I have quite a few real Irish recipes and Irish-American recipes to share with you today so in the interest of space, I’m using links. I’ll include a few yummy photos too, of course!
Nearly every Tuesday, a small varying group of Leesiders meets at Electric on South Mall to talk, drink coffee and Tweet.
All this grew from an exchange on Twitter among locals a few years ago and now is one of the most established casual meet ups in town. It started at Cafe Gusto on Lapps Quay but as numbers increased and winter got colder, we moved to Electric’s downstairs area.
No attendance is kept. The night before, Twitter lights up with the hash tag #TweetMeetTues as discussions occur on who may be there. Regulars tag other regulars to ask specifically and often it coincides with in-town appointments.
Some weeks, it is very quiet. Other weeks, it is lively. No matter how many people show up, the coffee is always hot and the conversation is beyond 140 characters.
Pancakes are happy food. Like weekend mornings in a sun-filled kitchen with family and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Sausage or bacon sizzling in a pan on the stove and the family dog sniffing around everyone’s feet to try and get a sliver of the scents in the air. That is what I think. In later years, it would be university cafeterias or pancake houses, but there is something uniquely memorable about family food. My parents would serve their pancakes up with dabs of butter between each layer and topped with warm Vermont maple syrup, usually from a stockpile given to us at Christmas by New Englander friends. I wish I could pull you all back in time for a moment to sit in the dining room for brunch. Sometimes there would even be bagels with cream cheese and lox or hash browns. Eggs were rarely the main event. Far too… to the point. Brunch is a meandering meal, not one that is efficient or to the point.
When I was about nine years old, I compiled all my favorite brunch recipes together into a book and stuck it to the kitchen cork board with a thumbtack as a not-so-subtle reminder to my parents what I wanted when the sun rose on Saturday morning. That book is long gone and I didn’t think to save the file so for this post I am linking someone else’s Dad’s Buttermilk Pancake recipe (thanks, L.V. Anderson). This photo may look familiar from my Shrove Tuesday post earlier this year.
Because I live in Ireland, I am going to now tell you where you can find a true American buttermilk pancake in the Republic. This is a partial list and one I will add to over time so if you know of a place I’ve overlooked or don’t know about, please add a comment.
Bewley’s on Grafton Street has pancakes on their menu
37 on Dawson St. does them, as do Herbstreet on Hanover Quay (thanks to @sherqui via Twitter)
Four Seasons in Ballsbridge (thanks to @chefwademurphy via Twitter)
Buttermilk Pancakes with Belgian chocolate or bacon & maple syrup at Woodstock in Phibsborough! (thanks to @WoodstockDub on Twitter)
An American friend whose family is planning a trip to Ireland asked my advice and here are all the questions and answers that resulted, so I thought I’d share it with you! There is probably someone else out there planning a trip over here to the Emerald Isle and maybe this can help a bit. If it does help you, I’d love to hear from you with a comment. If you think I overlooked something, also comment so future visitors can know what’s what.
Is it easy to visit Dublin or Cork (or both) without a car?
Flying into Dublin, there is are affordable, clean and safe shuttle buses into the city of Dublin. It’s so easy, I wouldn’t even consider a taxi. To explore beyond Dublin, the train may be the best method. The Luas is great for getting around Dublin.
Irish Rail costs about €40 each way for Cork/Dublin routes. Trains are frequent, clean, safe, and have free WiFi. Heuston Station in Dublin has the trains Cork. Tickets are discounted if purchased ahead of time online.
Cork’s train station is called Kent and is walking distance to city centre but there are taxis and the 205 bus too. That bus costs €1.70 per person and runs from the station to the other side of the city, passing most hotels, B&Bs, and such. Taxi drivers must use meters in both cities.
Getting to and around Cork is fairly easy. Here’s a whole blog post about it. If flying into Cork, it costs about €15 to taxi from the airport to city centre. There is also a bus. If you rent a car, be aware of parking options.
What about visiting with a car?
Is West Cork a neighborhood of Cork City? I’ve heard it is beautiful.
West Cork is a region of County Cork west of Cork City. It is the most southwestern area of the Republic and noted for its coastline and cuisine. I recommend West Cork, especially if the weather is good. It is Ireland’s answer to California (without the heat). Beaches, food producers, fields, and very scenic. The pace is just a little slower (much slower than Dublin). We go there at least once a month even if just for lunch and it is very accessible from Cork City and Kenmare/Killarney for a day trip. Though buses do service towns in West Cork like Skibb, this is one area it is nice to have a rental car so you have flexibility to stop wherever you wish.
Do you recommend any particular hotel in Dublin that is central or well-located?
My favorite places to stay in Dublin are The Gibson (hip and located across from the O2) and The Brooks Hotel (classic and well-kept near St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street). But Dublin is a city and, as such, there are many many hotels I’ve never heard of so do some research and ask friends who’ve been there. Porterhouse is a nice spot to get a pint.
Any suggestions for restaurants in Dublin?
If you get the chance and advanced time to make reservations, Chapter One is a VERY nice restaurant (I have yet to get in since reservations are essential and I never plan ahead enough when going to Dublin). Eden is nice too. Dunne & Crecenzi is a sentimental favorite because we dined there on our honeymoon. Avoca on the top floor of their shop at the end of Grafton is delectable. There’s also one on the M7/N7 near Naas.
Where do you recommend we call home while we’re in County Cork?
There are a few places. Depends where you want to be and where you want to explore.
In Cork City Centre, my Dad likes the Imperial Hotel in Cork City Centre. It is central and there are NO hills between that hotel and the city. Clarion is also good but three blocks farther from everything and not in an interesting direction. There are many B&Bs along Western Road near UCC (University College Cork). The Gresham Metropole is supposed to be very nice as well and it’s on MacCurtain. Slight hill heading into town from there unless you exit out the hotel’s lower level which is on the Quay level. There is also River Lee Hotel and Jury’s on Western Road between UCC and city centre.
Outside of Cork City Centre there are options like Ballymaloe House near Cloyne or a selection of boutique hotels and B&Bs in Kinsale. Look for a B&B and odds are they will take good care of you and have a nice breakfast. Though most hotels have lovely breakfasts as well.
What is the name of the new highway connecting Dublin and Cork?
The roads are small but do-able. I did it on our honeymoon and just took it slow in the afternoon on a weekday when it wasn’t too busy. There is a paid parking lot in the centre of town in Kinsale which is central. I recommend going to lunch at Fishy Fishy (I like their monkfish or their chicken green salad) then stroll around the shops.
I highly recommend Electric for tea/coffee, soda/beer, or sandwich/soup lunch. They have WiFi and great natural light. It’s two blocks from the Imperial Hotel on the South Mall. I go there twice a week with my Twitter meetup group and my knitting friends because it has a nice relaxed feel with great light so even on rainy days I feel like I’ve gotten some sunlight. You can have a real restaurant meal upstairs (reservations through Facebook). Grab the tables in the far back on the ground level for a view of the River Lee. They are in the running for Best Scone in Ireland (Goodalls competition).
So, you read my previous post in this series, First Thing’s First: Top 3 things to do upon arriving to live in Ireland, and you have:
Now what? Well, here are the next three things to do in your first day or week of living in Ireland:
4) Find a place to live.
5) Set up your utilities.
6) Get a mobile phone.
Don’t worry, I’ll talk you through the process. Here we go…
Cork may be walkable and a perfect cozy size, but it is also the second-largest city in the Republic and parking quickly reminds us of that fact. If you are a car owner living in, working in, or even visiting Cork City, you need a personal parking space, a parking disc, a ticket for a Q-Park or other garage (aka car park), or a city permit. There are, however, times when you can park on some streets without any of these, but during weekday ‘office’ hours and Saturdays, be prepared to leave your vehicle in a place for a fee. Though free parking has been a hot topic, for now most options require you part with a few quid.
While we’re talking about cars in town, here’s a quick refresher on driving in Cork City.
1) Look out for pedestrians. Jaywalking is a way of life here.
2) Tourists, remember to keep left.
3) Watch traffic patterns because one-way streets are popular. Maps are readily available online and in the Cork Vision Centre, ORK, and other tourism offices.
4) The city itself is very walkable so whenever possible, park your car and explore on foot.
To help you find a spot so you can get out and explore the city (or to your office or home), here is a run-down of parking options which I will describe below:
Street Parking with ParkMagic (Pay by Phone);
Parking Discs; Multi-Storey Car Parks;
Black Ash Park & Ride (Kent Station too);
Private Parking by Arrangement;
Disabled Parking (specifics);
Free Parking Options (they may not be central, but they exist); and
GoCar (in case you just want to give up on owning a car after reading about the other options).
I remember when I got my learner’s permit at age 16 in the States. It was an exciting thing since where I lived you could take the written theory test at age 15 years and nine months then take the driving/road test when you were 16 years old. Now, many years later, I am going through the process again to be able to drive in Ireland. Though I possess a valid U.S. driver’s license, as a resident I need an Irish permit to drive here as there is no option to convert my American permit into an Irish one. “American citizens are permitted to drive with a U.S. driver’s license for the duration of a visit to Ireland; i.e., as long as their status is that of tourist and not resident. Once you decide to become resident in Ireland, regardless of how long you have been in the country, you must apply for an Irish driver’s license.” If you’re from an EU/EEA country, it might be possible for you to convert your permit, so pursue that using this form.
There are several steps in the process to earn an Irish driver’s permit and this doesn’t even consider the steps required to purchase/own a vehicle. Here are FAQs for your reference. Below, I’ve detailed the steps with details and links to make it simpler for you. Though steps 2 and 3 must be done in advance, in a pinch you can take care of steps 1, 4, 5, and 6 in one morning/day (though I recommend doing step 1 in advance as well).
“Sometimes great ideas and passion can be eclipsed by verbiage. Knowing what you do, who you are, and who you’re talking to can help. It is good to remember your goals and stay focused on the point.”
Except for hand-drawn maps, my other sketches and creations are shown only in my other blog, Spring Stitches.
This quote and illustration were created for a Billville blog post.