Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Limerick – Chocolat


When my Dad and his family immigrated to Canada from eastern Europe, they settled in a place called Limerick, Saskatchewan.  I spent most summers there when I was growing up and had fond memories of doing so.  Many of the most vivid memories surround my little Polish Grandma’s food-potato soup cooling in bowls on the oil-cloth covered table, freshly killed chickens fried in boiling lard- producing the crispest and juiciest chicken I have ever tasted, poppy seed rolls, prune dumplings served with melted butter and cinnamon sugar, thimble cookies filled with raspberry jam, oh my, I should stop now.  None of memories connect me to Ireland, except that I have always longed to go to Limerick to see which community inspired the name of the prairie town that I came to love.

We dropped DK & PK off at the bus station for they were on their way to Cork for the day.

We were content to mosey around and passed by many Irish row houses with beautifully painted doors.  (Door images to come in a separate post).

We continued along the edge of the Shannon until we had a view of King John’s castle.

We were too early for a major market day but we poked around at the Milk Market anyway, imagining what it would be like when fishmongers and vegetable sellers set up their stalls there.

We stumbled upon a place for a cuppa tea and the sun found a way to peak through the downtown buildings.  We sat side by side and warmed up in the sun.

We ventured in and out of little shops until it was time to find some lunch.  A local fellow who hovered around the front door of  the lovely O’Mahony’s Bookstore where we spent quite some time (was he a hospitable manager, a doorman or a security cop?), recommend that we make our way to Chocolat which we found easily with his instructions.

We were nearing the end of our culinary adventures and so made our decision on what to order based on what was left on our “must try” list.  For me it was Bangers & Mash and for D it was duck.  We ordered and shared both.

The Bangers were made with pork and leeks and were perfectly grilled with onions and then placed upon a heap of creamy mashed potatoes.  The savoury onion gravy was a lovely indulgence.

The Aromatic Duck Salad was a tossing of pine nuts, mixed leaves and hoisin dressing.  We loved the pepperiness of the endive which offset the sweetness of the hoisin.

Chocolat Restaurant on Urbanspoon


We spent a lovely,  but too short time in Limerick.  Next time, well be sure to take in a rugby match (D even purchased a jersey)-go Munster go!  We encountered a bit of a traffic snarl on the way back to Adare….

Kath’s quote:  “No wonder you’re so bony Joe, and skinny as a rake. Well then, give us a bash at the bangers and mash me mother used to make”-sung by Peter Sellers & Sophia Loren

The Arches Restaurant, Adare Ireland


We came upon The Arches is a startling manner.  As we were wandering down the main street of Adare after one of our pub evenings, PK was a few paces behind.  She decided to peak into the window of a restaurant, for future reference, at exactly the same moment that the proprietor was peaking out!  Well a conversation ensued, as it always does when PK is involved (truly the friendliest person on earth), and commitments were made that we would visit The Arches for dinner.

D started with a shrimp cocktail which was a work of food art, nothing less.  It was our only taste of shrimp while we were on the island and we were duly impressed by the firm texture and subtle taste.  Although these attributes can be minimized by an inattentive chef, this was certainly not the case.  You could discern that they were pulled out of their poaching pot and plunged into an ice water bath at exactly the right moment, to bring out the best that they had to offer.  The presentation was exquisite as well, because as we all know, we eat first with our eyes.

We had come for the lamb and DK & PK were not disappointed (except that it could not be served medium rare, as is preferred at home).  They were presented with an entire platter of thinly sliced offerings from the roast.  A robust gravy had been liberally poured from above.

D was equally impressed with his beef tenderloin; in fact he remembered the dish as being one of his favourite meals of the entire trip.  Irish beef retains a distinctively deep, rich taste and we speculated that the Irish country side where the cattle graze, contribute to this.  There was so much meat on all these plates that the potatoes, turnip and broccoli had to be served on their own side plates.

I opted for a Got Cheese Salad and in this case too, the Irish tastes are subtly distinctive from back home.  The cheese has a pleasant pungency which was perfectly enhanced by the crispy wafers that they were perched upon along with the gorgeous array of fruits and crunchy vegetables.

We were astonished that the food in Irish restaurants is served, seemingly immediately.  And as we looked around at the other diners, we began to surmise why.  There were many locals who were just dropping in to consume their evening supper.  They were there to eat and not dine.  This bodes well for The Arches when locals would choose this affordability over eating at home.  We also speculated that more leisurely time was spent in the pubs rather than in Irish dining rooms.

We would definitely return to The Arches, if only half of Canada and the Atlantic Ocean were not between us.

Arches on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote: “I don’t want to be in the same country as goat cheese. It always tastes the way a yak looks in one of those National Geographic specials.” -Erma Bombeck

Cliffs of Moher & The Falls Hotel Lunch


Do you know how when you are anticipating a trip, you get a certain image in your head, that you fixate on a bit?

Well for me, it was the Cliffs of Moher.  In fact, I pretty much planned my entire packing job around what I would require to enjoy the cliffs to their maximum.  I went out and bought sturdy, water-proof walking shoes and a wind and water-proof jacket with a hood and toggles to tighten the sleeves and waist band.

We also eyed the weather and made the decision as to which would be the most opportune day to make the trip.  I was glad that we had done all these things because as breathtaking as the cliffs were, it was mighty chilly with a breeze off the Atlantic ocean at 700 feet high, in early April.

The good news was that by going when we did, there was a minimum of traffic on the tricky, stone-walled roads and a only a smattering of camera wielding tourists to share the experience with; knowing that the Cliffs are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with up to 1,000,000 visitors per year.  So I was more than content to cope with the exhilarating chill.

D and PK climbed  O’Briens Tower (built in 1835) for an even more spectacular view. We didn’t know at that time, that we were gazing over Galway Bay, recalling the Bing Crosby song that DK & PK knew by heart. Had the ferries run more frequently, we would have made the trip to the Aran Islands but that will have to keep until a return trip. Once J1 finds out that there are surfing waves to the north of the cliffs, he may want to join us.

The cliffs have been made very accessible to persons with mobility issues; a point that makes a tremendous difference in our family.  I would say that we spent an hour there, all tolled, and now the sight is permanently etched in my brain.  Now I want to rewatch The Princess bride, one of my favourite movies, so that I can recognize the cliffs.  This being one of many movies shot here.

We drove back into Doolin (the closest town to the cliffs) to scope out some lunch.  We had seen a restaurant sign that morning boasting hand cut fries and fish.  We had only had frozen fries since our arrival and had been perplexed by this.  Unfortunately, this and many of the Doolin shops were not yet open for the season.  So we jumped back into the car and headed towards Ennistymon, but that main street looked pretty inactive too.

A local came to the rescue with a suggestion that we try the dining room at the Falls Hotel.  We were surprized to come across such a quaint spot with a distinctly rural feeling, even though we were moments away from Main St.  There were even donkeys grazing in the pasture there.

Dining took place in a huge sun room with windows all around and a view of the falls.

A carvery menu was being served and we chose the Roast Stuffed Loin and a Duo of Salmon and Cod topped with mixed herbs, leek & vermouth sauce as well as Toasted Sandwiches made with just carved baked ham and a sharp cheddar.

The hit of lunch were the garlicky, scalloped potatoes and right out of the oven dinner rolls (we love our carbs!).

Wonderfully satiated, we headed back to Adare to rest up for our evening.

Kath’s quote:  “Seating themselves on the greensward, they eat while the corks fly and there is talk, laughter and merriment, and perfect freedom, for the universe is their drawing room and the sun their lamp. Besides, they have appetite, Nature’s special gift, which lends to such a meal a vivacity unknown indoors, however beautiful the surroundings.”-Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Adare Pub Crawl


We started our evening just as the sun was setting over the village.  First stop was a visit to Bill Chawkes Lounge Bar on Rathkeale Rd. which was the furthest pub from the Adare Manor gate where we parked.  You might say that it was all down hill from there.

We enjoyed a lovely Merlot and wondered what their patio would be like in the warmer weather.

Just around the corner on Main St. was Pat Collins Bar where we decided to have some supper.  D choose their homemade soup and brown bread.

DK and/or PK ordered the Bacon & Abbey Blue Brie Panini which was served with apple chutney, tossed salad & fries.   I was wondering if DK would order Bacon & Cabbage again because even though he had eaten it for lunch, it was also featured on Pat Collins menu.

I was craving a feed of veggies and selected a salad which was topped with chicken and lots of toasted almonds for even more crunch.

We enjoyed Pat Collin’s hospitality on a subsequent night and had some fun with our interpretation of the Irish sport of Hurling.  It was pretty obvious that we were uncouth Canadians.

That second night there was local entertainment and the Irish are so welcoming that they included DK as he resurrected his drumming passion.

Meanwhile we enjoyed their homemade dessert selection including  a delicious mixed fruit tart and apple pie.

Patt Collins Bar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The last stop that evening was across Main St. at Aunty Lenas.  Lena is also a Chawke and so it was fitting that we started and ended the evening enjoying Chawke hospitality.  The stout and beer taps at Aunty Lena’s were a sight to behold.

There are a beautiful complement to the gorgeous bar.

And so we strolled (no we didnt crawl) back to the Manor gate having spent a wonderful evening enjoying Irish hospitality.

Kaths quote: The pie should be eaten “while it is yet florescent, white or creamy yellow, with the merest drip of candied juice along the edges, (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!) of a mild and modest warmth, the sugar suggesting jelly, yet not jellied, the morsels of apple neither dissolved nor yet in original substance, but hanging as it were in a trance between the spirit and the flesh of applehood…then, O blessed man, favored by all the divinities! eat, give thanks, and go forth, ‘in apple-pie order!'”-Rev. Henry Ward Beecher


The Ring of Kerry and The Olde Glenbeigh Hotel


On our first full day in Ireland we were on the road by 9:30 and headed south for about 1.5 hours to Killarney where we started The Ring of Kerry.

Our first stop was at the Gap of Dunloe which is widely recognized as the most picturesque, glaciated valleys in Europe.  At then end of our trip, we almost unanimously decided that this was the prettiest spot that we visited in Ireland all week.

Back in the car, we were off to Killorglin and then Glenbeigh.

We walked the Rossbeigh beach where the stones are a surprizing and gorgeous, purple, fuchsia and turquoise. The sun was shining but it was very breezy and we worked up a raging appetite.

Upon recommendation of a local, we found The Olde Glenbeigh Hotel.  This quaint spot was built in 1792 and established in 1840 which makes it one of Ireland’s oldest hotels.  This means that this hospitable old house has welcomed visitors for the past 150 years.

We shared sips of seafood chowder filled with cockles and mussels and a variety of local fish-excellent!

DK ordered Bacon & Cabbage and the entire rest of the week, he tried to find bacon which was as tasty.  D and I both chose the Whiting and PK the Plaice (both local fish).

The fish was wonderful and even though the accompaniments were less than stellar, we were very glad that we had chosen the old pub.

I couldn’t help but capture DK’s reaction after his first sip of Guinness that day.

The ambiance was authentic right down to the distinguished old, hearing impaired gentleman who just kept smiling and repeating “I’m very hungry” no matter what question was asked of him.

Olde Glenbeigh Hotel on Urbanspoon

More time was spent on the narrow stone-walled road passing through Kells, Cahersiveen, Waterville and Caherdaniel, when we made another stop at the gorgeous beach at Derrynane.

Our last leg took us through Sneem, Parknassilla, Templenoe and finally Kenmare.  We connected once again to Killarney and headed north back to our base in Adare.  The Ring of Kerry is a must do tour if you ever travel to the Emerald Isle.

Kath’s quote: “Cabbage as a food has problems. It is easy to grow, a useful source of greenery for much of the year. Yet as a vegetable it has original sin, and needs improvement. It can smell foul in the pot, linger through the house with pertinacity, and ruin a meal with its wet flab. Cabbage also has a nasty history of being good for you.”-Jane Grigson

« Older EntriesNewer Entries »