Trouble in bubblin’ Dubbelin

The trouble with Dublin is the women scare me and the men drive me round the bend on a regular basis. It’s got fog that’s wetter than rain and the city reeks of burnt barley. The community is incestuous and has its own cultural maffia. It’s somehow both backward and too far ahead of itself. It accepts the filthy Corrs in its midst. When it stings, it stings you bad and when it asks for money, you end up broke.

But when it soothes, you don’t want it to end.

Perfect. That’s how I’d describe our little visit to Dublin last week. So perfect that coming home – normally a thing of beauty – pales in comparison and I’m having a hard time getting back into my groove.

Mr Hg and I flew in just before noon on Thursday. We checked into the Central Hotel on Exchequer Street. We grabbed excellent pub lunch (roast chicken & chips) at Davy Byrne’s and tried a new stout (Guinness Brew 39. Our verdict: watery, bland.). Got caffeined up at the Avoca cafĂ©. Then saw Hazel O’Connor belt out a few old ones and a few new ones at Tower Records, hooked up with a friend on the spot, chatted with Ms O’Connor about mutual acquaintances and then sauntered down to the O’Reilly Theatre for Consigliere Friday’s outing with the Crash Ensemble and Gavin Bryars. Which was very, very good. Except for Bryars’ Jesus Blood Never Failed Me, which I’ve always detested. Die, tramp, die.

Afterwards, we
could just murder a chinese… so we did, at a
late night resto that Mr Hg remembered from an earlier trip. Later that
night, Jimmy the night porter served us drinks in the resident lounge
at the Central.


Blue Bowls 1/2/3

On Friday we enjoyed the Central’s breakfast (less rancid than Kelly’s,
but not great), saw Mr Guggi’s new set of bowl, vessel and other
kitchenware paintings at the Solomon Gallery. There I ran into the
artist Charlie Whisker who I hadn’t talked with since 1990, good to
catch up and by golly he did remember. From the Powerscourt Centre we
headed towards our Power Lunch at the Michelin starred l’Ecrivain on Lower Baggot Street. I
didn’t write down the exact menu, but this comes close:

Blackpudding terrine & scallop risotto

Sea bream & star anise foam, ginger coulis. Butternut squash, braised cabbage.

Ile flottante with sliced orange, chocolate shavings and mint oil

We were also served a warm liquid appetiser, which pleasantly
tasted of cream and bacon. Hmmmm, bacon. The main course was my
favourite part of the meal, the different flavours just jumped off the
plate, surprising and just right. I chose the blackpudding entree
because I’m a big fan, but perhaps something else would have
complemented the sea bream better. The dessert seems to be a variation
on this French Laundry dish.
The mint oil was so fresh and ‘green’ tasting I thought it was basil at
first. Which I don’t think would sit strange in creme anglaise.

The food made me smile and feel good about myself, the world and
everything. Afterwards it rained and the wind turned cold so we sought
shelter in Hodges and Fidges book sellers on Dawson street, then went
window shopping till we were back at the Central Hotel. Mr Hg promptly
fell asleep while I took care of a small migraine problem that had
lingered from the day before. Maxalt is my friend.

We had some business to take care of, a shipment of books and t-shirts
that needed to be carried from the North of Dublin to Amsterdam. So we
hung around waiting for our Irish friend to drop them off. See my
opening paragraph: Irish men drive me round the bend. We had no choice
but to sit and wait for our friend to show up, three hours ‘late’.
Fortunately, sitting and waiting was done in the Central’s Libary Bar,
not a bad place to be. Cue a lot of beer and banter and a late night

The next morning we checked out and flew back to our home towns, a little sad to let it go.

The trouble with Dublin is…  There is a limited choice in where
to go and what to do. But the choices available are excellent. There is
food and drink to suit my tastes at all hours. It’s equally familiar
and alien. I feel as much at home there as I feel out of place. I fit
in as much as I stand out. I love it twice as much as I hate it and
know it better than the city I live in.

And when it soothes, I don’t want it to end.