Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Brighton Side of Life

On a sunny Spring Friday afternoon, Brighton seemed welcoming, bright and cheerful. A short train journey from London-Gatwick Airport (45min approx), no wonder Londoners and tourists alike invade Brighton in the long summer days to enjoy a bit of sunshine by the sea front.

Unlike other seaside resorts (and I’m not going to name any…), Brighton has survived its Victorian heyday gracefully, reinventing itself into a trendy, gay-friendly, University town hot spot. Locals are probably exhausted by the amount of hen parties and day trippers they get every weekend but surely that gives the place its upbeat look of constant-holidaying atmosphere.

However, under this shiny layer of busy cafes, shops and yoga centres, you can still sense the 1930s Brighton described by Graham Greene in its murder novel Brighton Rock. Maybe because its mighty pier seems so timeless. Maybe because (besides a few out of place apartment blocks from the 60s) Brighton’s skyline is quite untouched and preserved for a city of almost half a million people. I suppose there is always a slight dark feel to seaside resorts they can never quite shake off... or maybe I’m just taking too seriously that idea of an underworld of local mafia so well described by Greene.

Anyway, for the most amazing breakfasts, lunches (the best haloumi cheese salad ever) smoothies and cakes, go to Bill’s ( ). Good weather and good food can definitely made a holiday! For some traditional Brighton lazy afternoon fun, head to The Pier for amusements and some easy-going gambling, waffles, crepes, fish and chips and other old-style delights.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dublin's Paddy's Day for your mobile
This is a handy story from Silicon Republic for those spending St. Patrick's Day in Dublin and interested in what's happening between 12th and 17th March for the capital's St. Patrick's Day Festival.

Fishy dinner at Richard Corrigan's Bentleys

If there is something I like that has to be seafood. When I got invited to a friend’s ‘fancy’ birthday dinner, I was delighted while a little bit daunted by the idea of going to a posh restaurant. The destination was unknown to me until I was literally in Dublin for the feast (up from my culchie life in Co. Wexford) and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the grand yet unpretentious ambiance of Bentleys, Richard Corrigan’s restaurant in St. Stephen’s Green (Dublin).

Maybe I was a bit star-struck too, since it is the first time I go to a restaurant where the chef is almost more known for his newspaper columns, cookbooks and TV appearances than for his culinary delights.

We got a round table by the window, which was great - beautiful and a bit more private-, but I was secretly waiting for the moment we sit down and open a menu featuring a list of anaemic sounding dishes garnished with overweight prices. But it never happened. The menu was written in plain English and fairly priced, with main courses starting at just over €18 if I remember well (the puds were a bit on the pricey side but they were worth it).

The artichoke and smoked salmon soup was delicious and unusual (for me), and so was the lemon tart with raspberry sorbet. Traditional fish and chips sounded like a good idea and it was tasty but, in retrospect, I should have gone for something more adventurous, specially after seeing the pictures of the fish pie dishes in his book (the day after!).

After dinner, we headed upstairs to The Aviator’s Lounge for some drinks. It was relaxed and quaint but the average age was quite a bit older than our party. Overall, it was a highly enjoyable experience, recession-proof and highly recommended (And I think the birthday boy also had a good time, which was the point of the whole shebang).

If you want to check it out, Richard Corrigan’s cookbook is called: The clatter of forks and spoons. Also, in last Sunday’s The Sunday Business Post Agenda magazine you can find his recipe for fish soup

And if you want to book and try it for yourself, you can do it online at I’m told by the party organiser you must book well in advance to secure a table.