There are cold weather people and there are hot weather people. I fall firmly into the former category. Give me a frigid day crackling with icy energy any time, over the dripping humidity that is more often my fate in Washington. I got a bracing dose of perfect cold weather on a recent family vacation to Ireland. As the Irish would say, we had a grand time, from exploring Dublin pubs to lazy breakfasts of honey porridge and Irish soda bread. We walked through brilliant green woods sparkling with ice, flew falcons (with the guidance of an experienced falconer), and, best of all, I had an invigorating morning riding the County Laois countryside on a fine Connemara pony
The food was very, very good. Lots of game and good Irish beef, not to mention a wide variety of gifts from the sea – cockles, winkles, plaice, and prawns. I didn’t take as many photos of food as I should have, because whenever I get really excited about the food on offer I forget to snap and just start eating. I often realize that I ate the money shot just as I’m finishing the last bite, so my photos from this trip are more about the magical beauty of Ireland, rather than a list of good places to eat.
I do want to share the recipe for Irish soda bread that I was given. It’s the simplest thing ever, with only five ingredients, and it takes about five minutes to assemble. I was firmly admonished that real Irish soda bread has no fruit or caraway seed in it, because that would make it a “dessert cake.” There’s a reassuring hollow thud when you knock on the loaf to see if it’s done, and it’s the perfect consistency for dipping into a hearty winter stew or cheese fondue. Happy trails from the icy emerald isle!
County Laois from an equine perspective
Steamed lemon meringue with strawberry puree
Dusk on the River Liffey in Dublin
Lovely Irish cheeses from County Cork
A rising moon over falling waters
Grilled prawns and tomatoes over linguine
The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin
Vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb and basil sugar beignet
Angus the sea eagle
An icy waterfall trickling through the moss and stones of an old ruin
Wellies lined up in the hall, ready for trekkers
A Classic Georgian Hall
A classic Georgian hall, with a floor too pretty to walk on
BROWN IRISH SODA BREAD
Prep time: five minutes to assemble, 25minutes to bake
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- 3 cups of wheat flour
- 1 cup white flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 ounces of butter, cut into pea-sized pieces
- 14 ounces buttermilk
Grease and flour a round cake pan.
Sift flours, salt and baking soda together. Mix in the butter with your hands, making the dough a little crumbly.
Add buttermilk to dough and place on a floured board. Shape into a round, flat loaf until it is just mixed together, but don’t over-knead.
Cut a cross in the top of the loaf and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. When the bread is done it will sound hollow when tapped. Serve immediately.