Monday, August 15, 2016

Eats in Dublin, Ireland - July 25-28, 2016

Eats in Dublin, Ireland – July 25-28, 2016

I traveled to Dublin for work last month and, as is now second nature to me, I took pictures of (almost) every scrap of food I ate on the trip. We had a couple of team dinners so I was fortunate enough to experience two Dublin restaurants, a boat ride to one of them, and an honest-to-goodness musical Irish pub crawl. 
My favorite part was singing Molly Malone, in case you wondered. Maybe because it was one of two Irish songs I was familiar with. "Cockles and Mussels, alive, alive-o!" Reminded me of Arya on Game of Thrones. But I digress....

First restaurant was Aqua, which was in Howth and which entailed us getting on a boat, sailing on the bay for almost an hour (fortified with a seafood appetizer buffet en route which I could not enjoy because while I was fine for the first 20 minutes, the last 30 were not my friends) and pulling up to the pier in front of the restaurant. That’s not your grandmother’s Uber ride..  

Smoked Salmon with crab
Steak with what I called "Jenga potatoes"
Since Aqua was set near the water, a great view was mandatory and that’s what we had. I only remembered to take one picture of the spectacular view because I was too busy talking, eating and taking pictures of the food. I had the steak and ordered it “medium”. The waiter informed us they only did rare, medium and well done. I thought medium was a safe, moderate bet but unfortunately I was wrong. Either I got someone else’s steak by mistake or the Irish version of “medium” was “seared on each side, middle just barely lukewarm. Meaning by my standards, it was really rare. I ate the outside but couldn’t do the middle. The potatoes were terrific though and artistically presented as to what I call a Jenga pattern. I’ve never had a bad potato in Ireland. I don’t think it’s allowed.
Chocolate Tart

Very excellent creme brulee

The next night, we went on a carousing musical pub crawl through 3 pubs, guided by local musicians who sang and taught us some Irish songs at each pub. Definitely a new and fun experience, even or especially if you can't sing. I can't so I kept my "singing" voice low enough not to embarrass myself. I don't drink so I'm never going to be drunk enough to actually sing.

The front of 41 Restaurant
After the musical pub crawl, we had dinner at 41 Restaurant, which from the outside, didn't look like a restaurant at all, more like someone's home.. This one was fancier, reminiscent of Alexander’s back home where they do fancy little one-bite palate cleansers between courses, whether you ordered it or not. One was a single dumpling in a tasty sauce, that was pretty good. Another one was butter foam with random popcorn on it. I don’t know what that was except odd. I didn’t care for it. I got the steak again here but prudently ordered it “well-done” this time. That turns out to be the right choice as it was closer to medium-well than well-done. Whew. Pretty tasty too.

Foie Gras
Steak Medallions
Some weird butter foam thing
Peach Vol au Vent
When I wasn’t having team dinners or working, I did manage to venture out during my lunch hours to do my usual “I’m on a mission, have to find a bakery to try while I’m out here” walk. I found Laduree which was a pleasant surprise as I didn’t know they had one in Dublin. I went in hoping for something like the hazelnut slice I had at the Laduree in Paris but alas, this one was so small, they only did macarons. I “settled” for the salted caramel macaron (2 euros) as memory served that this was the only flavor macaron I like. With like being a strong word for describing me and a macaron.
One of the coworkers also recommended I try Queen of Tarts. It was just over a mile from the office so it was an easy 15-minute walk with the GPS function on my phone. I couldn’t find anything in Dublin without it. Queen of Tarts was a cute little place, half of it filled with small tables and the other half with the kitchen and the counter display cases full of mouth-watering desserts. While my eyes always round out bigger than my stomach (and that’s saying something), past experience says I shouldn’t get more than ONE thing or I’ll regret it, especially since I was leaving the following day and I had already bought the salted caramel macaron.

So although I could’ve hung out in front of the display cases, licking my chops, eating with my eyes all day and risk having the Queen of Tarts people call the garda to throw out the weird American, I did manage to observe propriety and sedately asked for just the apple crumble “for takeaway”. That means “to go” since I wasn’t going to be eating it until after work that night. Apple crumble in Dublin, in case you wanted to know, is like American apple pie with a Dutch crumble or streusel topping. Except it’s less sweet, there’s less of the gelatinous filling and more pure apple. This particular one gets high marks from me because, most importantly, there were no raisins in it. No raisins. So that makes it a near-perfect apple crumble to me.  3.95 euros so it might seem a tad expensive but that’s not too bad and it was definitely worth it.

So that was a slice of my almost-week in Dublin, not counting my pacing of the airports, racing through Heathrow to catch connections, staying up all hours because I can’t sleep on airplanes and waking up at 1 am thanks to jet lag. But I still love to travel and I love trying new places to eat.

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