Fancy A Taste of Ireland?


 

I have neglected this blog for a few weeks, but now that the CMA craziness is over (at least for now), I can focus on things that make me happy again 🙂 I’m a bit behind on posting the photos from my latest trip to Scotland and Ireland, but at least here are some of the food photos to capture our adventure! 🙂

We were lucky enough to visit Ireland this August, and my only regret is not having enough time to see more of it. Because of our limited time, we only had time to see the northern coast (Giant’s Causeway), Belfast and Dublin.

The photo above was taken at the Bushmills Distillery – producer of Ireland’s oldest whiskey and self-proclaimed oldest distillery in the world. King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillipps the right to distill whiskey here in 1608, and Bushmills has been part of Irish history ever since.
 

The distillery is located in the town of the same name on the northern Irish coast, about a 15 minute drive to the Giant’s Causeway, and it gets over 100,000 visitors a year. Bushmills, like most Irish whiskey is distilled three times, while Scotch whiskey, apart from Auchentoshan, is distilled twice. Peat is rarely used in the malting process, so that Irish whiskey has a smoother finish as opposed to the smoky, earthy overtones common to some Scotches.

In the distillery cafeteria they serve traditional Irish fare, so we jumped at the chance to try some 🙂
Above is the typical Irish stew – mostly potatoes and carrots, with a few “sprinkles” of meat. Filling, but a little uneventful. The best part of it was the bread. Irish brown soda bread (or wheaten bread) is made with buttermilk and oats, so it’s very moist and slightly sweet.

Christina decided to go with the traditional steak and ale pie – although this version was quite different from the Scotland one – and as you can see, there is very little pie – and mostly just steak and ale 🙂 I don’t think she minded much 🙂

Included in the tour of the distillery, is a complimentary whiskey, or the above – toddy.  I thought it was quite interesting that a toddy was made with whiskey, so I decided to try the Bushmills version – with cinnamon and cloves.   Since I’m not a big whiskey drinker, this was perfect, not as strong as whiskey, slightly sweet and it smelled great – however, it was still quite potent 🙂

In Belfast, the hosts at our hotel recommended a newly opened coffee shop close to the City Hall on Wellington Place,  that proved to be quite a gem.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name anymore, but you’ll be able to recognize it by the relaxed white decor and self-serve pastries 🙂

They served one of the best cranberry croissants I have tasted in a while 🙂  Christina agreed 🙂

 The cappucino had the perfect balance of coffee to steamed milk – not to mention immaculate presentation!  The cafe also serves light lunch and is located very centrally.  The pastries are self serve and include raspberry croissants pictured below (and above).  Super delicious 🙂

In Dublin, we had some very cheeky food servers – like the cute boy from the local ice cream shop below 🙂  His little displays worked! We were so amused by them that we decided to check out the shop and were blown away by some of the most amazing ice cream flavours we’ve encoutered so far  – including balsamic vinegar, sea salt and brown bread!  I must say that some of those sounded like very weird things to combine with ice cream, but the flavours begged to differ.  The balsamic one had only slight aftertaste of the vinegar in the vanilla ice cream, and brown bread was also vanilla ice cream with sugary chunks of brown bread.  Very tasty!

By far, the best breafkast we had in Dublin was in this tiny little place called Honest to Goodness – a well kept secret in the Market Arcade in the heart of Dublin.

My choice that morning was the “Honest Start” (below): crispy bacon, sausage, pudding (i.e. haggis), egg, with relish and couscous salad.  The best thing about this sandwich was the roasted red pepper bread, toasted to perfection. The haggis gave the sandwich a bit of a kick.  The couscous salad was infused with basil, which gave it so much more depth than any other I’ve tasted.

Christina’s choice was the “Croque Madame”: roasted ham and gryere baked sandwich, topped with egg and a side salad.  The salad dressing was a raspberry balsamic vinagrette – it wasn’t too sweet and had just the right amount of tanginess from the balsamic.  Honest to Goodness stands up to its name – it is honestly good.  It is tiny, yet accommodating to an endless stream of locals, enjoying a wholesome breakfast or lunch.  The service was also commendable and quite friendly.

Dublin doesn’t have a shortage of pubs and pub fare, anywhere you turn.  O’Donoghue’s – a pub and inn  is located close to the famous St. Stephen’s Green.

We were lucky enough to get seated on the second floor, which is much cozier than the main floor, and already at 17:00 hours, it was full of happy hour drinkers, who weren’t shy about making fun of a couple of tourists taking pictures of their food 🙂

Christina’s choice was the char-grilled minute steak sandwich, on a toasted chiabata with caramelized onions and rocket and pepper sauce (below).

Myself, I decided to go for the homemade beef and Guiness stew, being that we were in Guiness land 🙂  The taste of Guiness was quite prominent, but not overpowering, and it made the beef extra tender.  The brown soda bread seems to be the standard bread served with stews in Ireland, and this stew was no different.  I really enjoyed the thick consistency of the bread and how its sweetness countered the saltiness of the butter spread on it.  Yumm-oo!

Now that I have my life back, at least for now, I will be making more goodies and sharing them with you all.  Stay tuned for this month’s creation!  Toodles!

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