Tuesday, October 27, 2009
That ain't a Starbucks Frappucino Marilyn!
The Foynes Flying Boat Museum is an interesting place (not so much due to its place in aviation history as the first US-Europe hub) but due to it's connection to one of the most comforting beverages of the 20th century...
An interesting footnote for this museum is that Foynes helped create the Irish Coffee. In 1942, the restarauint at the Foynes terminal employed a chef by the name of Joe Sheridan. Mr. Sheridan, sensitive to the needs of his customers, realized that the often cold, rainy climate of Ireland called for a warm drink with s bit of something extra. Thus was born an Irish staple: the Irish Coffee.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I recently worked with the very fine film composer Kim Carroll (kimcarrollmusic.com) who happens to be from Ireland and before we went to Ireland I gave him a call for suggestions of places to see (or not). One of the places he recommend was the Farmgate Cafe and it so happens that this was the first good restaurant we went to while in Ireland. The food was fairly traditional, but with good portions and some artfulness that we did not always experience while dining in Ireland. Our waitstaff was great as was usual in Ireland (particularly Mirco Fondrini who closed his eyes while Lynn took an impromptu shot of him-when we go back we'll get a shot with your eyes open Mirco...)
Farmgate Cafe and Restaurant
The English Market Cork
Bewley's an Irish instituion and business beheamouth has a nice cafe in Dublin that we ate a late breakfast at during our last 48 hours in the city. The cafe, better known as Bewley's Cafe Theatre, is a touchstone for Dubliners and has a unique way with events hosting lunchtime drama productions as well as music and cabaret performances. The interior is a large space with high ceilings and some interesting stained glass.
This venue did not impress us very much. The coffee was very good, but less impressive than many other places like Butler's and even some of the coffee we got in the Limerick market. I had a smoke salmon salad that was ok, but nothing to write home about. The interiors seemed dirty and the wait staff seemed strangely harried (one of the few times we saw waitstaff that were flustered).
Not anything like a disaster, but we were a little mystified about the reputation of the place versus our experience there...
The last real meal we had in Dublin was at Salamanca and in some ways it seemed an accumulation of all our experiences in Ireland distilled into a single evening. Why this was so is difficult to explain and perhaps it was just a feeling we had as we realized our trip was coming to a close.
In any event, the restaraunt specializes in Tapas and at that point in the trip (and at other points) we felt we needed something a bit different than the usual oysters, smoked salmon and brown bread routine we had happily gorged on for most of the trip.
Salamanca was a great tonic for us at that point since the restaraunt specializes in Tapas and we were very impressed by the fare which included the best calamari we have ever had, Calamares A L’andalucia, which is deep fried in chili sauce and is sweet while managing to have a certain heat that cuts into the sweetness. Other highlights were bites of marinated mixed olives and deep fried goats cheese. Also of note is the great sangria which was welcome relief after days of Guiness and Whiskey.
Finally, to cap our trip we met the owner of the bar a rakish looking guy named Pat Wheelan with long hair and a charming air worthy of Mephistopheles himself. He chatted with us for a few minutes. At one point he pointed at me and said "Look, David Bowie." and then pointed to himself and said "Look, David Bowie."
We enjoyed Fishy Fishy very much, but initially we were a bit leery since it seemed a bit slick with sleek interiors and serious design theme that most other Irish restaraunts we ate at were not, on the whole nearly so concious of style. Somewhat naturally we were afraid it was a tourist trap. Fortunately, we could not have been more wrong as the seafood was fleshy and sweet and the service very accomadating after we walked in off the street at 7 pm on Saturday with no reservation. In particular, we were struck by the great warm chili seafood salad and the great oysters on the half shell which were definitely in league with the best we had on the trip.
Monday, October 19, 2009
On our last somewhat rushed day we had a great Irish coffee at Butler's in Dublin. We also had an early morning coffee at Shannon Airport Butler's where we bought several pounds of the coffee back as well as some chocolates. Great stuff all the way around and hope to have the chance to enjoy it in a less rushed manner on our next sojourn to Ireland....
The food was characterized by proprietor Julie Randles as "New Irish" which seemed to mean using the freshest ingredients cooked and prepared simply. There was also the sense of experimenting with traditional Irish ingredients and dishes to bring a twist to old, established favorites. Chef David Foley did amazing work while we were there and it is little wonder that the restaurant has won"Best of" awards on a number of occasions.
Our favorites?: A Salad of Smoked Bacon, Cashel Blue Cheese, Pinenuts and Green Beans served with Walnut Oil Dressing; Terrine of Foie Gras, Smoked Bacon, Pinenuts and Basil served with Champagne Apples and Balsamic Reduction; Terrine of Smoked Bacon, Cornfed Chicken and Barbarie Duck served with a Red Onion Compote: and Baked Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese in a Curry Crust served with Balsamic Pears.
The atmosphere was both elegant and rustic. Our dining experience started in a book and liquor stocked parlor which could have easily been a set from Sherlock Holmes' residence at 221B Baker Street. At this starting point, Julie or one of the other waiters would make us a drink and take our order. Afterwards, we were seated in the intimate dining room.
Julie was great to us the entire time, allowing flexibility in our ordering if we were in any particular mood or had a fluctuating sense of our own hunger. She was an unflappable good sport and dealt with whatever request we had with real panache (such as my request for a negroni-see video).
Lynn and I did not eat at every restaurant in Ireland but it is hard to imagine a better one anywhere on the Emerald Isle...
The Wild Geese,
Tel: 00 353 61396451
Friday, October 16, 2009
By the time we got to Dublin, we were a bit tired of Irish food and drink. I felt like I was oozing Jameson and Guiness and I couldn't remember what else there was to eat besides smoked salmon. Luckily, Lynn and I stumbled into the National Gallery of Ireland where we were dazzled by the collection (a strong sampling of both early and modern work-a rarity in even the major galleries).
In addition, we were glad to get some regular vegetarian fare at the cafe there as well as a nice glass of Chilean red wine. A palate cleansing meal if there ever was one.
One of the few mediocre dining experiences, Knox's was a bit of a dissapointment. The food was merely ok with serviceable smoked salmon and regular pub food. Our server seemed exasperated by us and easily frustrated with our most basic questions. The restaraunt has a good reputation so perhaps our timing was simply off...
Address: 18 Abbey Street, Ennis, Ireland
Phone: +353 656829264
For most of our trip we stayed at Adare Manor in Adare, Ireland. This manor dates from the 19th century and has a storied history. The Wikipedia entry reads as follows:
"Adare Manor is a 19th century manor house located on the banks of the River Maigue in the village of Adare, County Limerick, Ireland, the former seat of the Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, now a luxury resort hotel - the Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort.
The Quins, whose ancestors were Chiefs of the Clan Hy Ifearnan, gave their name to Inchiquin and also became Earls of Dunraven, and are one of the rare families of true Gaelic origin in the Irish peerage. Thady Quin (born 1645), who settled in Adare, County Limerick, was the ancestor of Valentine Quin who, between 1720 and 1730, built the first Quin manor at Adare by the River Maigue.
He was the grandfather of Valentine Richard Quin (1732 - 1824), 1st Earl of Dunraven. Windham Henry (1782 - 1850) married an heiress from Wales, Valentine Richard Quin, MP for Killmallock (1799 - 1800), who was created a Baronet of Great Britain in 1781 and was raised to the peerage in 1800 as Baron Adare of Adare. He was advanced to a Viscountcy in 1816 as Viscount Mount Earl and became Viscount Adare and the first Earl of Dunraven and Mount-earl on 5 February, 1822. He had presumably chosen the title of ‘Dunraven’ in honour of his daughter-in-law, Caroline Wyndham, who had married his eldest son in 1810. His earldom lasted only two years and in 1824 his son, Windham Henry Quin, became the 2nd Earl of Dunraven and Mount-earl. The family name had officially become Wyndham-Quin in 1815. Gout prevented him from following the gentlemanly pursuits of fishing and shooting. Instead, with his wife, he rebuilt his home, turning it into a colossal Tudor manor. They built the new house around the existing one, which had to be demolished when the work reached its final stages.
Valentine's son, Edwin, 3rd Earl of Dunraven, designed the garden. He was a prominent archæologist. Thady Wyndham Quin, 7th Earl of Dunraven (b. 1940), unable to bear the expense of maintaining Adare Manor, sold it and its contents in 1984 for a reputed 2 million. The house was purchased by Irish-American businessman Tom Kane and converted into the Adare Manor Hotel. Thady Quin, who was crippled by polio while a schoolboy, lives with his family in a nearby house called Kilgobbin House.
The house is set on a 840-acre (3.4 km2) estate and now operates as a five star hotel, featuring the Adare Golf Club, Elemis Treatment Rooms, Townhouses and Villas on the rest of the resort. President Bill Clinton stayed in Adare Manor in September 1998. The Manor was voted Ireland's leading hotel in 2006 in the World Travel Awards."
In any event, we managed to get a nice drink there the last night we stayed and soak in some of the ancient charm of the place.
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- Foynes Flying Boat Musuem makes aviation and Spiri...
- Farmgate Cafe in Cork is Solid and Artful...
- Bewley's Cafe is OK, but just OK
- Mark and Lynn experience night time in Dublin...
- Mark and Lynn experience day time in Dublin...
- Salamanca in Dublin gets us out of a rut...
- Fishy Fishy in Kinsale Ireland is sleek and delive...
- We manage to sample Butler's Coffee and Chocolates...
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- National Gallery of Ireland provides a respite fro...
- Knox's in Ennis Ireland is a bit of a dissapointme...
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- Mark and Lynn Sneak in Adare Manor to have a drink...
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Links of note from M & L...
- I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...