07 November 2007

Irish Food -- The Good

Not all the food in Ireland was bad.

Not all the food in Ireland was good, either. But there were some very memorable meals...

In Kinsale, on the Southern coast, we went to an excellent seafood restaurant called Fishy Fishy.

We'd read about Fishy Fishy previously. It's apparently one of the best seafood restaurants in Ireland, and we were keen to have well prepared seafood directly on the coast. Our guide led us a bit astray, as it has moved from a little shop in the centre of the town to a fancy pants location on the water.

But find it we did. G knew that she was going to have Fishy Fishy, and so Fishy Fishy she found!

We started with a shared dish of mussels. I am very very very new to the world of mussels. I have always felt that they are a little weird, and the entire process of eating them a bit to cavewomany, but, I have developed a slow appreciation for them.

Look at those mussels!!! They were put in an elevated circular ring to keep them off the table (why I don't know) and they were in a tasty local beer broth. I ate a few, and G ate the rest, and we were ready to go for our main courses!

G ordered the baked cod. It sounded good, but honestly, the menu was a tiny bit bizarre. Everything sounded good save for one item on the list, and as each one came with its own custom side dish, it wasn't possible to mix and match.

The cod was actually quite crispy and was served on a lovely bed of mashed potato. Yum. The fish was flaky, with a really nice crust outside and a lovely tomato relish on top.

But really, my dish took the cake. I had the lovely fish and chips.

Now, let me preface this with saying, I have had me some fish and chips. I have eaten them in Maine, in Vermont, in Boston, in London, oh yeah, I know from fish and chips.

And whoa.

These fish and chips were, bar none, the best I have ever eaten. Every thing about them was fantastic. The fish was perfectly battered, with nice crispy bits. The fish was perfectly cooked, a little wet, flaky and full o' flavour. The chips were hot, the right size, and the right shade of brown. Really amazing. I was a bit embarrassed to order fish and chips in such a nice restaurant, but then I thought, it's on their menu, and it's not on their KIDS menu, so it's all good and grown-up.

Growing up, "pub food" was potato skins, hamburgers, fries, "pub grub". I guess this is a bit like the disney version of it, but I was really surprised when in Ireland that pub food was never hamburgers, potato skins, or the like. But it was widely mediocre. Except for one little pub in Doolin.

McGann's seemed a little rough from the outside. But it had the feel of the more "local" of the locals, so in we went. And boy were we surprised. See, Fishy Fishy was our second night. Our third night will be in another post, and the fourth night, well, I can't even say for sure that there are photos. But then there was this little jewel called McGann's.

G ordered the raost lamb shank, which seemed awfully ambitious for this rough and tumble pub. But here's what she was presented with...

Whoa. The mashed potato here was amazing, and the chopped veg were uniform and delightful. The sauce accompanying the lamb was top notch, and G is always thrilled to be able to suck some marrow from a bone. Blech.

I ordered the roast chicken, almost begrudgingly, as I was really hungry and tired and in the mood for a nice meal. I was also surprised when I was presented with this...

My oh my but that chicken was roasty toasty and lovely. It had the most amazing, rich, luscious gravy, and was also served with incredibel mashed potatoes. We must have sighed and carried on through the whole meal because the waitress gave us a huge smile when she picked up the plates!

That's a weird thing about Ireland. In the pubs, you order your food at the bar, and you pay at the bar. I guess it's not weird. Just different, and as different is the point of vacation, I will move on to Galway.

In Galway (a truly beautiful bay town), we stumbled across Ard Bia Cafe. And I am so glad we did.

I ordered a lentil, spinach and sweet potato curry, served with brown rice and tzatziki sauce that completely rocked this girls world. I don't know if it was because I had eaten so much bacon by this point, but this meal ruled it for me.

Look at that lovely carrot and beet strips. It was truly heavenly, and I enjoyed every single solitary mouthful.

But what about G? Never fear, she ordered the smoked haddock soup. Or fear. I don't know, the soup didn't sound good to me, though G said it was amazing. You could smell the smokey from across the table.

This was a great restaurant, actually. It was upstairs, in a weird little room. But the service was friendly and prompt, and no one snickered when we ordered water to drink. I'd whole heartedly recommend this to anyone in Galway.

More to come... it's late and I gotta go to sleep!!!

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