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Sally's blog

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Samuel Colville McKenna meets with the magic in London’s uber-funky Sketch.

Sketch, in London’s busiest district of Soho, is not for those looking for a simply pleasing dining experience.

In fact Sketch takes on a fully immersive persona that will leave you wide-eyed-gawking at every design and culinary element they have to offer.

Created by restaurateur Mourad Mazouz and master chef Pierre Gagnaire, Sketch takes art, music, food and drink, and combines them into a true masterpiece. Even the bathroom design is out of the norm, and can be seen on the instagrams of celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Taylor Swift.

Rick Le Vert’s brilliant Kinnegar beers take another step forward.

Kinnegar K2

Ever since craft brewers began brewing craft beers in Ireland, sceptics have insisted that these little Irish craft enterprises were doomed.

Despite the evidence from the USA, the U.K. and elsewhere that craft beers can capture a significant sector of the beer market, the doubters insist that Ireland is different. The big boys – Diageo and Interbrew – are just too big, they say. And away from the cities, country pubs are in decline and, anyway, the only people in Ireland who drink – young wans – won’t pay the extra for craft beers.

Grainne O’Keeffe brings the great traditions and dishes of the world to a little room at Leonard’s Corner in Dublin, and makes them her own.

No, but seriously, like.
What can’t Grainne O’Keeffe cook?
She can do the Cordon Bleu: roasted leeks and chopped egg (and a crisp of chicken skin, just to be contemporary)
The Deep South barbecue? That’s the homemade sausage.
The Toast Thing? That’s already a classic: her grilled sourdough with hot smoked trout. You would walk to Leonard’s Corner for that alone
The French Classic: chicken liver parfait served with toasted brioche and quince.
The New Nordic? Celeriac ravioli with hazelnuts, a pure beaut.

There is mindfulness in the method of Derry’s Ciaran and Melanie Breslin.

If we say that we call it culinary mindfulness, you might ask: Well, what’s that about?
To try to explain it, take the example of Ciaran and Melanie Breslin, of Derry’s Primrose Café.
He’s a butcher. She’s a baker. If you bring the idea of culinary mindfulness to their respective skills, you ought to find the perfect collaboration in the form of a hamburger: his beef, and her breads. Their mindfulness ought to draw attention to each detail of the hamburger: the beef; the bap; the condiments.
If the mindfulness is successful, you should end up with the perfect burger.

Lynda Booth has written a new cookery book. You will cook every single recipe in it.

As soon as I had Lynda Booth’s new cookery book, Fearless Food in my hands, I went straight into the kitchen and made avocado smash on bruschetta with chilli and mint oil and poached egg and feta. Good start.
Then, for lunch, I roasted some squash and served it with Lynda’s pomegranate and mint dressing and St Tola goat’s cheese. I went out to the fish shop to get a bag of mussels to cook her grilled mussels with coriander and coconut pesto.

A guided tour of the Walls of Derry crystallises ancient and recent history in a winning style. They even give you a cup of coffee.

1.8 miles long, 40 foot high, and 30 foot wide, the granite and basalt ancient Walls of Derry form a complete circular walk around the inner city and encapsulate the tumult of Ireland’s history. A tour of the walls should be on the bucket list for anyone interested in the goings on on this island since 546AD, when Saint Columba first established a monastery on this oak covered grove.

Bedlam is the new normal in the fast-moving Sprout.

“It’s not too mad in here, so we’re ok for help.”
As the lady behind the counter in Sprout, on Ballsbridge Terrace in Dublin, calmly said this to her fellow worker who was offering to lend a hand, I took a look around me.
The queue was out the door. The staff were working at a frantic rate filling the bowls and making the wraps. The shop was sardine-packed with hungry people. The brews were brewing. The soup was bubbling. The juices were flowing. The orders were stacking up. The till was churning.

Adam Lynas is cooking the finest Mexican food in Ireland, in the most unprepossessing room in Belfast.

Adam Lynas has an impressive CV in Irish food - he worked alongside Andy Rea in Roscoff, and put in kitchen time in Belfast’s excellent Shu restaurant.
But the direction of his cooking changed after he met Mexican Eliza Vignolle, in Montreal, and travelled back and forward to her native Monterey, all the while learning the nuances of cooking real Mexican food.
In 2016, he opened La Taqueria, in an utterly unprepossessing upstairs room in the building that also houses the Belfast Cookery School.

Beautiful Ballycotton has a treat for all walkers: an 8km cliff walk that will blow the cobwebs from your brain.

Starting at the top of the town in pretty little Ballycotton village, in East County Cork, the Cliff Walk travels a well-worn single track path that follows the cliff edge, and the walk culminates after 8kms at Ballyandreen Beach, where you can either pick up the second vehicle you parked earlier, or else walk back on your tracks and enjoy the views from the opposite perspective.

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