Home Is Where the Dessert Is
by Jacqueline Sirois
When living abroad in Dublin, you’ll find yourself wandering the stony streets of Dublin. Through the hustle and bustle of the city centre, you’ll soon transition from a wide-eyed tourist to being a local, learning to zigzag through the slow crowds in your path. You’ll become accustomed to this fast-paced way of life, getting used to the bus beeping at you as you scamper across that pesky third lane. But even once you take to your new surroundings, every so often, you’ll find little breadcrumbs along the stony streets taking you back home.
For me, that place in Dublin is Queen of Tarts.
I stumbled upon Queen of Tarts around brunch time, having some time to spare before another Stint event later that day. My rumbling stomach and tired feet had a mind of their own, choosing the tiny bright red cafe over the other eateries along the street with their muted exteriors. When I stepped through the doorway, I was instantaneously hit with nostalgia; it reminded of my grandma’s house.
There are two Queen of Tarts cafes located in Dublin’s city centre, a quaint miniature one located on Dame Street, and a larger patisserie around the corner on Cow’s Lane. The cafes are different in their own unique way. The smaller one is a bunch of tables and chairs crammed together. It reminds my of own house, particularly my kitchen. The crowdedness takes me back to all those family gatherings jam-packed with more people than the room could fit. The spacious larger cafe, which also has an outdoor patio, is better suited for those who prefer a little space to stretch their legs and enjoy the open-air.
Simple aspects of Queen of Tarts trigger my sentimentality such as the mixed-match china on which the food is served; they remind me of having tea with my grandmother. The plates and teacups are dainty, featuring eclectic floral and autumnal patterns. The cafe feels homely like grandma’s house. And, all good ol’ granny cares about is feeding you and filling you up with lots of delicious treats.
Personally, I’m a big foodie with a big sweet tooth. Although Queen of Tarts has a brunch menu and features savory dishes, it’s the desserts that keep me coming back for more.
Baking is big in my family. My mom, sister and I pride ourselves on being good bakers. I remember all those Christmases as a child, devouring the leftover batter as the chocolate chip cookies sat in the oven, and the infamous grasshopper pie my mom always made for Easter, the cream always turning out a violent dark green – leaving us to shave an excessive amount of chocolate over the top. Delicious. Sitting at a table in Queen of Tarts takes me back to those holiday gatherings and the memories of all those cakes, pies, and pastries.
As a creature of habit, I’m notorious for finding one thing on the menu I like and sticking with it each and every time I return. I’m not a big fan of change. I like having a routine and need a world full of order. Living in another country has disrupted that order, in the best possible way. Instead of driving everywhere, I walk, allowing me to truly stop and admire the sights (as well as getting fully toned calves). Rather than stay at home and waste time on the computer, I go out and explore.
This newfound change is a part of my life abroad, even in cases as simple as choosing something new on a cafe menu. Besides, there are far too many options on the dessert menu for me to keep picking the same old thing time and time again. I find it difficult to choose and settle. The last time I visited the cafe I had six options. The only way I could decide was to assign each a number and have my friend pick one at random. I ended up with the Blackberry and Apple Crumble.
My favorite and recurring order at Queen of Tarts has been the Bailey’s Cheesecake. It’s rich in flavor and smooth in texture. But like many things in the cafe (free wifi not included), I’m hit with more memories of home, in this case, by way of cheesecake. When I was little, my aunt’s homemade cheesecake was my favorite dessert. It wasn’t anything fancy. It was a plain cake with canned cherries or blueberries on top. But the taste… To this day, I consider it to be one of my comfort foods.
Even though I’m here in Dublin, trying all sorts of new things, it’s comforting to have something that brings me back to a safe familiar place. When you’re living overseas, to have something as small as food bring you the comforts of home is pretty significant.
It’s nice to know that even when you’re exploring the world, there is a piece of home out there, waiting for you to find it.
Jacqueline Sirois is a writer, traveler, a mediocre DIY/crafter, and, most importantly, a Primark/Penneys enthusiast. She is a graduate of Montclair State University in New Jersey and plans to receive her MFA in Creative Writing. She hopes to travel more of the world and to have a career in publishing. For more from Jacqueline, follow her on Instagram and connect with her on LinkedIn.
Jacqueline is a program participant on our “Intern in Dublin” program.