Letter from Our Business Manager, Lindsey Day -- May 6, 2013
A couple of years ago, Serena and I noticed that, in an ever-changing economic and global landscape, we women face a distinctly different set of challenges than our male counterparts. We decided to address that by creating a platform on which women's unique voices and ideas would be shared and cultivated. Thus, Made Woman Magazine was born. Since then, dozens of women have contributed their thoughts, tips and experiences to the site. While we’ve always valued the perspectives of our male friends and colleagues, we’ve never officially invited a male into our ranks. That is, until now.
Over the last two weeks, during our Made Man Writer Search, we issued an open call for our first male writer. We received some amazing entries from a variety of guys, but one stood out from all of the rest. With a background in design, intriguing writing samples and co-sign after co-sign (seriously, click here to read all of the wonderful comments); John Reid was the natural choice. We are excited to gain his perspective and we look forward to the insight he will share with the Made Woman network. Look out for his work in future issues!
In the meantime, dive into this week's issue with our feature on our newest Made Woman of the Month, Kelley Raleigh, and Serena and my reflections as Mother's Day approaches. Enjoy!
Letter from our Business Manager, Lindsey Day -- March 11, 2013
I was watching TV recently, and it seriously stressed me out. The show I was watching seemed to revolve around women tearing each other down and trying to halt each others' progress. Where was the spirit of collaboration, the discussion of ideas, the "it's business, not personal" mentality that I find in my own female peers?
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." So why are we choosing to be entertained by small minds? I, for one, prefer to hear stories like that of this month's Made Woman of the Month, Barbara Sealy, who survived the unthinkable and built a career centered around uplifting others. I want strong women like Danielle Dowling to tell me why my "Mr. Perfect" list is trash. I want to have Water Cooler Convos about today's political issues.
In short, I want to be challenged and inspired by other women...uplifted and entertained. I want to be a part of creating content worthy of a Made Woman. If you feel the same way...welcome.
British born, Barbara Sealy’s story is marked by many things. Pain and poverty, hurt…numerous trials and tremendous growth. But her story also represents the essence of achievement, of victory. Last week, I was honored -- or shall I say, “honoured”-- to hear some of Barb’s remarkable story first-hand. In her lovely English accent.
Born and raised in Forest Gate, a community in London’s East End that she compared to US’s inner cities, Barb had a rough childhood. Originally from Barbados (an English colony), she and the rest of her large family arrived in the East End of London in the ‘50s to find a new, diverse community with people from a variety of backgrounds. Growing up, Barb faced extreme poverty and abuse from her father, until her mother took on raising her and her brothers and sisters alone. From an early age, Barb loved music and started using it as an escape: she would lose herself in music and film, and she and her siblings would sing together to cope with their often tumultuous environment. As early as her teens, Barb had inherited a strong work ethic from her mother; she remembers vowing that she would do everything in her power to keep other children from experiencing what she had in her household.
As an adult Barb visited the States on a vacation in 1987, and a year later she decided to make the move permanent. Whereas back home she had never been encouraged to think about career options (she was more focused on survival), she knew deep down that there had to be something more. By now she knew that she wanted to help people and be a philanthropist, but she wanted her work to be tied into music somehow. “Music lifted my spirits,” she reflects. “I said if I can help another child not feel isolated or scared, and show them -- through music -- that they can achieve what they want, it would be really cool.” And that’s just what she set out to do.
Barb’s first jobs in the US included working for companies like Disney, as an administrator in the Video Division, but she credits her time working with the Grammys as the biggest learning experience of all. As the assistant to Michael Greene, the President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Barb was truly tested. “Because of how I was raised, I didn’t really have the social skills to help me to see how the corporate side of the world really works... I saw how somebody ran a company from the inside and it really set me up to do what I'm doing now.”
During this time, she met Robert (Bob) Brodhead, and they immediately clicked. They came from similar backgrounds and both had a mission to help young people. The two were asked to start the West Coast operation of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, an organization that has been thriving in Washington, D.C. for years. In this role, Barb worked to bring the jazz program to inner city kids by building after-school programs and other ventures to keep music education alive. She spoke to music departments at South-Central schools like Hamilton and Washington and found corporate sponsors like Nissan and the NBA to help support the programs. At one point, she coordinated a multi-school jazz band with, Reggie Andrews of Locke High School, that would play pre-game and halftime shows for the Lakers!
During her time with the Institute, she put together a scholarship fund and raised well over a million dollars to help students go to college. “Kids who would not have the opportunity financially were able to attend UCLA, USC, the Manhattan School of Music and the Berklee School of Music. The Monk Institute was very successful.”
What’s more, she taught these students that a solid career in music is not about fame. “I always taught that it’s more about having a career and supporting themselves doing what they loved. Do what you love and the money will come. In the meantime, you must know how to run a business and balance your checkbook.” These weren’t official classes, but kids would hang out after the program and ask Barb and her team about these realities. “They weren't learning this stuff at home. Nobody told them what would happen if they didn't do these simple, but life-changing things.”
After the success of the Thelonius Monk Institute, Barb turned around an after school program called Colors United, and then she and Bob Brodhead founded Creative Counseling Network (CCN) in 2006. Both programs were supported in large part by Barb’s close friend and January’s Made Woman of the Month, Barbara Vohryzek.
With CCN, Barb and Bob created a program that offered performing arts training, as well as mental health treatment. “One thing we noticed when working with other nonprofits was that we were providing great shows and entertainment, but the kids still had to go back to their environments and lacked the mental tools to carry the positivity through.” Sanctioned by the Department of Mental Health, CCN offered psycho-social rehabilitation, and involved social workers and therapists.
After CCN, the unthinkable happened in Barb’s life. She experienced a huge health scare that left her bedridden and fighting for her life. During this dark time, her former students and friends gave her another reason to keep fighting. “I said, I can't just lay here or I'm going to die. Part of what kept me going is that many of my students, like Miles Mosley, had called me; they had graduated and gotten their degrees, but the music landscape had changed and they didn't know where to start. So it came to mind that I should create a music management company to represent some of the people that had come through my programs over the years.” So Barb decided she would See it into Being -- and created SB Music Management.
Barbara started managing multiple artists from her house, even though she struggled just to leave her bed each day. Many of her artists weren’t even aware of her illness, and knowing she had to make a call or send an email was what gave her the resolve to move from her bed, to at least her couch (“I contemplated calling it On the Couch Productions!”); this was literally the difference between her life or death. “Other people give you things to fight for, so you start to fight for yourself,” Barb recalls.
Today, Barb’s music management company is thriving, and she has seen artists like Miles Mosley, described as the Jimi Hendrix of the upright bass, grow to have hugely successful careers. Miles’ group, the West Coast Get Down, is a collective of jazz musicians who have traveled the world together, playing for people like Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, American Idol and the Voice.
By setting her artists up for longevity, Barb is “trying to change the face of management and the music industry by showing artists that they can have well-rounded music careers.” Miles Mosley, for example, has also carved out a niche in the film and video game trailer world, composing scores for major film trailer houses, publishing companies, web series and multiple Viacom projects.
The amazing thing is that through it all, Barb has stayed true to her life’s purpose. She has helped countless young people not only overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, but to gain independence and thrive as well-rounded artists and individuals. “I wanted to teach people to become adults the best way they know how... Just because you came from a hard background, it doesn't mean that you can't have dreams. Young people need to see that they have a place in the world, regardless of their circumstances. But they also need to know that nobody gives you anything; you have to work for it.” If they’re in need of an example of hard work, they don’t need to look too far.
Letter from our Business Manager, Lindsey Day
Valentine's Day is upon us, and we at Made Woman Mag are feeling the love. Serena and I held a retreat with our amazing writers this weekend, and we feel more inspired and prepared than ever to expand the mag's reach.
We want to get you all involved in the good vibes, too! So this week (until V Day) we're running a photo contest called We <3 Curls!, sponsored by Mixed Chicks hair care products. Whether you're wavy, curly, kinky -- or work wonders with a curling iron -- we want to see what you're working with!
Check out my article in which I break down the best curly hair products, salons and resources -- from much trial and error -- and send us your best curly hair pic to win one of two great prize packs from Mixed Chicks! More details here.
As always, thank you for your continued support and encouragement. We look forward to seeing your beautiful curls!
Something about a blank new calendar year symbolizes a fresh start. A point at which to reevaluate, to reassess. A time for change.
Here at Made Woman, we'd like to switch things up a bit ourselves. You may notice that our newsletter look and format is a little different. Going forward, we'll be including a brief letter from the Made Woman staff so you can stay in the loop about what's going on with us.
2013 promises to be an exciting year of growth for the Made Woman Network as we launch our website's networking calendar -- using the funds you helped us raise in 2012 -- and venture into networking events, among other things. As always, we're excited to take this ride together.
Here's to a remarkable year!
By its nature, hip hop music is particularly tricky to take mainstream without losing its true essence (i.e., “selling out”). In any genre, really, it takes a special artist to bridge that gap of “real” and “commercial.” But after hearing good kid, mA.A.d city--Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut--I can assure you that he’s more than up for the challenge.
I must admit that I’ve been a fan of Kendrick’s for a while, so I was heavily rooting for this album. But at the same time his latest EP, Section.80, veered a bit from the Overly Dedicated Kendrick Lamar that first had me looking at my car stereo with the “run that back” face. While his flow on Section 80 was still very “Kendrick,” some of the production and hooks had a more mainstream vibe, which had me thinking his new effort may follow suit, or even take it a step further. On the contrary.
On m.A.A.d, Kendrick continues a legacy of hip hop pioneers like NWA--I say this not only because Kendrick, too, is from Compton or because he’s signed to the label of one of its former members, Dr. Dre; but because Kendrick, like the others, serves as a reporter of sorts, painting a picture of an environment some people may have never been aware of. He delivers to your ear drums the state-of-affairs you don’t see on CNN.
What draws me to Kendrick Lamar’s music is that he’s not a gimmick. He doesn’t pretend to be a thug, he’s not a “conscious” rapper, he’s not crying about the strippers who don’t love him (I won’t mention any names). He's a human being that simply observes the life he's living and couples his brand of introspective storytelling with soulful, relevant production. In short, he has something that many artists today lack: a unique voice.
The lead single, “Swimming Pools (Drank),” is the type of song that gets you on first listen. As soon as the beat drops, you’re immediately lured into a moody world of well, Drank, as he skillfully manages to encompass a drinking anthem and a cautionary tale in one track. “Drank’s” drums and smooth delivery urge the listener to pop an imaginary bottle, while simultaneously questioning their motives for drinking in the first place.
This commentary leads directly into “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” where separate verses display the narratives of two of his friends whose lives have senselessly ended. Particularly poignant moments are when the first verse is abruptly cut short by gunshots and the second verse fades as the female subject claims repeatedly “I’ll never fade away.” Both--presumably young and caught up in street lifestyles--chillingly plead for Kendrick to tell their stories when they’re gone.
Honest lyrics and well-placed skits drive the album forward; and his subtle humor provides balance as he flows through some of the darker narratives. With religious themes throughout, Mr. Lamar takes you on a ride, from the vaguely Devin the Dude-esque “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” to the sample-heavy “Poetic Justice” featuring Drake, to bangers like “m.A.A.d city.” Jay Rock, Pharrell and Dr. Dre (surprise) make strategically-placed appearances that enhance rather than overwhelm. The end result? A showcase of a promising young rapper’s world. A social commentary that makes you chuckle, think, cry and question. A solid album that challenges as it entertains. I think that is the very essence of art, of hip hop. Between the packed show I was able to catch in Boston last month, and the impromptu concert last night that threw downtown LA into a frenzy, it’s safe to say I’m not the only one that thinks so.
Good kid, m.A.A.d city drops today. Have you given it a listen yet? Let us know your take in the comments below!
If you were born in the '80s, like me, chances are that No Doubt’s particular brand of “alternative” rock found its way into your heart at a very young age. Tunes like 1996’s Don’t Speak became our teenage anthems while simultaneously showing us that front women can rock out just like the boys. Through the years, Gwen Stefani herself has built a fashion empire and a pretty successful—albeit now defunct—solo career, among other things. Now eleven years since the last No Doubt album, their extended hiatus left us all wondering one thing: when do we get to hear some new music from the legendary band?
While I wish I could immediately sing their new album’s praises, I must admit that I wasn’t feeling either of the first two singles on first listen. The album opener, Settle Down, felt dated and trite, while the title track Push and Shove—with its Major Lazer and Busy Signal features—didn’t necessarily live up to my expectations of a Diplo-produced track. But I must say that both tracks have since grown on me, especially within the context of the rest of the album. The synth-y breakdown at the end of the album version of Settle Down was a nice surprise, and the rest of the album’s '80s electronica vibe (see: Stand and Deliver) helped to put the singles into perspective. But the band isn’t off the hook yet.
Having worked in the music industry myself over the years, I understand the game. I get that music was in a much different place when we last heard from the No Doubt crew. I get that radio drives much of what makes its way onto albums these days, especially when released by major labels. And I get that Mark “Spike” Stent’s glossy production is great for business in this musical climate. But being the first time we’ve heard from the group in over a decade, I had hoped they’d come with more heat, more experimentation….today’s Just a Girl or Hella Good equivalents. Something beyond the pop/dancehall/ska-inflected theme woven throughout the record. I would have appreciated even a complete experimental miss in place of one or more of the forgettable tracks that made their way on the album.
That being said, there were some shining moments amidst some of the more forgettable ballads. I did enjoy the tongue-in-cheek Looking Hot, where Stefani gets the party started while reminding us that her 42-year-old self is still fly. AND that she can still make us dance. On the other end of the spectrum, Sparkle gave me a glimpse of the relaxed southern Cali pop that only No Doubt can create—the type of offering that made me fall in love with the band way back when.
The trite lyrics of the poppy Gravity: “now I see a thousand percent / you meant what you said and it’s good” prompted an eye-roll or two, as she sings about “exploding like a beat up rocket ship.” Her statement that, “We’re so lucky / we’re still holding on,” made me wonder if she was talking to her man or to her band-mates. While I can’t say that I’ve looked to No Doubt for their lyricism since 1996's Tragic Kingdom, I still expected better. And although I think Gwen is pretty freaking cool as far as 42-year-old rockers go, her repeated reference to herself as a hustler on Easy made me cringe just a bit. Elsewhere, Undone and Dreaming that Same Dream struck me as, well, nothing. Well, actually, they'd be decent background music.
All in all, I didn’t find Push and Shove to be un-listenable. I can’t say that it was the worst thing I’ve ever heard. But without proper experimentation…without pushing some kind of boundaries, we’re left with a lukewarm--yet commercial--reunion album. But then again, I doubt any of the band members are losing sleep over that.
Push and Shove will be released in the US on September 25, 2012. Let us know what you think about the album in the comments!
Full Track List:
One More Summer
Push and Shove (ft. Busy Signal & Major Lazer)
Dreaming The Same Dream
Stand and Deliver
Settle Down [Acoustic]
Looking Hot [Acoustic]
One More Summer [Acoustic]
Looking Hot [Jonas Quant Remix]
Push and Shove (ft. Busy Signal & Major Lazer) [Anthony Gorry Remix]
I can’t lie and say I’m some crazy fashion connoisseur, or that I know the name of every high fashion designer. But hey, I can definitely appreciate the art and drama of the runway. I love clothes and hair and makeup; I love seeing an individual’s (or team’s) inspiration turn into a living collection of garments to swoon over. So when I found out I’d have the opportunity to cover Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, hosted in Madrid this year, I was beyond psyched.
I had the opportunity to peruse the showroom floor, all of the sponsors’ booths and the private reception area (free nail polish and Ron Barceló cocktails, anyone?) and caught the colorful, over-the-top Agatha Ruiz de la Prada show. I even had the chance to make it backstage, where the models were getting their hair and makeup done, and receiving last-minute prep before hitting the runway. My inner 7-year-old was excited by the thought of playing dress up.
A week later, I caught a few more shows that were presented by a fairly new organization called EGO. EGO was formed by IFEMA to promote up-and-comers in the Spanish fashion world. It’s a platform for young talent, built to help further fashion in Spain as an artistic discipline; it was created to help infuse the art into the overall culture. But not only does EGO support the art of fashion, it also created a direct selling space that was open on the premises during fashion week. There, these young designers were able to display their collections for sale. A business-woman and entrepreneur at heart, I was intrigued. What an amazing tool for young designers!
Thanks to the help of a new friend, I was able to track down some of the EGO staff, who introduced me to Miss Leyre Valiente. And after seeing her fascinating collection I couldn’t wait to chat with her. I got the inside scoop on the inspiration behind her Chimaera Spring/Summer 2013 show, and the woman behind it.
Her last name alone, Valiente, seemed to set the tone immediately. Valiant, brave and bold are words that describe both her personality and her new collection. In the 27-year-old’s own words, the collection, Chimaera, signifies “the growth of a woman.” Leyre weaved a Sci-Fi narrative through her show as it flowed from nude garments, “like skin, to represent when we’re pure and simple,” to darker pieces, signifying “a dark period, a struggle. We all have many sides—dark and light, like beautiful little monsters.” The struggle against this inner monster culminates in “a breakthrough. It’s like coming into the light.” The range of jewel tones: ruby reds, greens and striking gold combined with the taffeta, leather, silk and organza fabrics paint an image of this creature growing and seemingly taking flight.
I was amazed to hear that Leyre was able to create and execute such intricate patterns with a team of just three young women and a small staff of interns. I found it moving to see her inspiration come to life on the runway, in a narrative that every Made Woman can relate to. Even more, I was excited to see that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and EGO are giving young women like Leyre a spotlight in which to shine and grow their future fashion empires.
To find out more about Leyre, click here.
To find out more about EGO, click here.
When I arrived in London for the first time this July, one of the things that immediately struck me was how music-oriented UK culture seemed to be. Sure, we all know the Beatles, Queen and Adele, but British music has deep roots beyond what’s considered “popular” or mainstream music. Many times as Americans, we think of the Brits as being overly “proper,” tea-sipping ladies and gents, who would frown upon urban culture as we know it. I was happy to find that—on the whole—nothing could be further from the truth.
I was further pleased to get a chance to meet a budding member of this British music phenomenon, a young East London up-and-comer named Crystal King, during my visit across the pond. We met up at the low-key Strongroom Bar in Shoreditch, subtly tucked away in an ivy-covered alley. Over “chips” (a.k.a. fries, in the States) and a soundtrack of classic rock and roll tunes, Crystal and I chatted it up about music, growth, Olympic performances, business ventures and her forthcoming EP. And let me tell you, she has a lot in store.
But first, let’s back up a bit. Born in Newham, London—near this year’s Olympic stadium, Crystal finds it hard to remember a time she wasn’t involved in music. Having a dad who was a songwriter didn’t hurt, I’m sure. “I always sang and did extracurricular performances; anytime I could sing I was singing,” she explained. What started as a hobby—picking up instruments like the violin, piano, keyboard and percussion along the way—soon turned into something more serious. As she got older, she started to focus more on the vocal side of things, and was signed to a small record label at 15 years old. “That was the first time I started taking [music] seriously, as a career. But even then I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know who I was, I hadn’t found my voice yet. I was still growing but thinking I knew it all.”
Now in her mid-twenties, she’s really honing in on her sound. But don’t think she’s wasted any time along the way. This crooner has supported the likes of De la Soul, Dru Hill and fellow British singer Ed Shiran. She’s also put a business venture or two under her belt, founding Celebrity Creations Management, a creative management and events management agency that puts on events for the music, fashion and film industries.
And just a week before we met, Crystal performed on the Olympic Big Screens live stage in Stratford: “It was really, really good. And it made it even better that it was in my own borough, so I saw local faces that I knew as well as tourists and stuff. Probably one of the best things I’ve done up to date.” You can check her again in a week or so when she performs for the Paralympics on September 8th.
In addition to her career, giving back to her community is a huge focus. “I’ve done a lot of mentoring and teaching young girls to sing. Teaching them about knowing themselves and where they want to go. I do that kind of stuff and give back just inside my borough, alongside my own music. I’ve started that journey but hopefully I can do it on a bigger scale one day soon. To take it international would be great one day!”
The experiences over these years have no doubt influenced the story and sound that’s reflected in her music today—a story that she plans to bring to the public this September with her EP entitled The Complexity of Crystal King. In this effort, she will blend her unique mix of self-described “Indie pop acoustic soul,” with traces of her own musical influences like Erykah Badu, Lauren Hill, Pink and Madonna sprinkled throughout. “I’m drawn to people who are authentic as well; their voice, style—as soon as you hear them you know it’s them. And if you can be 50-odd and still be rocking it like you’re 27, you’re doing something right!” she said with a laugh.
At the time we spoke, she had already released singles Summertime and Flying High, but was still adding a couple of tracks to the EP; with plans for a full album coming shortly thereafter. “There’s lots of studio coming up!” Her goal with the EP is to set the stage for who Crystal King really is as an artist. “I wanted to show a bit more maturity in my songwriting and vocals. It’s an artist-defining record that shows people who I am and where I’m going. This is a songwriter singing about life, not necessarily so much about love. It’s more about dreams, where you want to go, what you want to do with your life and how you’re going to make it manifest.”
Her mom, the Made Woman that inspires her the most, has much to do with her approach to life. “She does so much; she’s definitely the reason I am the way I am as an entrepreneur, a business woman. She runs her own businesses, she does social care, she looks after a lot of people… She’s probably one of my biggest inspirations in terms of females. She keeps me grounded and supports everything I do.”
She dreams of collaborating with the likes of Erykah Badu (“she’d probably bring out the epic side of me”) and songwriters like John Legend and Emilie Sande. “People like that. Oh, and Busta Rhymes!” Clearly there’s no explanation needed for that one.
Check back for updates on the release date of The Complexity of Crystal King, and in the meantime, follow her YouTube channel and check her out--blowing--on the acoustic version of Davin Rich-produced “Thinkin’ Bout Yo Body” below.
Anyone who knows me even semi-decently knows one thing: I. LOVE. Food. Culinary exploration is one of my favorite parts (and biggest expenses *sigh*) of traveling and experiencing new cultures. Stop number two in my travels across Europe was Ireland. My grandmother--although US-born--was 100% Irish by blood; so as I left Barcelona and headed to Dublin, I was definitely looking forward to learning more about Irish culture. But leaving tapas and Sangria behind, I can’t necessarily say that I was psyched about Irish food. I mean, I like potatoes as much as the next girl (okay, probably more), but how many can a woman be expected to consume over the course of a week?
Luckily, Irish cuisine has much more to offer than I originally surmised. Of course, a bustling city like Dublin offers more than just traditional Irish fare, but I don’t travel to have a burger and fries (…I’m sorry, “chips”) wherever I go. I wanted to get a feel for some of the typical dishes, which—in most places I found—are served with a fresh new twist. I invite you to tag along with me through my day of Dublin cuisine:
Naturally, I couldn’t make it all the way to this country and not try an Irish breakfast. That’s about as sacrilegious as building a pub in an old church! Okay, maybe that’s a bad example for Ireland (see: The Church Bar, Dublin, Ireland):
But I digress. Generally speaking, this traditional dish includes bacon, sausage, fried eggs, black and white pudding, toast, fried tomato and sautéed mushrooms. Chatham Brasserie’s version includes tasty, crispy breakfast potatoes and their choice of a poached egg offered a bit more polish to the traditional dish. And although I did taste the black pudding, I can’t say that I will be going back for seconds (hint: one of the main ingredients is blood). Definitely NOT Bill Cosby approved. But pudding aside, an Irish breakfast is a tasty and filling way to start the day. Wash this one down with an Irish coffee--coffee with whiskey, topped with a thick cream--and I wasn’t feeling too shabby. Off to a decent start!
After such a huge breakfast, I wasn’t that hungry around lunchtime, so I decided to take a local Irishman’s advice and hit up Grogan’s. Described as a good place to “relax in the middle of the day”—read: drink a couple of pints—Grogan’s is a low key, artsy pub where you’ll encounter “relaxers” of all ages. It was a beautiful day, so I enjoyed my pint of Smithwicks Ale and one of their toasted sandwiches on their comfy yet crowded patio.
Situated between the centuries-old George’s Street Arcade and the Powerscourt Antique Gallery, it felt a bit more authentic than, say, the Gourmet Burger Kitchen across the way, advertising their €9.99 “meal deal.” The patio is perfect for people-watching--and eavesdropping on discussions between the locals about important cultural issues like the authenticity of Margaret’s Irish accent on Boardwalk Empire, among other things. While far from gourmet, their toasty sandwich of Irish cheddar cheese, traditional deli ham and tomato was surprisingly tasty, and I found Smithwick’s to be a nice local beer for those who find Guinness to be a bit on the heavy side. If you’re looking for a cool, non-touristy pub in Dublin, this is a great option.
For dinner, I stepped out on a non-Irish limb and was genuinely impressed by the offerings of Roly’s Bistro, a French-Irish fusion restaurant whose café offers quality yet reasonably-priced set dinner menus. I opted for the Thai spiced fishcakes as a starter, the confit of duck as a main and two of their “tapas style” desserts. Far from traditional Irish, the restaurant came highly recommended by several Dubliners I met on my trip. And for good reason. The fishcakes were flaky and seasoned just right, and the duck perfectly cooked and served on a bed of Asian-inspired noodles and veggies. The mini dessert of a Pavlova pillow with fresh strawberries and chocolate mousse with malteasers complemented each other perfectly. The staff was friendly and helpful, and quick with recommendations. Highly recommend!
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by Irish cuisine as a whole, even as I ventured out of Dublin to the west coast of the country. I loved that I could indulge in modern, fusion dishes as well as those with old-world, traditional charm. But as I’m not a vampire, there will be no black blood pudding in my future. Next stop: London!