Friday, October 05, 2018

Back from a Two-Week Trip to Ireland

Melinda Palacio


I'm back from a wonderful two-week trip to Ireland with Steve and our friends, Anthony and Crystal. The first thing I did was to make one of my favorite dishes, chiles en nogada. I didn't have any pomegranate seeds, pues ni modo. I was itching for some homemade comida like only I can make. I was warned about Irish food and how bland it was and had planned on taking some hot sauce, but failed to pick up a couple of bottles at the airport. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the food despite its lacking in spices, a big change from New Orleans where the flavors and spices have a big party on your tongue and all the restaurants offer salt, pepper, and several choices of hot sauce. In Ireland, many of the dishes use white pepper and there was no black pepper at every table. After a week, we learned to ask for "cracked" pepper and, even then, at one restaurant, they simply brought a demitasse full of coarse black pepper. 
            I'm easy to please (if you don't poll Steve or my grandmother who had a special word for my pickiness (ideaosa or diosa or something like that), so blander food than usual was just fine with me. I was in bread heaven and could easily live off of all of their fruit scones and brown bread, as long as there was a generous helping of that famous Kerry butter. The black cows from Kerry produce the most  exquisite butter and cream in the world. Not to mention, delicious steaks and stews and, not being a fan of mutton or lamb, I wasn't having any of the lamb stews. However, I enjoyed all the potatoes and root vegetables. The first Irish dish I will try to make is their carrot and parsnip soup, which I would order any chance I got because it usually came with two pieces of  brown bread and the Kerry butter. Irish Whiskey was my drink of choice as I do not drink beer and didn't try any of the Guinness. Plus everything tastes fabulous with a dram of Irish whiskey, Writers Tears being my favorite. They even offered whiskey with the morning's porridge or oatmeal. It's a good thing our driver didn't partake of the morning whiskey. 
Kerry Cows
fruit scones 

            Apparently, it is a problem since Steve did have a breathalyzer test done at 9am on a Saturday morning. It was at one of those DUI checkpoints that looks like the local police are looking for bandits on the loose and using the breathalyzer to stop all cars exiting the Connemara mountains as an excuse to check out every vehicle.
Anthony, Crystal, Melinda, and Steve at the Cliffs of Moher

            For a small island, Ireland has all kinds of weather and views, views, views. You can experience four seasons in one day, dressing in layers is a must. Our fearless driver, Steve, was a champ at driving on the wrong side of the road and navigating what looked like a driveway, but really was a two-lane road. All roads were manageable when two small cars shared the road. When a tour bus came barreling at us, it was time for everyone to say prayers, hold their breaths, and grab onto the Oh-Shit straps above each window. I'm still a little jostled from all the close calls and wouldn't mind not getting into a car for a couple of weeks. I'd like to sit and bask in all the fun places we went to. It sure was worth the fright from medieval cities with castles in ruins and castles functioning as hotels to an even smaller island where twelfth-century monks decided they can make their home in the western most isolated point in Europe to the Wild Atlantic coastal drive to the oldest Neolithic settlement and sacred sites much older than Stonehenge and 500 years older than Egyptian pyramids to a poet's pilgrimage to the Yeats grave in Sligo to Dublin, a writer's city. 

The view from corkscrew hill

Stay tuned for more travel adventures to Ireland. In the meantime, the Bird Forgiveness tour continues in New Orleans tomorrow, Saturday, October 6 at the Latter Library at 2pm and Sunday, October 14 at the Maple Leaf Bar at 3pm. 

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