Food Musings

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

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

Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet-Part 2


When it was time to move downstairs we were hesitant- the majesty of the room had captured us or perhaps it was because we noticed that there was still poured mead that needed to be drunk.  But we eventually did head back down the ancient staircase to the Main Guard. 

This is a vaulted hall with a Minstrel’s Gallery that had been the main living room of the common soldiers and the Earl’s retainers.  A small gate leads to a dungeon and part of the evening’s entertainment is deciding who of the assembly, should spend his time down there.

The gorgeous room was appointed with long wooden banquet tables and benches and we were the last to be sat. 

This meant that we were directly underneath the said Minstrel’s balcony and as a result, when the host of the evening was outlining the festivities, we had a direct look right up his nose.

The first thing that we noticed about the beautiful table were that there were knives set at every place and that was the only utensil.  This was going to prove interesting.

First up was a creamy potato and leek soup poured from jugs into our bowls.  Since there was no spoon, we lifted the bowls to our mouths and drank the soup as you would the sweet milk left in your cereal bowl after a good feed of honey nut cheerios.  This was opportune as the soup was so delicious, we didn’t have to take the time to spoon each taste into our eager mouths.

Next out were huge platters of ribs accompanied by enormous wooden bowls to throw our bones into.  These were so tender and tasty that we could have concluded supper right then, but there was still much more to come.

Capons arrived topped with white herb gravy, and surrounded by turnip, carrot and roasted baby potatoes.  Broccoli was also served and I thought this strange because I thought that it was a rather “modern” vegetable.  There were still no utensils and so we mastered the art of spearing each morsel with our knives.

Dessert was a light custard sitting atop a thin sponge cake and topped with a raspberry glaze and mint leaves.  There were jugs a plenty of both red and white wine and we were content to stay put for another round of entertainment.

The harmonies of the minstrels easily took us back to a time when events like this were common place.  They were accompanied by an Irish harp and an extremely skilled violinist.  His eyes were so enormous that we commented that he looked just like a character out of a Dickens novel.

When the evening was over and we were making our way out we happened to hear him speaking to other travelers in the courtyard.  He said “Yes, I’ve spent some time in America.  I went to a music school called Julliard.  Do you know it?’  No wonder the entertainment was so impressive!

Kath’s quote: “If music be the food of love, play on…”-William Shakespeare

Bunratty Castle


I distinctly remember two things, from the time when I was little.  I would wear a full length slip on my head so that I could imagine what it felt like to have a full, thick head of long, luxurious hair falling down upon my shoulders and my back.  We lived in a bungalow, but I dreamed about moving to a home with a staircase, preferably a winding one, so that my imagined long skirt would spill down the stairs behind me as I descended.  I never wanted to be a princess but I did imagine myself living in a castle as the respected female head of the household, who waited patiently for their menfolk to return from battle, so that she could provide hospitality to every brave warrior and plan enormous feats to celebrate the victories.

Therefore finding myself, after much time has past, in the ancient Bunratty Castle was literally a dream come true.  The present castle is the last of a series on the same site built around 1425.  It is said to be the most “complete” castle in all of Ireland.  During the 16th and 17th century it was the important stronghold of the O’Briens-kings and later earls of Thomond or North Munster.  It is furnished in the style of the great Earl who was renowned for his hospitality.  The castle is entered by a drawbridge to the Main Guard.

Upon arrival, there is an upwards climb to The Great Hall.  This was the original banquet hall and audience chamber of the Earls where they gave their judgments while sitting on their Chair of the Estate.  The walls are hung with French, Belgian and Flemish tapestries.

I was enthralled by the wooden ceiling and the angels that adorned the walls.

I had a peak into the Chapel which boasts a finely decorated 16th century stucco ceiling and precious artifacts including a 15th century Swabian altar piece.

The chaplain’s bedchamber is immediately overhead and his robing room directly across the hall.

In this room we were served goblets of honey mead to begin the evening of merriment, music and song.  The ensemble of singers and musicians, who later also turned out to be our serving butlers and wenches, were obviously passionate about their history as they played the parts in perfect character.  Their talents were so excellent and their sincerity so true, that this was a rich sharing of a beautiful culture.

OMGoodness, my time and space is up and we haven’t even moved downstairs to the Minstrels’ Gallery which was set for our Medieval banquet!

Kath’s quote: “It is to a dinner what a portico or a peristyle is to a building; that is to say, it is not only the first part of it, but it must be devised in such a manner as to set the tone of the whole banquet, in the same way as the overture of an opera announces the subject of the work.”-Grimod de la Reynière

Adare Manor Villas -Part 2


Even though we put 1200 kms on our comfortable Renault while in Ireland and hit almost every pub in Adare, we actually spent some wonderful time in the villa as well.  We were all committed to rising early to get a good start on the day.  D would put the coffee on (in truth it was the slowest and nosiest coffee maker I have ever encountered) but this would give us lots of time to sit in the “extra” room and talk about our day.

This room had one of the two ethernet connections and a sleeper couch.  The main floor bath was adjoining and so we planned that when D and I return with our family one day, this could be a fourth bedroom.  In the mean time, I dubbed it “the morning room”, influenced by the fact that we were staying on a Manor estate.  The sun shone for half of our trip and when we did have it in the morning, it was more than welcome.  The sunshine absolutely flooded into this cozy space.

The master bedroom, even though it faced west, was a beautiful buttery yellow and felt like sunshine even in the gloom.  It is especially large with an extra reading chair and has the only bathtub of the four bathrooms.

The sun-room on the west of the house, became our gathering place when we got home from our day’s adventure and enjoyed our official “happy hour”.  I say “official”, because pints were often enjoyed at a far earlier time-we were in Guinness country after all.  I could only imagine what this room would be like in balmier weather with an evening breeze coming in through the two walls of windows.

The day that D and I spent on our own, we also were able to enjoy the back patio.  This was on one of our sunny days and even though it was only 12 Celsius, the patio is sheltered and we swung our seats around to lift our faces to the sun.

Snatches of time in the sun must be precious to Irelanders too because when we were in Galway, a helpful lady instructed us to her favourite pub because it had the best sun exposure with its patio seats on two sides, not mentioning a thing about the ale selection or food quality.  We took her up on her suggestion, but that is another story.

The kitchen as fully equipped and with the provisions that were conveniently available in the village, we had some lovely tastes around our dining room table.

I loved the red cheddar on toasted raisin scones.  We also found homemade strawberry jam to sweeten up breakfasts.

On Good Friday, we stayed very close to the village and tucked into a homemade breakfast of bangers (sausages) and the most amazing smoky bacon from Adare’s local butcher shop.  This was accompanied by black and white pudding, when we all declared that we liked the taste of the white pudding best.

Later that evening, D made a stuffed pork tenderloin with roasted potatoes, carrots, asparagus and an pistachio and almond trout for PK which she was over the moon for.

She shared tastes with us and we laughingly said “Fish so good, it would almost make you wanna be Catholic!”  Dessert that evening was apple pie topped with custard; a concoction we had not tried before but will likely become part of our repertoire.

But enough of home base, there is so much to see in the Irish countryside.

Kath’s quotes: “From Black pudding to pickled jellyfish, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. What we see and taste as beautiful depends largely on what our family and friends approve of — with just a little room for personal preference.”-Laurence Mound

Adare Manor Villas-Part 1


The start of this adventure, was an adventure indeed.  The itinerary that we checked constantly over the months leading up to our departure, indicated that our plane departed for Chicago at 9:45 am but just for good measure, D checked another sheet at 7:00 am (just before we were to depart for the airport).  We were living everyone’s worst nightmare-this schedule indicated that that flight was leaving at 7:45!  As a result, we missed that flight and subsequently our connections in America’s busy airports of Chicago and New York were less than 1 hour each.  To make a long story short, with determination and travelling mercies, we made every connection and arrived at Shannon, Ireland airport ahead of schedule. 

We were taking this journey with my beloved eldest brother and his wife- DK and PK.  PK and I had spent considerable time of the Villas’ website and pretty much knew what to expect.  Our husbands on the other hand, went from room to room upon our arrival, blown away by our home for our Irish adventure, exclaiming:  “We each have our own bathroom! There’s a fully lit bar AND a fireplace”!  We must have looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.  Our excitement was not so much the space and luxuries of the villas but of knowing how little we had paid for the accommodation! They were still finding features as we unpacked and settled in.

We were a little bit disappointed to find that we could not check in immediately upon our arrival at the Adare Manor that morning.  But no matter, this gave us an opportunity to snoop in the library and some of the other main floor public rooms before venturing into the village.  

We bought some provisions (read: cheese, scones and liquor) and saw the famed thatched roof cottages of the pretty main street.  We picked out which pubs we imagined spending future time at.

Upon settling in, the guys had their first pints of Guinness and I had my first taste of the Druid Celtic Cider that became my villa “unwind” drink.  Afternoon naps were in order and then we headed out for our first Irish dinner at Bunratty Castle- a perfect start to a wonderful week.

 Kath’s quote: “Cider was, next to water, the most abundant and the cheapest fluid to be had in New Hampshire, while i lived there, — often selling for a dollar per barrel. In many a family of six or eight persons, a barrel tapped on Saturday barely lasted a full week…..The transition from cider to warmer and more potent stimulants was easy and natural; so that whole families died drunkards and vagabond paupers from the impetus first given by cider-swilling in their rural homes…..”-Horace Greeley

« Older EntriesNewer Entries »