Food and Drink

Ireland 2018 - The Food

I was almost finished eating my first meal in Ireland when I decided I should take a picture of every meal for the blog (because... of course I should!).

The first thing Marisa and I had to do when we landed was get our luggage and our rental car. The third thing we needed to do was go to 3 and get local SIM cards for our iPhones. Then we went to a random pub and had a perfectly fine first meal. I had the omelet:

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Then we were off to Carlingford and as we checked in our hotel we asked the person where we should eat. She gave us many options, but said, "If it were me I'd head down to P.J.'s (P.J. O'Hare's) and get some fish and chips."

And that's what we did and that's what I had. The first fish and chips of the trip... and probably my least favorite (though it was still good other than the peas which were no bueno):

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Our stay in Ghan House included breakfast, and given I was still watching what I ate I opted for the very low point (and delicious) scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Though it seems most people in Ireland don't put ketchup on their eggs.

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One of the things Marisa wanted to do was to have a proper tea. We did so at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, and it was very good indeed.

First we had some lovely tiny sandwiches:

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And then a tower of sweet things:

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Also there was tea.

I ate all my tiny sweet things, but Marisa was much more discerning:

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We skipped lunch and went right to dinner (which was at a pub near the hotel). For some reason I thought an order of fish cakes would be light. They weren't, but they were tasty (and it included almost a salad!).


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Breakfast was back at the hotel where I had some fruit and more scrambled eggs and salmon (no ketchup, again!):

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Lunch was at the Giant's Causeway visitor center with some very delicious Irish Stew and a shortbread cookie and some healthy oakcake Marisa opted for. Seriously, the food at visitor centers in Ireland is fantastic as compared to what you get in the States (i.e. crappy hamburgers):

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Dinner was more fish and chips! I don't actually recall where we got this from, but I do remember the peas were much better:

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The next day we hit up the Merchant Hotel for our last meal there.. and they gave us so much bread:

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I got an omelet this time because I had had enough with the salmon:

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We had a lot of driving ahead of it, so it was time to partake in the great tradition of the prepackaged sandwich (plus a couple of bananas). I will say, it was a pretty ok sandwich considering I bought it at a gas station:

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We were spending the night in a bubble in the Northern Ireland woods, so we went to the resort restaurant had some fancy pants food.

My appetizer was good:

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My main, some kind of fish, was fine though the column of potatoes it was served upon was very good:

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Breakfast at the resort started with some yogurt:

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And ended with a not so satisfying "breakfast sandwich:"

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But we stopped at another gas station and I bought some shortbread... so really I win:

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And then I had this quiche. I don't remember where. I don't recall if it was good (though it looks tasty). There you have it.

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Now, if there were any day in Ireland to have a disappointing breakfast and a forgettable lunch it was today. Because we had just checked into Ballymaloe House and they asked if we wanted to have dinner there. Sure, we said, not knowing we were in for a five course meal that was one of the best meals I've ever eaten.

First off, the soup. So good.

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And then there was an hors d'oeuvre buffet. That's right, a whole table full of delicious bites (with two ladies tending it.. they told me to feel free to come back for another round if I wanted).

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Then my main with lobster and some fish (and a lot of butter):

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Then the cheese cart arrived, and I had to have a bit of everything:

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Luckily I left room for the dessert cart:

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And we thought that was it, but there was another little nut caramel thing to end the meal:

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In the morning we went back hoping to recapture the magic, but the breakfast wasn't as exciting. Some yogurt:

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And some very expensive scrambled eggs (they were fine but not worth $25):

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Then we were off to a farmers' market were I bought some farm fresh pizza:

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And Marisa bought the fixings for dinner. One of the things Marisa wanted to do on this trip was to cook, and so cook she did:

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Breakfast was another Marisa production:

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Followed by some delicious vegetable soup for lunch:

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And then some fish and chips (the fish was good, the chips not so much):

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For dinner Marisa whipped up some cabbage and a savory pie:

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And for breakfast Marisa made some very good eggs, which I accompanied with a day old cinnamon roll I bought on our ramble about:

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At the Rock of Cashel we popped into a little tea room for some sandwiches, veggie soup, and a cookie:

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Then we had another fancy dinner:

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Followed by scrambled eggs for breakfast:

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And a tuna melt from a tea room. The tuna melt was ok, the rice was cold and had raisins in it (odd) but the coleslaw and potato salad were top notch.

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Marisa fell in love with Marks and Spencer while we were in Ireland, and this dinner pretty much came from there (though Marisa cooked it all up):

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After that day, a simple breakfast was in order:

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And since I was so good at breakfast why not get a chicken melty thing for lunch:

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And then a HUGE portion of fish and chips for dinner (at a place we had fish and chips the first time we were in Ireland):

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Perhaps too many chips the previous day resulted in this breakfast:

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And our final meal of our final full day in Ireland was at the airport hotel... and it was surprisingly tasty:

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New Year's Eve

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Lots of people love New Year's Eve, and more power to them! I, however, do not count myself amongst their number.

I don't drink. I don't like being in large groups of people. And drunk people aren't my favorite either.

If you were to try to design a holiday that held no interest to me you'd end up with New Year's Eve.

That being said, there is one thing that I always to try to on New Year's Eve: eat some pigs in a blanket.

Why? Well, when I was growing up (and well into college), I would generally stay home on New Year's Eve and hang out with my mom. She'd always buy one of those variety packs of frozen hors d'oeuvre and we'd eat them as we watched Dick Clark ring in the New Year not so far away in Times Square.

That's why I ate 4 pigs in a blanket (pictured above) and thought of my mom.

Happy New Year!


Pip's Orginal Doughnuts and Chai

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My doughnut tour of Portland concludes with 2 mini-doughnuts (Marisa ate the other two) from Pip's Original Doughnuts & Chai. I ordered the candied bacon doughnut and the cinnamon sugar.

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They were tasty (and hot! Part of their deal is that the doughnuts are fresh to order) and I liked that they were only a couple bites each.

I still think that VooDoo is my favorite, though I like the aesthetic of Pip's. Though boo to them for not having the tshirt I wanted in XXL. Come on!


Voodoo Maple Bacon Bar

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The other doughnut you have to have while in Portland is from Voodoo Doughnuts. While Blue Star focuses on simplicity, quality, and unique flavor profiles Voodoo answers the question, “How much Capt'n Crunch can you get on a doughnut?”

My go to, pictured above, is the Maple Bacon Bar. As I said to Marisa: the Blue Star is better but I like the Voodoo doughnut more. It just tastes like what I want a doughnut to taste like… and I feel like Blue Star is just a touch pretentious.

Of course, if I could only go to one doughnut place in the world neither of the Portland options would make the cut. I would save that honor for NYC's Doughnut Plant. But I don't want to live in a world where I can only go to one doughnut place.


Blue Star Maple Bacon Donut, guest starring a vanilla cardamom donut

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When you're in Portland, well at least when I'm in Portland, that means it is donut time!

Marisa prefers Blue Star to other famous Portlandian donuts, and so we made our way to Blue Star to have a couple of donuts. I opted for the Maple Bacon, and Marisa wanted a blueberry burbon donut (yeast, not cake!), but the last one was sold to the guy right in front of us (though he did offer to give it to Marisa, she declined). Marisa settled for a vanilla cinnamon cardamom donut (and even scored a free orange donut to help soften the disappointment of not getting the one she wanted).


Seems like a small thing, but at $325 a meal you're paying for it

I've wanted to go to Per Se ever since I worked next to building which it is in, but it looks like it isn't what it used to be:


Wine glasses sat empty through entire courses. Once, the table was set for dessert so haphazardly that my spoon ended up next to my water glass instead of my plate.

Marisa knows I don't mind paying for good service, but I get very upset when I'm paying for great service and I get OK service. I can get that kind of service much cheaper!


Thanks for Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, food scientists!

Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper

The New York Times has a great/terrifying article called The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food. You should check it out, however, my favorite beverage's origin story is revealed:

The soda that emerged from all of Moskowitz’s variations became known as Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, and it proved successful beyond anything Cadbury imagined. In 2008, Cadbury split off its soft-drinks business, which included Snapple and 7-Up. The Dr Pepper Snapple Group has since been valued in excess of $11 billion.

Pimm's Pitcher

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My drink of choice is a Pimm's Cup. Why? Because I likes it!

I found myself on the Internet the other day, which is out of the ordinary, and I ended up on the official Pimm's website. I poked around and found out about the existence of the Pimm's pitcher (a pitcher in which to make a large amount of Pimm's cups).

I leapt for my wallet, but sadly the store on the Pimm's website wasn't working. Sadness.

Enter eBay. I now own a Pimm's pitcher of my very own (pictured above). Sure, mine is plastic but I'm ok with that. I think I'll break in during my birthday party.


I DO want to go into the Donut Business!

donutbiz.jpgSometimes I think I spend too much time on the internet, and then I come across blog post like this and I know that all those hours are time well spent.

Peter Harrington, a purveyor of rare books and manuscripts in London, has a great blog called The Cataloguer's Desk. They share pictures of their interesting recent acquisitions, and I have to agree that this donut business pamphlet is fantastic. I'm almost tempted to find out how much they want for it.

I love the pictures of the giant donut factory, and the look into what donut shops used to look like. It is amazing to think that Krispy Kreme's entire business is pretty much based on the same principles laid out in this pamphlet.


Vote for Food In Jars!

When Marisa stepped down from being the lead blogger over at Slashfood she was in a bit of a funk. She was afraid that Slashfood was the only way people would get to read her food writing, and that bummed her out.

I strongly suggested that she start a blog devoted to food that she could control completely. Everything on it would be by Marisa, and she could write about whatever it is her little heart desired.

That's about as much credit as I can take for Marisa's wonderful blog Food In Jars. The idea is brilliant: take Marisa's unhealthy obsession with jars into something that is both fun to read and informative.

Now, I'm a little biased since I'm married to Marisa and all, but I think her blog is pretty darned good. It seems that I'm not the only one since Saveur (a fancypants food magazine) has included Food In Jars as one of the nominees for their "Best Special Interest Blog" category of their first annual Best Food Blog Awards:

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So what are you waiting for? Go vote for Marisa! A vote for Food in Jars is a vote for America (I mean, who eats tacos everyday?).


Fork You: Wines, PA Style

I'm not a big drinker (well, I supposed technically I'm a big drinker since I'm a large man... but I don't drink much so I guess I'm a big occasional drinker) but when the opportunity was presented to tour the Berks County Wine Trail (for free) we couldn't turn it down. Check out this episode of Fork You to find out about the wine the drank, the kitty we met, and meet some lovely PA winemakers. The wine that we drank was good, but I was really struck by the people making the wine. Each winery we visited was a family affair (even Clover Hill, by far the largest operation we stopped at, is a family business). It really inspired me to not give up on making a living doing what I love (of course since I pretty much make a living writing one could argue that I'm living the dream!). Anyway I had fun, and if you're in PA and into wine you really should check out the wineries that are in our backyard.

A honeymoon in food

As we sat down to our first real meal of the honeymoon I thought it would be a great idea to snap an iPhone picture of each meal I ate during the trip. I always have my iPhone with me, and I'm always taking crappy pictures of my food with it so clearly this idea was meant to be.

Sadly, I would often be so hungry that I would either: start eating before I remembered to take a picture OR finish eating before remembering to take a picture. I did, however, manage to snap pics of 22 meals over the course of 8 days. Here they are, in order consumed from the earliest to the latest:

Bennington, VT

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I'm not sure who thought putting the insides of a chicken pot pie into a bread bowl was a good idea, but they were absolutely correct. This was our first real meal of the honeymoon and we had it at the Perfect Wife. Very good, and the prices were reasonable.

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One of the great things about staying at a bed and breakfast is that you get both a bed AND breakfast (genius!). We were the only guests at breakfast our first morning, so I couldn't refuse the big bowl of fruit (not a fan of fruit). I covered it up with yogurt and only ate the cantaloupe.

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After the disappointing fruit (which was only disappointing because I don't like fruit, mind you) the good innkeeper at The Inn on the Covered Bridge Green made up for it with some delicious eggs benedict.

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Our lunch stop was the Blue Benn Diner. If you're ever in Bennington, VT you have got to stop at this tiny diner (it is one of those dinners in a train car). The hot chocolate was great, as was the...

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Eggplant thing that I got. I asked the waitress what she would recommend, since the menu is huge, and she said the stuffed eggplant was the way to go. She didn't steer me wrong.

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Not having enough colonial experiences in Philadelphia we decided to have dinner at Ye Olde Tavern. The pictures aren't great because that place is dark. I mean, seriously dark. These were some cranberry fritters that we got whilst waiting for our meal. Pretty good.

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The cheese plate was the highlight of the meal for both Marisa and myself.

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I ordered the tournedos of filet mignon, which is filet mignon topped with lobster served with béarnaise. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't mind blowing either.

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This was our last breakfast at the good old Inn on the Covered Bridge Green and it consisted of lemon and blueberry pancakes. They were good, sadly I had a childhood trauma involving blueberry pancakes (watch me tell the story of my trauma and eat some blueberry jam!) so I didn't really enjoy them (though I soaked them through and through with maple syrup, which seemed to help). The bacon was very good.

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We spent a lot of time in random stores during the honeymoon and the Vermont Country Store has got to be the most random of them all. However, the Bryant House Restaurant that is next to their location in Weston, Vermont is very good. I had the Yankee Pot Roast open face sandwich. I wish they could FedEx one to me tomorrow. Very tasty.

Rutland, VT

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I thought the Mountain Top Inn and Resort was a little more rustic and secluded than it actually was, but they make a mean french dip!

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Maple Sugar and Vermont Spice makes the best pancakes I have ever had in my life. Above you see an order of their sugar and spice pancakes. After we finished our breakfast I turned to Marisa and said, "We have to have breakfast here again tomorrow." Read on to see if we did! (Spoiler alert: we did, and it was just as good).

Hanover, New Hampshire

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We somehow found ourselves in New Hampshire where we saw Fame (don't ask). I was craving some Asian food so we stopped at Yama II. This soup was tasty but super hot.

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The pad thai was very good, indeed. The place really had a 'college town eatery' vibe that I dug.

Rutland, VT

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I told you we went back! This time I had the breakfast sampler with pancakes, two eggs, two pieces of bacon, and two sausage links. And a maple syrup chaser.

Lake Placid, NY

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Kanu is the restaurant inside the Whiteface Lodge, and it is very good. Not pictured were two appetizers that we shared: a mac and cheese to die for and some very good grilled scallops. My entree was the pulled pork which was porktastic. Sadly, the baked beans weren't cooked all the way through so I didn't eat them. The cornbread was good though.

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Breakfast was included in our rate at the Whiteface Lodge, so you can bet your bippy that we had breakfast there. Best of all it was a breakfast buffet (and a very good one at that). I must have eaten seven of those cinnamon roll things.

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At this point Marisa decided that we hadn't been eating enough vegetables ("Wait, bacon ISN'T a vegetable?!") so we had some raw veggies and hummus for lunch.

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Milano North is responsible for this, and it was much better tasting than it looks in this picture (it kind of looks like gagh, which you might know as Klingon Blood Worms). Marisa wasn't a fan of her dinner, but they did give us a free dessert (which I devoured before my iPhone could snap a pic).

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One bagel, two toppings. Madness!

Mt. Tremper, NY

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I did not have high hopes for Brios, but my chicken parm was very good. There were a few too many screaming children here for my taste, but that isn't the restaurant's fault.

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When we saw that the menu featured four different types of multigrain pancakes we knew we had found the right place for Marisa (damn, hippy). The omelet was very good, and the toast was fantastic (they bake their own bread). Sweet Sue's is worth a stop if you ever find yourself in Phoenicia, NY.