Well, actually, it is now three weeks since these events – I will strive to be more up-to-date in future posts.
It has been very cold here this week with quite gusty winds as well. In fact, we saw snow on Wednesday night – just a light flurry here in Dublin, not even worth taking a photo, although it closed schools in the west of Ireland. Today, while only minimally warmer, the sky was blue for a change, the sun was shining and the wind had died down, so out we went. This weekend there is a traditional music festival on in the pubs of Temple Bar but we also thought that it was a good day to go out for lunch.
There are some very good restaurants in Dublin but they are not cheap. Mains at 35 Euros are not out of the ordinary (about NZD50 or so). However, many of them provide set lunches at greatly discounted prices and we have taken advantage of these from time to time. Today we chose the Stanley Wine Bar and Restaurant in St Andrew’s Street, not far from Trinity College.
It nearly ended before it had started. The restaurant is very unprepossessing from the outside – we nearly walked right past it – and we thought to begin with that it was closed as the entrance door appeared to be locked.
At this point, I need to digress slightly to tell you about a rather famous Larson cartoon which shows the door to the MENSA headquarters with a large notice above saying “Pull” and a less than MENSA-material boy struggling to push it open. It my defence I should say that there was no such sign on this particular door and try as I might, I could not push it open. It was only when I was busy on my phone googling for a Plan B that a customer walked out by pushing the door from the other side and informed us that it was indeed open so in we went, my companion sniggering much too loudly.
It was a most enjoyable lunch. To start, Pip had crayfish risotto and I had – should I admit to it? – Parfait de Foie Gras. Absolutely delicious. We are assured that Ireland is one of a number of countries which bans the sale of force-fed products which have caused controversy and so you will be relieved to know that no animals were harmed in the creation of this delicacy (apart from, of course, losing their little lives) so our consciences are clear.
Mains were a Chicken Supreme for Madam and a cod fillet for Sir followed by a pannacotta and a lemon cream with Italian meringues. And all for 21 Euro per person plus a glass of Beaujolais Blanc each. Well-fortified, we went in search of Irish music.
I guess this is as close as we would ever come to a pub crawl, visiting three pubs in three hours. We started at the eponymous Temple Bar, paused for a while at the Auld Dubliner and finished up at Oliver St John Gogarty’s, hearing really good music at every stop. Most of the music was trad rather than native Irish, which was fine by us although more of a mixture would maybe have been better. Perhaps we just didn’t go to the right pubs for the “real” music. And contrary to what you might think, there was not a lot of alcohol-drinking involved (at least, not by us). Irish pubs are very good about serving just tea or coffee if that’s what you want, so that was what we ordered at the first stop. At the second, we freeloaded, buying nothing at all (but then it was very crowded and we had to stand or sit on the stairs) and at the third we shared a half bottle of chardonnay.
It’s February and already our calendar is filling up. Kirsty and Richard are coming over for a long weekend and we’re looking forward to sharing a few of Dublin’s gastronomical delights with them. In March we go for a three-day break to Nice in the south of France and in April we fly off for a week in Tuscany, hoping to catch some good spring weather. As soon as we are back we are hosting Debbie, a friend from NZ, for a few nights. Then in May I am booked to fly to the UK for a week of looking after Angus during his school holidays. Angus and I are looking forward to a few day trip adventures on the train, visiting towns such as Eastbourne, Worthing, maybe even Chichester and Bournemouth, along the south coast of England. In August we have four of Pip’s American AFS family coming to visit for a week and we have planned a trip to Kerry with them. In November Pip has a conference to attend in Pretoria, South Africa and then it will be Xmas again! We will probably squeeze in at least one other long weekend to a European city and of course there is a lot more of Ireland to explore.