Last Dinner in Ireland – Ballyrobin Country Lodge

We stayed at an adorable boutique country house just outside Belfast for our last night in Ireland. It was called the Ballyrobin Country Lodge (www.ballyrobincountrylodge.com) and from the moment we entered I knew there would be good food there!

I only took a shot of my dish, which was one of only two deep fried meals on the menu. They call this a house specialty, triple-cooked chips, beautifully battered tempura prawns and house made tartar sauce. Not the healthiest meal I’ve ever eaten, but delicious and with such cute presentation. I also tried bites of my family’s dishes: beef stroganoff, sea bass with mussel butter sauce, and organic chicken. My mom and sister ordered this shortcake for dessert!

Also delighted to find Yering Station wine on the wine list (I visited that winery while in Australia) we enjoyed a fantastic bottle of their 2008 Pinot Noir. A great meal.

Check out their menu on the website!

Guinness Storehouse Tour Photo Album

I don’t “like” Guinness, per se, however I did try it again, right from the source, which is better than it’s ever going to get according to the experts. I guess it doesn’t travel well. The tour was still fun and the brewery is pretty impressive!

Irish Food from Various Pubs

Originally posted in August 2011
Fish and chips with mushy peas, amazing seafood chowder with smoked fish, a shepherd’s pie (not mine), more fish and chips and of course, Guinness.

Also enjoyed by my family: beef and Guinness stew, roast beef and really awesome Irish beef burgers. All local meat, grass-fed cows, I know because we’ve driven by tons of them!

The Pig’s Ear, Dublin

Originally posted in August 2011
I must begin this post with a huge thanks to Megan Brydon (@Meganbrydon) for recommending to me, via Twitter, The Pig’s Ear in Dublin. We ended up near Nassau Street on one of our hop off stops downtown and decided to check it out for lunch. The two-course lunch deal for €15.95 turned out to be the best value and best meal I’ve had on the trip since Italy.

My first course of carrot soup with terragon, citrus oil, grapefruit segments and toasted pine nuts was delightfully presented in a (purposely?) antiqued pot on a wooden slab, with housemade multi-grain brown bread. So cute to look at and tasted deliciously balanced.

I took a photo of my Mom’s mini sausage roll accompanied by pea and mint purée, and old fashioned mustard fruits. She reported that it was delicious with mostly all juicy sausage in just a thin wrapper of flaky home made pastry.

My main course arrived on a beautiful blue dish: organic Irish salmon with crushed potatoes and sautéed radish, sweet peas and little gem lettuce, as well a broad bean purée. This was a great portion size and a fantastic dish. I loved the ruggedness of the crushed potatoes with skins on and capers. The salmon was of course cooked perfectly and the variety of textures in the accompaniments worked well, a tactile treat as well as having beautiful flavours.

My Mom was super happy with her lemon and thyme chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, chestnut mushrooms, sweet corn and hazelnuts. It definitely looked great.

With my meal I enjoyed a glass of Wild Hog Cabernet Sauvignon (NZ), the pig theme was rampant! Check out the photos, such a classy compact dining room with minimal, clean decor and little pig items here and there. www.thepigsear.ie

FOOD… in Amsterdam

With less than 48 hours in Amsterdam, and rainy weather, we spent most of our time indoors in either restaurants, coffee shops or watching Harry Potter in 3-D at the coolest cinema ever.

The first thing we ate was horrible Greek food on the main strip that was so bad I didn’t even take photos. Shocking, I know. The first hint should have been the all East Indian staff. Not a Greek person in sight.

The next morning we had brunch and I enjoyed a TUNA club sandwich (seemed to be a thing there) and fries! Then after the Heineken Tour (saving that for another post) we had an early dinner at an Italian restaurant with lots of character, as you can probably tell from the photos. My garlic cheese toast and four cheese creamy pasta (that I added more cheese to) both were DELICIOUS. Comfort food.

I also included a photo of our airport snack, giant chunks of Old Holland cheese with water crackers from a cheese booth right at the airport. Nicest airport ever! Not enough time in Amsterdam… I’ve never seen so many restaurants in such close proximity. I could spend a while there!

Eaten in Prague

Prague offered a vast collection of international cuisine, allowing us to indulge in pretty much whatever we felt like most of the time, including North American food.

Here are the photos of a few more memorable meals we had including a great spaghetti pomodoro with a beautiful chive garnish (above) at Leone e Anna, where my sister had a homemade cheeseburger and fries. There is a great big “Farmer’s Salad” and cheese plate at a resto near our hostel called Caffeteria, which we got two meals out of. As well there’s a delicious breakfast we had at Bohemian Bagel, which I found using my iPad TripAdvisor app! My bagel and lox there totally hit the spot and Melissa’s scramble reminded me of something I would make at home.

The Pilsner Urquell was the local beer that everyone seemed to be drinking!

Restaurant Konirna for Czech Eats

Originally posted in August 2011
For our one major traditional Czech meal while in Prague, we somewhat splurged on restaurant Konirna in our neck of the woods, Lesser Town, near Charles Bridge.

I say somewhat splurged because the Czech koruna is worth much less than the Canadian dollar and even what seemed to be an expensive restaurant turned out to be a bill of less than $50 for both of us, including my wine.

My sister opted for a not very well done Greek salad, and I for a traditional potato soup with mushrooms. The soup was amazingly substantial with such a rich, complex background of flavours I thought it must have been made with beef stock along with various vegetables, maybe even beef bones.

It was more of a robust mushroom soup than potato, with chunks of vegetables and a great warming effect (it was a rainy night in Prague).

For my main I chose a Char with homemade noodles, olive oil and trout caviar. Traditional Czech is all very meat heavy (goulash, pork roasts, wild boar and duck) so I was looking for something from the rivers or streams! My dish was disappointingly salty, but each element on it’s own was satisfying, to a point. One creamy item would have made a huge difference on the plate, even a cream based coating for the noodles instead of the simple olive oil.

My sister’s roast half duck with traditional Czech dumplings saved the day. I indulged in a couple bites, with sauerkraut: delicious rich, moist and fatty duck meat balanced perfectly with ‘kraut! Mmm.

We split one small scoop of mango sorbet for dessert, to cleanse our palates of our rich and salty meals! A perfect ending.

There’s also a photo of me at the oldest Czech vineyard, near Prague castle!

MamaCoffee in Prague

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When visiting Prague we were determined to visit at least one local haunt, and luckily MamaCoffee turned out to be that place.

Located in New Town, we spotted the listing on a map written by “young locals”, as THE coffee place in Prague. Local residents of all ages frequent this multiple-level cafe to both hang out, drink coffee or buy freshly roasted fair trade beans. We opted for a couple lattes and relaxed for a while.

Our trip out of the most touristy area near Charles Bridge to find it also led to our adventure in New Town that day – a great area with tons of shopping (especially second hand clothing stores) and charming cafes.

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Seafood and Awesome Views

These photos of Dubrovnik can sum up my experience there: beautiful ocean, cliff and old city views, along with an abundance of seafood!

Check out an awesome cliff-side bar where I sipped some bubbly, a big pot of mussels we enjoyed by the marina in the old city, along with a couple of my seafood pastas!

Dubrovnik had neat pebble beaches and a relaxing climate… I would definitely go back.

In Dubrovnik Bread is Served with…

Fish pâté! Here are a few different pâtés that we were presented with, complimentary with your sliced white bread before the meal. These tasted like the most creamy tuna salad you’ve ever had. Delicious but mild in the fish flavour.

They even use these pâtés on bread or toast with breakfast, note the package I am holding in one of the photos, which were at our breakfast buffet each morning.

Another photo shows my sister’s excitement over a particular pâté!