14 March 2007

On the banks of the Lee

This weekend The Very Understanding Girlfriend and I decided to go out for lunch. Lunch is normally a Sunday thing, but we thought we would splash out, live a little and treat ourselves to a nice lunch. So we went to Cork. Yup, we travelled 250Km for lunch.

Of course it didn't start out exactly like that. We have been trying to get away for a weekend break for some time, but have never seemed to get beyond the "you know, we should really go away this weekend" stage of the process. The best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland is Cafe Paradiso in Cork, and when we saw on their website that they also have guest accommodation it seemed like a sign from above. Unfortunately when we rang to place a booking for dinner they had nothing available, but to be fare we were ringing at 10pm on Friday night. However the person we spoke to was so nice we were determined to make it happen, so we decided to come down for lunch instead and stay overnight!

The journey itself wasn't so bad, three hours by train (one way ticket to Cork was €61, a 5 day return was €63. I wondered if I could just hitch-hike down and get the train back up for €2, but there didn't seem to be that option listed online). We've had a friend living on the outskirts of Cork for over a year now, and have never made it down to see her, the excuse being that it's so far away, but the ease with which we made it down on Saturday puts pay to that notion. In our defense, we had another good friend living in Stoneybatter (north inner city Dublin, about a 30 minute walk from our house) and we made it out to see him maybe three times in two years, so it's not that we have anything against Cork, it's just that we are really bad friends.

Cafe Paradiso was amazing! When you are a vegetarian so often you are faced with an option of risotto or tomato pasta, if you're lucky. We actually had to take a while just to get used to the concept of having a choice, and what a choice it was. In the end I went for a beetroot mousse with orange-scented yoghurt, watercress and fennel crispbreads as a starter, and a gratin of leeks, roast pumpkin & hazelnuts with Gabriel cheese & tarragon cream, braised fennel and cannellini beans - absolutely amazing and yes, it was as good as it sounds! We took over an hour and a half to eat, and if that sounds short keep in mind that I find it hard to take more than 10 minutes for lunch most days, it's less eating and more inhaling really - I probably spend more time in the queue getting the food than I do actually consuming it. It definitely rivalled Hangawi and the Candle Cafe in New York as the best vegetarian experience, ever!

After taking a suitable amount of time to digest, we went for a constitutional stroll through the streets of Cork, and headed towards the English Market, which despite its name did not have an English for sale, but did have an amazing amount of organic food and drink, including fairtrade prosecco, which went down a treat later that evening. We spent the rest of the evening out in Douglas with a few friends, before returning to Cafe Paradiso for one of the best nights sleep in memory. Breakfast the next morning was a sumptuous three course affair, made all the more surreal by the fact that we were the only guests in the place that weekend.

We capped off the trip to the People's Republic with a visit to the Midleton distillery (pictured above), marred only be the inexcusable absence of Midleton-on-a-rope or other whiskey related toiletries in the gift shop (imagine the joy of stumbling into work, reeking of whiskey, and when confronted by your coworkers in an intervention-like setting being able to dismiss away their concerns by producing a bottle of Jameson-scented shower gel to explain away your sweetly-sour odour at 10:34am).

All in all a great weekend. Next week I'm going out for dinner with Dawn, our friend from the Have'.

In Millennium, in San Francisco.

8192Km for dinner; Dublin really needs to get a decent veggie eatery.


At 6:43 pm, Blogger Tadhg said...

Hmm, I might have to crash that dinner...

Are you staying in SF or MV? You should mail me your trip details!


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