Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Ireland Trip Blog Series: #6 - Food and Drink

My First Guinness
If you missed the introduction to this series, you can find it here.

Warm Winter Vegetable Tartlet
One of the countless things I loved about the trip to Ireland was eating and drinking. Mostly eating, because ours was a church group, and drinking wasn't a major focus. But I had decided before going, that I would at least try a Guinness beer on draft. So good, and at least in the old-time advertising, so good for you. One of our guides said that when his mother was in the maternity hospital, she was given a bottle of Guinness each day after the baby's birth, to build her back up since it contains iron. Yeah, how cool is that?

As an aside, I loved the clean lines and simple settings of our tables when we ate in the hotel restaurants. The minimalist in me was very cheered by that.

I really intended to do a good job of taking food photos, but inexplicably I was hungry each time we sat down to a meal (even though mostly I hadn't done anything but sit, or maybe stroll). Therefore I tended to launch into the food, and then think, oh yeah, meant to take its picture. Sigh.

Fish and chips - check. Sadly, no photo, because I basically inhaled the order I got at a food stand, since we were in a hurry to get
Poached Hake

Salmon Wrap - Museum of Country Life
back onto the spotlessly clean bus. (If I drove a bus all day and had to clean it each night with a whisk broom, I would outlaw food, too.) I like fish though, so ordered it sometimes at the hotel restaurants. As with so many things, I had never eaten hake before, but it was yummy. Very mild. I ordered it a few times on the trip.

Blurry photo of someone else's Irish stew
Shepherd's Pie - Scarriff Inn
Shepherd's pie - check. Similar to casseroles I've made in the past, with mashed potatoes on top, this is terrific comfort food. I also had some bread with that order, I guess, and made a mess. Shame on me.

Irish stew - check (multiple times--a favorite of mine.) I loved it so much, I had thought it would be fun to make Irish Stew for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but that project is on the back burner, so to speak. I need to get with the local extension office to find a source for lamb. Unless I end up becoming a vegetarian after all, which is always a possibility.

There were myriad desserts too, and the ladies I hung out with were partial to the chocolate concoctions. The photo here is a poor representation of the dessert sampler two of the ladies shared.
Amazing Dessert Sampler in Killarney

So prettily presented, and so delicious (I heard), it was a topic of conversation and cause of happy sighs for the rest of the trip. I estimate that I consumed more dessert on the trip than I had eaten in six months prior. Why? Because it was there, and "free" since we had prepaid our hotel meals with the tour package. Luckily I no longer own a bathroom scale, but my jeans let me know I should have exercised a little more discretion.

Banoffee Pie
Apple Crumble

Proof that I once ordered Fruit Salad for Dessert

My biggest food surprise was the pureed/creamed vegetable soup, which was delicious each time I tried it. First trip to the grocery on returning home, I bought a bunch of veggies, sauteed onion in a pan, dumped in the rest and boiled it. I've made my recipe-less version three times, and it always tastes heavenly. Evidently my body craves veggies and in general I don't eat them as often as I should. I've used different combinations of potatoes, carrots, onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and cauliflower.

Bacon and Scrambled Eggs
Back to my theoretical vegetarianism, I only ordered the Hot Irish Breakfast once. This is part of it. After that first morning, I opted each day for porridge (a/k/a oatmeal), fruit, yoghurt. Right--I have no photographic proof of my daily porridge. You're just gonna have to trust me on this one.

And just because, here are some more food photos. The toastie was super yum, and the atmosphere of Blarney's Pub in Dublin added to my enjoyment. My second Guinness of the trip didn't hurt either.
Classic Pub Toastie at Blarney's in Dublin

If memory serves (a slight possibility) the Ciabatta was an appetizer at one of the hotel meals. We always had two or three options of appetizer, main course, and dessert at the hotels.

Coffee was always available, and was quite good, although the people who wanted decaf were disappointed to have instant. I'm fortunate to want caffeine when I'm in a coffee mood, so no instant coffee for me. Tea was on hand too, and there was an electric tea kettle in each hotel room. You can see more photos of those here. And the hot chocolate was just that. If you wanted it sweet, as we usually drink it in America, you needed to add sugar.

I loved that, even at food stands, there were always little metal spoons to add your sugar and stir. It was refreshing not to always be assailed by plastic-ware as is the norm in my life here in the States.

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