Friday, 20 April 2018

Delicious Budget-Friendly Vegan Chili!

Hey all,

I think I've stumbled across one of my best recipes yet. I know I haven't ever really posted a recipe on Brewji, but seeing where my health and life have taken me the past few months...this is where I am now.

Just to get it out of the way: Yes. This chili is Vegan. It's also gluten-free and soy-free.
I also don't add any sugar or thickener. All sugars in this recipe are naturally occurring.

Why? Because this is what's been working with my Crohn's.

Ever since I switched to a mostly plant-based diet in August of last year, I've felt a bit better and the GI doctor reported "there doesn't appear to be much – or any active inflammation at the moment, but there are still signs of narrowing (scar tissue) present from past episodes."

---

Now down to business.

I've been searching for a great vegan chili recipe all over the internet, but a lot of them call for veggies that I can't digest, soy products, added sugar and / or gluten-based thickening products.

Finally, I took matters into my own hands and have been experimenting for the past couple of months (my poor wife has had to deal with it) and we've found a winner. Thanks to her suggestion of adding sweetcorn, there is no need to thicken this chili.

Vegan Gluten-Free Soy-Free Chili @ Brewji Dublin
Photo: Brewji


Brewji Vegan Gluten-free Soy-free Chili:

Total estimated cost for entire recipe: €3.55 ($5.55 CAD)
Serves 5
Cost per serving: €0.71 ($1.11 CAD)


Cost calculations are based on the purchase price of the full ingredient. Numbers are in EUR (€).


INGREDIENTS:
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 cents
1 medium red onion
12 cents
2 tablespoons garlic puree (I use Al Noor brand)
5 cents
¼ teaspoon hot red chili flakes (use more if you can handle it)
1 cent
3 large celery stalks, diced finely (1/2 cm or thinner)
19 cents
¾ red bell pepper, seeded and diced
17 cents
1 can (400mL) diced / chopped tomatoes
45 cents
½ vegetable stock cube with 250mL hot water (I use Tesco brand)             
5 cents
6 tablespoons (90 mL) tomato paste
45 cents
1 can (400 mL) kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
70 cents
1 can (400 mL) navy beans or green lentils, drained and rinsed
70 cents
1 can (325mL) sweetcorn
31 cents
2 tablespoons mild chili powder (or hot if you prefer)
20 cents
2 teaspoons ground cumin
8 cents
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cents
1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
1 cent


METHOD
:
  1. Using a large pot, sautee your garlic puree and onion at medium-high heat until the onion starts to become soft (5-6 minutes). Give it a stir.
  2. Add the diced red bell pepper, celery and the hot chili flakes. Sautee and cook down for 7 minutes to soften up the veggies a bit without losing their bite.
  3. Add the vegetable broth (stock cube + boiling water), the can of tomatoes and the tomato paste. Mix the combination together well and increase the heat slightly to a higher "medium-high" heat. Let it cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rinsed and drained Black beans, Green lentils and Sweetcorn along with the spices (chili powder, cumin and Italian herb seasoning). Stir together well.
  5. Simmer uncovered on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes (the longer the softer the veggies will be).
  6. Turn off heat and serve with rice, corn tortilla chips, or quinoa for a vegan, gluten-free and soy-free complete meal!

Tips:
  • Chili will keep well in the fridge for 3 days
  • For a complex carb & plant-based protein powerhouse, serve with brown basmati rice
  • I did all my shopping at Tesco in Dublin. You could probably find some ingredients cheaper at other stores (Aldi / Lidl in Ireland or Walmart / Costco in Canada)

Vegan Gluten-Free Soy-Free Chili @ Brewji Dublin
Photo: Brewji


NUTRITION INFORMATION
Keep in mind these are estimates!

PER SERVING (5 servings per recipe)

Calories
263
Carbs
36.5g
Sugars
11.8g
Fat
5.4g
Protein
13.6g
Fiber
12.3g


Comment below if you've tried the recipe, or have any questions about it!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Dublin Update!

Hey all—

A lot has happened between my last post and today.
It's been just over a year since I made a post on Brewji!

Yes, I'm still in Dublin. I'm more homesick than I've ever been.
But there is a bright side. Well actually it's always cloudy here, but you know what I mean.
I'll never complain about Vancouver weather again.

But you know what? 
1 — I quit the job that was making me miserable 9 hours a day and negatively impacting my mental and physical health

  • I'm starting a new job after Easter, in a small startup company where I'll play a significant role within the company.


2 — I've discovered the benefits of eating a plant-based (dare I say VEGAN?) diet.

  • My doctors here in Dublin have even endorsed me and recommended I go vegan. The health benefits outweigh all the media anti-hype. That's just it. Plain and simple. 
  • As one of my GI doctors put it: "There's no reason any of us should be eating something that comes from another living creature". It takes quite a bit of willpower at first, and there are relapses (because meat is addicting and delicious), but after going back to chronic Crohn's episodes each time I do it, the relapses are less frequent.
  • That said, the healthcare in Dublin has actually been better than what I received in Canada. That's one of the big pluses to living here. 
  • Exception: There's no medicinal marijuana here to help people suffering from chronic conditions (mental and physical). That's the only major flaw in the health system compared to Canada that I've experienced. 
    • They may have introduced low-concentrate CBD oil, which can have a minor effect if you down half a freakin' bottle at a time. But honestly, the comparison of Irish regulated CBD oil to the real deal is like Molson 67 to Absynthe. If you drink enough Molson 67, you'll probably feel something eventually.


And when it comes to my Crohn's Disease? 

  • I've had a couple of flares. I've been put on Prednisone, been kept in hospital, and then I started introducing plant-based living into my life. Since then, it's been relatively stable. I'm on an immunosuppressant called Azathioprine (better known as Imuran). This shuts down or suppresses my immune system so it doesn't flare up so bad (as Crohn's is autoimmune).
    • But hey, still no surgeries! I'm hoping I can treat myself into remission with diet + exercise
  • Other than that, I've found eating less (or no) meat, combined with whatever cooked veggies I can tolerate has been very beneficial to my gut health.
  • I've even been able to tolerate gluten again, as well as some amounts of soy. 
  • My pollen allergies have basically been non-existent this year (this is a HUGE change from last year and previous years).


What about craft beer?
—Honestly, I couldn't care less at the moment.

  • Beer in general makes me bloated and feel heavy nowadays, and the craft beer available in Dublin is mediocre at best. 
  • There are some breweries around, and loads of pubs will have up to 10 (or more) taps available but the quality is just not there (I know, I'm spoiled coming from west coast North America).
  • There are even a few places serving up Steamworks, St. Ambroise and even SteamWhistle out here. Heck, I even had a Moosehead the other day and it was like drinking a bottle of home.


Maybe coffee?

  • Yeah, there are a few good cups out here but nothing amazing. Again, I come from the hipster coffee Mecca of the world (or a few hours drive from Seattle). The stuff out here just doesn't cut it. I find myself on treat days going to Starbucks for an iced americano. 
  • That said, I do prefer the taste of the espresso from Insomnia (it's less abrasive on my stomach lining).
  • I liked buying bags of coffee in Vancouver and making a pot of filtered coffee. That's not a thing here so we're stuck with 1 of 3 options:
    • Instant coffee (Nestle Azera is the only tolerable one)
    • Nespresso (Keurig's counterpart)
    • Buying €3-4 cups of coffee at every Starbucks-wannabe coffee shop


Well, food then. You must eat or cook or something, right?
YES. Actually, I've taken it upon myself to see what this whole Vegan thing is about.

Verdict on a Vegan diet?
After months of staying the fuck away from tofu and salads, I can safely say I'm happy with it.
Plus, I just found out one of my idols Travis Barker is vegan. I wanna be awesome too.

Let me assert the following:
- Tofu is gross. I don't care what you do with it. I've had it in restaurants and I've cooked it myself. Plus it's soy and that doesn't always agree with me
- Salads suck. I don't eat raw vegetables because A) They're gross and B) I can't digest them
- Tempeh is concentrated soy. I have issues with soy (see above)
- "Pretend" meat products are pretty bad for the most part. There are a few that I'd eat willingly.
- For those who know how much I love donuts...don't worry. The Rolling Donut now does a vegan selection! I'm covered.

So what the heck do I eat, then? — Just try new shit!
We started easy. I have a delicious tomato pasta sauce recipe from an old friend that happens to use fresh tomatoes and basil, with a little olive oil. Added mushrooms and canned lentils with a few sprinkles of spices and it was great. Didn't have pain and decided to keep going.

At this stage we now have fine-tuned recipes for things like Dahl, Chili, and grilled cheese sandwiches (toasties for those in Ireland). We go to the local ethnic food store and try all sorts of shit.
We've tried different types of plant-based protein sources that are all safe for my Crohn's-infested body. These include many types of lentils, beans, nuts, breads and seeds.

That said, a lot of this involves cooking, or learning how to cook.
Learning something new together is something that has definitely strengthened our relationship and brought us closer together. Our main goal is to make food that's delicious and works with our guts.

We've been lucky for the most part, thanks to folks like The Happy Pear, Oh She Glows, The Little Green Spoon and more for their websites and cookbooks. They've made it easy to make sure we cook food that tastes good in ways we've never tried before.

The drawbacks of Dublin for plant-based foodies
The one drawback of cooking vegan meals in Dublin is that fresh produce isn't really great here. Most produce you'll find at grocery stores and supermarkets is poor quality and will go off within two days (I'm looking at you, Tesco).

There's a lack of fresh fruit or veggies, but the vegan diet can be done over here. Frozen fruit and veg are abundant in stores like Iceland Supermarket.

Visiting Ethnic food stores such as Asian supermarkets is essential to not going stir-crazy with limited options. There's one store we visit that has more types of lentils and spices than I can ever remember to Google. There's much more than just that, though.

There's also a lack of vegan options in restaurants out here. However, there's The Happy Pear (listed above) and also Happy Food which is where we tried our first "vegan burger" and it was a make-or-break moment for us. After having one of their burgers we were so satisfied with both the flavours, the texture and the feeling afterwards that we decided we could ditch meat.

ANYWAYS, now you know what I've been up to for the past year...outside of whining about how much I miss my friends and being at home.
My life usually involves something to do with food. I'm always going to be a fat kid on the inside.
I love eating...too much to give it up.

You can expect future posts to involve one or more of the following:


  • Plant-based food / drink reviews
  • Recipes that are actually awesome and don't involve much effort (my kind of cooking)
  • Relapse days where I gorge into a fry-up or meaty burger
  • Coffee posts
  • Health updates

Are you in Ireland?
If you're reading this in Ireland, have I missed anything significant? 
Let me know! I'm hungry for options...and as my wife says: we're 'Permanently Hungry'.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Bobos Burgers (Abbey St)

Well, it's been awhile since my last post. I've been enjoying so much Kerala Kitchen and Kanum Thai lately that I haven't had a chance to get out and try anything new. Plus, those places have been generally safe for my gut, with so many gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free options on their menus.

Speaking of safe, my gut was in turmoil a week or so ago, so the abundance of new food has been sparse at best. Keeping things ultra-safe has been a top priority lately.

However, this morning I had to visit the blood clinic at a local hospital to get my blood-work done. After fasting from 7:30pm the night before, all the way to about 12 noon today, you can imagine how decaffeinated and hungry my body was.

What better-feeling way to replace calories, than to take on a gluten-free burger at a new burger joint? Tammy and I went to Bobos Burgers, in Dublin 1 on Abbey Street.

We'd heard great things about the place, and we even won "free burgers" through a Facebook post/contest thing. However, the vouchers expired months ago and they were only good Monday to Wednesday, during working hours. We were initially a little put off by this, but I was so hungry today and I wanted one of those burgers that I saw in the pictures—I got one.

The Sex on the Farm @ Bobos Burgers, Abbey St

I ordered the "Sex on the Farm" burger, with beef mince chili, Dubliner cheddar, a 7oz prime patty, lettuce, tomato, red onion, jalapeno red pepper sauce, and a bit of creme fraiche to top it all off—on a gluten-free bun. It was mega-sized.

I had to tackle this burger in two-bite sequences to start, alternating between bottom-half and top-half bites.

The flavour? Oh my god. Right away, this burger blew my previous 'perfect ten' out the window. It's like when you finally don't have to use a rubber and you know for a fact there's no risk involved. I don't think I can go back to regular burgers anymore! (*deep breath*) Let's just say I remember picking the burger up, stuffing it into my face and enjoying every moment of it, and then it was gone.

Oh, and we got a portion of chunky chips, too. They were proper chips. We added salt and pepper to taste.

Chunky Chips @ Bobos Burgers, Abbey St

Tammy got "The Applewood", which she found absolutely incredible. She said the only imperfection was the apple relish was a teeny bit too sweet for her taste.

The Applewood @ Bobos Burgers, Abbey St

I can safely say my burps tasted delicious, and my hands smelled like chili for the next while (and it made me so happy!). Oh, and I forgot to mention our service was pretty decent as well. We were a little rushed on the ordering, but that was our own fault. I said I was ready to order but I clearly needed more time (they have so much choice!).

Side note: Yes I understand there's dairy in the burger. I'm currently paying for it as I write this. But, I knew the risks ahead of time and it was my choice to take on pain for pleasure. This was sooo worth the lactose-intolerant aftermath.

We also ordered coffee, and it was pretty solid. As a Vancouverite (much like those from Seattle), I'm allowed to be picky with my coffee. I liked it here!

Coffee @ Bobos Burgers, Abbey St


Bobos Burgers: 50 Shades of Burger Bliss
Food: 10
Service: 7
Value($): 9.5
Would we return? YES

Friday, 24 February 2017

Top 3 Donut Shops in Dublin

Alright, I don't know what's gotten into me but lately I became a little obsessed with donuts in Dublin.

Ever since we stopped in at The Rolling Donut, Tammy and I decided that we wanted to see what all the fuss is about with all these different donut shops around us. So, on Valentine's Day I surprised her with Off Beat Donuts. Then, a few days later we decided to drop into Boston Donuts and have a couple of their offerings.

This list ranks the donut shops, with the best appearing at #1.

Let's get to the donuts, shall we?

#3. The Rolling Donut

3 for €8 Box from The Rolling Donut
Photo: Brewji


You may have seen me post about this place before. Why? They're the first 'fancy' donuts I've had. I don't think I've ever paid more than $2.50 CAD for a donut, because they don't cost that much in Canada—even at Starbucks.

Well, Tammy and I had a sh!t experience at McKenzie's in Stephen's Green, so we decided to go on a redemption mission for our day. How? We wandered into The Rolling Donut. We got a box of three to go.

Donuts are €3 each, or 3 for €8.

In short, these bad boys will dent your wallet (especially if you're going for just one). Three Euros translates to roughly $4.50 CAD for one donut, or the price of three donuts and a small coffee at Tim Hortons.

Let's see how The Rolling Donut stands up to the test:




a) Peanut Butter and Chocolate
While gorgeous, with its size and crushed peanuts on top, this donut did have its pitfalls. The dough was a bit chewy, and as you can see, this donut was 2/3 filling. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case the filling was really dense.

Imagine the texture of Nutella that's been in the fridge. So you get the chewy dough-y donut with a nice chocolate icing and crushed peanuts on top, then you get to the centre where you gotta put in a little effort to bite through it.


All in all, the taste was great, but texture-wise next time I'd pass.










Me: 6.0 / 10
Tammy: 7.0 / 10
_____________________________





b) Coffee Lovers
We saw the name contained the word "Coffee" and we had to go for it. We're sort of like children that way. Plus, you see pecans on the top of a donut labelled with coffee...and, you get it.

Again, this donut is gorgeous on the outside. It's got a white, vanilla frosting with some pecans on top. The donut dough is the same as the previous, and inside there's a much thinner filling than the last donut.
However, the taste is incredible. Flavours of coffee and sugar erupt through the filling, with notes of coffee liqueur and caramel.

If you love coffee (who doesn't?) and donuts, make this your first if you pay a visit to The Rolling Donut.










Me: 9.0 / 10
Tammy: 9.0 / 10
_____________________________





c) Banoffee
Now, initially we'd really liked this donut, a lot. But, you know the feeling when you find something better and you just can't go back to what you once liked putting in your mouth?

I'll say that before I had this donut, I'd never tasted Banoffee in my life. I was essentially asking "WTF is Banoffee?" Then, Tammy told me.

As I described to Tammy, the donut had a similar dough to the others, had a chocolate-toffee icing on top, and the middle tasted like a banana bread, banana-icing, and frosting all mixed together.

The only problem? They were really skimpy on the filling. This cross-section photo looks good, but that's essentially all the filling that was in the donut, and there's not much behind there.

The flavours are great, but I wish there was more! All I got was dough and disappointment.

Me: 4.0 / 10
Tammy: 6.0 / 10
_____________________________




The Rolling Donut: ...I guess you'll do.
Food: 6.5
Service: 7
Value($): 4
Would we return? MEH




#2. Boston Donuts

2 for €5 Box from Boston Donuts
Photo: Brewji
You might see these shops scattered about town. In fact, this was probably the first 'fancy' donut place that I saw here in Dublin, and thought "damn, I want a donut".

As you can see, we're already doing better than The Rolling Donut. Let's see how Boston Donuts stacks up. Here's a secret: They're better than the Bruins will ever be.

You can get a pack of 2 donuts for €5. I don't remember how much one costs...and they don't have prices on their website. That's a pet peeve right there.


a) Nutella

You don't have to do much to convince me that I'm going to want anything labelled "Nutella." I've loved the stuff as long as I can remember. I know it's got loads of dairy, but pain and bloating are trade-offs that can be fought through...for the deliciousness.

The first thing I noticed about this donut was that the quality of the dough knocks The Rolling Donut out of the park! Perhaps the ingredients were fresh? Or better? Either way, it's the same as comparing a Guinness that's sat out overnight from one poured fresh from the tap. That's how much better the dough is.

Sadly, there's nothing to this donut. I mean sure, the quality of the dough is there, but it's really just an overpriced plain donut with a bit of chocolate icing that sort of tasted like Nutella on top.

But at least the dough of the donut was good. That's a solid 5 points right there. No extra points from me though...you only got half of what you labelled on the product. Okay fine, half a point for the crushed hazelnuts on top.

Me: 5.5 / 10
Tammy: 5.0 / 10
_____________________________


b) Banoffee


What did I say earlier? That donut from The Rolling Donut called "Banoffee" didn't have enough filling. That's right. Their donut was all dough, no substance.

Well, step aside! In comes the Boston Donuts Banoffee.

With the higher quality dough, the perfect sweetness in the icing and the toffee drizzle, this is a new league of donut when it comes to banoffee.

Tammy was absolutely shocked at how much better this was than The Rolling Donut. The whipped topping in the middle had a lot of banana flavour, and mixed with the sweetness of the frosting and the drizzle make it so delicious. Hands down, a favourite.

If you go into Boston Donuts, and you love anything about bananas, toffee, or this so-called banoffee...this is a definite go-to.

Me: 9.0 / 10

Tammy: 9.5 / 10
_____________________________



Boston Donuts: Better dough, best Banoffee.
Food: 7
Service: 7
Value($): 7
Would we return? PROBS



#1 Off Beat Donuts


On February 13th, I finally got access to my first bank account in Ireland. This meant that I had to act fast to be able to not make a disappointment of myself. We don't really do much on Valentine's anyway, as it *is* a corporate holiday to set unrealistic expectations and make single people feel like crap.

When you're Tammy and me, most days are what people claim "Valentine's Day" should be.

That aside—Off Beat Donuts! I went to Fresh to pick up some specialty grocery items and found they had a donut shop. What I didn't know is that it was Off the Beat.

They have some donuts for €2 and some for €3. They do have a deal of three, six, or twelve which comes out to €2 each. Of course, I had to get three. And then I went back a couple days later and got three more! But out of the six, there were only five different ones...you'll see why there was a repeat.

First Up: Apple Crumble

I don't want to give it away, but what you see pictured here is essentially the holy grail of donuts. If you like apple pie, apples, donuts, sweet things or if you've ever been happy at any point in your life—you'll like this donut.

The dough is a perfect density, flavour, and texture. The icing is glazed on top, with the drips of extra sweetness clinging to the sides, topped with a crumble topping you'd see on a real apple crumble.

The filling is exactly what you'd get on the inside of an apple pie. I'm not kidding. You bite into this donut and enter a world where apple crumble, donut, and apple pie mend into one glorious pop of flavour heaven. If I had one last donut I could ever eat, this would be it.

Me: Perfect 10 / 10
Tammy: Perfect 10 / 10


Second: Apple Caramel

While I liked the Apple Crumble donut the best, this one came in as a close second in our initial box of three. Replace the crumble topping with a thick layer of chewy, gooey caramel and a dollop of apple pie filling on top.

Bite into this centre for more apple pie filling and smother it on your taste buds with the decadent, caramel icing. I'm drooling just writing this!

Have we already established the dough quality? Beyond comparison. Winning all around.

Me: 9.0 / 10
Tammy: 9.5 / 10


Third: Cinnamon Sugar

Time to settle down just a little bit. Perhaps something not so ridiculous and over-the-top? Let's see how well they handle a classic.

This is your standard cinnamon sugar donut, enlarged and made with Off Beat's incredible dough. I mean, it's above average, yes...but they have far superior donuts I'd rather go for.

Me: 7.0 / 10
Tammy: 7.5 / 10


Fourth: Jam Donut

This is the one Tammy was looking forward to the most. If there's anything she misses about Vancouver, a precious Breka jam donut cracks her Top 5.

Note: If you're in Vancouver and you've never been to Breka, what are you doing with your life?

Does this stack up? Well, she says it was super tasty and delicious—but there's no beating a Breka jam donut. For me, I thought it was quite delicious too. Alas, I do prefer Breka.

Me: 8.5 / 10
Tammy: 8.0 / 10


Fifth: Ferraro Rocher

This one's mine. All mine.

Tammy's not the biggest fan of Nutella, and she's not super crazy about Ferraro Rocher either. Well, that just means more for me!

This donut has it all. If you want chocolate-Nutella icing, shaped to look like someone with a messy comb-over, you got it. You want some walnut chopped and sprinked on top? You got it.

Does it have the taste of the perfect dough, combined with the icing, and Nutella on the inside?
Sort of.



What's that? A FERRARO ROCHER ON THE INSIDE. How can you not try this donut? Add this one (along with the Apple Crumble) to your must-try list. If you don't like Ferraro Rocher or Nutella...you can still buy one, just hand it to me.

Me: 10 / 10
Tammy: 7.5 / 10

Off Beat Donuts: The Holy Grail of Dublin's Donuts
Food: 9.5
Service: 9
Value($): 9
Would we return? YES
The Link Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 20 February 2017

Kerala Kitchen

Now, I've been craving Indian food since I got to Ireland. I mean, sure, we've made stuff at home...but nothing has really stood out—even in Dublin.

Enter Kerala Kitchen, an Indian restaurant that started small and finally has a permanent location on the quaint Upper Baggot Street, in Dublin 4.

We weren't expecting anything more than 'above average', as we've heard some good things from reviews on the web. I've grown up with Indian food, so I figured I've had it as good as I can get it. We were surely surprised!

I never really mentioned it, but Tammy and I were going out for dinner because today marks six months since we tied the knot! We had Indian food on our wedding day, so I figured it was only fitting that we have Indian food today as well.

When we arrived, we were greeted pretty warmly. They were very friendly, and even the Manager came out to say hello! Arun, the Manager, gave us recommendations and got to know us. The dining area is upstairs and on the smaller side. This means it's a bit more intimate, but has a wonderful feel in the atmosphere. He said at Kerala Kitchen, they pride themselves on the quality of their food above all else.

Alright—onto the food!

Lamb Seekh Kebabs, Dal Curry, Chattinad Curry, Onion Bhaji, and Pulao Rice
@ Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

Tammy and I went all out: we got two starters and two mains, with two sides.


Poppadoms with 3 Dips
@ Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

Before we get to our Starters: the staff realized I was Brewji, and they gave me some complimentary dips to go along with the poppadoms (which are generally complimentary). There were three dips. One tasted like a mango chutney, one tasted like a yogurt-based dip, and one was perhaps a tamarind chutney. I generally love my poppadoms without too much dip, but I couldn't get enough of the mango one.

Our Starters: Lamb Seekh Kebabs + Onion Bhaji x2

Onion Bhaji + Dip
@Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

We started with the Onion Bhaji, because the last time we ordered Indian food we had Onion Bhaji and we liked them. However, these were so much better! The Onions were perfectly fried, the right amount of chana flour holding it together, and the onions had that perfect crunch without being overbearing in flavour. The filling made it addicting to the point where I couldn't put it down. It was served with what seemed to be a mint-infused raita. I'm not sure if that's what it was, but it was delicious. I'm normally not a person who gets into the dips or sauces, but I was loading my Bhaji with the stuff. For under €4, you really can't go wrong with this one.

Tammy: 9.5 / 10
Me: 9.5 / 10


Lamb Seekh Kebabs
@ Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

Moving on, we dove into the Lamb Seekh Kebabs. I remember the first bite, so tender, juicy, and perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of spice, retaining the juicy flavours of the lamb. Each and every bite was succulent. These kebabs were served with a similar dip to the Bhaji, although perhaps there was a bit of spice in this one? Or maybe it was just the taste of the kebabs. Either way, I was loading this dip onto my food as well! Serious mission accomplished...as I said I'm normally not a dip guy but I couldn't resist. The best Lamb Seekh Kebabs I've ever eaten.

Tammy: 10 / 10
Me: 10 / 10



Our Mains: Chettinad Chicken Curry + Dal Curry

Chettinad Chicken Curry
@Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

Onto our mains: we chose one chicken dish and one vegetarian. We decided to go with the Chettinad Chicken Curry because the description sounded lovely, and the picture in their online menu looked pretty irresistible (I'm pretty sure my snapshot is pretty good too, eh?). Let me tell you—it tastes way better than it looks. While I ended up sweating bullets due to the heat, I enjoyed this dish thoroughly. It has the most pronounced flavour of anything we ate tonight. This, for me, was the hands down star of the show. I was emotionally engaged with my meal at the point of tasting this dish. 

Tammy: 10 / 10
Me: 10 / 10 * I think it's safe to say I'm in love with this dish. My wife doesn't mind.


Dal Curry
@Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

We ordered the Dal Curry because we didn't want to get too stuffed by having a lamb curry alongside a chicken curry. Plus, if there's ever a day where Tammy and I are both exhausted and we want a quick, easy and nutritious takeaway meal, we might have one. This Dal Curry has four different types of lentils in it, and according to their menu doesn't contain dairy or gluten! This means bonus points for us. We were finding flavours that we didn't even know existed in this Dal Curry.

When I was little, my mom told me that when she was growing up, Dal Curry (or as she called it, Daar Saag) was a type of food that was eaten by people who didn't have a lot of money. This was because it had two main components: Lentils and a type of cream/milk base. This was something they could cook and the entire village could feel satiated. Well, mom, this is still a staple (except now it's luxurious, too!).

Tammy: 9.5 / 10
Me: 9.5 / 10



Our Sides: Pulao Rice, one for each of us

Pulao Rice
@Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

The Pulao Rice is a seasoned basmati rice, topped with a few fried onions. It's slightly more aromatic and flavourful than plain basmati rice, and only costs an extra 50 cents.


Bonus: 
At one point while I was eating, the waiter stopped by and I asked for a napkin. I was sweating profusely and I didn't want to appear offensive to the other guests. He apologized for the spice level of the dish (it wasn't even their fault!), but I said no worries, as I usually sweat a lot when eating spicy food. He said okay, handed me a napkin, and I hoped I hadn't offended anyone.


Keralan Coconut Chicken Curry
@Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

Moments later, Arun came around with a complimentary half-portion of the Keralan Coconut Chicken Curry! He said it's similar to the Chettinad, but a little more mild and creamy. I felt bad, as I didn't mean for my sweat to say that anything was wrong. In fact, the Chettinad was my most favourite dish! 

However, this was on another level of its own. It reminded me of the best butter chicken I've ever eaten, but made with coconut cream instead of dairy cream. That, and there was a unique blend of spices that just made it distinct in its own way. It's a beautiful dish that shouldn't be overlooked at all. It's a popular one for a reason!

Tammy: 10 / 10
Me: 10 / 10


Chicken Tikka Masala
@Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

Earlier when Arun introduced himself in the evening, he'd learned that Tammy's usual go-to Indian dish is Tikka Masala. So, for Tammy, he also brought a half-portion sample of their Chicken Tikka Masala! It's safe to say we'll be returning customers for sure. I love being a blogger!

Tammy does usually go for the Chicken Tikka Masala. I can't blame her, it's a solid dish that's usually always a safe bet. But when we got some at the table, and Arun said they make a "mean Tikka Masala", I couldn't resist digging in myself. I don't know what it is, maybe the freshness of the ingredients? It felt like we could taste the quality difference between this Tikka Masala versus any we've tried before. This was just a notch higher on the quality scale. I could tell Tammy loved it because by this point she was speechless, and at a state of making quiet noises in awe of the food she'd just had.

Tammy: 9.5 / 10
Me: 9.5 / 10


Chai
@Kerala Kitchen, 5 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
Photo: Brewji

When we decided we were throwing in the towel because we couldn't manage another bite, the waiter happily agreed to pack up our food so we could take the leftovers home. But when he came to pick up the food, he brought over some masala Chai. I don't remember what it was called on the menu, but that's what I've known it as all my life. This was nostalgia in a cup, and it really hit home for me. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes at how happy and emotional I felt. Feels weird to say this, but I felt things I hadn't felt in 20 years. It was like parts of my childhood were fresh memories in my mind.

Tammy had never smelled or tasted a tea quite like this. I mean sure, it wasn't dairy-free by any means, but it was so delicious! She didn't care, she downed the whole cup. It was the best masala Chai I've had since I was a child. Just as warm, soothing, and hug-in-a-cup as I remember.

Tammy: 10 / 10
Me: 10 / 10


Okay, I have to make sure I get this across to you guys. I was NOT paid to write this. I'm telling you, this is just the best food I've eaten. This is the best Indian food, the best food from the continent of Asia that I've ever tasted, the best meal I've ever paid for—ever.



Kerala Kitchen: Beautiful, Delicious + Made with Love.
Food: 10
Service: 10
Value($): 10
Would we return? OH GOD YES

Friday, 17 February 2017

5 New Brews @ Gasworks Pub

BREWJI'S BACK, BITCHES!

For the first time in over a year, I'm doing a night of beer tasting. I'm at the point where a little gluten isn't killing me as bad as it used to. Plus, I can always rely on Buscopan in times of peril. It's something that's apparently not legal in Canada / USA, because it actually works and prevents the need for other medication.

Anyways, Tammy and I went for beer tasting and a burger at Gasworks Pub, attached to the Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin.

We ordered a 3-brew taster flight each (3 Beers for €5). There were 5 different beers, as we both wanted to try the Stormy Port.

Tammy ordered:
White Gypsy Ruby Ale, Fisher Helles Lager, Stormy Port
@ Gasworks Pub
Photo: Brewji
Let me just say, Tammy asked me to pick beers off the board for her to try, because it was so far away and small that she couldn't read it from where she was sitting. Luckily, I look like a dork and I wear glasses. So they came in handy for once.

Here are the brews I picked for her (pictured left to right):

1. White Gypsy Ruby Irish Red Ale (ABV 4.6%) by White Gypsy Brewery, Ireland (pictured left)
I just saw the words "Gypsy Ruby" on the board, and I decided this reminded me of Parallel 49's Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale.

For a 'ruby' ale, this didn't have much redness or amber flavourings to boot. I got nothing on the nose, a very mild hop note on the tongue, but what made it really delicious was the velvety texture from the nitro. Essentially, this beer was moderately tasteless but just went down so well. It's the first taste of beer I've had in a long time! That's probably why we're giving it such a good rating.

Tammy even says "Not much flavour to this one, but it's so smooth!" Much appreciated. Generally anything on nitro is a good bet.

Tammy: 8/10
Me: 7/10


2. Fischer's Helles (ABV 5.2%) by Fischer Brewery, France  (pictured middle)
Well, this was essentially yellow nothingness in a glass. Cold, tasteless suds that could be shotgunned at a frat party (or used in a game of beer pong, if you're one of my kind). Either way, it was cold and it went down without a fight.

Imagine drinking a Molson, but without that nasty corn-like taste because this beer didn't have a taste. If this is your kind of beer, I'm sure there's a cheaper option out there for you. There was no beer pong table, unfortunately, or I would have cleaned house.

Tammy: 4/10
Me: 3/10


3. Stormy Port Irish Porter (4.8% ABV, 31 IBU) by Galway Bay Brewery, Ireland (on the right)
This is the beer that both of us wanted to try. Galway Brewery maintains the standard beer here, and we were excited to see what and Irish brewery's 'Irish Porter' would taste like.

On their website, Galway Bay Brewery claim this beer has "roasted coffee notes" and "certain sweetness" and "chocolate notes".

Unfortunately, this had less body than a glass of sparkling water and less taste than the Twilight series. I'm sorry, but I haven't had a glass of beer in a year and this was both underwhelming and disappointing. I mean, I get that it's a dark glass of sudsy water, but it doesn't change how much this isn't a porter—at all.

Maybe it was just the end of the keg? Or a bad pour? Or the wrong beer entirely? Our server did say she was new and knew nothing about beer...

Tammy: 5/10
Me: 3.5/10


I ordered:
Black Forest, Founders All Day IPA, Stormy Port
@Gasworks Pub
Photo: Brewji
4. Black Forest Cherry Porter (ABV 6.2%) by Galway Bay Brewery, Ireland (pictured left)
Honestly, I couldn't tell what type of beer this was from reading over top of people's shoulders across the bar on the board. I just read the words "Black Forest" on the board, thought of black forest cake and hoped for the best.

What did I get? A glass full of dark stuff. It ended up tasting like an "extra stout". Nothing disappointing, but nothing really special. It's a stout for sure, but it kind of tasted like a glass of stale, light-bodied Guinness.

After research, I found that this beer was supposed to be a cherry porter. There was absolutely no nose or taste of cherries. There wasn't even the smoothness or distinct porter taste. I'm sorry, but this *has* to be the wrong beer.

I'm betting that this isn't the best of Ireland's craft beer scene. If it is, step aside because I'll out-brew all these chumps. A blahhhh stout-wannabe that makes me want to crawl back to Canada.

Tammy: 6/10
Me: 5/10


5. Founders All Day IPA (ABV 4.7%) (pictured middle)
This was my last hope to have something redeeming drink-wise for the night. Fear not, friends! North America has come to the rescue (again!). Founders brewing from Michigan, USA makes their "All Day IPA", which I'll admit I've never had until tonight.

The flavours of this mid-west-brewed West Coast IPA definitely come through. Even on the nose (where most of the beer was lacking tonight).

It's citrusy, and it's got notes of hops and a little malt as well. However, there's no lingering bite of an aftertaste. It's quite crisp in that way, and it's definitely something I can drink all day! Even Tammy liked it, and she's not a fan of IPAs.

Very sessionable, and medium-bodied. It's one taste that reminded me of being back at home. Thank you, Founders.

Tammy: 8/10
Me: 9/10

---

Steak Burger (added Red Cheddar and Bacon) with Chips
@Gasworks Pub
Photo: Brewji


In addition, we were hungry as balls! It was a hectic work week, and I hadn't had any dinner. We each decided on a Steak Burger with Chunky Chips (€13.50 + €1.25 Bacon + €1.25 Cheese + €1 GF Bun).

The patty was enormous. I'm talking the size of 1.5 Red Robin patties, and the quality of the beef was superb. It was so tender, so juicy, and really flavourful!

The gluten-free buns were actually quite good. They maintained their texture and were soft enough that you'd think they were regular burger buns! Not sure where they get their burger buns, but I'd for sure like some for home!

The cheese melded in with the patty to make it extra rich, and the sauces just dripped from the burger and my chin, each bite more foodgasmic than the last. The lettuce added the needed crunch (and veggie serving), while the tomato brought some freshness to each bite.

Hands down, this is one of my all-time favourite burgers. I will be back—mark my words. Maybe next week?

It's just...the size of the burger was so big! We only managed 3 beer tasters each. After the burger, we could only get through so many chips! And these were proper chunky chips. I'd definitely order a side of these the next time I have their wings.

I give the Steak Burger a tasty-as-f&ck 9.5 / 10
Tammy gives the Steak Burger an "omnomnom" 9.5 / 10


A Note to Galway Bay Brewery:


  • I'd sure love a taste/tour of the Galway Bay stuff, because I'm almost 99% sure that what I was served wasn't the beer I ordered. 
  • I've heard so many better things about your products, and I'd like to personally make sure I'm tasting the correct beers. 
  • We weren't keen when the server said she had no knowledge of beer...so I want to make sure my reviews are accurate. 
  • Plus, I want to make sure I have something delicious that I can take home in growlers!


Gasworks Pub: GET. IN. MAH. BELLEH.
Food: 9.5
Service: 7
Value($): 9
Would we return? HELL YEAH!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

McKenzie's Ovenbaked Fresh Chicken

We've been looking for a place that serves gluten-free chicken strips or nuggets for a long time, and one place in particular popped up on our radar: McKenzie's.

Since we settled into the Drogheda area back in November, we've always said we'd go down there to see what the hype is about, and whether or not we'd feel any pain after we ate there.

Needless to say, it's all baked, and all gluten-free. We each got a Chicken Tenders Meal, which came with chips (fries) and a choice of either 2 dips or a gravy. If you've known me for more than 5 minutes, you'll know I opted for the gravy, while Tammy opted for 2 dips. She got BBQ and Cajun Mayo.

Chicken Tenders, Chips, and Dips @ McKenzie's Ovenbaked Fresh Chicken
Stephen's Green, Dublin 2
Photo: TotallyTammy

The chips were great. They seemed to have a little bit of spice on them, but it was probably a type of seasoning salt.

The chicken? Well, I'm from Vancouver, so for me it tasted like the frozen chicken strips you can buy from M&M Meat Shops or Safeway. Tasted like I baked them in the oven, so nothing great or special, besides the fact that they were gluten-free. I do love me some chicken strips, so I was a big fan.

Chicken Tenders and Gravy @ McKenzie's Ovenbaked Fresh Chicken
Stephen's Green, Dublin 2
Photo: TotallyTammy

The gravy is pretty good. It's quite salty for a gravy, and a little thin, but otherwise it's gluten-free so you can't expect KFC-level gravy quality. Yes, KFC gravy is the holy grail of gravy. I said it.

So it was all fun and games until Tammy stopped eating, looked at her food and asked "Why do I always get the hair in my food?" I had to take a look...and it definitely wasn't her hair! She immediately lost her appetite, but I was really hungry so I kept going at my food.

Hairy Chicken Tender @ McKenzie's Ovenbaked Fresh Chicken
Stephen's Green, Dublin 2
Photo: Brewji

It wasn't as bad as the Santé Gluten-Free Cafe in Victoria, because here the service and quality of the food (apart from the hair) was actually quite good. The only problem here was the hairy situation.

Overall, I was going to give McKenzie's a solid 6 for being gluten-free and tasting good. But, I'm a stickler for clean kitchens and food safety, especially when you're serving the public. So that drops them 5-ish points.

McKenzie's Chicken: Nooope.
Food: 0.5
Service: 7
Ambiance: N/A
Would we return? NO