What’d You Do Last Weekend?

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Drive About: Ireland

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
    Lamb sweetbreads
    Lamb tongue
    Ox heart
    Cold langoustines with fresh mayo
    Green salad
    Welsh rarebit
  • 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.
  • Jameson
    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.

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There were so much difficulty with baking when going back light watkins vedic meditation and forth between Ireland as well as America. The dimensions, of course, but mostly the substances. It was very hard to convert a recipe, in case you're having an Irish one... merely a word of warning. Only cure would be to go visit once again.

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It all sounds so wonderful. And I'm truly impressed that you succeeded at driving in the UK! Just walking without getting killed by a car was as much as I could do!

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We had so much trouble with baking when going back and forth between Ireland and America. The measurements, of course, but mostly the ingredients. It was really hard to convert a recipe, in case you're using an Irish one...just a word of warning. Only cure is to go visit again.

Measurements

Totally agree - I bought one local cookbook while there, but I know my scale can handle the measurements in that book. Another book I bought has an American edition, so I have volume measurements as well as weight (which is really the only way I bake).

Thanks for the warning - I know I'll hit the speed bump at some point. I bet things like butterfat content are going to kill me...meaning that recipes won't turn out as anticipated because our dairy has lower fat content than theirs, so I may have to make adjustments that way too.

Sounds like you will do the

Sounds like you will do the absolute best possible! I remember the sadness when my mom tried to make chocolate chip cookies after we moved there. I think even the gluten in the flour is different, isn't it?