Jan 11 2013

Romantic Restaurants for the Single Guy – Part 2 (Fiona)




OK, you’re a single guy, you have met someone new – she’s looking like a ‘keeper’ –  and you want to move things along a bit (or a bit faster anyway!).

In Part 1 of this article (here) I covered the top 5 restaurants in the world. In this second part I will cover the best 5 restaurants I have actually been to around the world….. and that are a bit more realistic on the wallet. They are not exactly cheap – but they’re not ‘silly money’ either – and you should at least be able to get a reservation there before you start drawing your pension.

Click on the web links I have provided for each one to discover more about them.

I hope you get the opportunity to experience one or more of these fabulous restaurants with that special lady in your life one day. She’s out there waiting for you – just get out there and look for her….. and cook her a romantic meal once in a while J

Lots of love,




1 Le Parc (Carcassonne, France) http://www.restaurantleparcfranckputelat.fr/

(website has an English section)

I last went to Le Parc in the summer of 2012, sitting outside in the covered garden, listening to the cicadas chirping away and soaking up a beautiful sunny day at the foot of the ancient historical ramparts of La Cite in Carcassonne. He could have had me there and then if he had wanted to!

The food of chef Franck Putalet here is divine and the fixed price lunch cost €35 each (which included a glass of wine, a salmon starter, breast of duck main course and dessert). For a 2 star Michelan restaurant, that is remarkable value and it is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.  There are more expensive and more extensive menus available both at lunchtime and in the evening for all you gourmets out there but I promise you the fixed price lunch will leave you full and happy.

If you have any problems with the web site, try a different browser to internet explorer.


2 La Signoria  (Calvi, Corsica) http://www.hotel-la-signoria.com/

(website has an English section)

La Signoria is a 5 star hotel situated just outside Calvi in Corsica (the most beautiful island in the Mediterranean). I ate in the Romanesque-style palm gardens here on my birthday in June last year under a beautiful pale blue evening sky, accompanied by the best, most discrete table service I have ever experienced. The menu when I ate there offered a great selection of dishes based on local organic ingredients (I had a cold pea soup as a starter that was to die for) including local cheeses.

The hotel was once an 18th century Genoese estate and is quite incredible and luxurious, nestled at the foot of the Corsican mountains and away from the general noise of the town. I think they still doing cooking classes here too.


3 La Mere Zou (Dublin, Ireland) http://www.lamerezou.ie/

I have to give my favourite local restaurant here in Ireland a place in my top 5 list. La Mer Zou is a thriving but relaxed restaurant in the centre of Dublin (St. Stephens Green).

The food is simple but stunning classic French cuisine (including a good selection of local seafood), it is relatively  inexpensive and the ambience (it often has live music such as a guitarist or cello player) created by the owner and staff is perfect for a romantic dinner for two. It also has a good selection of wines at affordable prices. Early bird menus from 6-7pm currently offer 3 courses for €26.

If you are ever in Dublin, I would definitely recommend eating here.


4 The Cinnamon Club  (London, UK) http://www.cinnamonclub.com/

Quite simply, the best Indian restaurant I have ever eaten in and I would get on a plane and go back there tomorrow for their spiced rack of lamb. Based in the heart of Westminster, in the former Westminster library, it will change your perception of Indian food if you dine here. If you have a lady who likes Indian food, take her here.


5 Izakaya Sozai (San Francisco, USA) http://www.izakayasozai.com/

San Francisco is a great, fun town and this is a great Japanese fusion/ramen restaurant. A lot of the menu covers seafood options but there’s plenty of meat on offer too and you can have it on skewers, breaded, deep fried, braised, sashimi’d or with wasabi!  The ramen is great and it’s a fun place. Whenever you look around in this place everybody looks happy and like they are having fun.

I think ‘Izakaya’ actually means a Japanese drinking establishment that serves small plates (like tapas). I had a complete pig-out and went for small dishes of pork belly  and a whole grilled squid followed by ramen (ritsu tonkatsu).




Jan 10 2013

Happy New Year (Helen)




Hello – Helen here. Kate is away with work over January/February so I will be running the site in the meantime.

Welcome back to Alpha Dog Food and Happy New Year to all our readers. I trust you had a great Christmas. Santa was certainly good to me 🙂

Looking forward to the next month, we have new articles ranging from romantic restuarants to Asian recipes lined up for you – and a new joiner from the USA to tell you about.

Be sure to subscribe to receive the latest posts (over on the right there somewhere – just add your email address in the box and new posts will automatically be sent on to you).

Alternatively, you can follow us on Twitter @alphadogfood or go to our Facebook page here and ‘like’ us to receive updates on Facebook. We sometimes put additional material on Facebook and Twitter it’s worth signing up there anyway if you are already subscribed to receive updates from the blog.

We would love to get more feedback to help us improve our blog so please leave comments on here (you need to register to be able to leave comments), Twitter or Facebook. And please pass our details on to your friends too!

It’s cold, windy and wet here in Ireland. We need you men cooking warming romantic meals for us girls. So come on and make a resolution to do more cooking for us in 2013.

All our best wishes for 2013.


Dec 19 2012

Merry Christmas from the girls

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year

from all of us who post here on Alpha Dog Food.

Have a good holiday and see you early in January (and if you are a lady reader

and over 18, come and join us in the New Year – see the new recruits page link above).

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!



Helen 2












Fiona 1

Andrea 2



...and a Happy New Year

…and a Happy New Year


Dec 13 2012

Alternative Christmas Dinner (Kate)




Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!


Civet de Sanglier is a ragout of wild boar slowly cooked in red wine – or to put it more simply, a red wine stew. It is a recipe that can be used for a tough shoulder, leg or fillet of boar – or any other larger game such as venison if you prefer. In Provence, this would be called a “Daube de Sanglier“.

Being game, it’s an ideal alternative as a Christmas or Boxing day meal if you are looking for something a little bit different to the traditional turkey or want something that can be prepared in advance and simply heated up when it is required.





For a main course for two, use the measures below.


  • Leg/Shoulder of boar cut into 1 inch pieces (500-700g      is plenty)
  • Bacon lardons (small packet)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A cup of mushrooms (your own favourites – I use      button mushrooms for this)
  • 1 bottle of robust red wine
  • 1 small glass of Cognac
  • 2 Tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 Tablespoon of flour
  • Herbes be Provence (dried), bay leaf and fresh      parsley (a good handful)
  • Butter & olive oil
  • Salt & pepper


How To Cook It

Use a deep thick pan or casserole dish with a lid.

Place a knob of butter and good glug of olive oil in it and then add the bacon lardons. Warm up on a medium heat for a couple of minutes.

Put the onion and the carrot in, cut into small’ish chunks rather than thin pieces. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the garlic cloves (whole).

Turn up the heat to ¾ (not all the way to full on) and add the cubes of meat – you must keep stirring regularly so that nothing burns or sticks. Add a little more olive oil if necessary.

After about 5-10 minutes, reduce the heat and sprinkle in the flour and stir in making sure it turns brown but doesn’t burn (I usually take it off the heat to do this and then return it to the heat when all the flour is well mixed in).

Then add the tomato puree, mushrooms and herbs du Provence and mix in

Add the Cognac and the bottle of wine so that all the meat is covered (top up with a little water if necessary to cover it). If you don’t need to use all the wine to cover it, put the remainder in a glass and drink it while you are cooking!

Add a good pinch of salt and black pepper, bay leaf and the fresh cut parsley.

Turn up the heat to bring the wine up to boil, stirring continuously.

After a couple of minutes reduce the heat to low, put the lid on and gently simmer for at least 2 hours – check regularly to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan or reducing too quickly. Cut the celery into slices no thicker than the width of your little finger and add in about an hour into this simmering stage. Take it off the heat when it is at a consistency you like (a good thick stew that’s not runny).

As with all stews it will taste better the next day so allow to cool properly and then put into the fridge until required (try not to leave it in any longer than two days).


How To Serve It

Roast some vegetables – parsnip, potatoes, large peppers, etc. See the picture below of my roast veg before they go into the over. Just drizzle some olive oil over and cook at 180 degrees until they are done to your liking.

Alternatively, some ribbon pasta or rice is just as nice with this.



I had it with chestnuts and small chunks of strong French and Spanish (Chorizo) sausage in with it once in Corsica. Stronger taste but nice. You would add the sausage in at the same time as the bacon lardoons, the chestnuts at the same time as the celery.


Civet de Sanglier

Civet de Sanglier


Roast Vegetables

Roast Vegetables