Ireland: Day 10-13 – Dingle and the road back to Dublin

Ireland

Ireland

Dingle

Dingle is hip.

I don’t know if it is trying to be, but compared to other towns we have been to it is.

Dingle
Maybe it’s the fact that there are spots like Inch Beach where you can surf or book stores with cafes tucked in the back of them like Au Cafe Liteartha or specialty food shops like Crinkle ––that sell local artisan made products like chocolate and sea salts with a coffee bar and gourmet deli counter full of interesting, healthy salads––or Bacus Bhreanainn––a high end bakery full of sourdoughs, pastries and specialty breads that sell out by the early afternoon.

Au Cafe Liteartha

Bean in Dingle

Bacus Bhreanainn

Bacus Bhreanainn
Bacus Bhreanainn

Dingle

Dingle’s claim to fame is not its food, however.

It is a dolphin named Fungie

Apparently, Fungie has been living near the Dingle harbor since the 80’s and loves to play with swimmers, kayakers and surfers.

Tourists line up to charter a boat out, just to possibly catch a glimpse of the lovable Bottlenose.

Dingle

Dingle
A man playing flute with his donkey in Dingle

Murphy’s Ice Cream

I am thrilled when I see this ice cream shop. There was one in Killarney and although the free samples of Gin ice cream––flavored with Dingle Gin––and Caramel ice cream––made with local honeycomb––were enticing, Celtic Donuts won on that stop.

Conde Naste Traveler has deemd Murphy’s one of the best ice cream shops in the world.

It’s easy to see why.

Murphy's Ice Cream
Their service is friendly and informative. Every employee knows the business’s story and recipes front to back and make it their mission to make sure you sample every flavor.

The quality and creativity of the product rivals the likes of Humphry Slocombe  in San Francisco.

Irish Coffee is made with Jameson; Dingle Sea Salt is flavored with local sea water that has been boiled down until only white flakes remain; Irish Brown Bread is made by steeping custard with toasted brown breadcrumbs and brown sugar; and Elderflower is made using St. Germain Elderflower liquor.

You can mix as many flavors as you like in each serving. All ice creams are hand made in Dingle.

Murphy's Ice Cream
Half Dark Chocolate, half Irish Coffee

The ice creams are made with milk from Kerry cows, raised in Lispole, just outside of Dingle. One of the oldest breeds in Ireland, known to produce milk very high in butterfat. It creates a rich, creamy ice cream that almost feels like you are eating frozen butter.

Mask

I know we are going to have a different experience here when the owner drops a basket of house made Guinness- Chocolate Brown Bread and French baguette with Kerrygold butter, local seaweed butter and a shmear he calls Cajun Hummus on the table.

Mask Dingle

“Yesterday was our busiest night of the year so far,” the owner boasts, referring to the madness from the Dingle Marathon that incurred the day before. Apparently, an onslaught of visitors pass through every year for this event.

We are laughing because while he is taking our order he almost sets himself on fire getting too close to a tall candle set on the table next to us.

“Five of our candle holders got broken last night,” he says explaining that the new much taller candles were just a temporary fix and he hadn’t quite gotten used to them yet.

Mask DingleHe follows that up by bringing us a delicious plate of grilled chicken wings tossed in a not-too-spicy Sriracha sauce with blue cheese dressing smeared on the plate for swiping. We devour them.

Mask DingleEntrees are equally as satisfying.

Local Hake is served with fresh peas and asparagus in lemony beurre blanc and Rack of Lamb from the Blasket Islands, sourced from Jerry Kennedy’s Craft Butcher Shop,  arrives a perfect medium-rare accompanied by sweet, roasted baby carrots and rich lamb demi-glace.

Mask Dingle

Mask DingleA nice surprise are the side dishes that show up unexpectedly with the entrees: creamy potato gratin, crispy chips (French fries) and a dish of buttery broccolini and root vegetables.

I glance up and notice the name of the restaurant written on the wall. It’s an acronym for four names: Millie, Archie, Sonya and Kaya.

“Are you Archie?” I ask the owner.

“No, that’s my son. My business partner and I named the restaurant after our kids.”

My brother and I smile at the sentiment and agree that this is one of the best meals we have had on the trip so far.

Mask Dingle

Dick Mack’s

Our first night in Dingle we walk into this pub and see a man named Tom beating away at his guitar, belting out Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side” with an endearing, raspy Irish brogue.

Everyone in the bar is joining in on the doo doo doo doo doo doo doos.

Dick Mack’s, a former leather shop, has two confessionals situated at either end of the bar. There are small windows on each one that face into the bar where patrons can slide cash for a cocktail and consult with the bartenders about their weekly sins.

Dick Mack's

Dick Mack's

They also have a brewery out back. I’m drinking the Amber Ale and my brother is enjoying the IPA––one he likens to a “San Diego style” IPA.

Dick Mack'sThis bar has great energy, both from its bartenders (who are surprisingly nice for a hip bar like this) and patrons. Everyone is in the mood to have a good conversation, laugh and sing.

The next night we return again and see Tom sans his guitar.

“You singing tonight?” we ask.

Tom, looking as if he has just gracefully survived being run over by a truck, laughs and says, “not tonight, I’m nursing a hangover.”

On our way out a couple hours later, we notice Tom is already looking around for a guitar to pick up.

Dick Mack's
Dick Mack’s. So good I bought the t-shirt.

Bean In Dingle

These guys roast their own beans. Their house blend combines coffee from Brazil, Guatemala and Ethiopia. They are also now proudly sourcing beans from an all-woman farm in Columbia.

Bean in Dingle

Bean in Dingle

They have an extensive coffee drink menu plus chai and matcha lattes––something I have not seen a lot of in Ireland.

In an effort to protect their ocean from the perils of plastic they use all plant based packaging.

Bean in Dingle

The Little Cheese Shop

There are over 65 cheesemakers in Ireland (many award winning!) making cheese with milk from their own cow, sheep and goat farms.

German born Maja Beaujouan is now and Irish cheesemaker and owner of this wonderful shop. She carries an impressive selection of local farmhouse cheeses, olives, salamis, wine and other cheese related condiments.  Foods that inspire picnics and leisurely lunches.

The Little Cheese Shop

Free sample your heart out and don’t forget to try some cheeses made from raw milk. Something you sadly can’t get in the U.S.

The Little Cheese Shop

The Little Cheese Shop

 Foxy John’s

“Honey! I’m going to the hardware store be back in a bit.”

Foxy John’s is a good alibi and one of the most clever bar concept to ever be invented.

Stop in for a hammer, some nails, maybe a wrench? And turn around and get yourself a whiskey on the other side of the room.

Foxy John's

Cliffs of Moher

Hop on the car ferry in Tarbert to shorten your drive over to Cliffs of Moher from Dingle.

Over 350 million years ago, heavy rains pushed mud, sand and silt down a river to this place where they accumulated and compacted.

As the earth shifted, layers of rock—which can usually only be seen under sea level—emerged into what is now one of the most spectacular 5 miles of coastline in the world.

Overtime, the 702 foot cliffs have started to erode, being swallowed back up by the sea. Warm weather and melting ice caps will continue to affect ocean currants potentially sending The Cliffs of Moher back into the ice age.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Dublin

It’s my last day in Ireland and I’m back in Dublin.

The minute we cross that line from suburbs to city the traffic increases, high rises shoot up out of the ground and sidewalks are full of people.
I get a jolt of energy instantly and feel completely alive again.

I’m ready to ditch the car and hit the streets.

DingleFirst, we check into Temple Bar Inn. A hip boutique hotel tucked in a corner of its namesake neighborhood––Temple Bar.

This place is rad. Stylish and modern and full of considerate details like mints at the front desk, a serve yourself espresso bar and a killer complimentary breakfast.

We head out for a stroll around town. Busy bars, a bustling shopping district, cobblestone streets and charming pedestrian bridges to get you over the river and back.

Dublin

Gino’s Gelato

“They have a Gino’s Gelato here!” I shout.

I would remember those brightly colored waves of frozen custard anywhere.

Gino's Gelato

I’d seen it in downtown Cork and now I needed a taste. Plus, they had my childhood favorite––Mint Chocolate Chip.

Mom indulged with me and ordered her childhood fave––Malted Milk Ball.

The gelato is thick and buttery. Even more so than Murphy’s. It coats my tongue lingering for a minute before maing its way down my throat. Chunks of mint flavored dark chocolate crunch between my teeth. Man am I going to miss the ice cream here.

Gino's Gelato

Boxty

We stumble on Boxty and decide it looks like a good place for a gin on the rocks and an appetizer.

BoxtyThe service is like an iteration of “who’s on first,” but the menu looks interesting  and I’ve just spotted a gin I’ve been searching for since we were in Kinsale.

Bertha’s Revenge is a small batch gin made in County Kerry. It is named after Bertha––the world’s oldest cow––who died at the ripe old age of 48 in 1993. This gin commemorates Bertha with its main ingredient––whey.

Weird right?

I’m into it.

The whey is sourced from local dairies and the botanicals are foraged locally as well. And wow what an aroma. It’s like cracking open a bottle of flowery perfume. That whey gives it a flavor you just can’t put your finger on. Not exactly my favorite, but interesting all the same.

BoxtyFor my app I order the Boxty house pate––smooth, whipped chicken liver  served with brandied cherry compote, mixed lettuces and their signature Boxty chips. The chips are like thin, crunchy hash browns. They steal the show. I could eat a plate of just these.

Dublin“It’s a thin potato pancake that we crisp up in a pan,” our server explains.

“We sell the mix if you would like to make it at home.”

That sounds like a fantastic idea to me, so I grab a box.

Written on the back it says: “Boxty is Traditional Irish Potato Bread peculiar to the north west of Ireland. Made with grated raw potato, cooked mash potato and flour, a recipe dating back to the 17thcentury.”

The Temple Bar

The last pub of my trip.

Well, if we are in the Temple Bar neighborhood we must go to The Temple Bar––established 1840, named after Sir William Temple.

Sir William was a scholar and descendant of the Knight Templars. He was also a corrupt politician who was accused of trying to overthrow the Queen. Curiously the neighborhood and this bar were both named after him.

Temple BarFinal days of vacations are always sentimental for me. I’m excitement to go home, but also nostalgic of what I’ve just experienced.

The guitarist on stage plays Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and I get misty eyed.  The bar erupts in a sing along, swaying back and forth as if they were holding lighters in the air.

“Pink Floyd is like Ireland’s Journey,” I say to my brother.

“Yea. Haha.”

John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” have the whole bar singing again and me feeling homesick.

Next, the musician plays an Irish song. A story about a man and a woman both doing time in the Dublin prison, who get married 15 minutes before his execution. The wife continues to live another 70 years, never getting remarried. I’m practically sobbing now.

Temple Bar

That’s my cue to go….

I grab a pic with James Joyce on my way out and give one last Slainte! to Ireland.

Temple Bar

It’s been a great trip. And I will never forget the landscape, food and characters we met along the way…

Temple Bar

Ireland: Day 1 – Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford

Glendalough medieval monastic settlement

Glendalough medieval monastic settlement

…continued from London Travel Guide 1, 2 & 3.

Sleep just does not seem to be in the cards for me so far on this trip.

I barely got three hours last night and we are headed out early this morning.

Mom and I leave London and join my brother in Ireland. We’ll be covering most of the southern half of the country in a two-week road-trip, starting and finishing in Dublin.

But before we get underway, the Guinness Factory….

Guinness Storehouse

The city of Dublin would not be what it is today without the efforts of Arthur Guinness.

As an entrepreneur and philanthropist he brought great innovation and prosperity to Dublin.

An unparalleled commitment to quality and excellence continues to make Guinness a main driver of the local economy still to this day.

Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse

Here are some of the things that make Guinness so special…

  • Ingredients:
    • Water – Only high quality water (soft and low mineral), from the Wicklow Mountains above Dublin, is used to brew Guinness.
    • Barley – Mostly local and always of the highest quality. A combination of malted, unsalted and roasted barley is used. The roasted barley is what gives Guinness its iconic color, flavor and aroma. They are one of the few breweries in the world to roast their own barley on site 365 days a year.
    • Hops – Highest quality sourced from Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. Hops is the natural preservative responsible for the shelf life of Guinness.
    • Yeast – They have been using the same yeast since the 19th century (legend has it that it’s the same yeast that Arthur Guinness first used). Yeast is transferred from each brew and is kept in a safe to secure its legacy.
  • Nitrogen – Guinness was the first brewery to incorporate nitrogen into their beer. Because of this, bars require special taps. The 30 million bubbles in every pint are responsible for Guinness’s smooth, creamy mouthfeel.

Here’s how I would describe drinking a properly poured glass of Guinness straight from the factory…

Imagine you are standing on a cobblestone road overlooking green pastures of grazing cows as far as the eye can see. The air is cool. The sky is grey.

A creamy, smooth froth hits your lips like you’re sipping a mocha latte. It’s luxurious, like settling underneath a down comforter lined with satin sheets.

Once you are past the milkshake-like layer on top a stream of rich, nutty caramel hits your tongue. Visions of spiced gingerbread, a bowl of hot morning porridge and walnut-fudge brownies dance through your head, warming your belly and soothing your soul from the inside out.

Guinness Storehouse
Sampling Guinness at the top of the factory overlooking all of Dublin.

Aside from it’s great taste, Guinness is “one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable breweries in the world,” according to them.

And of course they are known for their clever,  out-of-the box advertising.

Including an entire campaign, based off market research, claiming that Guinness has antioxidant compounds and is therefore good for your health.

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness StorehouseOne of my favorite advertisements is called Fish on a Bicycle. It was part of a campaign by Ogilvy and Mather called “Not everything in black and white makes sense.”

“The idea was to challenge the received wisdom of famous quotes,” according to Guinness.

Fish on a Bicycle
Fish on a Bicycle
Fish on a Bicycle
Fish on a Bicycle

I had the opportunity to try some of the dishes in their restaurant––brown bread, beef stew and chocolate mousse––all made with Guinness. I didn’t taste the flavor of the beer much in any of them. Portions are huge and filling, and they don’t have take-out boxes, so I recommend sharing.

Guinness beef stew and brown bread
Guinness beef stew and brown bread

We leave Dublin and drive through County Wicklow.

After lovely strolls through the gardens of the Powerscourt Estate and the medieval monastic ruins and graveyard of Glendalough we arrived to Wexford.

The house at Powerscourt Estate
The house at Powerscourt Estate
Irish thistle at Powerscourt Estate
Irish thistle at Powerscourt Estate
The gardens at Powerscourt Estate
The gardens at Powerscourt Estate
Japanese tea garden at Powerscourt Estate
Japanese tea garden at Powerscourt Estate
Glendalough 6th century monastic settlement
Lower lake at Glendalough 6th century monastic settlement
Glendalough medieval monastic settlement
Glendalough 6th century monastic settlement

Premier Fish & Chips

It’s about 6 p.m. Time to find some dinner.

We get a recommendation from the front desk of our hotel (something I never recommend) and not surprisingly end up at a pub serving uninspiring, watered down tourist food.

“We gotta get off the main street,” my brother says.

“Agreed.”

We make a right and start heading down back alleys until we stumble upon a chip shop.

“Too clean,” I say.

“Yea, and there’s no one in it,” my brother points out.

“Let’s keep moving.”

The streets are empty. It’s dead for a Friday night.There are a few bars with some signs of life, but they don’t serve food and most of the retail shops are closed for the evening.

And then we find it.

A tiny chip shop with a simple menu and a line at the register.

“This is our spot!”

Premier Chip Shop
Premier Chip Shop in Wexford

We walk in and strike up a conversation with a man standing in line.

“Where do you like to eat around here?”

“Here,” he chuckles, smiling with big rosy cheeks.

OK, I get it. This is not a food town. But, at least it appears we have stumbled on a local’s favorite.

Premier Chip Shop
Premier Chip Shop

We order fish and chips, mushy peas and an order of onion rings. The woman behind the counter dresses our fish––a splash of malt vinegar and a heavy shake of salt.

Premier Chip Shop
Premier Chip Shop
Premier Chip Shop
Fried cod at Premier Chip Shop
Premier Chip Shop
Premier Chip Shop

When I say “heavy shake” of salt I mean a boatload of salt.

It looked like the lid had fallen off the shaker and a stream of white was now shooting out like a firehose on full whack.

“Um, can I purchase a bottle of water too?”

The woman wraps up our fried food parcels in newspaper like meat from a butcher’s shop and we head back to the hotel.

In the lobby I unfold the greasy packages and we dive in.

The fried, flaky white cod is GBD (golden, brown and delicious) on the outside and super moist inside.

The onion rings are some of the best I’ve ever had––crunchy on the outside, smooth and creamy in the center.

Mushy peas live up to their name and bring a necessary contrast to their salty, fried friends along side.

Premier Chip Shop
Premier Chip Shop in Wexford

I practically never eat foods like these (and probably won’t again for a while), but I’m happy we got a proper fish and chip experience in.

It did not disappoint.

 

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