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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

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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