Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Guinness, Guinness, Guinness (and Prison)

Don't let the title disturb you - I promise that my group's second day in Dublin was completely thrilling and decidedly legal. But we'll get to that part later.

After sleeping off the majority of my jet lag, I woke up with Sylvia and Neha in the hotel room to a bright Dublin morning. While Neha got ready to take on the day, Sylvia and I beelined to the breakfast bar. She opted for a light and healthy breakfast of granola and yogurt, while I opted for the full spread.

What can I say? "When in Dublin..."

The group gathered our bearings and headed out for one of the major tourist attractions in the area - the legendary Guinness factory. Sure, some might question our decision to go get beer at 11 am, but we feel we were simply trying to economize our time.

The tour was self-guided, which definitely cut down on the wait time. Not to mention, like most things in Europe, having a student ID gives you a generous discount on ticket prices. 

While we walked through various waterfalls and barrels, we stopped into an optional part of the tour - the tasting room. Surrounded by barrels of beer-scented aromas, we were explained the four primary flavors that go into creating the complex taste of a Guinness. Then, to fully appreciate this combination, we were given mini glasses of beer and instructed how to appropriately taste them.

After becoming true taste connoisseurs, we headed for the big boy room - the pouring station.

Joined by another group of travelers from England, we each got to try our hand at the pump in order to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. Spoiler alert - you need the Guinness glass to really get it right!

With perfect pints in hand, we headed for the elevators to enjoy our beers in the skybar.

A full glass of Guinness, tasting and pouring lessons, and a tour of the factory certainly make the ticket price worth paying. But what really seals the deal is the phenomenal view of Dublin from the top of the factory.

Downing our pints, we headed outside to hop onto a tour bus and find the nearest restaurant. Although Guinness is filling, it couldn't replace a meal.

After detouring through the park and seeing several prominent political buildings, we stopped off at a strip of restaurants and stumbled into the first one that sounded good and could fit our large party.

Let me just say that we made the right decision. I promptly ordered the Guinness pie (I know, I said Guinness wasn't a meal but just go with it), and was given this delicious platter of goodness.

Flakey pastry filled with pot roast and topped with a Guinness-infused gravy, plus a side of buttery mashed potatoes. Absolutely heavenly, and a meal I hope to re-create soon using this recipe by the masterful Jamie Oliver.

After our meal is when the prison portion comes in. Our party split up, and I went with the portion that chose to check out a restored Klimainham Gaol Prison. Not only did we end up on the last tour of the day, but the student price was a fantastically affordable 2 euros.

Beautiful architecture and a phenomenal tour guide made this a great stop on our trip.

The evening consisted of downing fish and chips, then accidentally stumbling into the biggest tourist bar in Dublin - Temple Bar.

Which, of course, involved more Guinness. Gotta love Dublin!

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Top 'o the Morning Dublin!

Hello everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that I am still here - I've just been completely SWAMPED with school, recruiting, and projects.

One of those (though I'm not saying which one) took me to Ireland this spring. It was my first visit, and I had an absolute blast. Of course, one of the best parts of the whole thing was the food.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I promise you will have a full-fledged food tour of Dublin, Limerick, and London by the time I'm done.

We arrived in Dublin jet-lagged and fairly exhausted, but definitely hungry. And we were fortunate enough to have our hotel situated across the street from this beauty.

Neha and I quickly snapped a picture, which began the week-long photo album that I dubbed "Neha's Face with European Backgrounds."

Famished, the group searched for food through the rainy streets of Dublin. After passing through several pubs, I set my sights on the Holy Grail.

Gourmet Irish burgers? 

Enough said.

We were quickly seated and placed our orders for possibly the most gargantuan and delicious-looking burgers we'll ever have in our lives.

I'm pretty sure Neha's face says it all.

Pails of chips were also an absolute necessity after such a long journey.

While many opted for the traditional burger, Sylvia and I went rogue. She, being vegetarian, opted for a bean burger, while I splurged on the fish and chips combo burger.

Two pieces of cod, grilled onions, tartar sauce, mushy peas, and lettuce with a side of crispy salty chips. This dish exemplifies the warm welcome of Ireland.

After having our fill, we went on to explore the town a bit more and develop our own mental maps. After a few hours, we needed an obligatory caffeine break to keep us going (and some wi-fi to assist in our evening planning).

The latte art bear was a nice touch, which Sylvia promptly archived.

The rest of the evening was more exploring, and galavanting, but before I end this post of Dublin Day One, I must implore you to recognize a hidden gem in downtown Dublin.

Around 10 pm, Neha and I started to feel a little peckish, but were worried about trying to locate a bar that served food that late. It seemed that after 9 pm, alcohol is the only thing on the menu in Dublin. Fortunately, a very kind waitress pointed us across the street to this joint:

I know what you're thinking: shawarma in Dublin? Not a good idea. But it was our only option. 

I ended up being not only pleasantly surprised, but enamored by the deliciousness that I was served for a mere 7. 

Chips topped with Shawarma topped with garlic sauce and red spicy sauce. Couldn't finish the whole thing if my life depended on it, but truly one of the greatest surprises I had while in Dublin.

And so ended day one of our journey. Don't worry, there's much more food where this came from!

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