Monday, May 2, 2011

Ireland part 1

The main theme of this trip could be summarized in two words: nature and food.  For this reason, all mentions of the exceptional food and nature that we encountered will be italicized.  Because I feel like it.

I met my mom at Shannon and we got in our taxi to Doolin, the driver giving us little tidbits of information about all the gorgeous landscapes and interesting ruins that we passed during the one-hour ride.  Arriving in Doolin, we were just overcome with excitement and giddiness.  After settling in to our lovely B&B, we took a look at the menus of the local restaurants that were compiled for us in a very convenient little binder.  We made lists of all the meals that we wanted to try, so that we could maximize our food coverage.  
After creating our giant food list we set off for a hike/exploration around the village.  In three directions were huge green pastures and rolling hills dotted with cows, sheep, and horses, and the fourth direction yielded magnificent views of craggily cliffs leading to the ocean, with the waves crashing upon the shore.  
We walked about 3 or 4km  looking for this restaurant called “The Stonecutter’s Kitchen”, but alas we were unable to find it (we were to later find out that it was on the ‘high road’ that was a good 3 miles from our B&B).  So we walked back, enjoying the scenery all the way, and stopping in O’Connor’s pub for a pint of cider and some dinner.  First tasty dish of the trip: baked atlantic salmon with an herb sauce, mashed potatoes, and mashed butternut squash.  My mom had a St. Tola’s goat cheese tartlet (basically baked goat cheese over caramelized onions and marmalade on a tart shell) served over salad.  Naturally, we split our dishes half-and-half for an amazing first-night food experience, finishing off with homemade apple crumble with ice cream made from the milk of local cows.  We then went home and slept off our food comas.
We woke up and had our delicious breakfasts, cooked by the owner of the B&B, Martin.  My mom had a full irish breakfast, which is made up of fried eggs, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, and irish bacon.  I had the vegetarian omelette which was made up of tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots, and cheese, enveloped by a perfectly-cooked and fluffy omelette.
Next, we took a bus ride up to the Cliffs of Moher (or Mothair, in Irish).  We stepped out and immediately could tell we were in for a treat.  For a lunch-time snack we had a freshly baked scone with butter and blackcurrent jam, and then set off to the edge of the cliffs, only to be amazed by just how tall they were, and by how small the views made you feel as you looked off at the rows and rows of gargantuan cliffs as they disappeared into the fog.  We spent about an hour and a half at the cliffs, and then set off for the 9km walk back to Doolin, as the last bus had already left.  Along the way we saw an adorable older man white-washing his fence, who, upon seeing us, promptly crossed the road and introduced himself to us as ‘Gussy’, and chatted with us about our stay in Ireland. After a few more chats like this with various people we saw along the way, we came to the realization that Irish people, or at least the people of Doolin and Liscannor, are exceedingly friendly and open.  Every single person we passed stopped and said hi to us, and one elderly man even stopped his car to chat for a bit and offer us  a ride back down to Doolin.  
To break up the walk, we stopped at the Stonecutter’s Kitchen (whaddya know, we were on the high road!) for a tasty lunch of garlic bread and cheese, potato and leek soup, and fish and chips. One of my favorite parts of eating in Ireland was the irish soda bread that was served with every meal.  Yum! For dessert, my mom had banoffee pie (biscuit crust with caramel/toffee on it, topped with sliced banana and whipped cream), and I had lemon cheesecake, again with ice cream made from local cows.  
         After that we finished our walk home, and rested for a significant period of time before forcing ourselves out of bed and schlepping over to MacDermott's pub for dinner.  Mama and I both had a delicious vegetable soup with soda bread and butter, and Bulmer's pear cider for a drink. Nom nom nom.

To be continued...

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