Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dear Culinary Reawakening of Ireland,

Thank you so much for happening in the last ten years, Culinary Reawakening of Ireland. We are certainly glad that you had taken place before we visited you for the first time last week. Your homeland has always been known as a verdantly green place, and we certainly saw evidence of that as we drove through the delightful areas of the Connemara and Dingle Peninsulas, and the Rings of Kerry and Skellig. What we didn't realize, was that Ireland is also gastronomically very green as well! We loved the fresh approach to local ingredients, genetically unmodified food and modern approach to traditional classics.

Culinary Reawakening of Ireland, you need to do a better job of letting people know that you've happened. We were expecting the standard Irish fare: Guinness Stews, Shepard's Pies, Corned Beef and Cabbage. What we found far outshone our expectations. You have taken the traditional Irish cuisine and applied fresh, new twists that don't corrupt the old recipes. You have insisted upon the highest standards of quality for your ingredients and people don't know about it! It's insanity. Everyone should know that if they are traveling to Ireland, they should expect to eat farm to fork produce, meat and more!

Potatoes/schmotatoes. Let the world know you have taken place Culinary Reawakening of Ireland! Sing it from the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle. Ring the bells of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Tell U2 to write a song about it. I've certainly been singing your praises, but I don't have the gift of song that Bono does. Instead, I will list my favorite meals, starting with this one.

Ashes Pub and Restaurant - Dingle City: Crab & Prawn Dumpling with Salad, Sweet Chili & Lime for me and Smoked Salmon Rolls for her. Served of course, with Whole Grain Soda Bread. This was the most unexpected culinary experience of our entire trip. The food was outstanding, the service was incredible and the meal appeared on our table in what seemed like no time at all. All of this in a normal pub. Other restaurants on the street claimed fancier menus, but it must just be because they are insecure in the presence of such greatness.
The Hairy Lemon - Dublin: Seafood Chowder (creamy potato & dill soup with fresh fish, mussels & soda bread) and Bangers & Mash (award winning pork & leek sausages, pan fried, served on champ potatoes with a red wine jus) for me. These were easily the best sausages I've ever eaten in my life and by the way, hello leeks. Prepare yourselves to become a bigger part of my future eating experiences. For her, Traditional Irish Stew (slow cooked stew of lamb, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions & fresh herbs served with baked potato & soda bread).

Vaughan's Anchor Inn - Liscannor: Leg of Lamb served with various root mash for me and Sautéed Scallops, tomato, chickpea and red pepper ragout and fresh basil for her. This was also a lovely accident, thinking we were stopping at some tourist trap until we opened the menu.

The Laurels Pub - Killarney:  For me, a Tureen of Mussels poached in white wine and finished with a Tomato & Basil Sauce. These were not the only mussels we ate in Ireland, but they were by far the best. Culinary Reawakening of Ireland, thanks for bringing mussels and oysters back with a delicious vengeance. She had the Roast Half Duck with an orange & Apricot Glaze served with roasted sweet potato wedges & Mixed vegetables, because, why wouldn't she?

Dunne and Crescenzi - Dublin: It began with the Antipasto Misto. A platter of cold Italian Salami, Parma Ham, garnished with Cheese, Olives, Roasted Peppers and Italian Preserves, served with bread. Then for me, it was a homemade Tagliatelle with Spiced Italian Sausage. For her, Gnocchi with an Irish lamb ragu. Culinary Reawakening of Ireland, this is your fell swoop, isn't it? An Irish-Italian (just like her) restaurant that combines Protected Destination of Origin Italian ingredients and farm-fresh Irish lamb!

I could go on all day Culinary Reawakening of Ireland, but I think I've proven my point. You are good for Ireland, you are good for our stomachs and you are most definitely good fodder for this blog.


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