Cooking and travel blog by Julian.
Every recipe tested in the home kitchen for accuracy.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Irish Food and Travel - Highly Recommended!
Recently Kevin and I were fortunate to combine work and vacation on a trip to the famed 'emerald isle' called Ireland. If you haven't had the chance to visit much of the world, this is a great place to start. They speak English and have a long and strong connection to the United States. It's a natural fit and a perfect place for both the new and seasoned traveler.
We started our travels by arrival in Dublin and then driving (on the left hand side of many narrow roads) south to Kilkenny and finally on to the south coastal towns. From there we worked our way through the countryside and the Ring of Kerry, up to the Cliffs of Mohar and then back on a circuitous route to Dublin via a number of small towns and castles.
All along the way we enjoyed many good, hearty meals mostly at local pubs but also in a few fine dining restaurants. One of the general themes you notice when dining in Ireland is the relative lack of vegetables. The land, being quite rocky, is suitable for grazing sheep and cows, but doesn't grow much except for the famous Irish potatoes. Even in the finest establishments, you rarely get much in the way of green veggies. But for many of you, that will be a plus as you never did learn to eat your greens, despite the attempts by your mother. That as it may be, the food is quite good especially if you are a meat and potatoes kind of guy. The first night I had a grass fed beef steak in a local pub with glass of the famous Guinness dry stout. It went perfectly together. The Bulmers cider served in all pubs, also went quite well with the beef stew shown above left.
Of course as you are on the coast of an island nation, so you also find plenty of good seafood. We enjoyed the mussels in Kenmare and what trip to the region would be complete without fresh fried cod (a single large piece shown at right), chips (french fries) and mushy peas.
We also had lamb prepared numerous ways, including lamb liver as show in the photo below and roasted lamb shanks; duck breast, quail, the classic shepard's pie, and several rich desserts. We didn't see much pork on the menus and only limited selections of chicken.
In the small towns of the charming south and western regions, you don't find much in the way of any chain restaurant or fast food. But at least one person of Chinese descent seems to have found his/her way to each little town and set up a Chinese restaurant... which by all accounts seemed quite busy serving the locals. And in every small town and village, you could quickly find the local butcher and baker each with a selection of the freshest food of the day which we also took time to view and enjoy.
Obviously, when you get to Dublin all of the big fast food restaurants are available, but it was nice to see many areas that they had not yet reached. Dublin also has many upscale restaurants and food options from around the world, that are on par with all European capital cities.
In all, we enjoyed the food, the scenery and most of all the people of Ireland. I've traveled much of the world and met many wonderful people. But I don't think I have ever met people more friendly and helpful than the Irish. If they see you with a map, they stop and ask if they can help. If you have a camera, they ask if you would like them to take your photo. Truly a wonderful people and a lovely place. If you have the chance, do visit and get out to the countryside and enjoy!