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!
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!
Robinson's Pub, where Sean had his favorite meal: bangers and mash, with leeks!
The Porthole in the Bayview Hotel in Port Ballintrae, where you might remember we saw an incredible sunset!
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.
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!