Tag Archives: Food

LITFEST Lessons Learned

Highlights: we got in a great conversation with David Lebovitz whose recipe aided in my first successful batch of french macarons.

A photo posted by Vania Ling (@lovemesaysfood) on May 18, 2015 at 8:36am PDT


Lit fest has something for everyone, from the casual partygoer who goes for the live music and craft beer in the big shed to the serious food journalist.  The cooking demos, cocktail talks and coffee cupping keep it interactive- what’s not to love.  By far the most important thing for me was to set an intention for going prior to making the journey down.  I didn’t want it just to be a feeling of ‘i’m here because everyone’s here’, rather, I wanted to really get something out of it.  I was captivated by the story of three generations of cookery writers in the Allen family.  At the heart of it, the Litfest is ultimately a food literature and writing event.  SO, how did i do in reaching these intentions? — only alright.


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After missing last year’s Ballymaloe Lit fest, I decided that I wouldn’t miss another opportunity to see what seems to be the largest gathering of food community, enthusiast, writers, and drinks specialists.  The festival brings international names like Tim Wendelboe, Ottolenghi, Noma’s René Redzepi to Ireland.  This year inspirational food pioneer Alice Waters from Chez Panisse, and another, David Lebovitz pastry chef and writer, who i have been following since i knew what blogs were, came to speak.  There were a few challenges that stood in the way of me going to the festival, but they were sorted with a bit of compromise.


The talks and wonderful food stalls were great, but many of the ideas I came away from this weekend were through conversations with like-minded ‘food-crazy’ people at the event.  It’s hard to capture the mood and magic of the weekend.  It must be a combination of pure craic, the only kind you can get in Ireland (yes, i said it), strong literary culture, and some of the highest quality of food/ producers in the world.     Oh yes, and it helps that the whole event takes place in a working farm, not the usual convention centres where these events are often held.


Met some people who, like me, were also fascinated with ‘curated’ meals with a multi sensory component.  I.e.) using meals to create conversation about a specific topic, or reframing food  through thought-provoking experiences.
I can’t get over how food is able to bring people together!

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Ballymaloe Lessons learned:
1) hustle for the talks so you don’t miss them, no time of socialising if your talk is coming up!
2) whatever you do, book accommodation early!
3) volunteer, give your time it’s a rewarding way to meet other people
For more reading: see The Family Behind Ireland’s Artisanal-Food Renaissance The Wall Street Journal. 30 March 2015
Photos featuring: Mrs.Marta @loaf_story
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Fitness – A new way to Yoga


(examples of how NOT to do this pose)

The fight goes on – and by that I mean, the fight with pain. The last month has been positive, staying active even with migrating soreness in my lower lumbar. -I’m pretty sure cycling 100 km last weekend didn’t help it.  Great news, though, the wrists are back and I went to my first yoga in months!

We continue here about a few core-strengthening. Training your core can help improve chronic pain and teach smaller muscle groups when to “get to work”, especially as they fatigue with repetitive actions like cycling or running.

I try and do three core exercises everyday since Cambodia.

1. Glute Bridges

2. Cat/Cow iteration

3. Supermans, or Bird/Dog but on your back! 

Maybe i’ll do a video to show you want I mean…

Kim at (@Kimmcneilyoga) has been doing a great black and white Q&A series on instagram, which is phenomenal and interactive if you’re continually wondering how to improve your yoga practice.

A photo posted by Kim McNeil (@kimmcneilyoga) on Mar 22, 2015 at 5:39am PDT

What’s a yogi to do when they have tendonitis, arthritis, injury, or plain ‘old lack of flexibility in their wrists? Are poses like Downward-facing Dog, plank, or Cat Pose off the table?


The answer:

Support wrists to prevent too much flexion. Here she’s using a bolster to do the same pose I attempted in pain over christmas. Now that I know, I’ll certainly use a bolster.

Got a yoga therapy question get in touch with Kim, email info@kimmcneilyoga.ca

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Now to be honest, AJ is someone I have been admiring on instagram for a while. She is honest and transparent in her posts; she goes deep when sharing her inner musings. Her personal style comes across in her photography and writing and it transcends faith, introspection, and authentic glee for life and community!

AJ is originally from Calgary, but moved to Toronto in the last year to pursue her dreams & study culinary, food styling and photography. This month’s Women’s day blog series has been mostly Q&A’s so to switch it up, I asked her to share a little insight about her journey since moving to Toronto.


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We chose to feature AJ because of her incredible eye for photographs. Too often I read her creative projects, like #40conversations project, and they articulate thoughts that resonate so well, I can only imagine that they would be point of reflection for many of our readers.

Just like…

A photo posted by Alexa Fernando (@ajfernando) on Mar 9, 2015 at 1:56pm PDT

“Okay, I’ll show you what I mean. On one end is what we know and on another end is what we don’t know. In the middle there’s this grey area. That’s where ideas come from and where you’ll find the building blocks required for innovation.” – Omar, MD/PhD, Day 17 Have you ever been in those situations where someone’s explaining something and you’re nodding your head in agreement but you actually don’t get it because it’s nowhere near your field? Next time that happens, don’t be afraid to admit your ignorance and just ask. Omar is in the business of text mining and to help me understand better he grabs a sheet of napkin and draws on it while explaining his point. It was a nice gesture because as a creative, having that visual was all I needed to get it. People are willing to put an extra effort, sharing what they know, as long as you are willing to learn as well. So meet them halfway! There is that grey area after all.


“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” Since I missed a conversation on Day 19, thought I’d share another one from a different day. I saw this quote scribbled on Aya’s notebook and started our conversation by reading it out loud to her. It really resonated with me cause although I had just started my project (I was on Day 5) I knew already that it would be something that I would want to do for the rest of my life. Those life/inspirational quotes you post may get redundant to some but don’t let that hold you back from sharing. The little things you do matter. Somewhere out there it might just be that push that someone needs in their day or that simple reminder that he/she is doing okay. #40conversationsproject #lessonsfrompeople To coincide with this post, I’ve left some prints with handwritten quotes at @650cafe. Just say hi to Stef (maybe start a conversation with him!) and mention my name/instagram and he’ll let you choose from the set.


“I think one of the biggest realizations I’ve had since moving to Toronto is that the world does not revolve around me. There are far greater things at work and if I want to make a difference especially in a city like Toronto then I have to stand on my own feet and make it happen. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I should stand out—I only need to stand up. After all, I am just a [small] piece of the entire picture. We all have a part to play and who I am as an individual is made up of all the people around me. Whether we know each other or not, I’ve learned that each person that I encounter has a significant role and influence in my life: I am because you are.” – ALEXA


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Thanks for reading, are you liking the series guys? If you enjoyed this please comment below or share it! Do let us know if you are liking what you see.

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Jo is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle photographer. She takes us on journeys to exotic places and tells compelling stories through her photographs at ‘CandidsbyJo’.

We met a year ago at the Food Bloggers Connect conference in London.  I watched her stealthily capture moments throughout the weekend One particular thing stood out; her ability to warm up to anyone and engage them. Jo has a bubbly, warm, and up-beat personality.

We chose to feature Jo not only because her photos are damn-nice, but we can identify with her strength.  It’s exciting, crazy, and breath-taking to move across the pond, re-acculturate, and find your feet while chasing your dreams.  As part of her feature, she’s given us a taste of her travels at a cheese producer in Portugal.



Where are you from originally and what is your educational background?

I grew up in Boston also I got my undergrad and post grad degrees in Communications & Business there.

Why London, if you weren’t in London where would you be?

I was in a three year long distance relationship with a Brit and realized one of us has to cross the pond. I made the leap and am really glad I did! if I weren’t in London I’d love to work in New Zealand for a year.

How did you transition into food & travel photography?

I started a personal project in 2012 where I took a photo each day for a whole year. My end goal was improve my photography but the project also led me down an unexpected path towards specifically food & travel. I haven’t looked back since!

What have been a few things that you can attribute your growth in the industry to; is it practice, networks, training, assisting?

Practice is definitely key, especially for people like me who learn through trial and error. Once I started shooting often enough I began to pay attention to light and how to work with it for a style specific to me. Networking in person and on social media has been helpful in raising awareness of my work too.

How has your creativity evolved?

Once I started becoming comfortable with my style (which took a long time) it was really easy to expand from there. I gradually evolved from beautiful bright food photos to ones that incorporates a darker tone and shadows.

What can you suggest to empower other women out there?

As women, we are often the ones who hold ourselves back.  I think it’s necessary to recognise that pattern when it happens and push through it. It’s helpful to have a good support system both personally and professionally.

You say you know the secret of making a mean Old Fashioned?

Muddle really well! 🙂

Last one, what’s your favourite place to eat in London? (you can give us five, it’s hard to pick)

My list is continually changing since there are so many wonderful options in London! I’m a big fan of Restaurant Story, Duck & Waffle, Kanada-ya, Sushi Tetsu and Dishoom. They have all been consistently wonderful.


Thanks for reading, If you enjoyed this please comment below or share it! Sharing is caring.

Queijo-Serra-da-Estrela-cheese-production-photo-3 Queijo-Serra-da-Estrela-cheese-photo

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Calgary, Dublin

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’s DAY Features #repicturewomen

Because the world needs you to change it. – Lean In.org


This Sunday is International Women’s Day and to celebrate, I have selected a few creative risk-takers, who I’ve met through food, to share about what they do and how they stay motivated!  I hope this will empower others to take leaps and encourage authentic individualism. Rethink the identity of women in our daily interactions; in leadership, at work, online, and at home.


Feminism has been prominent in the media and policy space lately.  From the UN to Getty images, this must mean we are taking notice that social change needs to happen.  My image of a strong woman used to be a girl playing sports or demonstrating masculine qualities like being strong, but that is changing. We, (men & women) perpetuate these ideas but we need to break these stereotypes.
(3-months ago I wrote about it -here-)


I am really excited to share this with you and hope that you will check back throughout the month for the features of these diverse international women from around the world!  – FIRST Post is Sunday, 8th of March!

Empower, Encourage, Accompany

Empower – feel the capacity to achieve what you want to accomplish
Encourage – lend support  to keep someone going
Accompany – be the company present in someone else’s struggle.

thx lads & dolls, don’t forget to follow on twitter & drop us a note below!

ALSO, Saveur is taking nominations for blog nominations! I would love love love it, if you’d take 30 secs to nominate us!


Click here:

Enter the URL of your favorite blog:==>www.lovemesaysfood.com

(pick a category you wish, multiple entries are allowed!)

Are you nominating your site? choose *
No, this is another site

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Dublin, Love me Says food, Photography

A REVIEW – Plenty More, Ottolenghi

Until recent years, I was not a believer in cookbooks because why pay for a book when one can scour the internet for free recipes?  Well, now that I have you gasping – fear not!  I’m not that person anymore.  A year ago, we bought Polpo & Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book.  I now own all four Ottolenghi’s books.



Plenty More builds on the vibrant veggie recipes of its prequel, Plenty.  I’ve read heard Ottolenghi speak and read his articles a few times; he writes a weekly column on vegetarian recipes in the Guardian.  He isn’t vegetarian, but felt that vegetables should not be limiting.  Unlike Jerusalem, these recipes don’t follow a specific ethnic cuisine. They draw from many flavours and interesting ingredients.  The layout of the book is very intriguing, chapters are categorised by cooking method – tossed, steamed, blanched, braised, grilled, roasted… and baked! I tried to do a variety of them.

I like that the flavours are asian, indian, middle-eastern in inspiration, but don’t commit to any of them! Ottolenghi is creative in substituting traditional ingredients with others, like who woulda though – courgette ‘baba ganoush’ or steaming aubergine with sesame and spring onion.


Lentil with Hardboiled egg

This is one of my favourites in the book, also one of the simplest.  There was a fantastic balance of flavours and textures.  The bite of fresh red onion & herby coriander, contrasted with the heartiness of the lentil & earthy warm spice… Mmmm. I don’t know what my obsession is, but I love saying “there isn’t enough ACID,” in any dish we eat.  This dish has great acid to brighten the spice and tahini, it even brings out the sweetness in my coffee this morning. It was mentioned in the book that you can have the dish for breakfast or dinner. – I couldn’t think of a better breakfast.

I would say this is a 8.5/10. (if breakfast was only this good everyday! Satisfying)


Mixed Vegetables & Yoghurt with Green chili Oil 

A very similar recipe to a few of the other books.  In Jerusalem there is a roasted veg salad with a yogurt sauce that is quite similar.  This is a crowd pleaser, tastes great and flavours are amazing.  Yogurt and roast veggies are fantastic.  The extra heat from the green chili is adds to the dish.

I would say this is a 8/10. (solid results, dependable as a healthy good compliment to a meal)



Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomello & Star Anise 

Attempted this recipe a few times, once with ruby grapefruit, which has a slightly more pronounced grapefruit flavour compared to the pomello.  Pomello can be drier or juicy depending on your selection skills.  This recipe wasn’t a favourite of ours. I was drawn to the asian influence of the ingredients (star anise, pomello, ) spicy & sweet.  It is exactly what you expect it to be, slightly odd with the brainy bitterness of the brussel sprouts, fresh citrus and a bit of sweet syrup with a christmasy sharpness.

I would say this is a 6/10. (consider the effort of obtaining the exotic ingredients and having it taste just, ok)

Sprouting Broccoli & Edamame Salad with curry leaves and coconut

I must’ve made this recipe three times, to ensure consistency.  I believe it has to do with my husband’s aversion to curry leaves – I also did not attempt the recipe omitting it. The first time, I used desiccated coconut and second shaved fresh pieces of coconut into the dish.  It was lacking a depth of flavour that we were hoping for.  The curry leaves give it a very distinct taste.

I would say this is a 6/10. (slightly bitter, but overall it is definitely do-able. )


We got on a bit of a roll, here are the recipes I attempted: 

Steamed Aubergine with Sesame and Spring Onion

Sprouting Broccoli & Edamame Salad with curry leaves and coconut

Sprouting Broccoli with Sweet Tahini

Alphonso Mango & Curried Chickpea Salad

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomello & Star Anise

Mixed Vegetables & Yoghurt with Green chili Oil

Crushed Puy Lentils with Tahini & Cumin



Overall a great read and a beautiful book. It has stunning photos, but Jerusalem remains our favourite. – Have you tried any of the Ottolenghi books? Don’t be shy, let me know what you think!


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Ethnic Food Series: Q&A with DUCK Dublin



It’s time to celebrate and of course we don’t discriminate, lunar new year isn’t just for Chinese people. Every one on the lunar calendar celebrates the new year this time of year. Apparently it’s the largest migration of people in the whole year! People returning to celebrate new years at home.


Dubliners, we continue the ethnic food series this week.  It just so happens to be the lunar new year, and that means we are extra festive, eat WAY too much, receive lucky money from all our elders, and in turn wish them well wishes! Take this time to give any overseas family a call to see how they are doing tell them you’re thinking of them, it’s kind of what we do.  (also, it’s a time where we buy/wear new clothes.  fitting, Brown Thomas has a New Years Celebration on today with all the cultural experiences of a Lion Dance and candy! Take it in )

the prep time can span a few days; marinating, blanching, then drying the duck. ..roasting it in the special bullet oven. 



This past summer we welcomed a new Chinese noshery to Dublin.  Why is this exciting? – because it is unlike any of the other Chinese place you know.  I want you to take those ‘sweet & sour’, ‘fried wonton’-preconceptions and throw them out.  I dare say, it offers the closest experience of Hong Kong-style barbecue street meat that one can get in Dublin.  It really hasn’t gotten the press it deserves, considering it straddles our Irish trend of 2014 ‘Southern BBQ meat’ and the recent obsessions with street food.


What to order: BBQ Duck and/or Pork on Rice (don’t be afraid to mix & match)


DUCK is just across the way from Fade St. Social, on Fade Street ;).  It is in the core of the city and is approachable and oh so oriental.  It is the new innovative project brought to you by Eva, who is a lead at the Asia Market Importers.

There’s no better way to learn than to ask questions.  So, Eva and I had a chat about the Chinese food in Ireland and here’s the Q&A:


How do you think Irish perceive Chinese food & how do you think we can change that – is it indicative of what Chinese food really is? 
I think a lot of Irish people like Chinese food. Chinese restaurants and take aways can be seen everywhere even in the smaller towns in Ireland.  The earliest Chinese immigrants to Ireland would have come from Hong Kong so a lot of the Chinese food style that currently exists is influenced by Hong Kong style dishes, including sweet and sour pork, beef in black bean sauce, spring rolls. 


What did you study?
I studied Information and Communications Technology at Trinity College Dublin.


What’s your most fave thing to make at home? I love making soup noodles and sushi at home.

Fave place to eat & place to get coffee in Dublin? 
It’s difficult to choose a favourite place to eat, but I love pichet on trinity street. 
coffee wise i like sasha coffee shop on Drury street, very near to where i work and the coffee is really good.

What’s the most influential thing that has developed your understanding of food?

My parents have influenced me a lot in developing my understanding and love of food.  I used to help them cook dinners when I was younger and my dad would help me bake cakes and make cookies. he blames his big belly from eating all the goodies I make!


Thanks Eva for sharing your thoughts with us.


As a final note, I spent another day with the chef at Duck and it was really eye-opening.  It’s true that everyone has a story, and learning new cultures and assimilating to new places can be different experience for each.


In the west, we have pastry chefs, commis chefs, etc. In contrast, Chef Yip tells me that there are special bbq chefs and dim sum chefs in Hong Kong, who train to make these specific dishes.  The prep time for some of these things can span a few days; marinating,  blanching, then drying the duck.  Painting on the secret sauce for the outer layer and roasting it in the special bullet oven contraption.  (must be the Chinese answer to the Tandoori) It is an intricate process, that requires exceptional skill to get a crisp and flavourful duck that is moist.  –  oh, the things we take for granted.


I’d encourage you to try the pork belly ‘siu yok’ if you like crackling!

Tell me, what are your cultural experiences.  What’s something you’re extra cautious about let’s chat!

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Where to go for ‘cultural’ food in Dublin

So many complain (or give out) about the quality and authenticity of ethnic food here in Dublin.  Fridays for the following month are going to be devoted to ethnic foods I love, because variety is the spice of life!


I won’t say we have the best offering of multicultural food, but what I can do is hopefully get you excited to try something new.  I think there is a certain curiosity because so many of us travel abroad and explore different cultures. We start off at Zaika, one of my faves!


Zaika’s actually an Indian take away.  Yes, I know, please judge me.  My best Indian friend swears by their lamb biryani – Spiced and hot with cardamom, clove, star anise, and coriander it’s also served with yoghurt.
As I sit here waiting for my order, my ears are ‘massaged’ with the top 40 pop countdown, Justin Bieber (the biebz himself). I smell the spices wafting towards me and have counted the number of Indian people that walk into the shop – because that’s always a good measure, we are 3/4, not bad right?


Lamb biryani and chickpea curry (chana masala) with naan. The other day I saw someone order a spinach dish (palak/ paal paneer), something I’m going back for! The Naan is fresh made in the tandoori when you order and yes, they also do delivery.
It isn’t highlighting Irish food per se, but what it is doing is bringing diversity to the market. A little fact here, that 58% of Irish shoppers in a 2013 survey said they looked at the origin label when shopping for food. – ok bit of a tangent, just saying, not all food we buy is local.


Source: Bord Bia

Source: Bord Bia


Youseff, the cook generously agreed to share a bit of his skill with me. So look back to some additional posts on our cook session! (yea, kind of nerdy and really love Indian food)

I’d love to hear what gets you excited about food in Dublin. Don’t forget to comment below.
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Dublin, Fitness

February Fitness – I hate core day

Hello fitness friends & food-lovers,

I recently had a conversation with a friend about chronic pain; it sounds worse than it is, but anyone who’s experienced prolonged pain will know it can reduce you to nothing.

This is one reason to stay active and on top of core work. Either to maintain your mobility and strength (if you have pain), or to keep it at bay by staying as mobile and pain-free for as long as possible.  The ‘Use it or Lose it’ motto applies here!

So when people ask why I train, it’s not only to be strong, or lift, or bulk, or aesthetics.  I’m a firm believer in functional training for what our bodies were meant for. – y’know, before we were sitting at desks with computers we worked the land and ploughed fields.

All jokes aside, here is some of the core work that I’ve tried to do on a daily basis.  Building discipline is tricky, and pay-off is slow.  (about that six pack though…)

CLICK HERE> Core Workout 


Tips for Workout:

– the hip raises can be done both legs together, and then isolating one leg at a time as you get stronger

– make sure you engage your core & pull in your belly for all the core exercises. (pretend like someone’s going to poke you in the stomach and you’ll tense tense it up)

– for plank & side plank, try to incorporate these into one exercise by transitioning from side plank facing the wall to a one-handed side-plank tucking the arm under and across the body/belly

– I’ve turned the bird/dog upside down and done them on my back like this


– Leg raises can be done with a bent knee. If you think these are easy just make sure you are engaging your core AND your back is touching the ground at all times – then we’ll talk.

QUIZ TIME, What is this and what is it for??


It’s a lacrosse ball!  More on mobility later, but I’d say massage & lacrosse balls are key for rolling out tight spots.  In Dublin, this is where I’ve found them:


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Camerino Bakery, Dublin

[SHORT, Quick Lovin’ ]

Service: fab smiles & take-away

Likelihood to return: 4/5 

Food/Coffee: Food 4/5, Coffee 4/5.

Chillness: 4 chill chairs!

Highlights: one of the few places in the city where you will find Roasted Brown coffee & fresh baked bread in-house


North of the river, most of the places I frequent gravitate around a 1 km-radius of Capel street. Shameful, I know.   Sushi, Indian, Brother Hubbard, and now Camerino’s!  A cafe that started as a bakery, but now has a new face on Capel street.
You need to go check this place out, and here’s why:
They do coffee.  (I don’t mention that unless it’s worth mentioning)
Daily lunch offerings are wholesome, filling, and homey.  But really now, a place that does sweet treats and makes sandwiches from their own fresh house-made bread.  Caryna and Julie are the lovely mainstays, you are always greeted with a smile that will warm your heart.  The display window is filled with pretty cakes, and shelves stocked with Canadian maple syrup. Caryna has an amazing way of making people feel right at home.
You may recognise Caryna’s face from the similarly delicious Caryna’s Cakes, who supplies cakes to a cafes in the Dublin area.  It boasts an award-winning Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie!  Cakes can also be made to order, cycling cakes, ninja turtles, all can be a special ordered.
Camerino-1931 Camerino-2002 Camerino-1999
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