Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Eating Our Way Through Ireland

It's official. Jubal and I have been here for one month. And we have been married for one month and two days. As we've settled into our new alternate Irish reality (quite nicely, I'd say), I'd also say that soon we may not fit into our clothes. We have enjoyed with such great pleasure the Irish butter (HUGE) slabs of it over brown bread, our boiled potatoes, in the sauce pan for the green beans or the peppers and onions). We've been indulging in the cream so so happily and with giddy pleasure when served with the Bailey's cheese cake (every where we go). The warm goat cheese salads are just heaven with a side of lovely leafy greens. The Lamb chops and pork chops are succulent, simple and grounding. It reminds me why I am not (very happily) a vegetarian. Then there is the Guinness. Now I have never ever been a beer drinker or fan. I like sweet drinks (and food) and never bothered with anything bitter like beer. But Guinness.... Now, would you believe that this is my fourth trip to the Emerald Isle and the FIRST time I've ever tasted a Guinness? I know! SACRILEGIOUS!!! It is. So Amazing. Jubal's taken to getting a 1/2 pint where ever we stop. I think so he can pace himself because he'll be getting more later on anyway. Very smart. It is creamy and so smooth and just has such a wonderful taste. If it weren't for the hollowing wind outside our door at the moment, I'd be having myself one right now. But there is always tomorrow. 

This past weekend, Jubal and I took a nice trip up to Co. Mayo to Ballina. We really wanted to visit The Jackie Clarke Collection on Pearse Street which proved to be something else. We were not prepared for the type of collection or rather the manner in which it would be organized. It was state of the art and very well organized. There were hundreds of old news papers collected by Mr. Clarke pertaining to history being made in Ireland, dating back to the 1700's. Very rare books regarding Irish travel, Irish identity, Irish history, and many other things. There were touch screens in ever room that you could virtually visit the inside of these rare books and newspapers. There was a poster collection of meetings being held regarding Sinn Féin, the Land War, The Young Irelanders, and a massive book collection from Ireland's first president, Dr. Douglas Hyde which included the first Bible in the Gaelic language. My absolute favorite piece; a hand written voting tally of the Irish Free State with Michael Collins signature and a note he wrote describing his feelings of the absolute recourse that the result would bring the people of Ireland. If you are ever to find your self in Ballina, you have got to take yourself to the Jackie Clarke Collection. 

We had a wonderful two night stay at the Brigown B&B on the Quay in Ballina. Marjorie was a wonderful host and A.M.A.Z.I.N.G cook. She greeted us at the door with homemade frosted brownies (much like the ones my mother makes) that she made that day. (We each had two) and tea. Our room was lovely and cozy and we slept so well there. Our breakfast consisted of 3 courses all fresh indigents including Marjorie's homemade jams, breads and potato cakes.  The first morning we had yogurt and fruit, tea, muesli, and I had poached eggs on toast. Jubal had, Marjorie's famous potato pancakes with bacon. The second morning I skipped the cereal and had what Jubal had the morning before and he had the "omelet". Marjorie will create a wonderful omelet from what ever she's got in the press. The morning after we had returned to our cottage we were missing very much Marjorie's breakfast:( As we were leaving, she gave me a pile of her recipes and we will be making every single one. I am just kicking myself for not taking a picture of the magnificent spread she puts on in the morning. It's impeccable!  

So both mornings we were full to the brim with food that could last us all day. As we were also visiting my long time and dear friend, Cáit and her husband, also newly married, We did go out to eat for every meal!! It was heaven. We ate at The Everest Restaurant where they serve Indian. I ordered a salmon tikka masala. It was just the best thing I've ever ordered in an Indian Restaurant. The flavor was unbelievable. And just realizing right now that it is very near the River Moy which is famous for its salmon. The night before we after our dinner at Crockets and then stopped by the ultra fancy (posh) Ice House Hotel for a very late cocktail. I could not pass up the Toblerone Cocktail and it was yummy! i really must take more pictures of food! 

I loved sending my Dad this picture of the butcher shop in Ballina. Though, they all look like this more or less, to us Americans, particularly those who love meat like we do, it's just beautiful. But no one, I mean NO ONE loves meat more, I think, than my Dad. We could talk endlessly about his smoker, outside pizza oven, various cuts and rubs and sauces and temperatures and recipes. He really has instilled in me just how good meat can be. Really miss his bar-b-q ribs btw.... miss you Dad.

This here is my favorite dish so far. You can find it at The Stonecutter's Kitchen in Doolin and its warm goat cheese salad. Heeeeeeeeeeaaaaven. They also serve something similar at O'Connor's Pub in Doolin, but on a tart. Again, Heeeeeeeeeaaaaven. I've attempted once to replicate it and found it lacking a certain flavor. Must revisit one of the two places to take better notes.

After our visit in Ballina ended Sunday morning, we headed slightly south east to Roscommon to visit the The Roscommon Lamb Festival. In the center of town there was a tent set up with crafting vendors inside. Various quilting, felting, woodworking and even a cobbler! Loved a pair of red leather shoes that now I'm kicking myself I did not purchase. I did however pick up a few rolls of quilters fabric at the Seams Sew Simple table with Lynn. Really looking forward to using these fabrics when I get back home. I imagine knitting needle cases though I have a sneaking suspension that I'll be getting into quilting squares. Side note here- I have always dreamed of making lovely, wonderful, bright colorful quilts and have indeed made some bright colorful lopsided ones for my family. But I have not YET mastered the quilting part of it. I can sew fabric together no problem. I'm just not very good at lining it up. Fun things to work on in the future.

I met up with Michelle of Michelle Made This who I chatted with on the phone prior to the event in order to get a good sense of the happenings of the weekend, she was so lovely to talk to and so helpful! Michelle makes fabric gifts like onies, cushions, embroidered greetings, cards, and much more. All in fresh fun colors. There where so many things I wanted and I was sew (i couldn't help myself) inspired! Through her, I met Frances Crowe, a tapestry weaver also in the area. Frances and I also had a lovely chat and she kindly gave me some of a fleece of hers that she got from a farmer I had just talked with. The fleece is Texel and I've since washed a small batch and its lovely! Really looking forward to dyeing this up and spinning it.

As I stood petting and rubbing this sheep's jowls, which I think it would have let me do forever, sweet girl, the farmer stood by watching me on and off and making conversation to others as they inquired about this unusual breed. I too was curious on their breed and just thought, oh it's some Irish breed I'm not familiar with. I mean there are a few hundred breeds out there. I lose track. I finally piped up and asked. I was answered with something I could not understand and then it was followed with, "are you interested in the fleeces and how much would you pay for a fleece?" I was taken a back slightly and tried to process both what was being said to me and what I needed to answer back. I guess I took too long and with the kind of blank look on my face, the farmers son appeared speaking more to the point (could you get more to the point than that I wondered?). Both men were very pleasant though and come to find out, the breed they were proudly showing off that day were, wait for it... I just love this; Zwartble. A primitive breed from Holland. They are raising them for breeding. They did have lovely pretty soft fleeces. We talked price of wool, exchanged mobile numbers and they promised to give me a ring when shearing time came but they. Had to wait for the weather to warm up a bit. Pretty pretty excited to take some of this fleece home and share it with my fiber ladies. 

Next to the Zwarbtles, there actually were two wallabies.... They look like baby kangaroos. SOOOO cute!!! But they looked so nervous and upset. Not that I've ever seen a wallabies before. But I couldn't help but wonder; WHAT THE BLAZES WHERE THEY DOING THERE?!??! Someone please tell me that you can spin the belly hair of wallabies. Please. Please tell me they are a fiber animal. Otherwise, I don't know what.

Thanks for enduring yet another long and rambling post of my favorite things. Sheep, cream and other goodies. 

1 comment:

LindaKnits said...

Oh Rachel, I love your posting. OMG, I gained a few pounds just reading about the food. What a wonderful adventure to start married life on. I'm so happy for you and a bit envious. Keep writing, thank you.