We spent all of Monday getting the local’s tour of Cork by Liam, an uncle of a friend who lives in the city. We even met the mayor. The Lord Mayor actually. Doesn’t he just sound way more important with “Lord” in front of the title? Liam knew pretty much everyone in Cork as we walked through the city, the mayor included because we had an 11am appointment to meet him! We definitely weren’t expecting that and probably would’ve been dressed a little nicer or at least prepared with some sort of semi-intelligent thing to discuss but, instead we sat there talking about his recent trip to NY with mayor Bloomberg for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and the Queen’s visit a couple of days prior. He also had the biggest beer belly I’ve ever seen and actually rested his hands on top of it much like a pregnant woman would. I found myself staring more than once and had to force my eyes away. It was a quick visit as I’d hope he has more important things to do than meet with 4 young lads from the states but it was fun to say we met him nonetheless.
The Lord Mayor’s room across from his office.
Liam taught us all about the old city and how it was surrounded by rivers and walls back in the day. We pretty much walked the entire city seeing the old walls, churches, the University and my absolute favorite, the English Market. It was kind of like a smaller scale La Boqueria for anyone that’s been to Barcelona. The best part of the tour was when he took us to where he was born and raised and showed us the river they used to swim in as kids. You could tell how emotional and nostalgic he was about his youth and even though all the buildings and history are interesting, I thought that was one of the more insightful things we learned all day.
The food in the market looked so good from the fresh seafood, to the butcher shops, to the produce stands. I wish we had a kitchen to cook it all in!
Adrian finally got his wish Monday night when we found a pretty legitimate Irish pub and drank our dinner.
Dark, dingy and everything a pub should be.
Tuesday morning we knew we wanted to hit up the English market for breakfast. After some fresh juice, scones, and coffee we were on our way to Kinsale, about 30 minutes south of Cork for the day. Kinsale seemed like the Irish version of a Rhode Island shore town. Quaint, beautiful water views and expensive.
We walked around the cute shops, tried on hats a la the Royal wedding and contemplated buying handmade woolen blankets, gloves and scarfs but eventually decided against them and their price tag (sorry Mom, it would’ve been for you).
After the shops we went to check out Charles Fort. More amazing views.
We ended the day at Café Paradiso back in Cork. Doreen and Adrian saw this show on Food Network a couple of weeks ago where Bobby Flay went to Ireland and highlighted a bunch of different restaurants throughout the country. We’ve basically been following in his footsteps since we got here. It started with fish and chips at Leo Burdocks, ice cream at Murphy’s, smoked fish at the English market, and finally dinner at Café Paradiso. It’s a vegetarian restaurant with a local sourcing flare that was insanely delicious.
They had a pretty reasonably priced “theater menu” that included 3 courses for 30 Euros. The wafer looking chips were a sunflower seed brittle with sea salt. A nice deviation from the usual bread basket starter.
First course starters of wild garlic gnocchi, mixed salad with green beans & fennel, and sweet potato curry spring rolls and brocolini.
Main dishes of beet root risotto with arugula & cannellini beans in a lemon thyme oil, feta pistachio couscous cake with a coriander yogurt, spiced eggplant gratin with fennel in a citrus cream sauce (or as Doreen referred to it: “sunshine sauce”). Adrian was a rebel and ordered off the main menu with the caramelized mushroom gnocchi dish. It was hands down the best one of the four and they were all really good, this one was just mind blowing. I’ve never tasted mushrooms like that before. They almost tasted like a roasted sweet potato, but even better. I could be a vegetarian in a second if all my meals were from here.
Vanilla ice cream with Italian cookies and a shot of espresso. Chocolate pecan brownie with white chocolate ice cream. There’s really nothing to say here, they were both as good, if not better than they look. Great, great dinner. It was actually the first “real” dinner we had on the trip and I’m glad we saved it for a place like this. It’s been a week now since I’ve run, my pants are getting tighter every day, and it’s been worth every single indulgence.
Killarney, The Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, and Cliffs of Moher are up next!