|Saturday, July 5th, 2014|
9:04p - London and Ireland Trip, October 9: Galway
As we were coming to the end of the trip, we were getting second thoughts about eating the full Irish fry every morning, and we were staying in B&Bs that offered menus for breakfast. I ordered poached eggs on toast topped with cheddar cheese, because I hadn’t seen it on menus elsewhere. It was tasty, like a meatless eggs Benedict.
Lori chose porridge, eggs and bacon, and a scone.
Plan A had been to walk to the corner and take a bus into Galway. But we were a few minutes late and the bus did not run that often. And it was a beautiful day, and it didn’t look that far on the B&B’s hand-drawn map. So I talked Lori into walking along the Promenade into Galway. We might not have walked it if we had known how long it would be, but it was a very pleasant walk. (And every time we raised our map to check our course, somebody stopped to offer help.)
Had we not walked, we might not have spent any time in Claddagh, the tiny village famous for Claddagh rings (and now a suburb of Galway). And it’s very likely that we might not have stopped for a snack at the Gourmet Tart Shop.
Galway’s Latin Quarter was a very good place for us to finish our shopping in Ireland. Every tourist chain of stores we had seen anywhere was represented there, and the Quarter was so compact that it was easy to find everything.
The King’s Head pub was so named because of its role in the beheading of King Charles I.
Lori with Oscar Wilde. I’m not quite sure what the Galway-Wilde connection is.
We ate a wonderful lunch at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. We invited the cheesemonger to recommend meat and cheese and wine for us, and he was very enthusiastic and did a terrific job. He served us a lovely Valpolicella wine and a great platter of Irish meats and cheeses. At my request, he wrote down a list of everything - unfortunately, I can’t quite remember which one was which.
St. Tola goat cheese
Kileen young goat cheese
Boyne Valley Blue
Gubeen smoked cheese (from the cheese maker in Eyeries that we had failed to find on our drive through the Beara peninsula Monday)
Durrus farmhouse cheese
Gubeen black pepper salami
The Gubeen salami was so good that we bought some to bring home for ourselves and some as a gift for Lori’s father. Unfortunately, it was confiscated when we went through Customs.
For dessert, Lori had her last millionaire’s shortbread of the trip, a very good one.
We tried once more to find an Irish session. When we’d asked Mary, the innkeeper at our B&B, for recommendations for Irish music, she’d said “Irish people don’t listen to Irish music,” but despite that, she had suggested Taaffe’s as a place with a regular session. I think this was a reasonably authentic session - the folks playing were playing for each other, instead of for the audience, musicians joined the group from time to time, and no one offered CDs for sale.
Mary may have been exaggerating, but she was not wholly wrong; everyone in the audience appeared to be a tourist, including this particularly cute spectator.
Galway at dusk.
For dinner, we followed a Yelp tip to The Pie Maker, a little shop serving Australian pies. This was one of the finest Roadfood stops we’ve ever had, because we got into a great conversation with Stephanie, the woman making the pies.
It was a tiny shop, with just four booths and a counter.
We drank Australian beverages: Bundaberg ginger beer (very fiery) and Belvoir elderflower soda (somewhat bitter).
I had a chicken curry pie, Lori had a ham and cheese pie, and both were wonderful. After weeks of thick, heavy crust, it was a nice change to find that Australian pie crusts are light and flaky like pie crusts in the US. Its hard to tell from these pictures which pie is which. Stephanie can tell them apart by the garnishes on the pie crust, but I no longer remember which one was which.
For dessert, I had a splendid rhubarb tart and Lori had an outstanding banoffee pie. Stephanie was very firm on the claim that banoffee pie was an Irish creation, because so many bananas pass through Dublin on the way to other places. I didn’t argue too strongly with her, but there seems to be fairly clear evidence that banoffee pie was originated at the Hungry Monk pub in England. Stephanie very kindly gave us her recipe for banoffee pie, and we’ve made it ourselves with good results.
The food was all excellent, but the best thing about the meal was the conversation with Stephanie. For most of the evening, we were alone in the place with her, and we had a long, rambling, lovely conversation. (The conversation would have been long anyway, but it was made even longer because they only took cash and we were out. I left Lori there “as collateral” and went out walking to find an ATM, but the first ATM I found quit working at 6pm. I had to walk much further to find an ATM that would give us cash.)
She had grown up in the United States, and had been a social worker in New Mexico until she burned out. She had moved to Inishmor (one of the Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland not far from Galway) because of a guy, and felt that she hadn’t been welcomed by the community there. But when that romance ended with a “psychotic” breakup, the whole community took care of her, and someone unexpected called the police.
She had moved to Kinsale for a while, and learned to cook through cultivating a recommendation for being available as a dishwasher, potato peeler, or whatever odd job was needed for a restaurant that might be short-handed for a day for a staff emergency until chefs started giving her tips and jobs.
Now she lives on Inishmor and goes to Galway for four days each week to work in the pie shop. She runs the Pie Maker herself most of the time she’s there, making all the pies, serving customers, and everything. The job makes her wonderfully happy.
She also told us about some of her romantic hopes, and invited our advice. I’m not going to write those details here, just in case the guy she was attracted to should happen to find this page in a Google search - but Stephanie, if you should ever read this, we have our fingers crossed for you, and we’d love to know how it works out. Best of luck!
We loved talking with Stephanie about life and pie, and we wish her and the shop the very best. This was one of our favorite stops in Ireland.
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