Drive About: Ireland
Last month, we snuck away from sunny summertime Seattle and headed on vacation across the pond, for a few days in London and a week in Ireland. Neither place has been regarded historically as a culinary giant, but that's been changing over the last decade and we had some smashingly good food and drink in both countries.
Our highlight reel includes:
- Dinner at St. John, just around the corner from the Smithfield Market in London
We made reservations as early as we could (3 months in advance) and were met with just the sort of meal we'd hoped for. Only problem was that we ate the night we arrived in London, and I'd had far too many beers while jetlagged to remember most of the preparations. Todd and I recounted the dishes the next day, but this was as much as I could remember...
Cured sea trout with mustardy cucumbers, dill and capers
Beautiful bread and euro-style butter
Cold langoustines with fresh mayo
- Walking all over London
When we travel, we walk. In 1.5 days, we probably got in 6 - 7 miles and hit the essentials: the Tate Modern, the Borough Market, Smithfield Market, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, Piccadilly, Westminster (at 7am, when all the schoolkids in gowns are still wandering about), the Thames, the Tower, and of course, Parliament.
- Learning to drive on the left side of the road
Not really a highlight but a necessity. It's as scary as you've heard, and you'll be talking about the driving test the rest of the vacation. The hardest question to answer was this: 'Put these three things in order of importance - slow down, stay on the left side of the road, pay attention.' At one time or another, each seemed critical.
In the slideshow there are a few short videos of driving, but there's a longer one here (MP4 format).
- Dairy in Ireland
Fat cows everywhere, and gosh the butterfat content had to be high. Everything was creamy and grassy, the best whole milk I've had in ages. Their goat cheese was creamy like cream cheese, and didn't have a hint of the goatiness.
Now I know the difference between American, Scotch, and Irish whiskeys, thanks to a tour of the Jameson Distillery in Midleton, Ireland (just outside of Cork).
- Green peppercorn ice cream
I had it with tea at our hotel in London, and it was served with macerated strawberries and homemade lemon marshmallows. It was absolutely inspired.
- The Franciscan Well Brewery
It was fantastic to find a brew pub in Cork that was serving something other than Guinness. All locally made, they had about 8 taps and many local bottles we'd never seen before. We sat there for hours, and even had a pizza delivered to our table so we wouldn't have to get up and eat. The beer was great, but let me say that we are very, very lucky up here in the PacNW to have microbrews like we do. They are world-class.
- Shopping for a Day's Meal at the English Market in Cork
We bought shopping bags and shopped like we do our local farmer's market. Cheeses, cured meat, bread, sandwiches, salads, drinks (hello, Fentimans Rose Lemonade, love of our picnic), olives, pickles, and scones. It lasted for days.
- Peat bogs
The smell of burning peat is luscious and velvety, and seeing bogs, even in the rain, was kind of amazing. We stopped at a little town called Leenane for lunch, and were absolutely surrounded by them all the way there and back.
- Brown Bread (and butter)
I brought back a couple of kilos of flour that we can't get here easily, and I've already dog-eared my Ballymaloe Bread book with plans. Black treacle's in the pantry.