Well, I had the best time in Ireland! I was there for my birthday, my sister's spring break and St. Patrick's Day. That's March 12 to 18. We sort of ate our way through the southern part of the country from Shannon, Tralee, Cork, Wexford, Dublin and back to Shannon.
So, let me tell you about some of the things we ate...
Bread and butter at the restaurant in Hayfield Manor in Cork city.
First, the butter and bread. Irish butter is something else. It is very delicious, creamy, savory and buttery. It's different than American butter, I think. We didn't leave any butter on the table during the whole trip.
Open-faced roast Irish beef sandwiches with a horse radish mayo from the Hayfield Manor in Cork city.
The Irish take pride in their beef. It's always labeled on menus as "100% Irish beef." Although this sandwich was very dry and over powered by arugula, I enjoyed it after a full day on the road.
I think arugula is a fad in Ireland. Everything had arugula on it or in it. I have nothing against arugula. I appreciate it's nice nutty flavor, but not with everything. It can get bitter real fast.
Breakfast set up at Killiane Castle in Wexford.
During our trip, we stayed in castles and every morning we had breakfast on a beautifully set table. They served a lot of bread, oatmeal and yogurt toppings and all kinds of juice. I loved the endless amounts of butter and great coffee.
My sister's favorite part about the breakfast in our first castle stay was the huge, warm scone —bigger than your fist—slathered with butter and sweet blackberry and strawberry jam.
We also noticed, that in many of these breakfast buffet lineups, there was an assortment of preserved meats like prosciutto and smoked salmon. It was odd to see salmon in the lineup, but that's how they do and it's delicious. My sister also ordered a breakfast plate that included eggs and salmon. Simple, right? When it came, we were surprised to see the salmon scrambled with the eggs. I didn't get a taste of it, because I was fork-deep in my Full Irish Breakfast, but she enjoyed every morsel of it.
Many dishes we ate are not pictured because we had to get into them as fast as we could!
The Full Irish Breakfast at the Ballyseede Castle in Tralee, Co. Kerry.
With our free hotel/castle breakfast, I got the Full Irish Breakfast. Those two sausages were the best I've had in a long time. The pork was finely ground like a meatball and it wasn't overly greasy or spicy like breakfast sausages here. The black and white puddings were my favorite in the Full Irish Breakfast. It was my first time having black pudding and I didn't know what it was until I looked it up afterwards. Blood sausage. I love it. It's definitely a lot more subtle compared to Navajo blood sausage, which is the only other blood sausage I've eaten. Oh, and the bacon was like a nice slice of ham. It wasn't overly salty and bacon-ey like it is here. I hate the bacon here.
Crisp duck leg on roast potatoes and chorizo at the Cornstore Restaurant in Cork city.
This was my birthday dinner. I love the taste of duck and I appreciate the presence of different types of birds on the menu in Ireland. The potatoes with the chorizo were tasty, but I didn't really understand the chorizo. It felt a little out of place. Also the pickled purple onions seem to be a fad too. They were everywhere including on top of my duck. Purple pickled onions don't taste like anything besides vinegar. I wish they would go away. Some of us actually like the taste of onions.
A pint of Roundstone Irish Ale at the Church in Dublin.
You might cringe when I say Guinness is not my favorite drink. I'll order it every now and then, but it's not something I crave. Although I had a couple of pints while in Ireland, it didn't make me like it any more than I do. I enjoyed this ale a lot more than that thick black stuff.
The Knight's Club at the restaurant in Clontarf Castle in Dublin.
After a long day walking the streets of Dublin, this dinner was so satisfying. My sandwich was really big and topped with a duck egg. The toasted bread cut my mouth, but it was good. My sister's braised beef ribs were one of the best things I had while in Ireland and they totally out shined my sandwich. They were braised in beer and it tasted like Guinness. I loved it! For $16, her plate was loaded with too much than she could handle. They know how to feed knights here.
Irish beef stew at Dromoland Castle in Co. Clare.
On St. Patrick's Day, we left Dublin and made our way across the country to County Clare and Dromoland Castle. This was the most lavish castle we stayed at during the week and their St. Patrick's Day menu included this beef stew with mashed potatoes. I liked it and I enjoyed the novelty of it, but it wasn't' my favorite. For me, stews are better as leftovers, or with a piece of frybread and green chile. Sorry, that's my Native New Mexican coming out.
An interesting observance: There was no cabbage and corned beef on any menus that we read. I guess that's only in the U.S. during St. Patrick's Day.
The best thing I ate in Ireland was the fish and chips at Coopers Inn Restaurant in Killinick, which is in a small town by the sea. The hake was lightly breaded and drizzled with some kind of buttery sauce. I combined that with a squeeze of lemon and malt vinegar. Oh, goodness, I was in heaven! And this place was a little pub that we almost missed. We almost didn't eat here because it was small and the barmaid said they weren't serving the whole menu and only the bar menu was available. But I'm glad we stayed.
Visiting Ireland was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I always dreamed of coming here and seeing where my name came from. I did it, and it was tasty too. If you get a chance to visit, don't forget to eat and try new things. My sister and I went with a frugal mind. We said, "we're going to fill up on the free breakfast and snack the rest of the day on little foods." But we didn't. We love food too much. We had a full breakfast, lunch and dinner the whole week we were here and we don't regret it one bit!