars, Loft is a nice hideaway in the city where you can read the paper or have a chat in peace. Definitely my favourite quiet ‘alone’ spot in the city.
    Try: Brunch (Eggs benedict with jamón and chargrilled vegetables) the LOFT hamburger, salmon en papillote.
  • La Fontana – I love this place. It has everything, great variety, drinks, cocktails, deals, cheese boards (free with a bottle of wine!) breakfast, etc. Good music too. It’s a warm and welcoming little spot, whether you’re in a group, on a date or alone, it’s the perfect fit. It’s nestled along the river beside a crumbly old bridge in the Albayzín neighbourhood of Granada, just down from the Plaza Nueva. You’ll see a little of the Granada from La Fontana too. Sitting outside on a sunny day is just about as good as it gets. Try:  Avocado and salmon, chicken lemon and honey and peppers and cheese €2 tapas. Also consider the hummus, ceviche or Caprese salad.
  • La Oliva, Calle Virgen de Rosario, 9 – La Oliva is actually a little store here in Granada that sells (you might have guessed) olive oil. But every Thursday, the owner, Fransico turns his little shop into a restaurant. Well, it feels more like going for dinner at an old friend’s house. Francisco prepares a tasting menu consisting of lots of little dishes using lots of local ingredients with suitable wine pairings. A nice option in Granada when you want to try something new. I’ll be writing more on this in the future but if you’re interested, get in touch with Francisco at academiadeltapeo@gmail.com.

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Well, that’s all the food done and dusted for January (well, there are 3 days left, so anything is possible but you get the idea!) On the subject of not embracing resolutions, you probably noticed from the glimpses of wine and cava glasses here and there in the food shots that January hasn’t been a dry one either. And probably never will be (remember the aforementioned bus?)
Here I am, a mere handful of hours off DA PLANE and I’ve already hit the wine. You only live once, I say.

Let 2017 be your best year yet! Go WILD. But don’t do drugs. Drugs are bad.

Happy Sunday Funday, wherever you are on the planet.

P.S. Shorter posts, I promise! I’ll get there.

 

  ♥ ♥ ♥

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