When I began planning a glorious getaway (disguised as a business trip) to the Emerald Isle, the prospects of imbibing on pints of beer as dark as midnight, strolling along pathways carpeted in mossy majesty and dancing a Celtic jig to fiddle-playing folk were all major points of interest on my “Ireland experiences” list.
What was NOT on my list? Food.
I’ll admit it, I was not fraught with anticipation for Ireland’s cuisine. As a matter of fact, I had more than one acquaintance wish me a hearty “good luck with that” when discussing what my dining adventure might hold. Boy, were they (and I) wrong!
My first night in Dublin, I opted for the tried-and-true “ask your taxi driver” approach to selecting a dinner location. When I solicited the first driver of the day for a suggestion, he immediately landed on Flanagan’s conveniently located just across from my home for the evening, the Holiday Inn Express Dublin City Centre. After I inquired with the second and he offered up the same, my decision was made. All I can say is, ‘Thank you, gents!” I’m no gourmand, so comfort food is always the order of the day. I selected the Beef ‘N Guinness Pie because, when in Ireland…
The beef was tender, piping hot and deliciously seasoned. (An Englishmen spied the below pic on my Twitter and questioned the commitment of the crust. I assured him it was tasty if somewhat tiny by his standards) The meal portions were substantial, the service friendly and quick, the atmosphere cozy and low-key. Dublin taxi drivers for the win on this one!
Sadly, I was only in Dublin for slightly less than 24 hours and unable to sample much more but certainly hope to correct my error in the future. Flanagan’s would definitely warrant a return visit.
Time to make my way to Killarney and the fantastic fare that awaited me there!
Let me go on record here and confess that, on this particular trip, I was fortunate enough to be attending TBEX Ireland (Travel Blog Exchange), the world’s largest gathering for travel bloggers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and industry professionals. That being said, I was able to sample a cross-section of goodies presented by Taste Kerry; an opportunity I may not have been afforded otherwise. It’s good to have friends with the chocolate/whiskey/cheese/cider/oyster-hookup.
Above are just a few of the amazing food purveyors represented at this beautiful and delicious event: Lorge Chocolatier – they’re making amazing handmade chocolates and can teach you how to do it too, Hyde Irish Whiskey – handcrafting very small limited edition batches of award-winning Irish Whiskey, Glenbeigh Shellfish – if I’m being honest, oysters never popped into my mind when considering Irish cuisine. The more you know…, O’Brien’s Artisan Farmhouse Cheese – the Spiced Cheddar is a revelation!
After this fantastic introduction to Irish eats and a week’s worth of meal after wonderful meal, my last night in Killarney rolled around. I was on a mission to find my final comfort-food fix. Specifically, I was on the hunt for bacon and cabbage. I had done all the greatest hits – bangers and mash, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, the aforementioned beef ‘n Guinness pie… All that remained was the elusive bacon and cabbage and, I found it, at Sceal Eile Restaurant.
I was greeted promptly by the kind and courteous staff who were so gosh-darned pleasant, I felt like I left dinner with a couple of new friends in Ireland.
My official final Irish meal quest did not go unfulfilled. The meal began with what can only be described as the best Irish Soda Bread I’ve ever eaten in my life, followed by an Italian Salad that would have been a satisfying meal all on its own. But, I was jonesing for bacon and cabbage and bacon and cabbage I got! The bacon so tender you barely needed the fork to pull it apart, the cabbage just tender enough without being soggy or limp, the bechamel sauce so light and creamy as to not distract from each individual flavor shining through. As though I needed another bite of anything, the meal was rounded out by a buttery apple pie with just a whisper of sweetness. Alright, now I’m making myself hungry. Do yourself a favor. When in Killarney, go see my new friends at Sceal Eile.
Lest I forget this little jewel, what vacation indulgence would be complete without a little ice cream?
This spectacular scoop (okay, maybe two scoops) was courtesy of Murphy’s. I could give you a big, long, delicious description here. Instead, I’ll just leave you with this; what you’re looking at is Irish Coffee and Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream. Yeah. I know. Right?
For me, this trip was a lesson learned. Never judge a menu by its cover. Great food can be found everywhere, you just have to be open-minded enough to give it a try. Thank you, Ireland and especially Killarney, for leaving me with a full heart and full belly.