We’re Exploring: Ireland, In a Nutshell…or 2…or 3

The General Post Office, Dublin

Thanks to the lovely Juleann copying her pictures for me I gained access to some of the beautiful shots that I had lost from our trip to Ireland…technology just isn’t my friend some times.

Juleann, Judy and I flew from Dallas to Dublin via Chicago, making it only about a 7 hour flight.  Sweet Judy was suffering from a major allergy attack so once we got to Dublin she begged out for a nap and Juleann and I began our adventure around this beautiful and historic town. I hate to say I didn’t know a lot about Irish history…sure I had seen Michael Collins, and understand the fight for freedom, but being Scottish the Irish history wasn’t always at the forefront.

St. Stephens Green

My lack of knowledge was easily resolved in a day aboard a double-decker sight seeing bus. From the General Post Office, to Kilmainham Gaol, to St. Stephen Green Park I was quickly immersed in the uprising of the 1916 – the 1920’s.

St. Stephens Green

Enough history to make a girl want a drink…which we found quite quickly after grabbing Judy and heading to dinner.  I quickly realized what my job would be on the trip, which I embraced with gusto – to find the best places to eat.  (Again, that trait I embraced during the First Annual McClelland Olympics came in handy.)   Our first dining spot on our International journey was at Ely.

I had found this place because their chef attended the American Harvest Workshop put on by Cakebread winery every year bringing great chefs to their winery in Napa Valley and hosting a week of events teaching, cooking and embracing using the freshest local ingredients around.  Celebrating their 25th year this year it is an amazing weekend bringing some of the best chefs around the country, and world together (and I get to go this year.)

Our hotel suggested we go to their location by the waterfront as it wasn’t as much of a tourist place, more where the locals go…and though it was incredibly busy, ended up being the best suggestion because we had an opportunity to meet the lovely co-owner of Ely, Michelle Robson, and head chef Ryan Stringer, who will be back in Napa at Cakebread with me in August.  We also learned a little bit more about Ely over a plate of fish and chips, like that it was the first real restaurant in Dublin to have a focused, extensive wine by the glass list and a wine program that was as important as the food; and that the food is all sourced locally, as locally as it can be, and that their original Ely Winebar is cozy, comfortable and right by our hotel…which is where we ended the night with another glass of wine.

Molly Malone - The Tart with The Cart

Day two, more of Dublin but this time the way I like….with beer.  We spent a good chunk of our morning at Guinness.  A few years ago Gary and I were in Denver and decided to drive to Golden, CO and visit the Coors brewery.  It left a little to be desired…to say the least, in fact we ran from it and found an adorable beer garden up the road with the “brewery” set up in the garage and stayed the rest of the day.  Luckily, the Guinness tour was much better with good information given throughout the tour, and plenty of sips of COLD Guinness in between.  That piece of information was worth the cost of the tour.  I remember back in my bar days and the bar I worked in got a mini-Guinness keg that we served at room temp, in fact that is how we were told by our distributor to serve it.  I never liked it, but I didn’t like warm beer.  To my delight we learned that Guinness should be served cold, not ice cold, but certainly not warm.  And, it tastes pretty good like that.

Grafton Street performers

Grafton Street performers

After a day of touring, and a little shopping, we head out to another modern Irish spot I had read about, but as we were walking we are lured into a charming Italian restaurant called Unicorn, by an equally charming Italian General Manager and their doorman Frank.  We think we will just have a drink there, but of course, we are charmed and we stay for dinner with our adorable South African via London to Dublin waiter, Marc.  Incredible risotto, hearty Italian wine and a perfect cheese plate for me.  We pop into a few pubs after that, ending at a piano bar around 3am….what a night.  And we have the goal to head out of Dublin by 10am the next day to drive to Cork….we’ll see how well that works out.  Cheers to Dublin!

Me with Judy and the Frank the Unicorn doorman

The girls with our adorable waiter Marc at Unicorn

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