IRISH FOOD DESIGNS
If you care about what you eat and where it comes from, that curiosity and attention to detail might well transfer to what you eat off. Indeed, an interest in food provenance can lead to an interest in kitchen accessory provenance.
There is plenty to draw from when laying our tables, thanks to our heritage in ceramics and the work of makers such as Nicholas Mosse and Derek Wilson. Also, Irish designers and makers working with Irish timbers and linens have us covered when it comes to the grittier aspects of kitchen life; the chopping and the tidying up.
(bunbaryboards.com) were first crafted in 2007 by the Lisnavagh Timber Project, established by William Bunbury, who took over the management of Lisnavagh Estate in 2001. He wanted to sustainability protect the estate’s hundreds of acres of woodland by finding creative ways to use fallen timber. What makes Bunbary Boards (from ¤29.50) special is that there is often an edge left unsmoothed on each board, retaining a characteristic of the original piece of wood it was carved from.
Another practical piece of wood comes from Waterfordbased (facebook.com/littlehilldesign) whose boards come in a range of shapes and sizes. There are large round ones and small square palettes of wood, perfect for chopping an apple and a wedge of cheese for a quick snack. These boards are available to buy at the Irish Design Shop (irishdesignshop.com).
The (saturdayworkshop.ie) is another of my favourite makers working with wood. Edward and Iseult O’Clery are a father-daughter team who started making things together in their spare time as a way to channel the creative
Little Hill Designs
Knife-maker Fingal Ferguson
aspects of their respective professions in architecture and engineering. They make a range of wooden products and toys, but my favourite is their set of four geometric egg cups (¤34). You can crack your boiled egg open over a square, circle, triangle or hexagon, depending on how you’re feeling that day. Also in the Irish wood realm are
(superfolk.com), whose teapot trivets are made from Irish ash, beech and oak. The design team behind these surface protectors are designer and craft maker Gearoid Muldowney and architect Jo Anne Butler. Their aim is to design and make homewares “for people who love the wild outdoors” and their instagram account (@superfolk) evokes the west-of-Ireland lifestyle their brand embodies. For bread and cheese knives,
( chaimfactor.com) in Wicklow is a one stop shop. Its bread and cheese knives (around ¤65) are made from the native woods of Wicklow.
of Gubbeen seems to be taking a break from hand-crafting his exquisite knives but it might be worth seeing if he has any left for sale by contacting him directly through fingalfergusonknives.com.
Cut your Cloth
When it comes to tea towels, you can’t get much better than
Based in Cavan, this company is led by Damien Hannigan (another architect) and
Usually, a menu that claims to offer the food of three nations makes me nervous but here it makes sense. The culinary traditions of Greece, Turkey and Egypt have been swapped and shared throughout the ages, and it’s these that Keshk’s menu focuses on.
The hummus (¤6.50) has a grainy, homemade texture, rather than suspiciously smooth, and pleasantly bitter with tahini. The accompanying pitta breads are soft, round and fluffy, served warm. The feta fritters (¤6.75) are large chunks of feta covered in a coat of batter and deep-fried, as opposed to crumbled feta in a batter with mixed vegetables. The feta is intense served this way, but the grilled courgette that accompany them go some way to temper them.
A kafta in garlic butter
Joi Fu, who work with Irish linens and tweeds to create homewares. Their range of linen tea towels (¤16) are made with 100 percent Irish linen and come in an range of patterns and styles. Also working with Irish linen is
(enrichandendure.com) the apron makers from Northern Ireland. Based in Belfast and founded by brother-and-sister team Lorcan and Sarah Quinn, their aprons are made from 100 per cent Irish linen and are designed to be durable and hardy in the kitchen. Their ready-to-wear aprons start from £49 and come in a range of colours from orange to blue to cream. Last but not least are
(thetweedproject.com) aprons. Available in two shades of grey, these aprons are designed by Aoibheann McNamara (of Ard Bia) and Triona Lillis in Galway as part of their Irish tweed and linen project, whose new range is being launched this winter.
Enrich and Endure
(¤16.95) is more like a meatball in a creamy curry sauce. The meat is flavoured well and cooked on a charcoal grill. The sauce itself has redeeming qualities but as a dish, with the accompanying rice, it doesn’t excite. The falafel (¤15.95 for six pieces with a side salad and more fluffy pitta bread) are good, if a little dry. The desserts are the usual suspects of chocolate fudge cake and ice cream, the baklava (¤5.50) being the top choice for dessert.
The service is friendly and efficient. The décor includes paintings of kashbahs and medinas on the walls, and instead of going for the full on Middle Eastern plush palace, the look is instead clean and comfy, if a little outdated and bland. Keshk is often noted for its bring your own beer or wine
policy, and the fact that it has no corkage fee or extra charge for this.
They’re open for lunch, too, and serve most of the dinner menu at lunchtime prices. They also do takeaway and are on Deliveroo, so you can indulge in their hummus in the comfort of your own home.
Berlin Café & Bierhaus
Clarendon Street, Dublin 2 facebook.com/ homeofthebear € On the corner of Coppinger Row and Clarendon Street in Dublin sits a cafe space that pays homage to the creative city to whom Ireland has lost many an Irish artist; Berlin.
I was distrustful when I first saw the Berlin sign in the summer of 2014, when it first opened. Much like an inauthentic Italian restaurant called “Rome” or “Napoli”, it feels like a disingenuous marketing tool, an attempt to shift a few coffees through the association of a vibey city. I also bristle at the idea that we have to bring a bit of Berlin to Dublin to make it cool. I wasn’t expecting to like it, so when I find myself being comforted within its walls by a bowl of warm soup on a cold day, I’m pleasantly surprised by the space and how it’s being used.
Chairs and sofas line the street outside of the cafe, which curls around the corner of the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. Inside, the highceilinged space is filled with long, communal wooden benches for punters and a long, wooden counter for the baristas.
When I visit, the soup of the day (¤5.50) is a hearty tomato soup served with toasted sourdough bread. Other options include a daily hotpot (¤8) and a salad plate of four salads, which can include bulgar wheat and shredded pickled cabbage, for ¤7.50. Paninis (still popular in Berlin?) include old favourites such as mozzarella and tomato. It’s an unambitious menu but it’s done well. The coffee is brewed with care and often comes adorned with a bear through the medium of latte art. There are pretzels on the coffee bar, and next to them are cakes by Paleo Man Foods, an excellent gluten- and dairy-free dessert company that also supplies Kaph around the corner on Drury Street.
Where this Dublin café captures some of Berlin’s cultural spirit best is the multi-purpose use of this space. It’s a daytime café that doubles up as a venue and DJ space for small, regular gigs, and the room is well suited for it. Monday nights offer Dublin’s buskers the chance to sing with a roof over their heads and for you to discover new talent (you’ve been warned). Recently, a Cabaret Quiz Show was held on a Tuesday evening. Saturday nights are given over to Disko Tapes from 6pm till late, where just a few weeks ago Olan O’Brien from All City Records was a guest DJ. Beers are available too; last month a Brat & Bier special was on offer to celebrate Oktoberfest.
So it turns out Berlin isn’t here to make a statement about Dublin; instead it’s trying to celebrate a slice of Berlin’s multipurpose bar culture on a Dublin corner.
The National Library of Ireland Kildare Street, Dublin 2 nli.ie € The National Library of Ireland is home to records of Irish life, made accessible to those readers who wish to study the documents and archives of this public library. The Library is free of charge to anyone who wants to consult the collections, though a reader’s ticket is needed, and available from the library’s front desk in the building that overlooks the Dail, where the library has lived since 1877.
It’s not a lending library and instead reading rooms abound in this impressive space. There is often a small exhibition in the hallway just before you enter