- a blog about food and value

Thursday 6 March, 2014
by jean
Comments Off on M&S Dine in for Two, 6-11 Mar 2014

M&S Dine in for Two, 6-11 Mar 2014

Marks and SpencerOur favourite special offer is on again till Tuesday: dinner for two with wine for €14 in M&S.  Menu is on the M&S website as usual.

Now that I am a highly qualified wine expert, I tried something new this week when I bought the deal and got myself a nice-looking bottle of Italian Trebbiano Rubicone.  If anyone’s tried it before, let us know what you think in the comments below…

Wednesday 5 March, 2014
by jean
1 Comment

Getting Good Value on Wine

white-wine-glassYesterday I wrote about my (very enjoyable and informative) experience at the Donnybrook Fair Wine Club, a four week evening course in wine appreciation.  Far from being a poncy aristocratic experience, the course teacher Laura Peterson was very focused on value and had lots of great tips about getting good deals.  She also had lots of advice about storing and serving wine, and matching it with food – see a small selection of the useful tips I picked up below:

  • Great value can be had on Reisling, Portuguese reds, Chenin Blanc and South African wines in general as all are a little unfashionable at the moment.
  • Those who say to only drink Old World wines are talking out of their BE-hinds.  The New World has more consistent weather so fewer bad vintages.  Also many of the Old World wines are designed to go with food, and they can be difficult to drink alone.
  • White wine is often over-chilled which can numb the flavour. Take your white out of the fridge an hour before serving.
  • Keep red wine somewhere cool and bring into a warm room 1-2 hours before serving. It’s best stored somewhere the temperature is consistent, as too much heating and cooling will affect the flavour. So not in the kitchen, for example.
  • When it comes to food, 1) match the wine to the sauce rather than the meat, and 2) try to match by region – Italian wines go well with Italian food.
  • Laura recommends spending around €12 to get a decent bottle of wine, and suggested drinking fewer of the €6-€8 bottles of plonk to invest in nicer wine instead.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, white wine is generally a better match with cheese than red.
  • I asked Laura which of the supermarkets she rates highest for wine selection and value, and while she wasn’t particularly keen on any of them, she said that M&S is probably the best bet.  But independent wine shops will offer you the best knowledge and value for decent wine.

I really enjoyed the course and found that it made the whole thing a little less baffling (while instilling a respect in me for the amount of knowledge required to become a true expert).

If you have any top tips about wine, wine plus food, buying wine, drinking wine – we’d love to hear it in the comments below. Cheers!

Tuesday 4 March, 2014
by jean
1 Comment

Wine Club in Donnybrook Fair

Wine expert Laura and head chef Niall talk us through the wine and food pairing at dinner

Wine expert Laura and head chef Niall talk us through the wine and food pairing at dinner

We often get asked for opinions about wine, or asked to review wine here on CheapEats, but unfortunately we know flip all about it.  So it was fairly serendipitous when Donnybrook Fair got in touch to ask if someone from the blog would attend and review their Wine Club four week course for beginners. My wine knowledge, before this course, could be summed up thus: “I like wine! Wine is yum. Will we have some wine?”

I’ve always wanted to know more about wine, but saw a number of pitfalls with doing a course:

Things I Want Out of a Wine Course

  • To broaden my tastes
  • To get a better idea about nice wines to bring to a dinner party, rather than just throwing some money at it and hoping for the best
  • Learning to pair wine with food in a reasonably informed manner

Things I Don’t Want Out of a Wine Course

  • Turning into an insufferable wine ponce who says things like “I never touch New World wines!” and annoys everyone
  • Becoming the kind of pest who insists on ordering really expensive bottles in restaurants, even though anyone with any sense knows that restaurants put ENORMOUS mark-ups on wine
  • Becoming addicted to fancy wine and having this happen

Quite the dilemma.  But despite my ponciness fears, I decided to go for it, intrepid hero that I am.

About the Course

The Donnybrook Fair Wine Club course is a four week evening course, priced at €195, running from 7pm to 9.30pm over four consecutive Thursdays.  Each week followed the same format; we arrived and the resident wine expert Laura Peterson talked us through a different topic for about an hour. The first week was an overview of wine-making processes; week two was France; week three covered sparkling wines, Spain and Portugal; and the final week was Everywhere Else.

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Tuesday 18 February, 2014
by jean

Best Coeliac-Friendly Restaurants in Dublin?

Twitterer Vertical Challenger just posed a question to us on Twitter – can we name some good coeliac-friendly restaurants in Dublin? She wants to bring a friend out for a celebratory dinner so we can safely assume it should be somewhere a little fancy and not a burrito in a bowl (delicious as they are).

Gluten-free is not my area of expertise, but Asian restaurants are usually good for wheatless options, so I would check out Saba and KohThe Rustic Stone has an extremely varied menu that caters for many different kinds of food intolerances and specialist diets.  I haven’t tried Manifesto pizza in Rathmines but have heard great things, and it’s apparently 100% coeliac friendly.  There’s also more tips on the website Dublin Gluten Free.

What do you think? Where would you go for a good gluten-free meal?


Wednesday 5 February, 2014
by jean
Comments Off on Support NWCI on International Women’s Day with chocolates

Support NWCI on International Women’s Day with chocolates

Chocolates for International Women's Day

The good people at the National Women’s Council of Ireland are doing a fundraiser for International Women’s Day, with chocolates from Lily O’Brien’s.  They’re encouraging businesses to buy their cute little boxes of chocolates for their female clients and colleagues.  Each box costs €3 and they will be delivered to your business so you can hand them out.  I think it’s a lovely idea, and it will benefit a great charity as well as giving someone the always welcome gift of chocolate.

You can order the chocolates on the NWCI website.