Our wonderful intrepid photographer Laeti has just got back from another trip, this time she’s been exploring the nooks and crannies of Ireland. Not only does she come back with the best stories to tell, she’s also a go-to foodie Oracle and her photos leave us with a serious case of wanderlust. So without further ado, read on for some tips on the area, her top foodie recommendations and much more.
Tell us where you’ve been…
Ireland! I went with my friend (and colleague) Kyra and we had the best time. We started in Dublin and then travelled across Ireland (see map below). As you’ll see we did it all. Yes, the drives were really long but it was all completely worth it. Plus, the driving enabled us to see the most wonderful landscapes, villages and towns. It was our first time in Ireland, but it certainly won’t be the last.
What was the highlight of your trip?
There’s so many, but I’ll stick to the most important! Firstly, the music. If you haven’t listened to Irish music then please do. I think it sums up the joy and atmosphere the Irish have.
Also, exploring Kinsale was a highlight. Kinsdale is a port town at the bottom of the Republic of Ireland. There are loads of beautiful shops and there’s even one called Grandma’s Bottom Drawer (great name, right?) The town also has amazing restaurants but we’ll talk about that a little later on.
Finally, the roads were amazing to drive on! I know, it seems like a small thing to rave about but trust me. When you have to drive 5 hours at a time you end up being eternally grateful for the women and men that lay the tarmac.
What and where was your best foodie moment?
Again, there was a few. We always started the day with a big breakfast to make sure we had enough energy to see us until dinner time. We would have a full Irish breakfast, French toast, Irish scones, eggs and salmon, pastries, fruits etc – you get the picture.
Here is some of what we discovered:
Dublin has a lot of doughnut shops! And no, not just in coffee shops, I’m talking exclusive, sugary goodness. It was beautiful. We passed a shop that was closing for the day, but instead of throwing their doughnuts they cut them into little pieces and gave them to random people on the streets like us. We jumped on the occasion to try them and oh boy they were great! Soft, not too greasy, full of jam and sugar.
In Galway, we stopped for an early dinner to try Irish cheeses, accompanied with some charcuterie. I can’t remember the names of all of them but they were tasty.
We also stopped at Hazel Mountain Chocolate, a chocolate factory in Burren. The shop was super cute so we decided to have a little break and enjoy a hot chocolate and a delicious brownie. The brownie was really unique and we couldn’t figure it out until we asked. We thought some spices had been added to it but no! It was the bits of the cacao that gave it this bitter yet brilliant taste. And that chocolate sauce… I mean it was chocolatey, and who doesn’t love chocolate.
Another stop was at the Golden Burren for some cheese. They had different flavours and the lady in charge let us taste all of them (plain, smoked, cumin, garlic and nettle, black pepper and Piri Piri). It is called Golden Burren because it is made in the Burren region of Ireland, and the skin is gold!
One of the absolute best foodie experiences we had in Ireland was in Kinsdale. We went to a restaurant called Fishy Fishy. We started with oysters and a fish chowder – they were the best oysters I’d ever had and that chowder… tasty, meaty and beautiful. When the main arrived we were delighted! Kyra had gone for a lighter option, a Caesar salad with some pan-fried fish and I had salmon with a butter and chilli sauce with mashed potatoes. All of it was brilliant. The portions were huge, the fish was amazing and everything was perfect. If you visit Kinsale, do not leave without going to Fishy Fishy.
Our last food stop (just thinking about it makes me melt) was called The Winding Stair. This one is in Dublin. All the food on the menu looked amazing so we asked the waiter for options – he recommended the platter of smoked fish with Dillisk bread. He said that maybe we should start with this and see how we go. He didn’t know who he was talking to…For some reason, there are days when one little plate of food will fill you up, but for our last day in Ireland, we were ready to eat. We also got some Corleggy sheep curd as another starter. Where else will we ever be able to eat Corleggy sheep curd? To follow that, Kyra had potato dumplings, smoked aubergine and a lot of different veggies and veal cheek with a tongue’s croquette for me. Both plates were delicious. We couldn’t believe how good it was and just ate in silence, amazed by our choices and the quality of it all. We finished our brilliant meal with a bread and butter pudding and a strawberry crumble, with a glass of strawberry wine, which smelt and tasted like strawberries (Móinéir Fine Strawberry Wine, Limited Edition). This is not an optional stop. This one is compulsory.
Favourite property that you saw and why?
My favourite property was County Meath Castle. The location is really close to a massive lake and there’s even a path leading there from the castle.
The owners manage to keep this castle light and airy, which is a hard task considering the size and shape of the windows. However, with their use of colour and space, they did a brilliant job.
As a massive bonus, there is a Harry Potter room, with a painting of Hogwarts and Dobby on the walls. Anyone that knows me will know I’m a massive fan, so imagine my delight. And I can’t forget the most important part – there is a hidden door leading to the bedrooms in the tower. But I won’t tell you where it is, that’s for you to find out…
Any stand-out traditions or cultural observations made in the area where you stayed?
The Irish love their Guinness – it’s definitely not a myth. Initially, we thought they might be playing tricks on us – that when the tourists arrive someone would blow a whistle to let the locals know to pretend to be drinking Guinness while hide their Sauvignon Blanc under the table. But no, they absolutely love it. So we thought we’d give it ago as well. We went to Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin, and ordered a Guinness with confidence. Let’s just say it wasn’t to our liking, but it’s like marmite, you either love it or you hate it. The barman must have seen we weren’t convinced so he called us behind the bar so he could take pictures of us.
Our trip had already been amazing, with the beautiful properties we saw, the delicious food we ate, the amazing villages we visited, but this man, with his act of kindness, made it 100% times better. What a great finish!
For anyone travelling to Ireland, what can’t they miss?
You must take a car and do a road trip around the coast – the hidden gems and picturesque villages are dotted all along the coast. And don’t be shy – ask the locals for their favourite hot spots, after all, they know best.
The manager of Smiths Castle was incredibly lovely and gave us a rundown of all the different villages we needed to visit, her favourite walking trails, a selection of restaurants and the best places to listen to good Irish music.
I would also say Kinsale is a must. It is a really cute little town in County Cork with so much to explore.
In all honesty, the whole of Ireland is a must see and must do. You might be thinking, ‘oh it’s just Ireland’ – well it’s not just Ireland. Ireland is a beautiful country filled with humble and welcoming locals, who love sharing stories, good food and a good pint.
Lastly, describe the region in 5 words…
Brilliant, tasty, joyful, scenic, want to go back ASAP!
And that’s a wrap, but don’t forget to check our in-depth travel guide that covers everything you need to know about Ireland. And if you’re looking to kick-start your Irish adventure, take a look at our stunning villas or contact our concierge team who are always on hand to help plan your dream holiday.