Seafood and Stout in Ireland

Guinness and Oysters

It would be difficult (and somewhat neglectful of me) to start off a post about the food and drink of Ireland without including a picture of one of the most quintessential combinations: Oysters and Stout — of which, incidentally, the oysters were some of the best I’ve ever had.

Guinness Bottles Throughout the Years

And naturally, when you’re in Dublin, the stout of choice is Guinness, being that the brewery is within walking distance of the city center.  The brewery itself is closed to the public, but for around $20, you can take a self-guided tour of the Guinness Storehouse.  This is a pretty touristy thing to do, but it is a fun way to kill a few hours (if you have an aversion to Guinness propaganda ads, however, you’d best stay away).  And as metioned in the previous post, you’ll be able to snag a free pint in their Gravity Bar, offering some of the best views of the city.  The only drawback, however, is that every other person touring the city seems to have had the same idea:

Crowds at Guinness’s Gravity Bar

And prior to my visit to Ireland, I would have told you that everyone on the island drank Guinness, as that is the summation of the advertising we get back in the States.  This is quite the misnomoer, though, as I realized after watching bottle after bottle of Bulmer’s cider being passed over the bar to those with Irish accents, and pint after pint of “the black stuff” being passed to only visiting tourists.  Additionally, Guinness is only the official beer of Dublin, Ireland.  After moving down to the “2nd captial” that is Cork , I realised that ordering a Guinness there was roughly the equivalent of walking into a hot dog shop in Chicago and ordering a Dirty Water Dog (a New York classic) — technically possible, but something that just isn’t done.  In fact, Cork houses both the Murphy’s brewery and the Beamish brewery, so unless you want to stand out, it’d be better to order one of these two choices, instead.

A properly poured pint will leave rings along the glass with each gulp

And naturally, pubs are far more prevalent than they are in the States.  They basically form the social fabric of the country — where everyone gathers to share gossip, catch up on the news of the day, and put back a few pints while listening to some Irish standards:

A few pubs in the happenin’ Temple Bar District of Dublin

A colorful and lively pub wedged into an alley in Cork

Ireland isn’t completely engrossed with only Stouts and Cider, however.  Another typically drink of choice is the decidely smooth and easy-drinking Irish Whiskey, such as Busmill’s or Jameson.  And if you’re a fan of the latter, you can tour their old distillery while in Dublin.

Barrels of Jameson being aged

One piece of advice, however, if you’re planning on going this route: be sure to raise your hand at the very start of the tour when they ask for volunteers, as you’ll get to sample a variety of different whiskeys at the end, in addition to the normal free tot of Jameson (thanks for the head’s up, Kim).

Whiskey Tasting at the Jameson Distillery

During the tour, the guide asked if there were any Scotch drinkers in the house, after which I casually raised my hand.  He joking mentioned that the exit was right over there, but little did he know he was just setting me up to exact cold and cruel revenge later on.  The point of the tasting at the end is to get everyone to try a Scotch, an Irish Whiskey (Jameson), and then an American Bourbon, after which all of the tasters will hopefully declare that they like the Irish Whiskey the best.  Our group only had 7 of the 8 tasters declaring the Jameson as their favorite, but luckily, they gave me my “Official Taster” certificate anyway, despite my preference for the smokey, peaty goodness crafted in the country next door:

Ireland isn’t all about pints of whiskey, however.  They have an up-and-coming culinary scene that is trying to overcome it’s negative reputation of cabbage and potatoes.  And the most bountiful and fresh ingredients available all seem to come from the sea, being an island and all…

One of many Fish Market’s in Howth, a small but upscale fishing village outside of Dublin

The seafood is all screamingly fresh, and can be enjoyed cooked into several classic dishes (I didn’t get a picture of the Oxtail and Oyster Pot Pie that I was lucky enough to try, but rest assured, it was delicious) or just lightly tossed with some oil and vinegar:

Fruitti de Mare (Mussels, Calamari, Octopus, and Shrimp Salad)

Another great aspect of the cuisine is the prevalance of Carveries, or places that serve up various meats carved up on a plate or in sandwich form:

Sandwichs for Sale (just try to ignore the presence of Reeses)

“The Traditional” – with Roast Beef, Horseradish, Lettuce, and Tomato

While exploring the city of Cork, I happened to stumble across an amazing market called the English Market, which pretty much makes the North Market in Columbus look like a 7/11:

Entrance to the Cork English Market

Olives and Antipasta

Freshly Baked Bread

One of several seafood counters in the Market

I still have another week or so in Ireland, so I’m sure I’ll have more to post in the near future (I particularly have my eye on a proper Full Irish Breakfast), but until then, Sláinte!

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About andrewamiet

I'm a 29 (now 31) year-old former desk jockey who is now making my way around the world, experiencing all of the sights, sounds, tastes, people, and culture that the world has to offer.

6 Responses to “Seafood and Stout in Ireland”

  1. Keep the photos coming. They go great with your anecdotes! Those sammies look KILLER.

  2. Looks like you are really ruffing it. Don’t forget to have a Smithwicks, one of my favorite Irish brews.

  3. I bet the Official Taster Certificate goes right by your MBA on the wall…or maybe above it? Congrats Rew, proud of you!

  4. I bet you spent hours in the market!

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