Friday, May 18, 2012

Eating in Ireland

Now that we've virtually toured Ireland, I thought I'd share some shots of the fine food I sampled while there.

I went to Ireland knowing the following: I don't actually technically love potatoes, meat pies or breakfast, which is basically everything the country holds near and dear. I love cheese and cheesy things. But I was pleasantly surprised by Irish cuisine, which has apparently expanded leaps and bounds in the last few decades.

The standard Irish menu in a moderately upscale restaurant looked like this: goat cheese salad, scallops, fried scampi, pasta bolognese, lamb, Guiness stew and/or cottage pie.

Disclaimer: Murphy's Law dictated that I managed not to take pictures of my very favorite meals in Ireland, of course. I'll shill for them now: I had an absolutely incredible John Dory fish with tomato-wasabi sauce at a family friend's restaurant in Killarney, called Gaby's.

One of our super simple but surprisingly delightful meals was at Grogan's Pub in Dublin. It's super no-fuss and more a place you go to have a pint than eat, but I was hungry so grilled cheese it was! 

One night in Dublin we ate in our hotel restaurant, and I had a fabulous goat cheese, pear and rocket salad (oops, no pics). But I remembered to take the camera the next night when we ate at a great Italian restaurant called Il Posto. I had rigatoni con salcisice, or rigatoni with roasted sausages in a spicy red pepper sauce.

Sean and I split dessert and to choose, we played Rock, Paper, Scissors. Sean won, so we ended up having an apple-berry crumble with vanilla sauce. The sauce was my favorite part!

On our last night in Dublin, Sean and I popped into a hip little restaurant called Elephant and Castle in the Temple Bar district. Crazy thing I learned about Ireland: the Irish are obsessed with chicken wings. Every table around us had chicken wings! I myself opted for the steak sandwich with jalapeno mayonnaise and goat cheese. Totally will have to do a spin on that at home!

I also loved the restaurant for its moderate-sized "chips." I was pretty over super-thick steak fries by that point.

Cute restaurant, right?

In Belfast, we went to eat and listen to music at Robinson's Pub, where Sean had his favorite meal: bangers and mash, with leeks!

I had classic fish and chips. It was delish....but I mysteriously spent the next day puking, so...I don't know what to think. Let's blame the three pints of Guiness, shall we? (Psst, it really is better in Ireland! Less bitter, more layered flavors.)

The next day, we went to the Titanic Museum and ate in one of the museum bistros, which were SO beautifully decorated. I took this picture as future kitchen inspiration!

I had some dumb tomato salad, which was fine until I took a bite of Sean's AWESOME burger. Irish beef is no joke. It's grass-fed, and as flavorful as Kobe beef, for sure.

The next night, we ate at The Porthole in the Bayview Hotel in Port Ballintrae, where you might remember we saw an incredible sunset!

We had a great appetizer that I'd love to reproduce at home: a selection of breads (including that sundried tomato loaf) with tapenade, olive oil and a cream dip almost like tartar.

I had the honey ginger pork chop with Asian noodles, which was great (and unexpected!)...

And Sean had fried scampi, which tastes like bigger, plumper fried shrimp.

In Killybegs, we ate at The Turntable in the Tara Hotel, overlooking the bay. I had sirloin steak (more Irish beef!) with grilled onions and a bourbon pepper sauce. It was basically like steak au poivre, but with the added bonus and snap of onions.

Sean had this deconstructed Guiness stew with champ, which is mashed potatoes with leeks.

In Galway, we had our most sophisticated meal yet at The Malt House, a restaurant devoted to new twists on locally sourced delicacies. Sean and I split medallions of monkfish, with beetroot and goat cheese arancini (my fave). It was fabulous!

Unfortunately I didn't take many pictures of our meals after this point, but I had the best BLT of my life  at The Waterfront Restaurant in Rosses Point, and the best salmon of my life at our rented house, cooked by my mother-in-law! She poached it in lemon and butter and topped with rosemary, and I'm thinking I might have to add that to my repertoire.

All in all, I came away with the following impression: the Irish love their Italian food, love American food, but love absolutely nothing more than their stews and potatoes! Also, I'm an Irish butter convert for life. Kerrygold is worth every cent!

No comments: