I am so content right now. Matt and I had such a full, perfect day at Blarney Castle, discovering medieval secrets and stumbling upon beautiful glens. I'm pretty sure we were abducted by forest sprites and magicked for 3 months because there's no WAY anything this gorgeous could exist in nature.
To top it all off, we had this fantastic fancy-pants meal and now I'm sitting on the train back to Dublin, relaxing across the table from my fantastic hubs, letting a cup of tea cool off and enjoying the sunset over rolling green hills. I don't even care that I'm writing this on the hotel itinerary print-out instead of typing it. I'm not sure what I've done in life that makes me this lucky.
Enough sentimentality. We're here to discuss food!
16 Lancaster Quay
(353) (021) 427-7939
Cafe Paradiso opens for dinner from Tuesday through Saturday at 5:30p. (This caused a small hiccup for us that involved walking past 2 guys who became more boisterously drunk each of the 5 times we passed them on the street.) The focus here is on vegetarian food prepared from locally grown, seasonal, fresh, organic ingredients. Plus it's fancy. Of course, by fancy I mean very high quality food that's so expensive it's a little silly. Let your server know you're vegan before ordering; the vegan stuff isn't marked on the menu, and there are several items they can make vegan upon request.
This - what's the phrase - amuse bouche? - consists of seed crackers made with egg, fresh olives, and chili cashews. (Told you it was fancy.) All I picked off were the cashews: super good morsels with a little kick of flavor and a lot of addictive power.
My 2-course meal was a whopping €33 ($42.26). (You can get 3 courses for €40 ($51.22).) Meet my app: "Vegetable sushi with tempura of aubergine and carrot, picked ginger, wasabi, and a soy-ginger dipping sauce."
The tempura is just... I mean, wow. Crispy and flavor-filled, the carrot and eggplant packing their own punch so the zing they pick up from the salty ginger sauce hits you with a bang. Then the sushi - so unique and delicious! The mushrooms have this absolutely spot-on umami taste, almost like that sour lemony flavor in Greek dolmades. It's complemented expertly by the red pepper, slightly spicy chili sauce, and ginger soy.
My entree said dolmades in the title, so I was sold. Plus it happened to be new today! It was very exciting.
The cornmeal potato cake had big potato flavor with a moist, hot, yummy quality that went well with the heat of the saffron sauce. These lovely dolmades were not traditional Greek food, but mmm! Doesn't matter. The chickpea mash wrapped in cabbage leaves burst with yumminess. It was such a well-crafted, filling taste. I scooped it up with bites of cake and edamame. Heaven.
Then Matt's thing: "Sweet chilli-glazed panfried tofu with choi, gingered coconut-tamarind sauce, rice noodles, and shiitake fritters." (Don't eat the eggy mushroom fritters.)
Maybe my favorite dish of the night. First of all, this spicy, creamy sauce gave every morsel a boost of unequivocal awesomesauce. The bok choy that dripped with the stuff was at once chewy and soft; I couldn't imagine it tasting any better. The noodles... meh. But the tofu? Shut the front door. Somebody get me a room upstairs, because I need to eat this every day for the rest of my life. Soft, hot, flavorful, and spicy. In a word: ballsy. God that was good.
Matt and I spent the meal planning our awesome adventures for tomorrow and playing the NERDIEST Star Trek word game we made up. If I like you, I might explain the rules to you.
Actually... the opposite of that.