August 8, 2013. Portmagee, Ireland – I haven’t driven into a ditch and no one has asked me if I’m of the “Hebraic persuasion” (see blog entry for July 10), at least so far,
but this trip has been just as memorable as my last trip in 1969.
It’s been a hectic three days, packed with activity and food, so I haven’t had much chance to write. I’ll just give you the executive summary.
Day 1. We landed at Cork Airport, picked up our rental car, and got acquainted with my new best friend – the navigation system. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it is to drive an unfamiliar car, steering wheel on the right, on the left hand side of the road while jet lagged. The amazing thing is we made it without a scratch to the car or our persons. My hands hurt though from clutching the steering wheel.
Our hotel, the Hayfield Manor, mellowed me out in an instant. It was everything I’m not – elegant, serene, and old world. After exploring the café, gardens, library, club room – you get the picture – we walked into downtown Cork via a tree lined river walk and had some of the best and freshest (warning – I’ll repeat this a lot) mussels I have ever had. Prepared with chickpeas and chiles in a light cream sauce. Plus a pint of Murphy’s Stout, a local version of Guinness. For those of you who plan on visiting Cork soon, the name of the restaurant was the Cornstore.
We walked back to the hotel and poured ourselves into the one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in.
Day 2. After a huge Irish breakfast at the hotel of various configurations of very tasty fat (how do these people survive past 50?), we walked to the English Market downtown, one of the oldest markets in Ireland. If I hadn’t already been stuffed from breakfast, I would have drooled as I eyed the displays of cheese, produce, baked goods, meats, and seafood. This wasn’t the Irish cuisine I remembered from 1969 – no fish and chips, corn beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes.
We had another breakfast, though I limited myself to a very flaky scone, with Kay Harte, owner of the Farmgate Café at the market who told us about the recent revolution in Irish cuisine, fueled in part by local produce, artisanal cheese making and fresh seafood from the waters of the Atlantic only a few miles away.
After fiddling with the navigation system, we soon set out for our next stop in Kinsale, about 40 minutes away, and our next lesson in the emerging new Irish cuisine.
To be continued….