Sunday, July 31, 2011

As I lay me down to sleep...Ireland style

Ireland, contrary to my last post, is more than just a candy-lover's paradise. It's also a place of rolling hills, pristine green pasture, and some pretty awesome bed and breakfasts.

The husband does most of the travel planning and he picked out some awesome places to stay.

The Holiday Inn in Dublin City Centre was well-located near Trinity College. The accommodations were clean and well-kept. They even have parking in the underground garage for only 10 euro a day! I will mention that I took an extremely uncomfortable bath here when I couldn't get the shower to stop spraying scalding water. I won't blame this on them, but rather operator error. European showers are weird. Bonus points awarded due to how extremely budget friendly this place way- something like 150 euro for two nights stay. Sweet!

The Pembroke Hotel in Kilkenny was by far the nicest hotel we stayed in. Super modern and right next to Kilkenny Castle. The staff was super friendly and helpful. Bonus points awarded to them for letting us crash the breakfast buffet after it was already closed (stupid alarm fell on the floor and we overslept).

I'm skipping our hotel in Killarney- it was dingy and dated. Can't win 'em all.

The Aran island of Inishmore is host to the Kilmurvey House. A 15 room bed and breakfast run by Treasa and Bertie, it's located about a 30 minute bike ride away from the main town of Kilronan. This was classic B&B style, comfy common rooms stocked with books, tea pots, and a fantastic breakfast. I had a plate of fresh Irish farmhouse cheeses and Nick had smoked salmon on a bagel. Both of us took advantage of the cold buffet, stocking up on juice, cereal, and brown bread.

The best bed and breakfast award goes to....the Old Presbytery in Kinsale. While a bit more expensive at 124 euro a night, it was well worth the price. This was more than just a bed to crash in- this was the Irish hospitality experience writ large.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the owner, Phillip. He showed us to our room that a stunning view of Kinsale harbor.

We were then treated to a lovely pot of fresh tea and sweets by the owners' daughter, Maeve. She was lovely- telling us about the home (formerly a priest's residence). She even did some family tree investigation for Nick. The Irish censuses of 1901 and 1911 are a wealth of Linkinformation for root-seekers.

The breakfast at the Old Presbytery was phenomenal. I wish I had pictures, but alas, you will just have to use your imagination to conjure up the image of a buffet laden with fruit, yogurt, cereals, brown bread, and soda bread. Two plates of cooked to our breakfast- mine with freshly caught hake and poached eggs and Nick's with a full Irish breakfast: sausage, rashers, black and white pudding, eggs, mushrooms, and a broiled tomato. I would travel back to Ireland just to have breakfast here again.

I think the best part about Ireland is that it's exactly what you picture- it's as beautiful as it is in the post cards, the people are as friendly as their stereotype.

A chocolate tour of Ireland

They say it's important for you to eat a country's food in order to get a sense of their culture and history. I take this kind of deep exploration seriously. Very seriously.

While Cadbury is technically a British company, they make a lot of chocolate in Ireland. And that's where we ate it. A whole lot of it. I would say we average a candy bar or two a day- split between us.

The Moro has a biscuit covered in chocolate covered in caramel. Definitely top 3.

The Toffee Crisp was all right. Not a lot of toffee flavor but it had some rice krispy-like action.

Galaxy chocolate ROCKS. Apparently it's Dove in a new outfit. YUM.

The Double Decker was sticky, messy goodness. I found bit of Double Decker on my purse, my pants, even my passport. No joke! We ate this nougat-y gem while waiting for our plane at the Connemara airport.

At a fancy farmer's market we picked up this local goody. It tasted like buttah.

These were not Eclairs. Not even a little. They sit on a throne of lies! But they were kind of tasty. Like soft Werther's with chocolate in the middle.

Ugh. This was not good. Apparently Turkish Delight is made with rosewater. Didn't taste like any roses I'd ever smelled. More like funky gym socks.

We set aside the candy bars just for one quick minute in Kilkenny- for 50p we got a day old chocolate cake filled with raspberry frosting. Yum!

Cute little cafe in Dublin where we had the best hot chocolate ever. Weird that it's hot chocolate weather in Dublin right now. Woo summer!

Nick's fave was the Twirl- a chocolate covered flake. An intense chocolate experience, indeed.

And...just to prove we didn't just eat chocolate, check this out. I rounded out my diet with some amazing salt and vinegar Tayto's. Gotta have that salt to go with the sweet!

Here's my one true love- the Crunchie. Honeycomb covered chocolate...delicious.

So what did I learn through my culinary adventure through Ireland?

Chocolate is good, no matter where you are on the globe.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rock Art Brewery

Wine and cheese is so passe! Nothing goes better with some Vermont cheddar than a delicious beer. Magic Hat, Long Trail, Otter Creek, and Harpoon are just a couple of the awesome breweries in Vermont.

Rock Art Brewery is in quaint Morrisville, VT. Over the holiday weekend, my in-laws, Nick, and I visited their new facilities. It's a far cry from their other location- which was conveniently located behind a machine shop and amidst piles of tires. We found that place 4 years ago and were sure we'd stumbled upon a gem. Or that we were going to be crushed by a dump truck.

The new digs are homey and spacious. While we didn't go on a tour of the facilities, the tasting room/retail shop featured good brew and friendly people. $4 got us a taste of four beers + a tasting glass = score!

First up was the White Tail Ale. From the website "Our golden American ale has a crisp body and slightly dry, hoppy finish. This is a real treat for the beer lover. Pale, wheat and torrified wheat malts are used with Northern Brewer and Mt. Hood hops."

I gotta say, this was probably my least favorite but that's probably only because I like my beer dark and malty.

Next up, American Red. "The unofficial name for this beer is “Super Glide”. Malty rich with a hint of spicy hops and roasted grains. This beer is one smooth ride with a clean finish! We brewed this one with American Pale, oats, flaked barley, black, chocolate, red malt, melandolin malt. American hops include Magnum, Centennial, Liberty and Crystal. Enjoy!"

Much better. This was the beer we fell in love with 4 years ago and the one that brought us back today.

Third on the list was the IPA. Not too bitter and a great flavor. I've really started to like IPAs lately.

Last, but definitely not least, was the Ridge Runner. This barleywine is smooth and flavorful and a favorite of all of us!

A quick trip around the store left us with a pint glass and a 6-pack of Ridge Runner. Time to go back to Elmore State Park!

One hot and very happy Betty.

Best way to transport beer between campsites? A collapsed Houndabout trailer. Not just for dogs anymore.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kicking it old school

I had some good old fashioned fun this 4th of July in the Green Mountain State.

I can literally feel the stress leave my body when we cross the state line. Something about Vermont just does it for me- big time. It's like Norman Rockwell designed the whole state just to remind me of a simpler time.

Simple, however, does not mean lame.

Do these lawn chair drill team ladies look lame to you? Don't let those Birkenstocks fool you- they've got rhythm.

Or this hooked up John Deere/couch-mobile?

Yeah, I didn't think so. Moscow, VT says "What up, world's shortest 4th of July parade!?"

That's a girl riding a toilet/mower. Awesomesauce.

This weekend didn't just include the cultural highlights of Vermont. No, no. Copious amounts of fresh, delicious food where also eaten.

Simple eats are where it's at on the 4th.

The kind ladies of the First Congregational Church of Morrisville make a mean strawberry shortcake. Complete with real whipped cream, obviously.

Strawberry shortcake = opposite o' lame

More goodies awaited at the Stowe fireworks festivities- vendors galore!

Falafel sandwich from Farah's of Burlington.

Wood fired pizza- fresh ricotta, tomato, basil, garlic.

Beef brisket sandwich, coleslaw, and beans from Carbeque- as seen in blogs past.

The whole spread- Betty's gotta eat, right?

Even Gilligan got to enjoy some way-back fun- the sprinkler! Although, I think Nick got wetter than the dog.

All we needed to complete the idyllic scene was a bit of bluegrass.

And a sunset.