Saturday, October 10, 2009


"...we saw a far-away town sleeping in a valley by a winding river; and beyond it on a hill, a vast grey fortress, with towers and turrets, the first I had ever seen out of a picture.

Bridgeport? - said I
Camelot. - said He."

Well, we're in Dublin. We managed to get our lives sorted out and folded into 4 overstuffed suitcases (in true tradition I forgot to pack my toothbrush, toothpaste, and running shoes) - and arrived in Dublin on a grey non-rainy day. I could go on about mixed emotions, giant bouts of happiness fused with a slight claustrophobia at such a densely populated city, but instead I'll do what I'm good at - list making.

Edible, Fantastic things in Dublin:

i) Laduree apparently opened here over the summer, which is happiness beyond words! the packaging alone does me in, nevermind the macaroons.

ii) Coco and Busyfeet cafe - small, unpretentious, friendly, wonderful soup and chai.

iii) The Bald Barista / Milk and Honey Cafe - haven't decided which one I like better, but astoundingly good coffee at both, and located serendipitously next to my morning bus stop...

iv) Fallon and Byrne - foodies unite! Imported goods from all over the place, the only place you can get your hands on both Aunt Jemima's syrup (and other north american fare) and balsamic vinegar from an obscure village in Cyprus. Amazing take-away food.

v) Butler's. All I need to say is this - they melt down best-quality chocolate and sell it under the guise of 'hot chocolate'. Heavens.

vi) General, fantastic ethnic food. Really really. The influx of ethnicities in the past decade makes Dublin an interesting city for food - the whole first year I was here, I don't think I tasted 'Irish food', as everything edible down the road is Bengali, Punjabi, Persian, Arabic, Polish, French...

vii) Avoca. Their bread and scones have gotten me through dire exams - gastronomically and emotionally.

We definitely miss Canada though. There are too many things I could list on that one, family and Tim Hortons being in the top 5. But being back on this side of the ocean is exciting, I suddenly slip into new skin and feel braver here, as silly as that sounds.

We wandered down Grafton and up and down the wee side-streets and came across a beautiful old bookstore, with first edition James Joyce all over the place. All I could think of was my first experiences with literature when I was younger - we lived through Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Asterix and Obelix, and Tintin. Vicariously.

Enid Blyton's writing was optimistic in the most absolute way - you could always identify with someone in her stories, and the adventures and general tomfoolery that was had was relentlessly cheery and so very pure. We always had an Enid Blyton in our school bag, and on our bedside tables. Things seemed to base around either a group of children at boarding school (The Malory Towers series, the St. Clare's series) or a group of kids that happened to come across, and solve, mysteries of every nature (The Fantastic Five, The Five Find-Outers).

I realize that trends change, and that we're apparently in the middle of a vampire-literature-frenzy, but I hope Blyton's writing isn't being replaced - all her novels were reliable to us as children, steady anchors in the ocean of adolescence.

This is a recipe from the summer - the most optimistic dessert I can think of at the moment, bright and clean. If you have pastry crust in the fridge, this really doesn't take long to make, and nectarines really should be roasted more often as the results are spectacular.

Nectarine and Coconut Galette.

The Crust -
1 cup APF
1/2 tsp sugar
18 tsp salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Filling -
1 tablespoon ground almonds
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons shredded coconut
4 large nectarines, quartered
1 tablespoon melted butter

The Crust - Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter in with your fingers, or a pastry cutter. Add about 4 tablespoons of ice cold water, mixing until the dough just comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough briefly for about a minute. Cover in cling-film and let rest in the fridge for a good 1-2 hours. When it's ready, roll out into a 14 inch disc.

Assembly - Mix the ground almond, flour, sugar and coconut together. Sprinkle into the center of the 14 inch pastry disc, leaving a 2 inch border. Arrange the nectarine wedges on the dough however you like, I did concentric circles with the skin-side down:

Sprinkle the nectarines with the 1/3 cup of brown sugar. Rotate the tart slowly, and fold up the edges of the dough over the nectarines, crimping the dough as you go. It's fine (and prettier!) if the pieces of dough overlap eachother. Brush the entire thing with some melted butter and bake in a hot oven (400 F) for about 30 minutes. If you find the edges browning too quickly, lower the heat slightly and tent the nectarine with foil to make sure the center of the dough cooks through.

Personally I like it best while it's still fairly warm, and a giant dollop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side isn't bad either. Enjoy!


  1. WHAT?? Laduree opened near you?? I am so jealous! And this galette looks fabulous, the combination is intriguing!

  2. Yes! The husband is swiftly on his way there, foraging for macaroons. Also - you're the first non-family member to comment here, it made my day, thank you!