Finding Dublin… Fish and chips, Shepherd’s Pie and a pint

I’ve been meaning to write about Ireland for some time now but, life got away from me and.. no more excuses.  It’s time to begin sharing 🙂

I had the opportunity to go to Ireland over Easter this year.  I have to be honest – walking into Dublin gave me an instant feeling of home.  It was strange to see people who looked like my Dad and aunts… as well as experiencing an incredibly friendly and open culture.  How did it take 32 years for me to see you?

Little did I know, I was in for a really eye opening experience into the Irish independence story.  In 2016, Dublin commemorated the 100 year anniversary of the Easter Rising.  Easter Rising is when Irish republicans fought back against the British in hopes of securing a free Irish Republic.  As I traveled through different historical monuments, I began to understand that the Irish republicans were a rather small group of people.  However, after Easter Rising, many Irish joined the cause after seeing how the British handled the situation.  I felt connected to the past as I walked the halls of Kilmainham Gaol , Royal Kilmainham Hospital, Dublin Castle, Trinity College and O’Connell Street.  It was not only an adventure to see where my family comes from but a lesson in the struggles of the Irish people a century ago.

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It was an eye opening and interesting experience for me. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the food in Dublin (…this is a food blog, after all).  It was a short trip but I had the opportunity to eat and drink at two fabulous places: O’Donoghue’s of Suffolk Street and The Pig’s Ear.

When I arrived in Dublin, it was Good Friday which means no beer (or alcohol of any kind).  So, that dreamy idea of walking into a pub and getting a pint was a bit deflated but I didn’t let it stop me.  After walking around Trinity College and down Grafton Street (pedestrian shopping area), I found my way to O’Donoghue’s.  It was one of the only bars open so I stepped inside for an early dinner.  The bar was dark and the company was cheerful. I ordered the fish and chips (with a water).  Generally, this bar has music each night but because it was Good Friday, they planned to close at 6:00pm.  I was able to indulge my brown sauce addiction and enjoyed my meal.  The fish and chips were simple and good.  Really lovely start to my Irish adventure.  (I did get an opportunity to return to Dublin and check out O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row…. only had pints there but it was magic).

After visiting Killarney and Kilkenny (I promise to blog on these – soon), I returned to Dublin and had a really fantastic dinner thanks to the recommendation from a lovely man that I met on the Irish rail.  Therefore, my friend and I went to the Pig’s Ear.  You can miss this quaint place – even though the door is painted bright pink as it is quite narrow and dining is featured on the second floor.  Also located near Trinity College, it features upscale, modern versions of Irish favorites.  The food is presented in playful but approachable ways.  We ordered the carpaccio of Irish beef tenderloin to start then both ordered the shepherd’s pie for dinner.  The carpaccio had lovely flavor with goat cheese, pearl onions and lin seeds.  It had a nice fresh taste with a bit of tang due to the goat cheese and onions.  The shepherd’s pie was fabulous.  Baked to perfection and filled with savory beef, gravy and vegetables.  I am not sure this was a really modern take on a shepherd’s pie but I was in love.  I definitely will attempt to make these at home individually in cast iron myself.  Finally, I had the buttermilk custard with rhubarb, ginger and malt sticks.  As recommended, it was not too sweet but hit the spot.  It was creamy, slightly spicy and a tad bitter.  Yum 🙂

 

Never fear, I did get my pint (or two or three)… and by the way, Guinness is far tastier on draft in Dublin. Super smooth and not so heavy.  I, however, stuck to my fav – Smithwicks – for most of the trip.  Liquid magic.  What a delicious ale and I felt so spoiled to find it on draft everywhere.  I even introduced my friend to it for the first time.  She was also impressed with its smooth taste and now a new Smithwicks lover too.  (Dear, Oslo… please… Smithwicks on draft for less than $10 a pint… that would be great.  All my love, Tara).

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Dublin has this lovely energy mixed with a dash of grime and salt.  It’s truly beautiful in its own way and sincerely, felt like home.  I cannot wait to visit again to see more of the city, eat, drink and experience more of Irish culture.

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