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Our recent weekend at Nobnocket Boutique Inn on Martha’s Vineyard was full of delightful experiences all over the island, including lots of good food, drinks, and beer. We learned that winter on Martha’s Vineyard means some places are closed, but there is still plenty to see and do, all without the crowds of summer!

On our first night on the Vineyard, we came in out of the cold into the warm and glowing dining room of State Road in West Tisbury.

State Road MV

A favorite of the Obamas and Vineyard locals alike, State Road was cozy and romantic with a great wine list and a fun cocktail list using soft spirits. Restaurants currently can’t sell hard liquor, which instead of feeling like a limitation, actually played into their favor. The mixed drinks were like none we had before, in the best way possible!

State Road Martha's Vineyard

I kicked dinner off with a Respect, which was very similar to a Dark & Stormy.

cocktails

We were debating ordering the whipped lardo, when it was presented to us, compliments of the kitchen. I swear, Martha’s Vineyard just reads my mind!

lardo There is something about radishes + fat + salt that is incredible, and this rich, smoky treat made it even better. A little crunch, a little salt, a whole lot of decadence.

I’m usually good about skipping the bread, but not when it’s buttery, lightly sweet, house-made brioche with Foie butter. We could have happily existed on the lardo and bread/butter for the evening!

brioche We read about State Road’s burger night, which happens on Thursdays, so we had to add a burger to our order. A good burger and excellent fries is one of the ways we judge a restaurant, and we can say we will definitely try to come back for burger night!

State Road burger

farm salad

We also shared and devoured a farmhouse salad with an incredible buttermilk dressing (ranch-like, but fresh and way better) and the roasted Katama Bay oysters with a flavorful Gremolata. When on Martha’s Vineyard, you have to have oysters!

roasted oysters

We rounded out this freezing night with a perfectly tender beef short rib with farro and pickled mustard.

Oof, it was a lot of very good food!

short rib

IMG_0267

Because I wanted to try the entire cocktail menu, I went with a nightcap before heading back to our cozy home-away-from-home, where we enjoyed one of State Road’s famous chocolate bars. As we enjoyed our dinner, we saw people leaving with stacks of these chocolates, named for Martha’s Vineyard towns. They are one of the hottest and most delicious items on the island, an a must-taste souvenir.

State Road was the perfect spot to spend a winter evening, and I can just imagine how fantastic it must be in warmer weather as well. They generously provided a gift card toward our dinner; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: cocktails, dining, Food, Martha's Vineyard, Travel, travel blog

In addition to being beautiful and filled with incredible art and music, Galway Ireland is a dining destination that just continues to add to its world class culinary scene. Restaurants in Galway take advantage of their island home, serving some of the best seafood around. A somewhat mild climate means year-round local vegetables, and all of that glorious Irish farmland results in the best milk, cheese, butter, and meat you can find.

People from around the globe have discovered this, and you can now find a huge variety of cuisines in Galway. On our last visit, we had a cozy evening at Il Vicolo in the Bridgemills before heading to Salthill for a Christy Moore concert. . . which was fabulous, by the way.

The Bridgemills location is important to note, as it means the restaurant is nestled along the banks of the River Corrib. We visited on a raw November day, but I had to step outside to soak up the views and cozy outdoor space, which would be glorious when the weather is nice. In the summertime, the sun sets super late in Galway, and I can picture us out there for a late dinner, 10:00 even, with beautiful evening light. Maybe in July!

Galway Bridge Mills

The building, which is over 430 years old, has been impeccably restored and is a must-visit on your trip to Galway. In addition to Il Vicolo, it houses a variety of shops and other businesses.

Il Vicolo Galway

Il Vicolo’s interior reflects the building’s history, and it is just incredibly cozy and romantic. It’s perfect both for a date night or for a group get together, where lots of red wine and pasta are consumed and chatting happens late into the evening.

Il Vicolo Galway Cannonau di Sardegna Speaking of red wine, I was in charge of choosing a bottle, and with two recent Sardinian wines on my mind, I went with a Cannonau from the island.  A little jammy, with notes of cocoa, this wine was like a big warm hug on  chilly, rainy night. We sipped it in the glowing candlelight while talking about one of our group’s upcoming wedding in Italy.

   mussels Il Vicolo is the perfect place to share plates, and while I only got photos of two dishes, we dove into several of their specialties, focusing on seafood. Mussels are  go-to in Galway, and I almost always order them. These were no exception, plump, juicy, tasting of the sea and of the martini and shallot broth.

Calamarata, pasta shaped like calamari, was dotted with fresh clams and squid and just a kiss of sauce. With pasta like this, you really barely need sauce!

seafood pasta

Not pictured: earthy and delicious wild mushroom bruschetta and homemade meatballs

It was hard to decide on what to order at Il Vicolo, but with the experience being so deliciously memorable, we know that it will be a regular stop on our visits to Galway.

If they could deliver a bowl of pasta and a glass of red right now, all would be well!

 

 

Eating in Galway

Kai Cafe

Galway cocktail bar, Tribeton

Aniar

Ard Bia at Nimmo’s

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Tags: Food, food blog, Galway, Ireland, Ireland blog posts, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger

Truth be told, I wasn’t going to blog about our last visit to Ashford Castle. It’s a place I have had the true pleasure of visiting many times, and I’ve already blogged about it a couple of times.

But, truth be told, I am disgusted with the state of our country right now, and looking at photos of places I love is one escape that seems to lower my blood pressure and soften the rage at the people who have sold out our country to a maniac.

So, this Travel Tuesday, in my blog and in my mind, I am at the majestic Ashford Castle, on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo Ireland. Both Ashford Castle and the little village of Cong where it is located are well-worth a visit if you ever head to Ireland.

On our last Ireland trip, we decided that a stop at Ashford on the way home from Achill Island would be a great way to break up the journey and give us a chance to have a snack and stretch our legs.

We arrived as the light of the day was starting to lower, casting a warm glow all over the castle and Lough Corrib.

Ashford Castle gin cocktail We were quickly brought to the lounge and seated with views of the lake, handed leather-bound cocktail menus to peruse.

My mother-in-law went with one of the castle’s imaginative gin cocktails, which had muddled blueberries, cracked black pepper, and grapefruit.

I have long been a fan of the Manhattan at Ashford, so I tucked in with one of those and a copy of The Irish Times. It was one of those lovely, cozy moments where we were all a little sleepy from Achill sunshine, so we just sat back and enjoyed the gorgeous surroundings.

Manhattan cocktail

Ashford Castle For lunch, the Smoked Salmon BLT was the obvious choice; I eat Irish smoked salmon and Irish bacon every chance I get, and this was one incredible sandwich.

 

smoked salmon BLT

Stuffed and in need of a bit of waking up, we did what we always do after a meal at Ashford; we took a long walk around the grounds. This is really one of my favorite things to do, and looking below, you can probably see why. Try to get there near sunset.

Ashford Castle Ashford Castle Lough Corrib

We didn’t expect to go to Ireland anytime soon, but it turned out the best rates to Italy this summer actually go through Dublin. This means I get to spend four glorious days in July in one of my favorite places. Having things to look forward to, big and small, are helping to keep me positive during these dark days.

Tell me, where do you go (even if just in your mind) when you need some uplifting?

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Tags: Ashford, Ashford Castle, castles, cocktails, Food, Ireland, luxury, luxury travel, Mayo, Travel

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