Sligo

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Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday season and a fun New Year’s Eve and are ready for a fun-filled 2015. In case you missed my Best of 2014 posts, you can find the travel post here and the Best of Boston post here.

Two trips to Ireland were definitely 2014 highlights. On our most recent trip we spent some time in Sligo, where we discovered lots of natural beauty in Ben Bulben in Rosses Point and some culinary beauty in the Sligo town restaurant Eala Bhan.

Eala Bhan means white swan in Irish, and since Sligo is Yeats Country, the restaurant name fits right in.

Sligo town

Decor is whimsical and elegant, and Yeats’ influence is apparent in bits of poetry around the restaurant. Twinkly fairy lights add a magical feel to the space, and overall it’s airy yet cozy, with dim lighting and windows out onto the River Garavogue.

Eala Bhan Sligo

Eala Bhan

Eala Bhan

Yeats

Like many restaurants in Ireland, Eala Bhan utilizes the amazing Irish ingredients available to them, including local seafood and meat.

Eala Bhan suppliers

As we often do, we decided to share a bunch of small plates rather than go with entrees. We started with bowls of piping hot vegetable soup; I pretty much always get soup when we go out in Ireland.

soup Eala Bhan

{Creamy Vegetable Soup}

From there, we feasted on a couple of seafood appetizers which were creative and beautifully displayed. I loved the perfect scallop with the sweet courgette puree.

 seafood trio{Taste of the Sea:  Pan seared diver scallop, kattaifi prawns and house cured salmon with fresh spinach and courgette purée}

This cake made of smoked salmon and prawns encased in creme fraiche was like nothing we had seen before. It was so decadent! It’s something I would love to recreate at home.

smoked salmon{ Smoked Salmon and Prawn Timbale Cake: Light layered pancakes of smoked salmon and prawn encased in créme fraiche and beetroot cream}

Heading back to land, we had the outstanding warm chicken salad which, with punchy blue cheese and sweet almonds, was way better than your average chicken dish!

chicken salad {Crispy Herb Basket of Warm Chicken Salad: Edible herb basket of warm chicken salad tossed with cashel blue cheese, candied almonds in a crispy herb basket, topped with garlic croutons, balsamic reduction}

The wine list at Eala Bhan isn’t extensive, but I found a lovely Barton &Guestier Chardonnay that was a nice pairing with all of my food.

Eala Bhan is known as one of Sligo’s best restaurants for a reason. Everything was so fresh and tasty, and the service was paced perfectly, allowing us to enjoy leisurely conversation and our various courses, If you are in Sligo and looking for a special meal, Eala Bhan is definitely one great option.

How do you choose restaurants when you travel?

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Tags: Dining out, Food, food blogger, Ireland, Restaurants, Sligo, Travel, travel blogger, wine, wine blog, wine blogger

Other than a post about our visit to the Bushmills distillery, I think this is my last post about our most recent visit to Ireland. Luckily we have plans to return again fairly soon.

Our first day in Northern Ireland ended fairly early due to our being awake for over 24 hours. Jetlagged and tired from our drive and visit to the Giants Causeway, we ended up having an early dinner the night before. I had the most perfect salmon ever, caught that day, atop a bed of Mediterranean-style vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and spinach. It was a simple, clean meal, and I ate every bite. We enjoyed a Bushmills on ice by the hotel fire, I blogged about our visit to Belfast, and we were off to dreamland by 9.

The next morning we were up bright and early, ready to see some sites and to head home to Galway. First up on our list was Dunluce Castle, a beautiful site only minutes from our hotel.

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle (Irish: Dún Lios, “strong fort”) is a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim (between Portballintrae and Portrush), and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood.

Dunluce Castle

If you drive through the Irish countryside, you will see all sorts of crumbling buildings. Though not usually the size and grandeur of Dunluce Castle, many of them were previously monasteries, churches, castles, and Coast Guard stations. These are some buildings that were built, for the most part, to withstand the test of time!

view from Dunluce Castle

As the above blurb about Dunluce Castle states, the castle was built upon some crazy steep cliffs which visitors can wander down, via some stony stairs. You can also head into the heart of the castle complex to look up at the castle and hills that sort of protect it.

Dunluce Castle

This cave-like hole is actually under the castle. Hundreds of years of ocean waves chipped away at the rocks making it a dangerously beautiful little cove. We took heed when we saw more falling rock signs.

Dunluce Castle

Mooooooo

Dunluce Castle

That very, very light land in the background in the above photo is Scotland. After we wandered around Dunluce for awhile, we got on the road to Derry, then started our slow journey toward Galway. On the way we passed through the beautiful hills of Donegal and into Sligo, Yeats country. The below photo shows the mountain Ben Bulben made famous by its uniquely flat top but even more well known from Yeats’ Under Ben Bulben. I am not only a nerdy former English major, but I had a concentration in Irish literature, specifically Yeats, when I was in college.

Ben Bulben

Drumcliffe Church

Stopping by Yeats’ grave in the Drumcliffe graveyard was a must. It was only when I was looking through my photos later in the day that I realized our visit was on January 28.

Drumcliffe

The very anniversary of Yeats’ death. . .coincidence? Or strange connection between me and W.B. Yeats? ;)

W.B. Yeats grave

All of this driving and beautiful scenery built up quite the thirst hunger, so we stopped at the Yeats Country Hotel. Like most Irish country restaurants, the setting was rustic and cozy.

Irish pub

We started with a pint of Guinness each, perfectly poured.

Guinness

I had the seafood chowder which came in a huge bowl.

seafood chowder

Served, as soup in Ireland always is, with brown bread and Kerrygold butter.

Irish brown bread

This meal was all I needed to want to curl up for a little nap on a chilly day. With my trusty driver at the wheel, I did just that, and I woke not too far outside of Galway to the view below.

N17 Ireland

Lovely. I may have said it before, but there are few things I love more than a sunset on the West coast of Ireland. I am also enamored with the leaps and bounds ahead of the US that Ireland is when it comes to the environment. Their hillsides have been dotted with windmills for many years, they have been seriously exploring ocean/wave power, they recycle EVERYTHING, and if you forget your grocery bags, you are paying handsomely per bag. No nasty plastic bags hanging from trees here because there are no plastic bags.

I can not wait to return.

Random Saturday Question: I spent quite a bit of time yesterday playing with my niece’s imaginary friend. Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a child? I had a tiger named Rugby :)

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Tags: beer, Drumcliffe, Dunluce Castle, Food, Guinness, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Sligo, Travel, vacation, Yeats

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