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November travels: Chicago and Ireland

Oh dear flog, how I’ve neglected you. November was a crazy whirlwind month. I had to fly off to Chicago at a moment’s notice to retrieve an errant runaway teen. I have a lovely week long vacation in Ireland and then turkey day. Here is the quickest of summaries of November’s eats.

Chicago: Gino’s East

I hopped on a 1pm flight on a Monday, arrived at 4pm and left the next day at 1pm. In between I stayed with Archit and Mansi in their breathtakingly beautiful apartment and have some deep dish pizza. We went to Gino’s East, as Archit has deemed it his favorite pizza, so far. The original location is conveniently walking distance from their place. As soon I sat down, I realized a fatal flaw; Gino’s is known for their deep dish sausage pizza and I was dining with two vegetarians! We were sitting next to a large group that ordered far too many pizzas and I briefly contemplated bartering away a slice of our spinach and olive pizza but I didn’t. The pizza was good; it had a cornmeal crust which gave it an unique flavor and texture. I’ll be back and I’ll bring R with me and we will get the sausage next time.

Ireland

People have been greeting me with “How was Ireland? How was the food?” It was a mixed bag. We have some great meals, including some of the best fries ever (they seem to really know how to deep fat fry over there) and some disappointing ones (I’m looking at you, Gordon Ramsay!) They love their lamb and potatoes over there and food was just plain expensive.

Highlights:

Roundwood Inn, Roundwood. It was a small inn, in an even smaller town. We were hungry and my guidebook had a blurb about it. I got a ½ roasted chicken and it came with fries. It was these fries that R declared to be the best fries he has ever had. The thickness made for the perfect ratio of fluffy potato goodness on the inside to shatteringly crisp exterior.

Nancy Muphy’s, Enniskerry. It was billed as a gastropub. I had some great fish and chips there (again, great frying skills). I have discovered I really love a good piece of fried fish. R had a traditional Irish stew with tender lamb chunks, potatoes and carrots.

O’Neill’s Pub, Dublin. We went because they had corned beef and cabbage, which Amy said she wanted. It was a traditional pub, with a carvery station in it. You go to the head of the cafeteria style line, order your meat (we went with roast rib of Irish beef) and then your sides. The server asked if I wanted everything and I said sure. He proceeded to put not one, not two but three kinds of potato on my plate: roasted, fried and mashed. I tole you, they love their potatoes there. There was also cabbage and carrots. The roast beef was delicious. I’m sure the corned beef would have also been great, but Amy had an aneurysm and came back with a vegetarian goat cheese and red pepper panini.

http://www.oneillsbar.com/

Dissapointments:

Gordon Ramsay, Powerscourt. It was a happy coincidence that the restaurant was at the Ritz Carlton where we were staying. It was our big splurge meal; we went with the 6 course “Prestige Menu”.

1. Pressed foie gras with Waldorf salad and spiced bread

2. East coast lobster and salmon ravioli with lemongrass sauce

3. Sea bream with confît leeks and cauliflower velouté

4. Roast Connemara Hill lamb, ‘boulangère’ potatoes, rosemary jus

5. Assiette of Hereford beef with green asparagus, girolles and hollandaise sauce

6. Pear Williams baba

It was all fine, but for the amount of money we spent ($330) I expect to be wowed and I wasn’t wowed by anything, and I felt some of the flavors did not go together well. It was a clean, decently executed fine dining meal; nothing I couldn’t have gotten in Boston for two-thirds of the price.
Poppie's Modern Cooking, Enniskerry. I had high hopes for this place that featured “modern Irish fare” but I saw very quickly that it was cute space with a deli counter of prepared food that was microwaved to order. R enjoyed his beef and Guinness pie, but the special house chicken dish was nothing more than a lukewarm chicken salad with cornflakes on top. We went back later in the week for a their full Irish breakfast, which is actually cooked to order and it was much better.
Avoca Café, Dublin. My guidebook raved on and on about this place, so I guess my disappointment was more related to high expectations. It was a nice café on the 3rd floor of the cutest shop. I got the fish pie, which has nice big hunks of salmon and cod. R got a burger, which was okay. It was expensive, but all food in Ireland is.

More about Thanksgiving later. . .

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