Friday, 16 June 2017

Taste of Dublin: Happy Tummies, Happy Hearts

For those who know me well, they know I love food.
I don't know if there's any moment in time where I'm not thinking about it - what groceries to buy, what to cook, what to eat - they're pretty much the thoughts that occupy my mind 24/7.

So when I heard there is a food festival right in the centre of Dublin I was super excited and wanted to go! 

Basically, Taste of Dublin is a collaboration of well-known eateries, food companies, chefs, who came together to share their tasty treats with us. They used florins as their currency on-site, which were basically money tokens. 

Since food tastes way better when shared, I brought another foodie along with me!
We went for the Friday lunch slot from 12-4PM and got online tickets with the lovinlunch voucher code for €18.75 each. This also entitled us to 12 free florins!

So really we only had to pay €6.75 for the entry to the festival in contrast to those who arrived on the day and had to pay €20 just for entry and zero florins!

The first place we stopped by was the Infusion by Barry's Tea where we got a lovely free taster of two of their tea-infused cocktails. They had a traffic light cocktail concoction going on there and they were absolutely delicious.

The three flavours they had were:-

1) Green Tea Mojito - Barry’s Green Tea, Skyy vodka, basil syrup, fresh mint, lime, and soda water 

 2) Berry Fizz - Barry’s Very Berry, Hendrick's Gin, cranberry juice, Irish Elderflower Cordial, fresh lemon,  and soda water. 

 3) Golden DEW - Barry’s Gold Blend, Tullamore D.E.W., ginger & Irish Honey Syrup, lime. and ginger ale.

We eyed up some sinful treats by The Cupcake Bloke but we decided to hunt for proper food first before munching on desserts.

Next, Callum, spotted the SO Prosecco truck, his weakness.

So we had some Prosecco at about lunch time. Acceptable time I would think.

Then we learnt that it was Tapas Day! And one of the girls manning the signs asked if we wanted a free Polaroid, so why not?!

Then, we obviously had to eat some tapas made by The Porthouse

So, we had the Paella of Rabbit, Duck, Chicken, Green and White Beans.

We discovered the chill beanbag area!! Unfortunately, all the beanbags were taken so.... 
Alas, we did not get to relax on them but we managed to wander off to more important things..

Our greedy eyes veered over to Wines of Rioja.
We went a little wild at this place and got three dishes. First we got some tortilla (Spanish omelette).

We also go the Chorizo al Vino (oh so delicious).

And the Pulpo - octopus (I loved it!)

To make the food go down well, some live music was lovely to have - with a random few people in the crowd dancing around to The Swing Cats.

Also, the weather was absolutely perfect for all this food, fun, and frenzy.

Our stomachs wandered off to the Taste of Thailand section!

The Thai food stall was manned We got some delicious Thai food made by Saba!

Behold, a lovely lamb curry with red and brown rice topped with some greenery.

We got a couple of wine tasters thanks to Beaujolais Wines, who came all the way from France! 
I personally know nothing about wine but Callum did, and thanks to him we got to sample several different wines!

There was a wide, wide selection of different alcoholic drinks on the green - wine, cocktails, beer, you name it.

Along with all of that, the festival was filled with free tasters (which was great). For example, we got some free cookies by The Dublin Cookie Company, shrimp pasta by Barilla, bread with garlic butter by Improper Butter, and coffee from Lavazza.

As we came to a close with our savoury dishes, we looked around for dessert and found a cute little Gino's Gelato car. But, since we tend to get Gino's relatively often, we decided to veer off to find more.

So we got desserts by Couverture Premium Dessert instead!

I had the Belgian Chocolate Mousse while Callum had the Raspberry and White Chocolate Mousse!

I also then got a little Portuguese egg tart from The Natural Bakery to go.

After making a last stop at the Barry's Infusion Cocktail Bar for a final green tea mojito, we both left with our tummies and hearts filled. Definitely a little bit on the pricey side if not for the fallen florins that we found but...

I'll be back next year!!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Everyday Racism in Dublin

It was a drizzly day in Dublin, I had just gotten off the train at Heuston Station and was waiting for the Luas (tram). An elderly Irish woman and her husband were asking around for directions and I offered to help them since we were going in the same direction anyway. They seemed like they were grandparents visiting their children in Dublin as the man was holding a brand new baby carrier (probably as a gift). So why not help?

Things started off wonderful, they were really friendly. They lady told me they were from Limerick but the man had a North American accent (I then later found out he was also Canadian). Interestingly, they also said they built a house by the Lakeside Hotel in Ballina when they were younger (nearby the place where I lived during my first three years in Ireland).

Then, the typical question came about.

"You're not really from around here, are you?" the man asked with eyebrows raised.

I could see from his facial expressions and body language that he was trying to figure out my background - why I was here, why I sounded slightly Irish, but yet did not look the part.

He then asked if I was from Indonesia. From this question, I could see that he probably knew a little bit more about the differences in South East Asia or East Asia. So yes, I was a little impressed. I told him the typical summary - I was from Malaysia but I had lived in Ireland for seven years, so I picked things up along the way and adapted.

"Only seven years? It's amazing how you've absolutely embodied the ways of the Irish."

I took it as a compliment, he seemed genuinely kind and intrigued. He actually went on about his amazement that I have only been here for seven years for a good few minutes. I mean I get it, I don't expect others to understand my situation. I'm used to the assumptions that I'm not from here, and it's all fun and good when it's genuine interest to learn.

We continued chatting as we got on the Luas and he seemed to know a little bit about Malaysia. He told me he had Malaysian friends who were of Chinese and Indian heritage. This went on to the topic of racial discrimination within Malaysia and I just informed him of the facts that Malaysians are able to be legally discriminated against in education/work opportunities based on one's racial heritage. For example, as my great-grandparents came from China, there are certain universities in Malaysia which I cannot apply to as I am not of the Malay or bumiputera race (this is a simplified illustration of course, but it's just to get the point across). We were just talking facts, not opinions.

Suddenly, his voice volume decreased and he came closer to ask a question.

"Is it true that the Malays are more stupid in comparison to the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia?"

I was slightly taken aback, but I laughed it off saying that these were just stereotypes perpetuated within the country but they're not facts. I elaborated on my personal experiences in secondary school where my class had all races performing both well and badly in examinations.

"But truthfully though, aren't they less capable, just like how studies have shown that people from Africa have lower levels of IQ in comparison to Western countries?"

This stunned me. Excuse me? Are you just trying to say White people are proven to be smarter than Black people? You're actually overtly saying this? Wow. I knew of the studies he talked about. I learnt about them in my Psychology and Sociology classes. But, these studies were heavily critiqued for having biased samples, unfair advantage to children in Western countries as they were more trained in their education system to answer questions within IQ tests, researcher bias, and much more.

I felt like exploding with all of these counterattacks. But, we were in a crowded Luas. It was in the middle of the day. This was a man in his 60s who looked like he meant well at the start, I didn't want to start an argument.

"Malaysia has a patenting system right? Which races make the most patents?"

Why would I know the statistics of patents in Malaysia in the first place? Also, even if the statistics did have racial differences, that could just be a product of other societal factors. I was just up to my ears in trying to hide my disgust with a smile.

I suggested that other factors like cultural and socio-economic advantages could lead to systematic differences between races in IQ tests. This, however, does not mean that being of a certain race leads you to be innately smarter or more stupid. I stated my case that I strongly do not believe in that whatsoever. I also elaborated on how societal and parental expectations may affect a child's motivation to study harder or to expect high educational performance - as I personally felt and saw that when I was studying in Malaysia. Some of my Malaysian friends with Chinese or Indian heritage felt the need to study harder to obtain a university scholarship post secondary school in case they were not accepted into public universities.

"Are you a Sociology student?" 

Yes, and I also did Psychology.

"Your thinking may be an idealistic take on the subject but is it really the truth?
And you did Psychology too? Hmm........"

He looked slightly puzzled when I said I did Psychology, as if he expected me to agree with his opinion of innate racial IQ differences (as many of these studies ''proving" racial differences of IQ involved psychologists).

By this time, I could just feel all the people surrounding us listening in. Even his wife was quiet the entire time sitting down. I could see that he strongly believed that racial differences in IQ were innate and there was no point in arguing. I just felt so distressed at how someone could believe that so wholeheartedly.

We parted ways when the Luas arrived at our destination. I could see his wife being slightly apologetic towards me for having to engage in such a conversation. He on the other hand, smiled at me with a kind of look that I was a sort of millennial child with over optimistic and idealistic views of humanity.

That's okay with me.
I would rather not support the belief that our skin colour and heritage determines our intelligence.


This is all based on my own recollection. So of course, the quotes are paraphrased. But, I tried my best to remember the things I heard that day.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Dublin: Yerim visits from Korea!

I first met Yerim two years ago when I went to Korea for the first time. 
She was the sister of my friend's friend and I ended up getting to know her quite well! 
Suddenly, I found out that she's actually on an Erasmus programme in Poland.
So I immediately asked her to come visit Dublin when she could so I could bring her around.

And bring her around I did!
The weather was fabulous on the first two days she was here so we had some burrito bowls from Mama's Revenge at the Pav.

Next we headed to the famous Howth to enjoy the breeze and sunny rays.

Since she hasn't had Korean food in awhile, we headed to Kimchi on Parnell Street for some kimchi jeongol with pork 김치 전골 , spicy chicken wings, and duck teriyaki.

Then we headed to Vicar Street to watch Foil, Arms and Hog live in action.
The lads were hilarious to watch in-person and they were really good at spontaneously improvising. 
Thank goodness we weren't in the front few tables as boy, did they get involved.

We made a friend, Suyeon 수연 along the way who was also travelling in Ireland and she joined us on one of the days. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty cruel on Saturday with its lashing rain. 
So, I brought them around Trinity, to see the Book of Kells, the Long Room, the Museum Building, the usual. 

And of course, we had to have some tasty food in our tummies - at Queen of Tarts.

Queen club sandwich filled with chicken, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. and sweet potato soup.

Mushroom and Gruyere cheese omelette

Coconut almond cake

Chocolate, almond, and pear, tart

Raspberry cheesecake

Irish coffee


Eating healthy has recently become a thing of the past. Hah. I'll get back to that soon...

Friday, 26 May 2017

Lisbon: Sun, Sand, and Sangria

After completing four years of college, I thought it would be nice to have a getaway to recuperate.
Not to forget, I needed to stock back up on the lack of vitamin D courtesy of the Irish weather.

Lorcan and I decided to go to a beach destination there had access to the city so we went to

 Costa da Caparica!

Just southwest of Lisbon where it was filled with locals and not a single tourist was spotted!

Our total holiday costed 359 per person. Broken down it was:-

5D/4N Airbnb Accommodation: 74
Ryanair Flights from Dublin: 90
Food and Drink: 150 
Public transport within Lisbon: 40
Exhibition entrance fee: 5

The reason behind the absence of tourists was that we didn't go to the larger beaches along the coast. Instead we went to Santo Antonio, as recommended by our Airbnb host, Patricia.

We spent every single day at the beach at least for a couple of hours under the large umbrella (thanks to Patricia), and we also went bobbing along with the waves.

Best part was, we froze iced peach tea in the fridge and brought it along with us so we could delightfully sip it while we were there and it would be icy and refreshing.

As mentioned earlier, we stayed at a lovely apartment which was a ten minute walk away from the beach. Patricia was an amazing host who helped to recommend all the things we should do and provided a guide on how to get to places - Click here if interested to book her apartment!

Since we had the apartment, we made sure to stock up on delicious food and cooked most of our meals.

So when we ate out we splurged ever so slightly on good food since we saved quite a lot by cooking.
Here's a little summary of what to eat, drink, and do, when in Lisbon.


1. Portuguese egg tarts!

We walked into a small cafe which was near Igreja de San António (Saint Anthony Church) and Sé de Lisboa (Cathedral of Lisbon) and just thought we'd like a tasty treat. It wasn't actually half bad.

But if you want to taste the infamous tarts at Pasteis de Belem, head down there but prepare for a queue!

Don't be worried though, the employees are well used to the crowds and are very efficient and on top of things! One tart costs 1.10 and you'll definitely need more than one!

2. Sangria

Especially in the summer, it's just essential to sip down a lovely glass of sangria while nibbling on its chunks of fruit.

We definitely had it more than once...or twice.

You can oddly get them both in one sitting but that's probably not the most local thing to do. 

3. Eat at LxFactory 

It's outside of the city, but worth a wander (recommended by our host), and we loved it and returned to this vicinity twice!

It's an industrial area converted into a neighbourhood of restaurants, bars, cafes, and artwork.

It felt like a little hipster village, so for those intrigued by all things hipster, or just enjoy some good wandering, I would totally recommend!

We stumbled upon Restaurante da Praça in LxFactory because the one we wanted to go to wasn't open but we left extremely pleased.

The weather was also stunning and it was our first meal eaten out (after all the cooking) so it was an absolute treat.

He got the duck within a crispy filo pastry on a bed of steamed sweet potatoes.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the grilled octopus with potatoes and salad (and so did he).

The restaurant had both indoor and outdoor seating so you could enjoy its food regardless of the weather!

Altogether we had two main dishes, with bread and olives for sides, with a litre of sangria which added up to about €50.

Within LxFactory, make sure to go to Rio Maravilha which is on the 4th floor on one of the buildings and is only accessible by an old-school lift. Be warned that it is not open on Mondays! (We had to come back another day to visit this place).

You get a lovely rooftop view where loads of the locals are chilling and enjoying some cocktails.

We were lucky enough to get a table despite not having a reservation and we got some complimentary bread with a ricotta cheese dip.

Lorcan got the Iberian pork with dollops of papaya cream.

While I returned to my lovely grilled and slightly fried octopus on a bed of pureed sweet potatoes and other tasty things. 

Apologies for the poor quality photo, I didn't realise it was blur and continued to eat my food right away haha!

The waitress recommended the Raspberry Fizz Gin Cocktail which was lovely!
Our dinner ended up being €55 which included two mains, a complimentary starter, a bottle of still water, a glass of wine and my cocktail.

Even if dinner isn't on your agenda, cocktails there start from €6 which is an absolute steal with that kind of view!


Since I already elaborated on why you need to go to LxFactory, I'll not go on about that here.

1. Lisbon City Centre: 

Wander around and get lost - especially around the Baixo-Chiado area

Praça do Comércio

2. Jeronimos Monastery (Mosteiro de Jerónimos)

The old monastery was beautiful and was only a fiver to get in (with a student ID)

3. Padrão dos Descobrimentos

The area surrounding this monument was pretty to wander with little food shops and a great view of the sea.

A little bit of corny love locks were there too.

The monument was commemorating the adventures of Henry the Navigator - so it was a rather slight glorification of colonialism really.

Just like how they stopped by Melaka in Malaysia. I guess it was slightly strange to see the history I learnt in Malaysia from the coloniser point of view.

4. Torre de Belém (Belem Tower)

We didn't get tickets to go up the tower cos it wasn't particularly high but for those who would enjoy exploring the gothic tower, a combination ticket with the Jeronimos Monastery would save you some money. 

And that's about it!
Simple and sweet.
Just like those Portuguese egg tarts.