Torc Waterfall, Killarney

Torc Waterfall Killarney

Yesterday, I had to visit our Killarney shop, and given that the sun was shining, I brought along the family. We decided to take a side trip to Torc Waterfall, and I discovered something that I didn’t know – there are three loop walks to make the experience much more special. One is 35 minutes, one an hour, and the last two and a half hours (it’s rated as challenging). Given that we have little legs in the family, we opted for the middle option, and it was delightful.

KillarneywalkI highly suggest that anyone coming to Kerry spends a little time in Killarney National Park. It’s a treasure, and there are so many breathtaking parts to it. If you have the time to walk the Kerry Way, you will be well rewarded! If not, an hour out of your day would be well spent on a loop walk that shows off the mountains and the lakes.

And there is always our Killarney shop near by if you need a bit of refreshment! 😉

Pride in Irish Food and Vegetarian Heaven

This last week, I had two friends visiting from New York, and we decided that it was time to do some reckless eating, recession or no recession.

We had a lovely stop in Dromoland and a meal of the usual high standard at the Charthouse in Dingle.

Then we headed to Dublin for a return visit to Chapter One and Thornton’s in Dublin.

In Ireland, although we’re proud of our scenery, our castles and our pubs, we still tend to be apologetic about food. Do we think Ireland remains backwards when it comes to good eating? I don’t. Last year’s culinary tour of France proved to me that we have restaurants that can stand proudly with any in the world, and we were about to visit two of the best.

For any of you who haven’t been to Chapter One to taste Ross Lewis’ cooking, get yourselves down there! Four years ago, I thought it was really great. Two years ago, I thought it was even better. Last summer I went, and found that he had hit still new heights. One of my two visiting friends had gone with me for that summer meal, and I think the experience was half the reason she came back to Ireland so soon. This time, it was yet again sublime. The other friend travels the world in a very high-powered job, and fine dining would be a very regular occurrence. Not only did he say that he didn’t think there was a restaurant in New York as good, but he said it was his best meal in years. Period.

The next night, I brought them over to experience Kevin Thornton’s culinary wizardry. Sadly, after nearly a week of stuffing ourselves, we couldn’t muster the courage for the full tasting menu. This was a shame because one of my friends is a strict vegetarian. In many restaurants, vegetarians feel like second class citizens, a bother to the chef. At Thornton’s, not only do they accommodate you, but they whip out a full vegetarian menu – just as exciting as the regular menu, including the option of an 8 course “surprise” menu of dishes at Kevin’s whim. I thought the options looked so good that I traded in the regular menu and wasn’t one bit disappointed. Next time, we’ll spare ourselves some of the meals and come back for the full treatment. It surely must be as close to vegetarian heaven as it gets.

I’m Glad I’m Not ‘Le Burger’ Kind of Guy

I’m just back from France, where I mixed a little business and pleasure. Well, for me France is always a pleasure.

One thing that struck me is that for all the talk of Ireland being expensive, I think it’s a bargain compared to France. Hotels, meals, ice cream – everything cost more, especially on the higher end.

For example here’s a lunch menu from Le Château de La Chèvre d’Or in Eze, France.

Mon dieu!

Eze is a beautiful town, perched on top of a hill that overlooks the sea, and no doubt the Château is a great place, but for those of you who might be wondering, no I didn’t order the €65 burger with avocado, prawns, and lobster. In fact, I didn’t even go inside.

My tastes were running on the simpler side that brunch time.

A baguette with butter and jam, fresh orange juice, cafe au lait in a little cafe around the corner did me just fine, thank you. 😉

As always, for all of the gourmet experience to be had in France (and I had some great meals), the things that make me the happiest are often the simplest things – a great loaf, an amazing piece of cheese, a surprising chocolate truffle or ice cream flavour, a delicious glass of wine.

Often, those are the tastes I remember…

A Day at Dublin Zoo I’m not a huge fan of zoos, since I usually find them depressing, but I must say we had a very enjoyable outing to Dublin Zoo a few days ago, and I would rate it highly.

It was during the Queen’s visit, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves, except for a couple of families and one group of school girls. My brother was there with his kids in the summer when it was busier, and he still enjoyed it, so perhaps crowds wouldn’t make much difference. For us, the weather was sunny, the strolling was pleasant, and Róisín had a great time. So, if you have some time in Dublin and a love of animals, it’s worth a visit.

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Fog in Venice

The family and I have headed off for a little break in Venice, where it’s foggy and mystical this time of year. We’re staying in Sant’Elena, a quiet island a bit at the periphery, but still within walking distance of Piazza San Marco. It’s the island where my partner was born.

I’ll post more when I get a chance!