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Many people mention food in Ireland and wrinkle their noses. I would venture to guess they haven’t traveled there in over a decade or were just not looking at the right places. Galway, Ireland is like home to us, and it’s also one of my favorite dining cities, as small as it is. It has an incredible Saturday market, great cheese and wine shop, fishmongers, and more, all capitalizing on Galway’s coastal location. The food in Galway is usually exceptional, especially if you know where to look. Below are just a handful of places we stopped on our recent Galway travels.

High Café – After an afternoon of tipples and chatting on St. Patrick’s Day, we went with a bunch of family to High Café. It was a chilly day and a long one, with an early morning start at Ballynahinch Castle, the Galway St. Patrick’s Day parade, and time spent at Jury’s, and the exceptional comfort food at High Café was a perfect way to end the night. High Café features a huge menu with lots of different salads, pastas, pizzas, and appetizers.

High Cafe Galway

Trying to get some veggies into my diet, I had a salad topped with goat cheese stuffed smoked salmon and one of High Café’s garlic bread-like pizzas topped with shrimp.

High Cafe Galway

In between bites of this, I had some of my husband’s pasta with cream sauce and ham. The food at High Café is filling, delicious, fun to share, and a great value. I’d recommend popping your head in on a rainy Galway night for some cozy cuisine.

High Cafe Galway

Spanish Arch Hotel – The Spanish Arch Hotel is a great place for music, but I also love it for a slightly upscale pub lunch. Their Prawn and Smoked Salmon Marie Rose Salad is one of my favorites in Galway. Paired with a pint and some brown bread, this makes a nice light lunch.

shrimp and salmon Marie Rose

Hotel Meyrick – This is your spot for lunch or tea, sometimes with music. On our last day in Galway, we met with some more family and friends for lashings of tea and soup and glasses of wine and to listen to the most delightful piano music. The Meyrick is absolutely gorgeous, a great luxury hotel option in the center of Galway. I’m dying to check out their Gaslight Brasserie.

Hotel Meyrick

Gemelle’s – Just looking at the exterior probably tells you that Gemelle’s is a charming, romantic spot. Their short wine list offers some fun options, and the restaurant’s world cuisine offers something for everyone.

Gemelle's Galway

Galway is the best place for wandering at night, even in the rain. Ducking into a pub or wine bar or café is always easy; there are so many lining its beautiful streets!

Galway at night

Cava Bodega – We actually couldn’t get into Cava on our last Galway visit; it was that crowded. Cava is said to have the best tapas in Ireland, and their incredible reviews just keep coming. If you’re in Galway, make a reservation at Cava for sure.

Cava Galway

Jalapeno’s Tex Mex – I know it’s a little odd to go for Southwestern US cuisine in Ireland, but the food here is oh-so-good. They do Tex Mex right, paired with some spectacular wines of the world. I couldn’t resist slabs of ribs and corn and slaw, all washed down with a spicy Tempranillo. Service was warm and friendly; this is a place you’ll want to linger over a big meal.

Jalapenos Galway

Above are just a few of the Galway restaurants we love. I missed my birthday dinner at Aniar due to a broken Aer Lingus plane, but I know, even without eating there, that I love it. Aniar will be my first dinner stop on our next Galway trip.

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Tags: Dining out, Galway, Ireland, Restaurants, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger

A holiday weekend is a great time to take a couple of day trips from home, and in the Boston area, there are plenty of places to visit. We love going down to Hingham, which is only about 30 minutes away from Boston, and this week we got our exercise in a new-to-us spot, Bare Cove Park. The park features 484 acres along the Weymouth Back River, and it is a beautiful spot for running, walking, picnics, and I would say, yoga.

Bare Cove Park

The trails in the park are mostly paved, and they often pass by beautiful scenes like this one, a marshy river peeking out behind the trees. The trails are also very flat, ideal for walking and running. The park is extremely dog-friendly, with dozens of off leash dogs. If you are not a fan of dogs or have a dog-aggressive dog, I wouldn’t recommend going here.

Bare Cove Park

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We walked for about an hour total, and one of my favorite spots along the way was this wide open area, complete with a beach and wide grassy field. I’d love to bring a yoga mat here to do a yoga podcast.

Bare Cove Park

Bare Cove Park is close to restaurants and shops in Hingham, and we enjoyed a glass of wine at Alma Nove in the Hingham Shipyard after our walk. A trip to Bare Cove Park could easily be a half day trip, or you could mix in some shopping and dining to make it a full day. Our trip to Bare Cove was yet another reminder of how beautiful the Greater Boston Area is and how much there is to do here.

As you plan your summer weekends, keep in mind some of our favorite Boston area day trips, and feel free to share your own in the comments!

Wine and Beer Tasting in Southeast Massachusetts

Hingham and Cohasset

Spectacle Island

Chatham, Cape Cod

A Day Trip to Martha’s Vineyard (a little more difficult, but do-able!)

World’s End State Park

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Tags: Boston, day trips, day trips from Boston, day trips in New England, Hingham, Massachusetts, New England, parks, Travel, World's End

Minutes from the Cross Sound Ferry terminal in Orient Point, Long Island sits one of the North Fork’s newest wineries, and it is an absolute gem. Kontokosta Winery was our first stop after our journey across the Long Island Sound. When we arrived, a blanket of gray was draped over the North Fork, but that just added a little something special to the experience as we pulled up to the rustic winery and tasting room.

Kontokosta Winery North Fork

Kontokosta vineyards

Kontokosta vineyards

We thought the vineyards and bran-like wooden exterior of Kontokosta were beautiful, and we did not at all expect what the interior would bring. Both of our mouths dropped open as we saw the lofty, modern, and chic interior of the tasting room. It offers a contrast from the outside for sure, but it is most beautiful in a different way. I can easily say that Kontokosta, owned by brothers Michael and Constantine Kontokosta,  has one of the prettiest tasting rooms I have ever been to, and I have seen my fair share of tasting rooms in this life.  It is also one of the most green. From their sustainable farming practices to reclaimed building materials to wind power, everything about this winery is geared toward being a steward of the environment. As such, it will be one of the few LEED gold-certified wineries in North America.

Kontokosta Winery tasting room

 

Kontokosta Winery, North Fork

 

After a quick view of the tasting room, we met Polly Brown, the General Manager of the winery and all around interesting, kind, and wonderful person. We spent a couple of hours tasting and touring with Polly, and we both could have spent the rest of the day there.

Kontokosta Winery tasting room

As Polly shared with us the history of the winery and information on the building, we got down to tasting wine. Almost all of Kontokosta’s fruit is grown on the estate, with the exception of their Orient Chardonnay.

wine tasting on Long Island

I was talking and listening and enjoying our conversation so much that I didn’t want to look at my phone to take notes. However, these wines are just unforgettable. There was not one that was not beautiful, elegant, and expressing the unique terroir of the North Fork. The label on Kontokosta’s bottles says it all.

Kontokosta wine

wine tasting list

We tasted through the above list, and we came out with quite a few favorites.

wine tasting

Kontokosta Anemometer is a white table wine, a nod to the wind instrument  on the property. This wine is for everyday drinking with friends, super refreshing and summery, with citrus notes and nice acidity, this wine would pair perfectly with seafood and produce from the seas and land around the winery.

Long Island Viognier

You know I love my Viognier, and I was incredibly excited when it was time to taste this wine. This Viognier is lighter than some of the California and Virginia Viogniers I have enjoyed, but it is lovely nonetheless. It has those classic apricot/peach notes only with a much lighter, crisper texture than Viognier tends to have. This would be a perfect Viognier on a really warm day because it is still very refreshing.

We expected to enjoy the white wines, but the reds were what got us really hooked. I always think that cooler climates result in not-so-great red wine, but this is simply not the case with the North Fork. Cabernet Franc, one of my favorite grapes, grows unbelievably well on Long Island, and Kontokosta brings it to the bottle in an exceptional way. That spice that is so characteristic of Cabernet Franc gets you right away. I love spice in my food, and I love it in my wine. It complements dark fruit and earth in this wine, and it is simply delicious.

In addition to the Cabernet Franc, we really enjoyed the Blum Merlot, which is named after Ray Blum, who planted the vineyards and has since passed away. This wine was silky smooth with notes of cocoa and spice and luscious fruit, everything that is right with a good Merlot.

The Cabernet Sauvignon on the North Fork surprised and delighted us in general. It’s softer and easier than its often tannic California cousin, and it’s a much easier drinking wine which would go with a wider range of foods.

Kontokosta Cabernet Franc

After our tasting, we made our selections for wine to bring home, and while Polly got that together, we discovered another feature of Kontokosta not to be missed, their sprawling lawn that leads down to the sea.

Kontokosta Winery

Even on a cloudy day with a bit of drizzle, the scenery was breathtaking.

Adirondack chairs

Long Island Sound

There is no doubt that we need to return in the summer to experience this beautiful spot on a sunny day.

Long Island Sound

The final treat of our visit to Kontokosta was going downstairs to see where the wine is made and stored. We met Ron, who is, as Polly described, a wizard, working in the tank room. Ron made some of the beautiful furniture in the winery, assists with the winemaking, and is just an all around delight. We actually ran into him doing some work the next day at the Harbor Front Inn, a property owned by the Kontokostas and where we spent our night in Greenport. He remembered us and gave us a warm welcome once again.

winemaking

While at the winery, Ron let us taste some wine that was hanging out in tanks, waiting to go into barrels. The wine was unfinished, but as always with tasting before wine is bottled, it is so fun to se where it starts and how it changes along the way. The Cab Franc we tasted was delicious, yet lacked some of the roundness and richness that the barrel will bring to it.

tasting from the tank

tasting from the tank

It doesn’t get any better than touring and tasting with people who know a winery so well and obviously love it. Our afternoon at Kontokosta was an experience we will certainly never forget; we have several bottles of their wine to enjoy at home as we continue to reflect on our visit and start to plan a new one!

Many thanks to Polly and Ron and the whole Kontokosta team for hosting us!

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Tags: Long Island, North Fork, Tasting Room, tasting room series, Travel, wine, wine country, wine of the week, wine tasting, wine travel, Wine Wednesday, winery tour

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