Monday, 24 November 2014

Best Hot Chocolate in Dublin

Nothing like an indulgent hot chocolate to warm up when it's getting cold outside. When in Dublin city centre during the festive season, stopping for a decadent hot drink is the perfect restorative break. Having tried a few of them around the Irish capital I thought I'd recommend my favourites. Here is my top 5 places for hot chocolate in Dublin.

1. Murphy's Ice Cream

For the festive season the Aztec Hot Choc (€4.50) is probably the best. Why? Because it tastes like Christmas with its warm spices, cream and chocolate flakes on top. It's basically the hot chocolate version of mulled wine and served by the most friendly people too. There are six different kinds of hot chocolate ranging from €3.50 to €4.50 which means you can try one every week until Christmas. They aren't the cheapest but oh boy they're amazing.

2. Cocoa Atelier

You'd expect no less from a fancy chocolate shop than to serve an amazing hot chocolate. Cocoa Atelier which is one of my favourite places for sweet treats serve hot chocolate in two sizes, a small one for €1.70 and a regular one for €3.40. It's beautifully rich and the taste of chocolate is intense, a true hug in a mug. Unfortunately, they don't have a sitting area so it's only available to take away but you could always buy a bottle of their fresh hot chocolate to enjoy at home.

3. Brother Hubbard and Sister Sadie

One of my guilty pleasures is to go to Brother Hubbard in the afternoon for a scone and their hot chocolate (€3.30). I love it because it's one of the tastiest but also because of the way it's served: a jug of thick chocolate ganache on one side and a jug of chocolate milk on the other. You can then mix both in the cup to your liking and enjoy this very comforting hot beverage.

4. Clement and Pekoe

Clement and Pekoe is most known for its teas and coffees but have you tried their hot chocolate? Like Brother Hubbard it isn't presented in a conventional way which makes the experience even more delicious. You basically get a mug filled with hot milk served with a chocolate swirl stick from Áine Hand Made Chocolate, you just have to wait for the chocolate to melt and enjoy. It's delicious and one of the best value as it's in a big cup and only costs €3.

5. Butlers Chocolate Café

It took me years before I stepped into a Butlers Chocolate Café even if they're all around the city centre. My favourite is the one on Chatham street as it's not as busy as the Wicklow Street branch although the latter has the most Christmassy atmosphere. They really have an extensive choice of hot chocolate flavours like Peppermint, Cookie, Chilli and more. I personally like the regular or white hot chocolate.

That was a tough piece of research but somebody's got to do it. If you know of any great spots for hot chocolate in Dublin that I missed, please do let me know in the comments.

Also, if you feel like doing a hot chocolate round the world trip, Buzzfeed have compiled a list of 27 of the Greateast Places In The World to Get Hot Chocolate.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Cookbook Crush: Plenty More

The day Mr. FFID offered me Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi our vegetable consumption increased considerably. Ottolenghi is an Israeli chef based in London, he owns the restaurants Ottolenghi and Nopi and he's a food writer. The last time I talked about a cookbook on this blog was when I fell in love with Yotam's book 'Jerusalem' which is probably the cookbook I've used the most to date.

Plenty More is a celebration of vegetables and grains, even the ones people tend to be scared of like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. There are eleven sections in the book based on how the vegetables are cooked: tossed, steamed, blanched, simmered, braised, grilled, roasted, fried, mashed, cracked, baked and sweetened. That's a lot of possibilities isn't it?

It's a brilliant book as it shows how versatile vegetables and grains can be. All the dishes are colourful, a mix of textures and the use of many spices and herbs always result in the tastiest food. When you start using this book, your pantry begins to slowly fill up with the most amazing spices and starts looking like the shelf of an ethnic food shop. If you're based in Dublin city centre there is a ethnic supermarket on Moore Street where you'd have no difficulty in finding all the ingredients necessary to an Ottolenghi's recipe. Once you have stocked up on a few of them they will be used again for pretty much all the recipes.

I've made many dishes from Plenty More (see pictures above) and never have I missed meat, I swear. The Courgette 'Baba Ganoush' is scrumptious and a great alternative to the usual aubergine version. The squash with chilli yoghurt and coriander sauce is a wonderful tasty dish and the crushed Puy lentils with tahini and cumin make a great little supper. There is a recipe called 'Aubergine, potato, tomato' which is a fantastic brunch and so are the spicy scrambled eggs.  The cauliflower cake was probably the recipe that surprised me the most, very easy to make, light in texture but also quite filling at the same time as well as looking pretty with the red onion rings on top.

There is one intriguing recipe I haven't found the time or the will to try yet: the slow-cooked chickpeas on toast with poached egg. Sounds easy? It takes 5 hours to make, not sure if I could start cooking brunch five hours ahead but you never know.

The food photography in the book is stunning yet simple, no use of fancy props here, it's all about the veg. I only regret that not all the recipes have an accompanying picture, I tend to skip the ones without.

Believe me, I LOVE my meat. In France, being a vegetarian is a sacrilege. French people just can't imagine a proper meal without meat. I have to say I love my veg too though, my parents raised me eating a variety of veggies and while there are none I dislike, you can sometimes run out of ideas or tend to eat the same vegetables or cook them the same way. Plenty More is the perfect book to make you re/discover a love for vegetables. Who knows, you might even become a vegetarian.

Disclaimer: Mr. FFID bought Plenty More for me, I wasn't asked by anyone to review this book... Trust me, it's great!