Welcome to What I eat in a week in Dublin, where we find out what Dubliners are having. We're asking people who live in this fine city what they are really having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This isn't a platform for lecturing or snarky comments, just a place for foodies to tell us what they are putting in their face holes during any given week.
This week's What I Eat in a Week was written by food bloggers and authors of new cookbook Hot Fat, Patrick and Russell, otherwise known as the GastroGays - you can follow them on Instagram (@gastrogays) to keep up with their travels, and more importantly their food finds.
Location: Drogheda. We’ve been based here since moving back from London in 2017, but we’re up and down to Dublin now once or twice weekly since lockdown has ended!
Is there anything you don't eat or drink?
Honestly, there’s not! We work in food and drink, so we eat out quite often. We write about all kinds of food and drink and as recipe developers, it’s always good to be open-minded about all foods. In terms of dislikes, Russell has a distaste for hazelnuts in various forms and Patrick cannot abide the texture of jelly; a hangover from kids' birthday parties in the 90s!
What snack can always be found in your bag?
We honestly very rarely ever snack. Maybe those little Nakd bars but to be honest, we’re more ‘whole meal’ kinda guys.
Your fridge is never without?
Our fridge is almost always heaving, but regularly rotating the best of stuff! Staples include proper full fat milk, we try to get ours from our local farm as much as possible; they have a handy vending machine to refill glass bottles which cuts down on packaging, and has the best name ever: Feckin’ Clogher Milk. Butter; we always have salted and unsalted in stock (we love Glenstal, Abernethy and Kerrygold). Beef dripping from James Whelan Butchers and other spreads and condiments like Gochujang, Doenjang, miso, Swedish Kalles Kaviar paste and Smoked Onion Mayo from Builín Blasta in Galway.
We try eat local as much as possible, and seasonal as a rule. We’re ambassadors for the Boyne Valley Flavours region across Louth and Meath so you’ll always find local food producers in our fridge. Coole Farm salads in our crisper, The Wooded Pig charcuterie and Boyne Valley Bán on the shelf and Cockagee cider in the door. Hugh Maguire’s Smoked Black Pudding from Ashbourne is also a firm favourite.
Any other essentials?
Outside the fridge we’ll always have Drummond House Garlic, Oriel Sea Salt, Ballymakenny Farm potatoes, Listoke Distillery gin, Newgrange Gold rapeseed oil, flours from Martry Mill and Dunany Flour, Clarke’s jams… and loads more. We live in such a rich, food-producing region.
What's your emergency dinner?
Tough one, but we’ll either do one of two things: comfort classics, or something quick and Asian inspired.
For the former, we’d likely get a bag of chips, then come home and make fried eggs. Beans optional. Bulk it out and go for the full ‘brinner’ experience, if you wish. Another favourite is a chicken and broccoli pasta casserole with a crispy panko topping; this uses a tin of chicken soup as the base and cooks in about a half hour.
If on the latter buzz, Patrick has this knack of pimping up packet noodles to the next level, so we’ll have some kind of ramen or spicy noodle broth dish or maybe bulk out plain ‘ol rice with a rice bowl full of different toppings. Even if we’re short on time we never compromise on flavour.
If you had to eat in one place in Dublin for the rest of your life where would it be?
This is so difficult, but maybe Delahunt. We love what Darren Free and team have done here (and with nearby dreamy wine bar Frank’s) over the last decade or so. We used to live a short walk from here and it was one of those initial exciting finer dining experiences that we had when we got together and love how it keeps evolving. It’s still a favourite of ours and we eat here a couple of times a year without fail. The menu - now more a tasting menu experience than when it began as an a la carte - is a celebration of texture and big flavours plated supremely prettily, which changes all the time. We love the focus on Irish produce, too, and chef Chris Maguire is just insanely talented.
Day 1 Monday
9am: We start most days with black coffee using a simple v60 filter (Patrick) and a large mug of tea (Russell).
11am: We don’t usually eat too early so a late breakfast of boiled eggs and buttered soldiers is the business. It’s quick, it’s mindless, we’ve done it for so long it’s like automatic clockwork now. We have a handy little egg shell topper that we picked up in Brussels years ago that’s one of the most-used tools in our kitchen!
1pm: We run training courses on food photography, styling and social media every so often for different businesses and regions so lunch is delayed by the 3-hour class, but coffee fuels all.
3pm: Training course done and a late lunch of black pudding sausage rolls, beetroot ketchup and salad; we have a recipe we’ve been making for years on our website, and these are so satisfying. They can even be stored in the freezer and baked or air-fried from frozen!
7pm: Kimchi rice bowl time! Filling, healthy, hearty and spicy. We top some boiled rice (seasoned with sesame oil and soy) with kimchi, some leftover bulgogi beef we rejuvenated from the freezer, lots of coriander and chives, thinly sliced onion, sliced radish, grated carrot, some chilli crisp/peanut rayu and a smattering of black sesame seeds.
Day 2 Tuesday
9am: Black coffee and tea
11am: If it’s not eggs ’n’ soldiers, it’s porridge. If you haven’t ever stirred a more-than-generous tablespoonful of Biscoff speculoos spread through your porridge, you simply must do it. It’s game-changing, and makes the whole thing a far nicer experience.
3pm: We’re recording an episode of our podcast Chew The Fat this afternoon and what makes ours different to other food podcasts is we’re out in the field, rather than studio-based, so we’re out of the house for the day and actually up north with a food producer. On the way back we stop for lunch at Strandfield which is one of the best things you can do if travelling on the M1. Take the Carlingford exit, Junction 18.
7pm: We’ve discovered we in-proportionately seem to order a takeaway on a Tuesday more than any other day of the week. What does that say about us? The willpower of the week that Monday begins with has already wained by Tuesday? Go figure, nothing will satisfy us tonight like a spice bag. We have a recipe for our own ultimate version in our book, Hot Fat, but sometimes even we can’t be bothered so take-out it is, and our favourite we’ve found is from Mala Asian Street Food.
Day 3 Wednesday
9am: Black coffee and tea
10am: Today was a shoot day so we grabbed a couple of pastéis de nata; if you know us you know we’ve been to Portugal so many times and these custard tarts are a bit of an expert subject of ours. Lidl’s are the best supermarket version, at the best price.
12-2pm: When we’re shooting recipes for our site or for clients or campaigns, we never let it go to waste. We don’t spray stuff or paint raw foods cooked; everything you see is edible and you better believe we eat it, so on shoot days we always forgo lunch and just dive into the dishes we shoot. Today it was actually a vegetarian recipe, which was perfect. We’ve worked with Marks & Spencer for about five years on different seasonal spotlights and campaigns creating delicious recipes and this was an oven-roasted, spiced carrot salad with homemade pesto, dressed up with nuts, seeds, and herbs. The perks of the job.
4pm: We’ll pop into one of our local cafes here in Drogheda for a flat white. Ariosa, Evalynn, West Gate and The Coffee Box are all wonderful; finally Drogheda has a burgeoning coffee scene.
7pm: The pastéis from earlier put Portugal in our minds, so we make Piri Piri chicken with some salad and simple roasted parmentier potatoes, in lieu of chips. We’ve lost count of the amount of people we’ve sent to Bonjardim in Lisbon; we recreate it at home every couple of months when the pang of Piri Piri hits.
Day 4 Thursday
8am: Black coffee and tea
10am: Today is meetings day in Dublin, so we’re hightailing it on the train for meetings and a day or two in Dublin. First stop: coffee at Two Boys Brew en route. There’s few other places we’d interrupt the journey for, and this pride of Phibsborough is right up there among them.
12pm: We drop by our pals The Cupcake Bloke in Rialto to stock them with some merch (spice bag seasoning, branded socks) of our recently-launched book Hot Fat. It’s a treasure trove of Irish food and sweet treats, and we can’t leave without one of Graham’s famous tea bracks; we’ve never found better elsewhere! We nip across the road too to Daddy’s for flat whites and a catch-up!
2:30pm: We love that all-day places with heaps of little tables dotted around like The Pepper Pot in the Powerscourt Townhouse will always guarantee a seat and a bite to eat. Two pear, cheddar and bacon sandwiches on their incredible mammoth slices of fluffy doorstop loaf are the ticket, with a big pot of tea split between us both.
7:00pm: Dinner in Dublin and we’ve managed to nab a rare, last minute table at Variety Jones. We love that this Michelin-starred spot in the Liberties is so unassuming and super casual. It’s got that neighbourhood restaurant vibe but really refined and bold flavours on the plate from Keelan Higgs. Plus sommelier Vanda Ivančić’s wine pairings are stratospheric and always exciting.
9pm: We stayed overnight in Dublin, so after dinner we head to Frank’s for drinks; one of our favourite wine bars, we love the biodynamic, natural and quirky selection, and the central marble counter where everyone shares space. Fun fact, when Darren Free first opened Frank’s a few years back we were so in love with the shade of forest green that he painted the place in that we asked him for the exact brand and colour, and now our dining room is painted the same shade; it always gets compliments! If you ask nicely, he might give you the insider info too!
Day 5 Friday
9am: Hotel breakfast! Having travelled a lot internationally, Irish and UK hotels stand out for being so meat and fried food-heavy, which is wonderful every so often but not all the time. Though, when we haven’t stayed in a hotel for a while we’re going all out on the full Irish. Clayton Hotel Charlemont has one of the most seamless and delicious breakfast spreads we’ve found. Likewise we love the steak and eggs at the Shelbourne, the sweet potato pancakes at the Hard Rock Hotel (Zampas restaurant), and the whole service and experience at Wilde in the Westbury. Breakfast in a hotel can be a bit drab, but when it’s special it seals the deal.
11am: There’s no way we’re able to even think about food after gorging on a hotel breakfast. We spend an hour or two cranking out emails and having coffee at Network on Aungier Street.
1pm: If you’re not grabbing a toastie and a pint at Grogans when you’ve an hour to kill, you’re not living.
3:30pm: More meetings means rather than sit-down lunch we’re grabbing something quick before heading home. Old faithful Dash Burger to the rescue. We’ve known Barry Wallace for years since he was the brains behind Bia Mara in Brussels, Hook in London and before this current iteration Pang. We love how he rolls out seamless food concepts that always work, and Dash is no exception.
5pm: A quick browse in both the Asian Food Market on Drury Street and Fallon & Byrne to pick up stuff to bring home for the weekend, plus a bottle or two from Loose Cannon, before getting to the train.
9pm: We always eat late on a Friday night, and tonight was no exception. The night rolls in with a leisurely charcuterie and cheese board with loads of little bits and bobs, including Fallon & Byrne’s signature pâté and a generous slice of super ripe truffle brie. Gildas are a must; a piquant combo of olive, anchovy and guindilla peppers, skewered together in one little mouthful. A dirty martini or two to go alongside. Sublime.
Day 6 Saturday
12pm: Somehow every week always ends up hectic, so Saturday is our slow day to recoup; we wake up late, graze through the day and catch up on what we’ve put off throughout the week including laundry, cleaning the house, organising the garden and getting proper order back to everything. Today’s brunch was çilbir, or Turkish eggs, and we always use Nigella’s recipe.
The afternoon is a blur of coffee, tea and random little bites.
5pm: We seem to always end up barbecuing on a Saturday night, and love nothing more than spending hours marinating, preparing and grilling with a beer in hand. Tonight, it was chicken shawarma which was marinaded in spiced yoghurt and slowly rotated on our rotisserie over the coals for about 2 hours. We then served it on homemade flatbreads, herby garlic-y sauce, hot sauce and lots of greens, tomatoes and chilli. Aside from deep frying, barbecuing is probably our other favourite kitchen activity.
Day 7 Sunday
11am: We almost always get up late and always have either sausage sandwiches or bacon sandwiches whilst catching up on an eclectic mix of RuPaul's Drag Race, The Week in Politics and The Catch Up with Louise McSharry.
Again, the afternoon is a blur of coffee, tea and random little bites.
5pm: Sunday is always a day of either using up leftovers or having a roast, and the latter happened today. We had free-range pork shoulder from Broughgammon Farm which we picked up at McNally's family farm in the freezer; we defrosted and then slow-roasted it, and then served with all the trimmings.
We eat out quite often, but at the same time we’re never happier than when creating in our own kitchen. No two weeks are the same, especially as we travel so much; this snapshot of a week could be wildly different to the next. We definitely eat more consistently on the weekdays; the weekends are usually two main meals and a bit of grazing.
We always prioritise great quality ingredients and big, distinct flavours in every meal, and we’re definitely led by cravings and also a desire for comfort food. Our job is so diverse and every day is different; that same spirit of constant change is reflected in our food choices too.