Ireland: Day 8 & 9 – Blarney, Killarney and Kenmare

blarney castle

blarney castle“Blarney is something more than mere flattery. It is flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit. Those who mix with Irish folk have many examples of it in their everyday experience.”–– John O’Connor Power (Irish politician)

 Blarney Castle & Gardens

I walk up the path, over bridges and past caves, to the infamous castle.

It’s “grand” as they say in Ireland.

blarney castleA towering 1446 castle situated amonst 60 acres of the most majestic gardens I’ve ever seen.

And here I am now in the cattle call, about to embark on a peculiar tradition that people from all over the world have been coming here for over 200 years to do.

I’m going to kiss the Blarney Stone.

A steep, narrow staircase spirals up through the middle of the fortress.

Through vertical slits in the walls, just wide enough to shoot an arrow through, a wonderland of poisonous gardens, fairy glades, fern jungles and a dark staircase that grants you wishes are splayed 30 feet down below.

blarney castle
Thuja Plicata (Western Red Cedar)
blarney castle
Ex-situ conservation project with Institute of Ecology in Hanoi, Vietnam. Inside the native Vietnamese plant garden, which includes cardamom plants.
blarney castle
The Blarney House
blarney castle
The Witch Stone   

It gives you “the gift of eloquence” the signs say as I continue up 100 steep, tiny steps to the top, wind howling through the cracks of the thick stone walls.

The stone has a history of its own before it came to Blarney. Starting in Ireland as “the fatal stone,” then moving to Scotland to become “the stone of destiny,” before being brought back to Ireland where it resides now.

Legend has it that it was a witch who revealed the stone’s power of eloquence to its new royal owners just after she was saved from drowning.

blarney castle

It’s my turn in the que.

I hand over my purse and glasses and make my way down to the ground. Stretched out on my back, with knees bent and arms reaching over head, I hear a man say, “grab on to the metal poles.”

Both hands find a pole and I pull myself towards the cold limestone wall, hovering over a gap between the floor and the wall, nothing between me and the ground below.

“Now kiss the Blarney stone,” the man beside me says.

blarney castle

Killarney

It’s lunchtime when we pull into Killarney.

With a stroke of Irish luck my brother finds a parking spot and we hop out in search of a hot meal. I’m thinking corned beef and cabbage today.

KillarneyA donut shop catches my eye. It’s like the one I ogled in downtown Cork. I’ll be back later for that.

Killarney

The streets are lively. Full of souvenir shops, music stores, pubs and restaurants.

There is a man dressed in what looks like traditional Irish peasant clothing playing a bodhran with a group of life-sized wind up dolls backing him up with accordions, harps and flutes.

Interesting.

Creepy, but interesting.

I giggle and take a video of the man who puts on a show just for me, waving at the camera and dancing a little jig.

Man, this place is wonderfully odd.

KillarneyLunch is underwhelming. I find my corned beef, but my heart sinks when I bite into a tough, dry piece of flavorless brisket topped with a sauce hastily made of butter, corn flour and milk resembling Elmer’s glue.

“Your’s is way better,” my brother says to my mom.

I agree. This one is missing an important ingredient––love.

I run back to Celtic Donuts before jumping back in the car.

Time to redeem Killarney.

I order a latte and a Ferraro Rocher donut––dark chocolate and hazelnuts stuffed full of ganache.

Killarney
Celtic Donuts in Killarney

KillarneyThere it is.

The love….

I found it.

I find out later from my Scottish Step-mom that the only reason a pub might have corned beef and cabbage on the menu in Ireland is for tourists.

It’s considered American food at this point. A dish no respectable Irishman would ever serve his guests.

Kissane Sheep Farm

We’ve got a 4 p.m. appointment with a flock of sheep, a dog named Gwena and a barber named John.

There is time to kill so we take it slow on highway 17, stopping to take in the picturesque views of Killarney Lake, “Lady’s View”––named after a visit from the Queen who stopped here on her trip––and “Molls Gap”––a gap in the mountains where the highways meet.

Killarney
A walk down to Killarney Lake
Lady's View
Lady’s View

This gorgeous drive we are on is part of the infamous Ring of Kerry.

The terrain looks different here. Drier, more mountainous. Timber farms have replaced dairy farms. We’ve moved out of cow territory and into sheepville.

The mountains twinkle from far away, fresh water trickling out of seemingly nowhere.

A sheep sitting on a hill, just off the highway, stares at me while she chews grass for what seems like hours. Her eyes piercing their way into my soul, utterly motionless except for her mouth rotating in circles chomping away.

Moll's Gap
My buddy at Moll’s Gap

A working sheep farm is an exciting place I tell you.

Especially when you have massive tour busses spilling hordes of tourists outside your door.

Kissanes, like many other sheep farms in Ireland, has had to resort to tours and demos to keep them in business, now that wool exports have slowed way down.

In the 80’s Kissane’s would rake in $45,000 for two large truck full of wool. These days 3.5 tons gets them a measly 1500 bucks.

kissanes sheep farm

Gwena––the award-winning, sheepherding collie dog––and Evan––sheepdog whisperer extraordinaire––put on a good show. We learn that when Evan shouts “away” Gwena steers the sheep to the left. “Come on,” triggers Gwena to steer them right. And “sit” makes Gwena sit, which in turn makes the sheep stop.

The duo parades the sheep all over the hillside for us, bringing them close enough for us for a good sheep pic.

Kissane Sheep FarmAfterward, they heard us into the barn where we watch John shear a sheep. A process that takes all of 1-2 minutes.

John’s got to be quick. On a normal shift he shears 200-300 sheep a day.

Kissane Sheep Farm
Next up for shearing

On the way out a woman, sitting by the exit door, spins wool and tales and there is an opportunity to buy soaps and hand creams made from sheep’s milk.

Kissane Sheep Farm

Kenmare

Next along the highway is the quaint town of Kenmare, where we will be stopping for dinner and a warm bed.

Mick and Jimmy are twins from Ireland who have spent time cooking in great food cities like San Francisco, London and Chicago. They settled in Kenmare in 2015, opening a charming little restaurant that pours coffee and green juices in the morning and serves world-inspired fare the rest of the day.

Mick and Jimmy'sFashionable throw pillows adorn long wood banquettes that run down the length of the room.  The words “Good food. Good friends. Good times.” are painted on the ceiling above as you enter the dining room.

Mick and Jimmy's

Mick and Jimmy's

We order three dishes, all hearty and full of spice and character.

Mick and Jimmy's
Jimmy’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken Meatballs with mango salsa, coconut rice and drunken black beans
Mick and Jimmy's
“Ropa Vieja” National Dish of Cuba – shredded steak simmered in sofrito sauce with olives, capers, coconut rice, cuban black beans and fried plantains
Mick and Jimmy's
Big Texan Burger with cheddar, beer battered onion rings, whiskey BBQ ketchup, caramelized onions, tomato and rocket.

We opt for an early night, to catch up on sleep and prepare for our big next day.

Tomorrow we drive to the Cliffs Of Moher…

Like this article? Subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local and live well in Hawaiʻi. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!

Ireland: Day 6 & 7 – Kinsale

Kinsale Ireland

Kinsale Ireland“It’s the Sausalito of Ireland!” he tells me.

My friend, referring to the posh community full of sailboats and stunning views north of the Golden Gate Bridge, is right.

The charming town that sits where the San Francisco bay meets the Pacific Ocean indeed looks and feels a lot like the charming town in County Cork where the Kinsale harbor meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Kinsale, or “head of sea,” is where you will come for fresh seafood.

Especially oysters.

It is a foodie town, which is a rare find in Ireland. Attention to technique, interesting menus and promotion of local ingredients can be found here.

Poet’s Corner

“Would you like the usual Bob?”

“A flat white and a piece of white toast?”

“Yes, I’m training for the Olympics now that I have my magic shoes,” Bob says pointing down to his new kicks.

Bob has a full grey beard, thinning snow white hair and by the way he plops down at his table looks like walking down to the cafe was compatible to training for the Olympics.

The chef comes out to greet him. They chat while the owner, a German woman who knows all of her regulars by first name, prepares Bob’s coffee.

Kinsale IrelandI came to this cafe based on the name alone––Poet’s Corner.

The walls are lined with books and there’s WIFI! This is the exact scene I need in order to get some work done for the next few hours.

Kinsale Ireland
Poet’s Corner Coffee Shop

The lattes are lovely and they also have a selection of herbal teas that are handcrafted in Germany by a company called Teekanne (Tea Pot).

I order one called “Body Defense.” It comprises botanicals like anise, lemon balm, lemon myrtle, nettles, lime blossom and echinacea. I’m feeling rejuvenated already.

Kinsale Ireland
A latte and a biscuit at Poet’s Corner

The Spaniard

We are ready for an afternoon stroll.

Kinsale is conducive to that. It’s walking paths hug the bay and lead you to cozy bars like The Spaniard––the former living quarters for a castle built during Spanish rule.

the spaniard kinsale
The Spaniard

the spaniard kinsaleI order a Murphy’s here.

Outside of Dublin, Murphy’s and Beamish––both made in Cork–– are the local stouts of choice. Bartenders will respectfully pour you a Guinness if you order one, but they won’t recommend it.

Guinness is on the sweeter side. Murphy’s and Beamis taste more coffee-like. Each one of them delicious in their own right.

the spaniard kinsale

The Bulman Bar

If you keep walking up the hill you will eventually reach The Bulman––a fantastic pub and restaurant with a stunning view of the bay.

the bulman

kinsale irelandWe get there just before 12:30 p.m., when they open, and there is already a line forming.

Patrons shove their way in once the doors open hustling for a table.

The specials haven’t even been written on the board yet and we are already ordering drinks.

I recommend ordering seafood here.

Again, especially oysters.

I’m allergic, but my mom and brother slurp back a half dozen from Oysterhaven that they describe as creamy, briny and not rubbery at all.

They smell like sparkling fresh sea water, and despite their colossal size, I watch the soft cushions slide right out of their shell and down their throats with no effort at all.

the bulman
Oysterhaven Oysters

Meanwhile, I enjoy seared organic salmon perched atop wasabi infused mashed potatoes with buttery broccolini. The teriyaki drizzled around the edge of the plate almost tastes like balsamic.

The side salad I order tastes fresh from the garden and is dressed lightly so it doesn’t interfere with the peppery, herbaceous bite I’m enjoying from the mixed baby greens.

kinsale ireland
Seared organic salmon, wasabi mashed potatoes, broccoli, teriyaki sauce

The Black Pig

Now I really feel like I’m in Sausalito.

The first thing I notice when I sit down at this adorable little wine bar is an entire page dedicated to the farms and artisans they source their ingredients from.

The wine list is extensive. Almost to the point of being overwhelming.

It consists of 250 wines. Over 150 of them are poured by the glass and over 50 of them are organic and biodynamic.

The Black Pig KinsaleI’m all over the Iberico ham (acorn-fed Spanish black pig) croquettes.

They are light and crisp with ham flavored cheese oozing out with every bite. The spicy pimenton aioli accompanying it pairs beautifully.

The Black Pig Kinsale
Iberico ham and cheese croquettes

Sliced beefsteak tomatoes are served on a platter covered in a snowfall of crumbled feta cheese, shaved red onion and chopped parsley.

The Black Pig Kinsale
Salad of beef tomato, red onion, parsley and feta

Kerry crab and Macroom ricotta (made from buffalo milk) ravioli melt in a decadent cream sauce fortified with tarragon, ginger, parmesan and peas.

The Black Pig Kinsale
Kerry crab and Macroom ricotta ravioli with tarragon and ginger cream, peas and parmesan

Supper Club

Try to slip in early and grab a spot at the bar to eat here. Or at least make a dinner reservation. This place fills up quick.

They have good food and a full mixology program for cocktails. I slide in casually with a friend who lives in Kinsale for a cup of French Onion Soup and a nibble off her side of broccolini and chips.

Across the room a man can’t stop talking about the oysters.

“They are the best I’ve ever had in my life!” he shouts.

supper club kinsale

Fort Charles

Definitely take time to explore the star-shaped fortress that overlooks the town and bay called Fort Charles. It was built in the late 1600’s and is one of the largest military sites in the country.

Some argue that the battle of Kinsale was the most important in Irish history. It was one of the last efforts against English rule and this was the fort built to protect the town.

It’s right down the street from The Bulman. A nice hike to take after lunch.

fort charles

fort charles

Cups and Cones

“What is that?!”

I’m sitting on the sea wall in downtown Kinsale with my mom, just letting the time pass by with the moving cars around us.

A gaggle of tourists are loading back on to their bus. Approaching us is a woman holding a little paper boat in one hand and a spoon in the other .

She looks like she has just robbed a bank, won the lottery and bought a new puppy. I watch with wonder as her eyes light up and laughter emits from her full cheeks.

“It’s hot donuts with ice cream, white chocolate and caramel!” she boasts.

“They make the BEST ice cream!” she insists pointing to the little shop across the street.

When it comes to ice cream you don’t have to tell me twice, so I wander over and check out the situation.

cups and cones kinsale

cups and cones kinsale
Vanilla soft-serve at Cups and Cones

Yep, made to order donuts tossed in cinnamon sugar and soft-serve ice cream. I must partake.

I order up a little paper boat of my own.

The donuts are warm and doughy, and taste like Cinnamon Toast Crunch breakfast cereal.

But that soft serve. Holy…..

It is so creamy. Like eating frozen, whipped butter.

And it’s not too sweet. The richness and high quality of the Irish cream and eggs, used to make the ice cream, makes adding excess sugar unnecessary.

I eat it quickly before the warm donuts make it melt.

And because I’m finding it slightly difficult to control myself…

cups and cones kinsale
Mini donuts with cinnamon sugar and a dollop of vanilla soft-serve

Max’s

Our innkeeper at The Peir House B&B recommends Max’s. Also a great option for seafood.

I’m noticing more and more that many restaurants have an early bird special from around 5:30-6:30 p.m.

We are there early, so we take advantage of the deal.

Most of these menus are arranged in a prix fix style, letting you choose from a variety of appetizers and entrees.

We order the following, which all turn out to be very tasty and fresh….

Max's Kinsale
Warm smoked mackerel and potato salad, pickled samphire, beetroot, horseradish drizzle, pea shoots
Max's Kinsale
Half roasted lobster and salad
Max's Kinsale
Chargrilled fillet of sea trout, aubergine caviar, garden herb dressing courgette and french beans
Max's Kinsale
Grilled sea bass, roast butternut squash, chorizo crumb, asparagus and leek sauce

Max's Kinsale

The Greyhound

After dinner it’s time for some pub hopping and live music.

The Grey Hound has tiny, dark rooms and booths, conducive to conversation, and a modest bar where the boys huddle in to watch the game.

It is one of those places where the bar turns and looks at you when you walk in. Maybe not as much to size you up, as it is to see if you are someone they know. It is a locals pub for sure and one of our favorite so far.

the greyhound kinsale

Dalton’s Bar

I’m sipping on a Gunsmoke Gin when I notice a small group walk in the door with instruments strapped to their backs.

Ok, here we go. Real Irish music.

The group unzips their bags and pull up stools around a table. Out comes a guitar, an accordion, a fiddle and a Irish drum called a bodhran.  And is that a harp!?

They waste no time. Within minutes there is a full on jam session emitting Irish jigs, suitable to river dance to, happening right in front of us.

Dalton's Bar Kinsale

Dalton's Bar Kinsale
Live Irish music at Dalton’s Bar

We also stayed at The Blindgate House one night while in Kinsale. They had the best breakfast we’ve had so far in a B&B.

A note about breakfast in Ireland…

It is the same everywhere you go, no matter what.

A traditional Irish breakfasts consists of these components:

  • Tea or Coffee and toast.
  • Eggs
  • Black and white pudding – Sausage made from pork liver, pork, oatmeal and suet. Black pudding has the addition of pig’s blood.
  • Roasted tomato
  • Bacon (what American’s would consider ham)
  • Pork Sausage

Baked beans are also a thing at breakfast. They taste just like a can of Bush’s or Heinz.

There are also always pastries (croissants – regular and chocolate), cheese, fruit, yogurt and a variety of cereals, nuts and seeds and fresh juices laid out as well.

kinsale ireland
Vegetarian Irish breakfast
kinsale ireland
Traditional Irish breakfast
kinsale ireland
Farmstead cheeses (cheddar and chive, soft cow’s milk, aged cheddar, port salut) and local berries for breakfast

Ireland: Day 4 & 5 – Center City Cork

county cork

county corkWe arrive in the afternoon and check into the Gabrielle Guest House. Just a short walk into town.

I grab my laptop and hope to get a few hours of work in at a nearby coffee shop before it’s time for dinner.

Cork Coffee Roasters

Groovy spot for coffee, but no WIFI. In fact, I’m noticing that all of the coffee shops I’ve walked into in this country so far are WIFI free. Unfortunately this means one thing…..time to find a Starbucks. Ugh.

In the meantime, I enjoy a latte made with beans roasted in house they call their Rebel Blend.

Cork Coffee Roasters
Cork Coffee Roasters
Cork Coffee Roasters
Cork Coffee Roasters

I start cruising around looking for the Starbucks that is located next door to The English Market. I’m back in a city again. Feeling really good and re-energized.

The English Market

This is the epicenter of local food for County Cork.

The English Market
The English Market

There are a variety of imports, but an even more impressive selection of local meat, fish, cheese, bread, jams, honey, chocolate, eggs, charcuterie and anything else you can think of sold by small, family owned operations.

the english market

the english market

The English Market

The English Market

The English Market

Irish Beef
Irish Beef

The English MarketI’ve been on the hunt for clotted cream and immediately find it at an organic health foods stall called The Good Food Shop.

I find a scone made with local berries to go with my clotted cream and so much more at Alternative Bread Company. This bakery prides itself on its extensive selection, carrying Burnt Bread and “Ducks” and “Skulls”––all traditional breads from Cork–– as well as dairy free Irish Soda Bread, gluten-free breads, organic sourdoughs and pastries.

Alternative Bread Co.

Alternative Bread Co.

Alternative Bread Co.

Alternative Bread Co.

the english market
Dairy-free Irish soda bread from Alternative Bread Co.
the english market
Local berry scone and jam from Alternative Bread Co. with Clotted Cream from The Good Food Shop

The Chocolate Shop carries organic Wilkies Chocolate (made in Cork) and Skelligs Chocolate (made in Kerry) plus a wide variety of other high end bean-to-bar chocolate bars and house made truffles.

The Chocolate Shop

The Chocolate Shop
The Gin & Tonic bar is made with juniper berries and really tastes like the cocktail!

Toons Bridge Dairy, a buffalo, sheep and cow farm 45 miles from town, runs a stall called Real Olive Company, where they sell olives, cured meat and other Mediterranean provisions next to their farmstead cheeses and raw honey harvested from beehives on the farm.

Real Olive Company
Real Olive Company
Real Olive Company
Real Olive Company
Real Olive Company
Real Olive Company

The cheeses are exceptional. We try a tangy sheep’s milk Pecorino and smoky Scamorza while we wait for them to cut us off hunks of ‘Nduja and Caciocavallo.

Real Olive Company
Scamorza from Toons Bridge Dairy

Caciocavallo, which benefits from the probiotic bacteria of the cheesemaker’s hands, must be hand-stretched. It is made using a similar technique to mozzarella with raw cow’s milk cheese.

Toons Bridge Dairy makes three types of Caciocavallo all made with different types of rennet. This is “Dolce.” It is made with calf’s rennet and is aged 6-8 weeks. It’s sweet and nutty and is fabulous paired with the spicy ‘Nduja––a spreadable cured sausage made with smoked paprika, dried chilis and pork offal.

Toon's Bridge Dairy
Caciocavallo from Toon’s Bridge Dairy
N'duja
‘Nduja

On the way to dinner later I walk down Oliver Plunkett Street by a couple of fun, novelty dessert shops.

The Shack sells elaborately decorated cake donuts and a few storefronts down from that a sidewalk explodes with brightly colored gelato. Gino’s Gelato, made on site daily, is swirled so luxuriously I just want to dive in head first.

The Shack donuts
The Shack donuts
Gino's Gelato
Gino’s Gelato

Market Lane

The first thing I notice about Market Lane is that they use a wide variety of local ingredients on their menu, many coming from The English Market.

Market LaneMom orders an elegant craft cocktail called Autumn and Eve that comprises gin, apple cider, fresh apple and lemon juice, ginger beer and cinnamon.

Market Lane
“Autumn and Eve” at Market Lane

I’m ready to try some Irish beef. I order a 10 ounce, local, grass-fed, 28-day aged sirloin steak. It arrives with typical Irish sides––chips (fries), roasted mushrooms and tomato. I choose the green peppercorn sauce for my steak and ask for a side of béarnaise to dip my chips in.

The steak is expectedly lean, but is cooked perfectly and is full of flavor thanks to the aging process.

Mom’s duck breast is cooked nicely as well and is served with a red currant jus, broccolini and a puree of roasted onion and parsnip scented with vanilla.

Market Lane
Sirloin and Duck at Market Lane

The only thing I want for dessert is to try Baldwin’s Farmhouse vanilla ice cream, which is made nearby in Waterford using non-pasteurized milk and cream from their farm. We talk our server into selling us a scoop with fresh local berries.

Market Lane
Baldwin’s Farmhouse Vanilla Ice Cream at Market Lane

The evening was young and this neighborhood is ripe for pub hopping. At The Oliver Plunkett we giggle at the bartender who despises making Irish Coffee.

At Hi-B bar, known for grumpy regulars and an even grumpier owner, we learn that you will get kicked out if you are caught on your cell phone.

And at An Bodhran I discover that the locals don’t drink Guinness they drink Murphy’s––Cork’s version of Guinness that is less sweet and more coffee-like.

Oliver Plunkett's
Oliver Plunkett’s

The Hi-B Bar

The Hi-B Bar
The Hi-B Bar
An Bodhran Bar
An Bodhran Bar

Electric

This restaurant contains three seafood concepts in one. Downstairs is a casual gastrobar with small plates. Upstairs you can choose between a high end dining room or raw bar.

We choose the raw bar, which reminds me of the oyster bars I’ve been to in Seattle. We settle into a counter overlooking the river and get a front row view of a beautiful rainbow and stunning sunset.

Electric Restaurant
Electric Restaurant

Electric RestaurantMussels are steamed with smoked bacon and a puree of mint and English pea.

Electric Restaurant
Mussels with pea, mint and smoked bacon at Electric Restaurant

Tuna Crudo is served with teriyaki sauce, compressed watermelon and seaweed salad.

Electric Restaurant
Tuna crude with teriyaki and seaweed at Electric Restaurant

Smoked Mackerel and Hake Pate reminds me of the marlin dip I get back home on Oʻahu. It’s creamy and rich and served with a crusty, house made baguette.

Electric Restaurant
Smoked Mackerel and Hake pate at Electric Restaurant

Irish Scallops are seared and served with spicy chorizo, potato confit and a mustardy cream sauce.

Electric Restaurant
Scallops

For dessert we indulge in a caramel centered chocolate lava cake they call “baby cakes” with more of those amazing Irish berries and Irish Coffee made with Jameson.

Electric Restaurant
Chocolate baby cake and Irish Whiskey at Electric Restaurant

The Shelbourne Bar

This pub, located in the Victorian Quarter, is known for their extensive whiskey collection.

But, I’m drinking gin.

I sample two more local gins here: Blackwater and Method and Madness.

Blackwater is more juniper forward with a clean lemony finish.

Method and Madness is Jameson’s first gin made in their microbrewery in Midleton. It’s gorgeous, exploding with citrus and flowers upfront with sweet spices that linger on your tongue for several minutes afterward. One of the botanicals used for this gin is black lemon, or dried lime, which gives it an indescribable zesty punch.

Side note. I think I am slowly turning my mom into a gin drinker…

Method and Madness Gin by Jameson
Method and Madness Gin by Jameson

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Like this article? Subscribe to The Healthy Locavore for more on how to eat local and live well in Hawaiʻi. I am so grateful for this community, thank you so much for being a part of it!