Food Musings

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

Adare Manor Estate


There was a gorgeous coffee table book of the Leading Hotels in the World in our villa living room.  As I flipped through I realized that the beautiful Hotel Negressa in Nice and the King David in Jerusalem, both of which I have visited were included.  As well, of course, as the Adare Manor Hotel.  I was determined to explore.

If you have been following these blog posts, you already know that I am a romantic; one of my favourite books from my youth being Whuthering Heights.  I was especially enthralled by the mysterious Catherine.  And as soon as I had the ability to shape my own persona, wanted to be addressed by Kathryne rather than the more common place name of Kathy.  

While D and I were waiting for DK & PK to arrive back from their day trip to Cork, we took the opportunity to tour the grounds of the magnificent Adare Manor estate-a place befitting of Catherine (or Kathryne) I was sure.  I would be in good company as I understand that Catherine Zeta Jones has also been a guest here.

We understand that the manor had been built by the second Earl of Dunraven in the 18th century and his wife Lady Caroline. At least a part of the vision of the Manor was to keep the villagers of Adare employed and fed through the potato famine.

By standing back and gazing back at the Manor, D discovered the dedication of the house which was incorporated into the roof-line parapet: “Except The Lord Build The House Then Labour Is But Lost That Built It”.

The golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. is nothing short of exquisite with the trout-filled River Maigue running through the course and the estate.

I love everything about the sport of golf (except hitting the ball with a skinny stick) and have walked some beautiful courses.

The gardens in early April were grand and I could picture a round of archery or clay pigeon shooting being conducted here.

Some of the most magnificent trees I have ever seen (with the exception perhaps of the olive and cypress trees in the Jerusalem) are contained on the  840 acres of the Manor grounds.

I was especially enthralled by the 100 year old cork tree and now have new found respect for those vineyards who are moving to cork alternatives.

Sadly, Lord Dunraven died in 1862 before he  had seen the completion of the Manor, proving what I already know, that money does not buy health, or happiness (or love).

Kath’s quote: “Because love grows best in little houses,
With fewer walls to separate,
Where you eat & sleep so close together.
You can not help but communicate,
Oh, & if we had more room between us, think of all we would miss.
Love grows best, in houses just like this”. –
Doug Stone

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Wild Geese Restaurant-Adare Ireland


As soon as we saw that there was an award winning restaurant in the village of Adare, we knew that we had to visit.  The Wild Geese has been included on Bridgestone’s top 100 restaurant in Ireland for the past 13 consecutive years.  D called to make a reservation and then we had to delay our arrival a number of times because the four of us had separate itineraries that day.  Having been in the restaurant business ourselves, we know that juggling last minute changes can be difficult to manage, but Julie handled our postponement with much grace.

As we entered Rose Cottage, we were escorted into comfortable sitting room with a cozy fire place and big comfy couches.  We choose a bottle of Les Jamelleo Merlot which was poured out and served with pitted black olives that had been smoked in brine.  These were such a treat that I searched them out while we were in Galway, purchased them and carried them all the way home to Canada in my suitcase.  While relaxing over our pre-dinner glasses, we were brought menus and asked to make our selections for the evening.  I am not sure if this is unusual in Ireland, it certainly would be considered so in Canada, and yet knowing that the Irish like to have their food arrive right away, this makes perfect sense.

Upon moving to a comfy table in the dining room, a server came by with a handled bread basket and then indicated each bread variety that was available.  I chose a Parmesan roll but all the choices were absolutely delicious.

But the truth is-they had me at the dishes.

The practice of serving an Amuse Bouche has become more common of late, but I am still as delighted as a little girl receiving a surprize birthday gift.  These were a pesto cheese a top a tiny biscuit, floating upon a red pepper puree-sublime.

First courses were a variety of little plates which were intended to be your own but because we are all food crazy, we love to share bites with everyone (what family is meant for).

There was Chicken Liver Parfait with orange segments and tomato chutney,

Duck & Vegetable Spring Rolls with a Japanese drizzle,

Goat Cheese baked with a light curry crust, balsamic and an apple puree.

And lastly, a Crusty Brie with a light pesto cream, pineapple/cucumber salsa and red pepper essence.  I could try to describe the potpourri of tastes but sometimes I just let the carefully selected ingredients (and photos) speak for themselves.  And this was just the first plates!

As I go back and unarchive my photos, scan my travel journal and check my notes-I can not for the life of me recall what I ordered that evening!  Perhaps I got chatting with Julie or telling some boisterous story and forgot to take a photo, before I tried to get caught up to everyone.  But here is the thing-it does not really matter what I had on my plate, I was with my beloved husband, brother and his wife and I took just as much pleasure watching them as they ate, then I know I would have enjoyed my own.  Does this make sense to you?

The table chose 3 ribs of Lamb which was served with a rosemary and garlic potato gratin and a rosemary juis for extra measure.

The Duck was accompanied by sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

Lastly, the Sirloin was tossed in garlic butter and came with a mushroom and Parmesan tarte and rosemary & garlic potato gratin.

There was definitely no room for dessert and sometime in the midst of our in-depth conversation with Julie, we realized that we were the last table in the restaurant, so it was definitely time for our short walk to the Manor gate.

Having met Julie we can see first hand the attention to detail and love of local food that she and her husband are committed too.  We know too (not because she was complaining) that it is an increasingly difficult time to be in the high end restaurant business with Ireland’s current economic conditions.  We wish Julie and David much success as their passion for food and the hospitality business is obvious from the very first time you walk into The Rose Cottage.

The Wild Geese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The best way to lose weight is to close your mouth – something very difficult for a politician. Or watch your food – just watch it, don’t eat it.”-Edward Koch

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

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