Who knew that I would literally stumble across a Creole and Cajon restaurant in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day?! No one, but my friends and I sure were excited to find such a gem just around the corner from the famous Temple Bar in central Dublin.
After almost walking past this quaint joint, we all decided to take a break from out St. Patty’s Day festivities and just find some real food. We did just that when we walked into Tante Zoe’s restaurant. The atmosphere was great and it served as a nice break from the craziness of Temple Bar and the surrounding area. We sat down and all I know is that I saw the word, “corn bread” and I knew I was going to be just alright. Ahh, the simple things that remind you of home while being abroad!
We received the menu and one of the first things that caught my eye was the Jambalaya, which is a blend of colorful rice and mixed vegetables. Jambalaya was created by French and Spanish inhabitants in New Orleans but, of course, Jambalaya’s roots originate from the slaves of the deep American south. In addition to the rice and veggies, there are other ingredients that can be added to create this amazing dish and the one variation that I wanted wasn’t going to be ready for some time, so I settled for the Tante Zoe Jambalaya, which included fresh fish, smoked fish, and shellfish.
After waiting 45 minutes for our food (-_-), the waitress brought out my HALF serving of Jambalaya. I could only imagine what an actual FULL serving of this Jambalaya looked like. It came with a serving of corn bread and one huge pepper that I quickly sat to the side. The fish and shellfish were amazing and tasted so fresh. The Jambalaya dish, overall, was amazing! However, the cornbread….let’s just say they gave it their best shot! We all can’t be perfect, right? Right.
When I decided to use this dish as the subject of my next Hungry Abroad post, I couldn’t help but ask, “Boo, how are you going to put this into words?” But here I am and I’m going to give it my best shot!
It was a friend’s 21st birthday and the birthday boy decided to invite us all out to a restaurant and bar near Waterloo Station called Cubana. All 25 of us decided to walk to the restaurant and once we got inside, the space reserved for us had to be modified in order to fit us all. The seating wasn’t too comfy but the atmosphere was electric. The portraits of Cuban heroes lined the walls, the great music that played in the background, and, most importantly, the drink menus on the tables all made the tight space much more bearable. After I explored the drink menu and took advantage of my ‘of age’ UK status, I began to glance over the food menu. Now, at first I wasn’t too impressed with my options. The drink menu was darn near a Harry Potter book thick but there were only seven entrees to choose from? Are we serious? But I didn’t complain much. I was too busy working on the Alligator (I’ll get to that later) and going over my food options.
I ended up choosing the Ropa Vieja, which was described as a traditional Cuban dish served with shredded beef, black beans, plantain and chili-plantain rice. It seemed like the best choice and I’m pretty sure choosing the Ropa Vieja was the best decision I have made since being in the United Kingdom. The food hit the table and just the smell had me doing cart wheels. But when I took the first bite, I just shook my head and whispered something to myself in Spanish. I don’t know what I said, but my accent and pronunciation were spot on. Who knew a dish could do something that four semesters of Spanish classes couldn’t?!
The rice was delicious, the plantains were phenomenal, the beans were amazing, and the beef? Orgasmic! This is no exaggeration. If anyone is planning to visit London, stop by Cubana and try this dish. Tell them that the American chick that almost passed out sent you!
Now back to the Alligator that I mentioned earlier. My friends and I sampled many drinks off the menu and the Alligator was by far the best cocktail that I tried. If anyone wants to make it at home, it consisted of Caney Oro gold rum, Wyborowa Polish Vodka, Blue Curacao and apricot liqueur shaken with ice, fresh orange and lime juice. Have fun!!
It is only right that I kick off my Hungry Abroad series with a dish from my host country: the United Kingdom! Fish and chips shops are unsurprisingly everywhere and I knew that I wanted to try the dish but I just didn’t know where to go or what shop to wander into. All that confusion and uncertainty ceased to exist after I wandered into my flat’s kitchen and saw some of my flat mates going to TOWN on some Fish and Chips! After asking where they found what seemed to have descended from the greasiest part of heaven, they pointed me towards a Fish and Chips joint named Olley’s and fortunately for me Olley’s was only a few minutes away from our flat.
“Try our Haddock and Chips!!” was the sign that greeted me as I entered the quaint shop and I obliged. After I told the man behind the counter what I wanted, he grabbed the thick and meaty fish from under the heating light (the fish just came out of the fryer) and then grabbed enough chips to feed a small village. He then pulled out the vinegar and salt, ran both over the fried haddock and chips, and then wrapped it all up and sent me on my way. This meal, which only costs £6, literally could feed two to three people
I enjoyed the fish very much but the chips were very thick and proved to be too much for me. Overall, I enjoyed my first UK fish and chips experience and I look forward to whatever else the UK and the rest of Europe has to offer me….in the form of food!