Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oh the food.

People make jokes about the food in the British Isles, myself included.  I won't repeat them but trust me, they do and I have very clear memories of why those jokes ring true.  Something about boiling everything.

The jokes may have been based in truth at some point, but now they are unfounded.

Fish and chips.  One of our kids really doesn't like fish.  It's too bad because the opportunity to eat it was everywhere and I must have had fish and chips 5 times over the course of the 2 1/2 weeks.  Some were better than others, the best plate by far was at O'Donohue's in Fanore.  The above plate was not from O'Donohue's but from a small place on Baker Street near 221B.  We'd decided that 221B would be our first stop in London but discovered it was hot outside and the line was long.  We stopped in the shop, decided against the tour, and ate in the tiny Holmes Fish and Chips shop instead.  Touristy?  Absolutely.

Aside from O'Donohue's having the best fish and chips, they also made awesome other dishes, one of their seasonal specialties being the mussels.  They also had a great Irish stew and pizza.  Seriously, the pub in Fanore (there is only one) is a great place to stop.  Say Hi to Pat and Patricia O'Donohue for us.  They'll remember, we left the Jordanian Dinar on their money wall.

We ate a lot of sandwiches.  Lots.  I mean, nearly every lunch when we were out and about, which was every day, was a sandwich of some sort often with a side of chips or crisps.  It's no wonder we didn't lose any weight even with all the walking.

We had one night out with a fancy meal, that didn't come from a pub or a sandwich shop.  For that we joined 50 of our closest friends in an old castle, for the Dunguaire Castle Banquet.  Shannon Heritage does lots of activities within Ireland's castles, gardens, and parks.  For our dinner the food was hearty and plentiful and the accompanying entertainment was just that, entertaining.  It's not a place for small children, please don't think this is like Medieval Times, but the music and storytelling, and yes the food, is all worth it.

Did I mention we ate a lot of sandwiches with a side of chips and/or crisps?  This meal was from a pub on Inis Oirr, Aran Islands, called Tigh Ned.  The food was good even if the service was less than optimal.  The one waitress seemed really cranky about being there at all.  And there was this really drunk American guy, a drifter, a wanderer, who was chatting up some Australians.  When he went back in the pub the bartender was told in no uncertain terms that his glass was not to be refilled.  Not by us, we were out in the garden, but was a good move by the person who stepped up and said it.

When in Wales the farmer's market had me drooling all over everything.  OK, maybe not the duck hot dogs.  But there were tents selling beers and wines and pastries and foods of all sorts.  I bought a steak&ale pie and carted it with us all the Ireland and eventually it took three of us to eat it.  So good.

We spent a lot of time in the cafe' in Fanore.  Our cottage didn't have WiFi, Vasco did.  Suddenly everyone had a pressing desire to drink lots of coffee and the homemade sweets weren't bad at all.  They came with a side of cream or ice cream, and in the early evening the coffee shop turned into a bonafide organic restaurant with some funky menu items like grilled eggplant with goat cheese.  It served a different clientele than O'Donohue's across the street.

Ian had Irish stew at O'Donohue's, we both had it at the Guinness center in Dublin.  With heavy brown bread, it really was a satisfying treat.  Somewhere I have the recipe card for the stew and another for Guinness truffles.  I think it's more likely I'll make the stew though the Guinness dark chocolate truffle bar I'm slowly working through is quite divine.

Did I mention we ate a lot of sandwiches?  For as many times as I ate fish&chips, I had tuna and cucumber sandwiches more.  Oddly enough, we just didn't get tired of them.

This trip went a long way to erasing my memories of the food during my semester abroad in 1994.

I'm actually looking forward to going back and eating there again.

Thank goodness for that.

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