Friday, June 20, 2014

Heading West (in Ireland)

While the group and I spent our first couple of days in Dublin, the rest of our time was spent on the west side of the country. We took an afternoon train out of the city and spent time catching up on work and enjoying the beautiful countryside.

We spent some time in Limerick, splitting our attention between castle-gazing and frequently dining at The Cornstore (honestly one of the best restaurants in Ireland IMO).

We then spent an early morning driving even further across the country to visit The Cliffs of Moher, a sight which I honestly believe none of us were fully prepared for. The seaside wind was sharp and cold, spraying mist in all of our faces while we trudged up the enormous hill from the parking lot. After a quick detour in the visitor center's cafe, we finished our climb and were greeted with the largest drop I've ever seen. The dark rocks had been jaggedly cut by the wind and water for years, looking like giant stacks of plates on the verge of teetering over and crashing into the sea below.

But I digress, let's get back to the food. After all, this is a food blog!

On the advice of a trusted mentor, we beelined for the Burren Smokehouse visitor center, where the lovely owner Birgitta explained exactly how the shop makes its famous salmon. After sampling pieces of her hot and cold smoked salmon, I promptly purchased a 700g pack to take home to my parents.

We then headed several yards down the road to the smokehouse's famed restaurant. Fortunately for us, we'd arrived on the first day of the spring season that the restaurant was beginning to serve lunch. Call it the Luck of the Irish, eh?

I opted for a bowl of seafood chowder, which was delectably creamy without being too rich. The accompanying homemade Irish soda bread was equally impressive, and I'm determined to re-create it after doing some research on proper bread recipes.

But the pièce de résistance of the Burren Smokehouse was the salmon entree, a perfectly cooked piece of fish atop an herbed mash mound and decorated with an herb cream sauce. This dish could easily be proclaimed as the best salmon in the world. Ever. 

And while I don't normally do dessert with my lunches, the fact that the smokehouse has a Michelin star decorated pastry chef working in the kitchen was easily enough to persuade me. I chose the coconut macaroon layer cake.

Let me put it this way: I don't even like coconut, and this dessert was DELICIOUS. The mark of a truly impressive chef is one who can make literally anything taste good to even the pickiest eater, and I can honestly say that this chef won my complete and total respect.

If you ever find yourself in Ireland, I highly recommend a morning trek to the cliffs followed by the best salmon meal you'll ever have. And if you can't get across the pond, feel free to order salmon online here!

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