Monday, September 22, 2014

Ireland, Part One: The Food

I just returned from a wonderful 10 day trip to western Ireland where a friend and I had the privilege of staying with another friend who owns a house north of Galway city, just over the border in County Mayo. I'll start with the food, and my next post will be the sights.

Fortunately, Ireland is a land of more than just potatoes, as evidenced by the beautiful array of produce in Valerie's sizeable garden.
The zucchini, or courgettes as they known there, grow INCHES every day; the large one here weighed just over 2.5 pounds. We did not go hungry while staying there!

From Puddleducks, a cafe in the town of Cong, a marvelous salad with copious amounts of Cashel Blue Cheese. We couldn't believe how much cheese was on here!  (Named after Jemima Puddleduck from the Peter Rabbit stories!)
McDonagh's in Galway -- fish and chips; this is pollock, but we also had hake which isn't as overfished. (I couldn't really tell a difference between the fish, they're both whitefish of very similar texture.)
Some of the most wonderful mussels I have ever had, and they were probably just hours out of the waters at Killary Harbor and the town of Leenane. Served simply at the Leenane Hotel with white wine, garlic, and herbs, along with brown soda bread and chips (french fries) of course.
Over to the isle of Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands. Near the entrance to the Viking fort of Dun Aengus (more on this in my next post!)  was the Nan Phaidi House cafe that catered to the tourists, but had delicious food. Here, Guinness beef stew; really nice flavor, though the beef could have been a little more tender. The islands, which were traditional fishing villages, are also known for houses with thatched roofs. And as throughout Ireland, gorgeous flower baskets on your house or business.

Back on the "mainland" and down the coast a bit to Doolin, where we stayed and dined at the Roadford House B & B. Trip Advisor rates them as the best restaurant in Doolin, and it was easy to see why. Beautifully prepared lamb three ways: sausage, medium-rare chops, and confited and made into a patty.
And on to the town of Dingle, which is on the western-most peninsula of Ireland. Lunch one afternoon was at The Garden Cafe, where I was delighted to have their Dingle Dog of the Day: lamb and herb sausage with caramelized onions. The sausages are made locally, as are the buns. This was so simple, and so good! I couldn't really identify the herbs in the sausage, and unfortunately, our waitress didn't know either, but it was tasty. We sat outside in the garden, where the local cat kept an eye on everything.

Dinner that night was at Out of the Blue, which creates their menu based off of what they were able to get fresh at the fish market each day. This was a potato-crusted pollack with chives and cream; they shredded the potatoes to make the crust, and seared the heck out of it to make it marvelously crisp.
We also spent time at the Courthouse Pub where I did manage to try a Guinness. I normally don't care for dark, heavy stouts, and have not cared for Guinness when I have tried it in the States. I asked the bartender for a half-pour, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it and drank the whole thing! It wasn't bitter like I recall it previously, and apparently Guinness beer in Ireland is not pasteurized which may account for the taste difference.
The prize for the worst meal of the trip goes to John Bennys Pub -- our three separate dishes (pork loin, steak, and scallops) were all horribly overcooked. We got a good laugh out of it though, and went back to Murphy's Ice Cream for the second time that day! On my first trip, I had Dingle Sea Salt  (like heavy cream with a touch of salt) with Caramel Honeycomb (yes, as good as it sounds!), and my second, Toasted Irish Oats (subtle toasted oat flavor and texture) and Chocolate.
From the town of Ennis, at the Nolan + Lambe cafe, a very rich goat cheese tart with potato and Waldorf side salads.
And back in Galway, from the Charcoal Grill, a fantastic doner kebap (where the meat is roasted vertically on a spit, like a gyro) place, where I had chicken and lamb, topped with garlic and chile sauces. (This place happens to be the favorite of my friends who live in Ireland, and I can see why!)
All in all it was great eating in Ireland!


  1. So much variety in what you ate there. And it all looks so delicious, especially the fish and mussels! Glad you had a great trip.

  2. Looks like you had a great trip! I was in Dublin, Galway, and Dingle in April and I thought the seafood was wonderful.

    1. I really liked Galway & Dingle a lot! I "saw" Dublin on the bus ride from the airport to Galway, and it does look like a great city!

  3. Ireland is on my list of places to visit still!

    1. Oh Shikha, you should go!
      And nice write up of Austin on your blog! Thanks for checking out mine! :)