Sunday, February 27, 2011


Very, very occasionally, someone we know from the US will come to Dublin. It's usually only for a couple of days, but it's always fun. Last week, my friends Rutherford and Dimitry were in Ireland for their friend's birthday up in Donegal. Now, they could have headed straight from Donegal to their next European destination (namely, Amsterdam), but I was honored when they told me they'd be taking a bus down to Dublin for a few days! I hadn't spent time with Rutherford or Dimitry for about 12 years so it was exciting to see them again! They wined and dined us, and by the time they left town I felt like a pretty pretty princess.

Unfortunately, their first night in town coincided with my mother-in-law's 81st birthday, so I had familial obligations elsewhere (more on that later). And then the next day, I had to work, which I absolutely could not get out of, so Mark and I met up with them at their hotel after I got out of work. The Clarence is supposedly owned by U2, so naturally I thought it would be as crappy as U2's music. However I was pleasantly surprised that the Octagon Bar (hotel bar) was extremely cozy. (In fact, our friends were quite impressed with their hotel experience there, and recommend it!) They also presented me with a fabulous gift from the US -- a bag full of boxes of Mac & Cheese!!! I nearly ditched them on the spot to go home and make it (ok, not really, but it was exciting).

Then we moved on to Yamamori Noodles on Georges Street, since Juice was closed. It turned out to be a great choice because they had something for both the meat eaters and us veg people. Rutherford and Dimitry live in New York, so I was afraid that their standards would be so high that anywhere in Dublin would be a disappointment, but they seemed happy enough. I enjoyed my bento box thoroughly, though I did learn that I'm not crazy about kimchee. Then we ventured over to The George for a drink. Since it was Monday night, we practically had the place to ourselves. Here's a photo of me and Rutherford underneath Ellen and Freddie:

Ok so here's an embarrassing admission. We walked our friends back to their hotel, and walked home, where I couldn't help but make a box of mac and cheese! Holy moly. I was in heaven. Like being transported back to my childhood!

The next day, I met up with Rutherford and Dimitry in late morning, and we headed over to the National Museum for a gander at the bog men. I bring everyone to this exhibit, and I never tire of it. Here's Rutherford and I pondering one of the bog men:

On the way, we made a stop at the Kilkenny Design Centre, where I have walked by a bunch of times but never really gone into for a proper look. I actually liked some of the things in there, I'm not going to lie! The Orla Kiely homewares were a particular favorite. Mark met up with us at the museum, and though it threatened to rain, we took a stroll through Merrion Square, which wasn't too exciting, but it was nice to be outside and chatting away. Then we couldn't resist bringing them to the smallest pub in town, the Dawson Lounge. I have to admit, it's adorable in there, though I'd never want to go when there's more than ten people inside! The bar man kindly offered to take our photo:

Mark was called away to his university, so we said good-bye to him and the three of us went to The Farm Restaurant for a bit of lunch, which was delicious. I really like that place. I had these crispy beet patties that I can't really describe, Rutherford had a chicken pie, and Dimitry had a hamburger. We left feeling "fat, dumb, and happy," as my father used to say.

Our last stop was into Brown Thomas, a sort of Saks-esque department store on Grafton Street. I don't normally go in there because it's too depressing and reminds me of how broke I am. But sometimes I do go in to do "market research" (aka drool over designer clothes and inspect how the construction). However this visit was a hoot for me because my companions were actual shoppers who intended to make purchases. Therefore I got to live vicariously through them and follow them around the store as if I, too, were an actual shopper who intended to make purchases. We didn't stray into the apparel sections, but I loved sniffing fragrances downstairs and prodding pillows upstairs. But the highlight of the experience were these one brand of candles. I know, candles aren't usually the most exciting things. But these candles weren't like other candles. These were Cire Trudon candles, a French company making candles since the 17th century. I am not joking when I tell you that I nearly cried when smelling these candles. (It's actually worth clicking the link and reading about the history of the company.) Here's a crappy cell phone pic of one of the candles:
At first, I lifted the glass dome and smelled the candle, but Rutherford, who is an expert at all things fragrance-related, sniffed the dome itself, which was way more fragrant! You're probably wondering what was so special about these frickin candles. Well, aside from the merchandising, it was obviously the scents. The "Bougies Trudon" (perfumed candles) are historic, unusual scents (for a candle) that seem to press a button to the emotional memory: "Odeur de Lune" (smell of the moon), mossy stone, hot and crusty bread, burning bush, to name but a few. I could spend half the day on their website. Anyhoo - after that cool experience, I dropped the boys off at their hotel, and returned home for a couple hours. After dinner, Mark and I met up one last time in our neck of the woods at our local favorite, L. Mulligan Grocer. We had a couple of rounds, and then it was time to say good-bye.

We were sad to see Rutherford and Dimitry go, but happy to have been reunited and caught up on each other's lives. They were so gracious and generous to us while they were here that I felt as though we were the guests and they the hosts. One day I hope our fortunes take a turn for the better so we can return the favor. For now we'll bask in that warm glow of friendship and feel the joy of being on the receiving end of kindness.

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