Smirting & The Smoking Ban
Smirting is a combination of the words smoking + flirting, geddit? It started when people had to go out for a ciggie after the ban was enforced, and got chatting to fellow smokers outside on the street, eyes meeting across a cloud of blue nicotine... ;) So you may just meet a local hottie in this way!!
REMEMBER - Since March 2004, you CANNOT smoke inside bars, cafes or restaurants, or anywhere where people are working (e.g. taxis, offices etc.)
The legislation is officially known as the Public Health (Tobacco) Act, see link to it below for a summary.
You may smoke in outside in the street or in designated smoking areas, but never inside a place where people are working (includes offices, bars, restaurants, shops, shopping centres, taxis, etc)
Mount Mellary Monastery
We went en famille to Mount Mellary monastery a few years ago. It's located in the Vee - which is a valley up in the Knockmealdown mountains, west county Waterford.
Apparently Mary (as in Jesus's mum) appeared to local children in the 1980s and a grotto was built in Mount Mellary to commemorate the vision. The monastery was founded by French monks and it is possible to stay in the monastery free of charge, provided you do some work on the grounds or you just make a contribution.
I dont have a photo of the monastery so i downloaded it from http://www.isos.dcu.ie/mtmel/english/background/mtmelabbey.html
A Star is Born
Another great restaurant bites the dust - and this one sadly lasted a little over a year:-( Such are the signs of the world economy in 2009!!
For a little great food nostalgia, read on....
On a cold day in January 2008 I was firstly taken aback and subsequently impressed by the welcoming and almost imposing proud glass frontage of the newest restaurant in Waterford.
Ciaron O Neill, the long time and very successful proprietor of the Forum theatre and music venu decided to remodel the ground floor of his premises, hitherto used as part of the main venu, and transform it into an upmarket restaurant on a grand and spacious scale. This he has undoubtedly achieved and he has spared no expense in creating a place where people will want to go.
Many say that the location is bad, in that it is situated in an older and oerhaps downmarket area of town, but my opinion is that it's about time someone extended the cachment area for fine dining. I don't care what side of the town it's on as long as the food and ambiance are top notch, and they are at Divine.
I was warmly welcomed at the door by Michael, who used to manage the Wine Vault. I hadn't seen him in years, but he followed his greeting by offering me a glass of Gewurztraminer. Given the length of time since we had last met, I was indeed impressed that he recalled one of my favourite wines.
There's a substantial wine list and a full bar which serves great cocktails. In addition to this, the restaurant welcomes you to purchase your choice of wine at the off license next door and will charge a corkage of €5 per bottle - not bad at all!
Top marks, too, for the great background music and the wide and comfortable toilet cubicles.
Inside, the premises will seat several hundred, but it a layout that makes it all very private. It's elegant and modern and comfortable all at once. There's a stage at one side which leads me to believe that music will be provided from time to time. As the main venu attracts some of Ireland's biggest acts (and indeed international acts) this is likely to be something to look forward to. We went for lunch and the menu was impressive, with a choice from four each of starters, main courses and desserts. I asked for a peek at the evening menu in contemplation of a future visit, and let's say there's enough there to tempt me back.
I started with a goat's cheese and wild mushroom risotto which was cooked in the best tradition of a good Italian rice dish - succulent, tasty, almost (but not quite) gluey. It came garnished with a little pesto oil, rocket, and some parmesan. I would happily have enjoyed it as a main course. The flavours all complimented each other and nothing overpowered.
I followed this with a Sunday Lunch staple - roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. Portions are extremely generous here - what we would call a man's dinner but with good presentation. The beef was served over creamed potatoe and the meat was succulent and juicy to the bite. On the plate with this was the largest Yorkshire pudding I have ever seen, garnished with home made horseradish cream and caramelised onion. There were side dishes of garlic and cheese potatoes and fresh garden vegetables.
I couldn't finish what was on my plate as I wanted to leave room for dessert. I opted for the butterscotch and walnut crepes with vanilla pod ice cream. Although they were delicious, they were entirely cold and I think that crepes should be hot, no matter what the filling.
We finished the meal with the best strong coffee I have had in ages.
As Arnie said - I'll be back!
Wine bar - in a Genuine Vault
Since creating this tip, the establishment stopped selling food in October 2007. It is nevertheless still the best place in Waterford from which to purchase fine wines and is worth a visit just to explore the original vaults.
High Street in Waterford is a small, narrow, paved street and houses just four restaurants. The first to occupy this street for this purpose was (and still is) The Wine Vault.
The proprietor, David Dennisson, is a internationally recognised sommellier and established this wonderfully atmospheric restaurant and wine bar in a genuine vault. I took some pics when I had lunch there today, but unfortunately they're a bit blurred.
The restaurant is on two levels, the top level is entered directly from the street. You walk directly into a wood panelled, stone walled, cosy restaurant and bar area, with a couple of little arched nooks for cosy dining.
Downstairs you will find the original vaults, fascinating! The wines are stored here and there are also a number of tables which are usually used at night, complete with candles, for incredibly romantic dining. This would also be a wonderful spot for history buffs and ask the staff to fill you in on the history of the place.
The food is varied, with French and Italian influences. There is an a la carte menu for both lunch and dinner, with daily specials displayed on blackboards throughout.
You can go for a glass of wine, a dessert and coffee, or a full meal. No matter what you want to eat you will be assured of prompt, pleasant and efficient service.
Try to book in for one of the wine tasting evenings where you will get dinner and different wines with each course.
There are also regular talks and tastings presented by the international Vineyards and Wineries. You can also buy wines and gift sets.
The restaurant is extremely popular, so it is advisable to book at all times. You may be lucky enough to get a table without a booking, but don't take a chance. Again, it varies from time to time, but I find that they are particularly good with fish and seafood dishes.
They will also put themselves out to cater for special dietary needs.
I haven't marked a price bracket as it varies between lunch and dinner, there are lots of special offers, and you might just want wine. I think it represents terrific value for money.
Old City Walls
There are some remnants of Waterford's Viking/Medieval past just outside the main city centre. Some of the original fort walls of Waterford still exist today like this one, which is located on the Cork road out of Waterford.