By: Linda Cooper
The city of Dublin has a lively social life and consists of many pubs, cafes and restaurants, offering a taste of authentic Ireland that’s both modern and delicious while still staying true to its heritage. Here you can eat in context, sitting on the pier where the catch that just landed in front of you, takes the term “fresh” to a whole new level. The setting makes the meal “an experience” and somehow even more delicious.
I feature Ireland on our upcoming season airing nationally of my show “Travel Time with Linda” premiering fittingly on March 17th which is St. Patrick’s Day on AXS TV Network. Excited to sample the Irish cuisine, we feature Fab Food Trails to explore the Irish fare that’s unique to the city. I meet our tour guide Phillipa Moore who’s first question as we stroll along is to share what I would consider a typical Irish dish. I offer up “Corned Beef and Cabbage” which she quickly shakes her head a resounding “No”, as I’m certain she does daily and shares the tour’s main purpose is to dispel this myth along with others while showcasing the traditional and contemporary Irish table to its visitors.
Upon further research I learn that while not considered a “National Irish Dish,” Corned Beef and Cabbage originated in Irish-American culture often a part of the celebration for St. Patrick’s Day here in the U.S. and is a variant of the Irish dish of “Bacon and Cabbage.”
We arrive at our first location to Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, and immediately as we step inside the wafting smells of cheese are so mouthwatering, I wish for Aroma TV for my viewers. We meet shop manager Michael Conefrey, who explains the origins of the Irish Farmhouse cheese movement and offers a delectable array of samples. Ireland excels at producing local artisan cheese, all with different styles and a distinctive creamy taste, including Cashel Blue, Ireland’s favorite and most famous farmhouse cheese. Delicious on crackers or crusty bread, it is so creamy, and the tang is not overpowering it is the perfect blue cheese for cooking. Jane and Louis Grubb have been making Cashel Blue on their farm at Beechmount, near Fethard in County Tipperary since 1984. Since then, the cheese has gone on to become the best known of all the Irish farmhouse cheeses.
Another well-known cheese we taste is Coolea, a cow’s milk cheese made in the mountains of Coolea, near Macroom on the Cork/Kerry border. This classic Gouda style cheese is characterized by the quality of the milk used by cheesemaker Dickie Willems who insists that only the very best milk goes into making his cheese. He also uses traditional rennet because it makes far more age-worthy cheeses than those made using vegetarian rennets. As I nibble on my Coolea cheese, I notice its sweet, almost toffee-like flavor, with a slight crystalline consistency, not dissimilar to that of mature Parmesan.
Next, we head to The Legal Eagle honoring a style of food of real gastro pub cooking, where traditional ‘nose-to-tail’ sits alongside a celebration of ‘farm to table’ produce very comfortably. We settle into our table as our host, restaurant owner Elaine Murphy, shares with us her passionate support for local Irish produce. Included in our fine spread is an assortment of pickled vegetables, cauliflower rarebit, deep fried samphire pakora, a salty vegetable of the sea found in Ireland, with a mint yogurt dip and homemade crisps with “too much butter” accompanied by a black garlic aioli dipping sauce. All of which are simply scrumptious.
Grateful our final stop is a bit of a walk as it is well-needed, we end the day at the oldest pub in all of Ireland, The Brazen Head dating back to 1198. Famous for its historical value and amazing food, this landmark pub has managed to retain the charm and characteristics of its past. While soaking my crusty bread into the delicious white wine broth of garlic, shallots, parsley and thyme of my steaming bowl of Roaring Water Bay Mussels, I reflect on what an intoxicating way to end our tour of tasty foods and fascinating stories. With my pint of Guinness I deliver a hearty “Cheers” to the camera, feeling a sense of completion both literally and figuratively, having very much enjoyed the process in showcasing the pulse of the city’s Irish food scene.
I feel travel is the only thing you can actually buy that makes you richer so sharing my travel journeys with all of you is extremely rewarding. The Republic of Ireland episode can be watched March 24th on the new season airing nationally so be sure to set your DVR! Tune in to watch Season Two of “Travel Time with Linda” featuring Bucket List Destinations premieres March 17, 2019 on AXS TV Network, weekly Sunday mornings 8am EST and watch Season One on Amazon Prime Video.