Start you’re day off with a full Irish breakfast. So what do you get when you order a full Irish? Being from Canada, I had a pretty good idea since we are all about the eggs, bacon, hash browns (aka fried potatoes usually in tiny cubes) and toast.
When the full Irish was set before me, what I saw was familiar. Like mom’s weekend breakfast to last you until dinner. Served with eggs usually fried, but you could have them anyway you like, two pieces of fried bacon, a sausage or two, two puddings – one white and one black, baked beans in tomato sauce and a quarter of a tomato fried as well with a basket of white toast and brown bread. Not to mention butter, jam or marmalade and tea or coffee. Yeah, no need to have lunch.
Since I was staying at a rather nice hotel, which I recommend, Hotel St. George, there was also a selection of cereals, fruits and yogurt in addition to the full Irish breakfast.
After two days of eating a full Irish breakfast, not being a regular consumer of fried foods, I had the heavy feeling in my stomach. So if you’re a light eater, the full Irish might be good every other day. I tried the puddings since they were something new to me. At first they looked like hockey pucks and I cut them in half with my fork. The white pudding was ground meat, its like a mini hamburger, and I don’t know how they came to be called pudding. They look more like a cow pie actually (if you don’t know what a cow pie is you’ll have to do a internet search because I don’t want to disturb you too much in this post about food).
The taste of the white pudding wasn’t bad, but definitely wasn’t my cup of tea. I chose to have coffee with my breakfast since I needed the extra boost for sightseeing. I cut open the black putting, but I was too scared to try it. I didn’t even put it on the end of my fork to smell it. As as well though, after I found out what’s in the black pudding: blood. Generally made from dried pork’s blood, I was overjoyed that I didn’t try it.
As a fun fact, in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (both provinces in Canada), they eat these puddings. I always thought that their accent sounded more Scottish or Irish than the clear Canadian accent of the west.
If you’re in Dublin and looking for a place to find traditional fish and chips, you can head straight for Beshoff’s restaurant on O’Connel Street. More fried food, its true. So if you’re planning on having the fish and chips for lunch or dinner, I would recommend skipping the full Irish in the morning. The portions are so large that I was stuffed when I was halfway through. If you’re not a big fish eater, you might like the cod fish. Its a white fish that doesn’t have the really strong fishy taste. At Beshoff’s you will receive a full length of half a fish battered and deep fried golden brown. It is served with a pile of thick cut chips (aka fries). You can even buy one and share it between two people its so big.
If you’re in Galway and looking for a place to have fish and chips, you can try McDonald’s….no wait, I mean Mc Donagh’s. The name of the restaurant sounds so similar to the America fast food chain that when the friendly lady said: “oh, why don’t ya try Mc Donna’s,” it took me a second to realize she was being serious and not being rude. It made us all laugh and I repeated the pronunciation correctly. Mc Donagh’s, like Beshoff, is pretty much a fast food restaurant. So since I had my fish and chips in Beshoff’s already, I could recommend a great pub called The Dail. A beautifully decorated interior, the soft warm lighting and the friendly staff make you want to stay and relax in the corner for hours. While in Ireland, you can also try a traditional beef pie or lamb stew. If it warm you to the core and fill you full of goodness.
We can’t talk about food without at least mentioning beverages. Everyone knows about Guinness – black is beautiful. This dark stout which originated in Arthur Guinness’s brewery in 1725 is one of the most successful beers worldwide being sold in over 100 countries. I prefer lighter beers, but I had to try it while being in Ireland and it has a burnt flavour (due to the roasted unmalted barley) and I somehow liked the thick creamy foam (due to being mixed with nitrogen). In a way, its a more manly treat instead of the sweet Irish cream: Bailey’s. What I didn’t know about the velvety Bailey’s is that it comes in so many flavors. There is the traditional cream, caramel, mint chocolate and the *new* biscotti flavor. You can have Bailey’s on the rocks or perhaps in a hot chocolate or coffee.
Other drinks that you may like to try while in Ireland, is Smithwick’s ale (1710). Canadians and Europeans may know it as “Kilkenny” re-branded after its birthplace for foreigners who may have had difficulty pronouncing Smithwicks. Widely popular, this beer has a smooth taste. You may also be familiar with Jameson Irish whiskey, established in 1780, which is also sold internationally. If you’re not into the hard stuff, you could try the whiskey in an Irish coffee or even in Irish chocolate.
To top it all off, why not end with some Butler’s chocolate. Founded by Ms. Bailey-Butler, you can find fancy chocolates, ice cream and other confections. You can buy a bar for yourself or even a nice box to take home for family and friends.
What’s your favorite Irish dish or drink? Did you find out anything new that you didn’t know before?