Such an original title! Although seriously…how many other words that start with ‘m’ will sum up a crazy busy day? ‘Mad’ doesn’t sound right, if not a little dramatic. Perhaps ‘mushed’ because the city was so busy with customary December 8th shoppers? Nah, that just sounds unpleasant. I’ll just stick to the word of the Bangles.
Monday was a very early start. 6am I was up; 6.30am I was ready to go. Not too bad for a lethargic red-eyed zombie. Shortly after 7.00am I was driving across the Samuel Beckett bridge in what seemed to be the dead of night with the moon shining down on me, illuminating the canal.
I should probably mention at this point that the early start was to attend Image Magazine’s Networking Breakfast at The Marker Hotel. Arriving at a very glittery reception, I was given a name tag and went foraging for legal stimulants. I had more than a few cups of coffee, pastries and some fresh fruit (to balance the pastries, naturally) and chatted with lovely women from various industries and professions. I even let a photographer take my photo that early in the morning. What was I thinking? I blame the caffeine.
Monday’s speakers were TV presenter Darren Kennedy, event manager Tara Fay and DJ Ruth Scott of 2fm. They were all very entertaining and inspiring with hectic but equally exciting jobs. Some of their career stories were unbelievable; I didn’t know I could laugh so hard so early in the morning! You learn something new everyday. There were lots of generous prizes as it was the final networking breakfast of the year, and we were all out by just after 10am; armed with gift bags, acclimatising to the blinding sunlight.
For the curious among us, here’s what we took home.
…one of The Marker’s famous cronuts, which was delicious by the way, in case anyone’s curious. There were also a few Butler’s chocolates scattered in the bag. This combination, though not the healthiest was win-win for me. I needed the sugar spike to keep me going.
My favourite product in the bag was an organic energy drink called Little Miracles. I actually saved this until yesterday morning and absolutely loved it. It was refreshing and fruity without any syrupy taste or lingering sweetness. So many times in various newsagents have I bought random vitamin waters or energy drinks that left me feeling worse afterwards, doing the exact opposite of what the bottle promised! Yes, I realise that I am a marketers dream. This was different…the combination of white tea, ginseng cherry and açai (sweetened with agave, which is totally natural) perked me up and had me delaying my morning coffee, which as you may have noticed for me is indeed very rare.
Little Miracles is quite a new product to Ireland, but more information can be found here, and here on twitter.
After The Marker I drove in delightful Dublin traffic and parked around the Drury Street area (the best place to park in my opinion) to get some work done. I went to Bell & Pot, a café and wine bar on Mercer Street Lower. It looked nice, smelled nice and had free WiFi, so that was good enough for me.
The décor is cute and they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, with a brunch menu on the weekends. The coffee is good and strong, which I believe was a big factor in my productivity because I was typing furiously. Hotkeys, they’ll call me.
I ordered a ruben sandwich which you don’t see on too many menus here, and I would come back alone just for that sandwich. A generous portion of pastrami, mixed leaves, American mustard and sauerkraut between two thick slices of toasted brown bread (or ciabatta, if you prefer.)
Fresh, full of flavour and very filling.
The two girls working there on Monday were extremely pleasant. They didn’t come near me much and left me to my work as I probably scared them away with my furious typing. When I did take a few minutes for quiet thought, I noticed how kind and friendly they were to customers. All customers were treated the same which was lovely to see, and plenty came through the door. Service never wavered. The coffee and sandwich at Bell & Pot weren’t the cheapest but I was there for a couple of hours using their WiFi and the food quality was excellent so I didn’t mind. They offer good value combos where you can get soup with your sandwich which evens it all out a bit.
Later in the afternoon I had a tour of the newly opened and much hyped Dean Hotel; which I’ll talk about in another post as this one is already heaving with images!
Pre hotel tour I met with my sister. We ran some errands and had a quick peak in the Christmas market which is currently open on Stephen’s Green. As we walked between the cute wooden huts, the smell of charred bratwurst and pungent smoke filled the air. There were mulled wine stalls, jewellery stalls, sweet stalls and a pig crackling away on a rotisserie, with his tongue sticking out. My sister ran from him swiftly (drama queen!) and wouldn’t let me get closer to take a picture for you all. In fairness, I can’t say I blame her. His tongue sticking out might have ruined your day.
For more information about the Christmas market on Stephen’s Green, click here.
With the Image breakfast and The Dean Hotel tour done, I headed home to get through a couple of hours work and make myself presentable for dinner with the Zomato gang. I mentioned in a recent post that Zomato Dublin recently went live, and Dubliners can use the site or app to find the most fantastic places to eat. The response in the city has been really good from both users and restaurants around the city. The team approached me a while ago with the possibility of contributing, so a lot of my food reviews appear there; along with a few other Irish food bloggers around the city. The wonderful and generous Zomato team wanted to get to know us a little better and give us a chance to get to know each other too, so they took us out to dinner at The Exchequer in Ranelagh.
I don’t go out to Ranelagh very often and had never been to The Exchquer previously but its a lovely spot with a great atmosphere. We sat around a table in the window which was quite intimate…perfect for everyone to engage in chitchat, and we could all hear each other. The staff looked after us so well and we drank giant wine bottles holding several litres, distributed with a steady hand into several decanters. I don’t think my glass was empty since the first pour.
It was great to put names to faces and meet more of the Zomato team. Some of the other bloggers I already knew from Twitter and around the web but can now put faces with names.
We started with these handsome looking boards and the food just kept coming. I’m sad to say I didn’t photograph it all, but you’ll still get a good idea of the sort of dishes available at The Exchequer.
Pork meatballs, tomato salsa, spinach and creme fraiche.
My absolute favourite of the night – manchego cheese lollipops with tomato tapenade.
Chorizo lollipops with aioli.
Crispy pork belly with black pudding and apple purée. Around this time we also had plates full of bruschetta and beef carpaccio.
Giant wine…the hand is very important in the shot to show size! That is the hand of Zomato’s Country Manager, Kevin. Perhaps you’ll get involved and contribute to Zomato and you’ll meet him at the next event, along with Paul and Nicola. They’re a lovely bunch.
Plate after plate of tapas and the food stopped coming. I thought we were done as we were all stuffed…but bigger plates started coming!
Chargrilled sirloin, Lyonnaise potatoes and bearnaise. The steak was another favourite around the table. Juicy, smoky and cooked on the rarer side of medium rare. Perfect!
Here’s our softly lit and inviting table for the evening. As you can see, we definitely demolished our fair share of food. I can’t say what other dishes came out next or if there was dessert – I had to catch a bus, it was a school night after all! I will definitely visit The Exchequer again, and they offer a great value happy hour menu on Sundays – Tuesdays, and from 5pm – 7pm Thursday – Saturday.
It was a great Monday full of new experiences and meeting new people, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Zomato brings in the new year.
If you lasted the whole length of this post, I’m proud of you!
♥ ♥ ♥