Ireland

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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

Ireland is always one of my travel highlights for the year. If you missed my 2016 travel recap, you can read it here.

When we visit Ireland, it’s always to see family and friends and favorite places in Galway; it’s a city you just can’t miss, and surround Connemara and the Wild Atlantic Way are dear to our hearts for many reasons. We also usually try to take a side trip, either in Ireland or somewhere else in Europe. In the past, we’ve done Prague, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Brussels, and others, in addition to stays in Connemara and Sligo in Ireland. On our November trip to Galway, we headed north to Achill Island in County Mayo, and it was just the little getaway we needed.

Our home on Achill was the absolutely lovely Achill Island Hotel (Óstán Oileán Acla in Irish), situated in a place with 360 degree mountain and sea views. It was a simply stunning, quiet, peaceful location.

Achill Island Rooms were cozy and comfortable, country-style decoration with all of the modern conveniences you could want, including WiFi and a great big soaking tub, which I took advantage of after our drive from Galway through Connemara. 

Achill Island Hotel We visited Achill in November, which is sort of off-season, so one of the attractive features of the Achill Island Hotel was a restaurant on-property. It meant we didn’t have to search for what might be open when we arrived hungry in the evening!

seafood casserole

Not only was it convenient, but it turned out to be incredible. Compliments to the chef for some really delicious meals that utilized Irish ingredients like famed local seafood in my seafood medley dish. It was chock full of flavorful seafood atop mashed potatoes, maybe the best I have had.

Even in my stuffed state, I had to have an Irish coffee to finish the meal. It’s kind of an unwritten rule when we visit Ireland.

Irish Coffee

With full bellies, we decided to head out into the cool night for a walk along the main drag in Achill, which was quiet, with only a few people out and about. The most noise we heard was from sea birds in the sea next to the hotel, feeding at low tide. A few locals were putting Christmas lights on the stores, and it was just a very peaceful and good feeling all around. It also helped immensely to get some fresh air.

Before we retired to our rooms for a couple hours of chatting, we headed back to the hotel pub to try their local beer.

Achill Island Hotel

Brewed with seaweed, this Achill beer had a nice richness to it, and of course that hint of sea salt on the finish. It was really good, and it’s always fun to see what local products are being made around Ireland. Craft beer has really picked up, as has craft gin. 

Achill Irish Beer

After our cozy night in, we woke up to a stunning, calm day on Achill, with the below views out our bedroom window and the windows of the hotel’s breakfast room.

 Achill Island IMG_0276

Clew Bay

We stopped and admired the views for some time before checking out and taking off to explore Achill and more of the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way for the day.

Achill Island is less than two hours from Galway and very near to Westport, another favorite town in the West of Ireland.  It will make you feel like you are a million miles from everything.

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Tags: Achill Island, coastal living, County Mayo, food blogger, Ireland, Mayo, Travel, travel blog, wild atlantic way

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