Travel PhooD: Guinness in the Water

It was Easter weekend, and I was off on a jet plane (after a security mishap at Frankfurt International) to Dublin, Ireland, where I was to meet my good friend Lolli for a weekend of Irish revelry (and, for me, a whole weekend of English).

Ireland has a huge pub culture; Dublin’s Temple Bar (not actually a bar, but a district) sees thousands of people a night wandering in and out of the various bars on the street.  Often, the bars are packed to the gills, and the party spills out onto the street.  It’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat, and you can wash it all down with a pint of homegrown Guinness.  Guinness was first brewed in Dublin in 1759, when Arthur Guinness opened up the St. James’s Gate Brewery.  Guinness has gone on to become the world’s best-selling stout and is the most popular alcoholic drink in Ireland.  Fun fact: Student’s t-test was invented by William Sealy Gosset, a statistician who worked for Guinness in quality control and product improvement.

Guinness flowing on the Guinness estate...

But it’s not just about the Guinness.  Irish food is hearty and filling, much like German food.  The cuisine is heavily potato-based, which would explain why the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-52 caused a 25% decrease of Ireland’s population, either through death or emigration.  There’s also lots of beef and lamb, given the rolling hills and plentiful green grass available for grazing.  So what happens when you combine Guinness, potato, and beef (+ carrots + onions + garlic + parsley)?

Yum.  I had this for dinner at Quay’s Restaurant in Temple Bar.  Very filling, so I honestly didn’t need the mash on the side, but it was a nice thought.  Lolli had sausages and coddle (onions, rashers, and, of course, potatoes), which was also delicious, but looked decidedly phallic.

Sausage and coddle...

The appetisers were probably the most “interesting” part of the meal – I ordered a goat cheese and blood pudding salad, while Lolli had a boxty (potato pancake-like).  In all respects, the salad was delicious, the goat cheese warm and creamy, but I just couldn’t stomach the blood pudding, regardless of how crunchy and salty it was.  Mental blockage fail.

Complete with black, crunchy blood pudding medallions
A boxty, much better

The next day saw us on our way out west to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher.  On the way there, our tour stopped for lunch in Doolin at Gus O’Connor’s Pub.  Quick meal, didn’t expect anything special, since there were about fifty of us crowded in there.  Pay first, food brought out later is the rule here, but, considering how many of us invaded their space in about the span of 1 minute, the service is lightning fast.

Lolli had a jacket potato with vegetable ratatouille and I had a tartlet made of St. Tola goat cheese and whiskey onion marmalade…hot damn, this was good.  Wasn’t expecting it, really, but the onions underneath that soft, warm baked cheese were incredibly caramelly and delicious.  I’m drooling just thinking about it.

All warm goat's cheese and caramelized onions...

And the weekend was over, just like that.  I bought a four-pack of Guinness to take home; have since used a can to make Guinness beef stew in my slow cooker (recipe up soon)!

Parting shot

Next trip: Belgium…

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