Traditional Irish Cooking
Mutton stewed with onion, potatoes and carrots in a light stock makes a perfect Irish stew. Beef stewed in a stock of stout is an Irish variation on east european goulash. Seafood is not as prevalent in traditional dishes as one might expect, but traditional smoked salmon is a firm favorite, as are oysters and mussels.
Coddle is predominantly a Dublin dish of boiled potatoes and pork sausages. Tripe, meat and blood puddings and sausages are also popular traditional dishes. Tripe in Cork is boiled in peppered milk with onions until tender (a LONG time) and served with a local pudding called 'drisheen'. Tripe and drisheen is not everyone's cup of tea to say the least. Cork also majors in crubeens or pigs trotters which are now making more and more of an appearance on upmarket restaurant menus. Traditional potato pancakes called Boxtys are also worth tracking down.
There is also much to be sampled in baking with traditional Irish soda breads and brown breads forming an excellent counterpoint to the foods mentioned above. Griddle breads and pancakes, cooked over an open fire, were a standard until recently.
Where's the fish?!
Around town, the place for an Irish breakfast is the famous Bewley's, on Grafton Street & Westmoreland Street with similar value available in the Kylemore of Stephen's Green and O'Connell Street. But many other small cafes offer super value too. With the increasing internationalisation of Dublin, you are in no way limited to such a breakfast. You can get coffee, muffins, danish pastries and any manner of variation on eggs, breads etc in most cafes now. Luckily, coffee is now of a pretty high standard in Dublin.
Lunch is typically served between 12.00 and 2.00 and is a light meal. More often than not people opt for rolls, sandwiches, salads and the like these days with cafes again being the most popular destination. With Dublin city centre being so small, you will find everywhere pretty packed at this time. Many restaurants offer excellent lunch specials and are usually less crowded than cafes.
Dinner, as the main meal of the day, is typically no later than 9.00pm. Restaurants around Dublin would rarely accept a booking after 10.00pm, since most close around 11.00pm. (Natives would eat dinner at home pretty soon after the working day is over, about 6.00pm or so, and unlike many of our continental neighbours, dinner is usually a rushed affair, a pit-stop rather than a social occassion - socialising in the evening is predominantly based on the bar and pub scene.) The restaurant scene in Dublin is bustling at the moment, with so many excellent restaurants doubling as the place to be seen. While the quality is excellent and continues to climb, the cost is high and if you are dining out often it pays to shop around. Early evening specials are a great way to sample Dublin's restaurants, with early-bird or pre-theatre menus offering substantial reductions on the prime time costs.
At weekends, a sunday brunch is quite common, served in many pubs and cafes around town. This provides a substantial meal based on the full Irish breakfast at the later time of 12.00 to 2.00pm, allowing for a good sleep-in on sunday morning after saturday night's socialising. It's good value, and among Dubliners a very popular way to spend early sunday afternoon.
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