Tag Archives: ireland

Lamb Stew on St. Patrick’s Day

I admit that when The Old Man and I went to Ireland and Spain last year, I was planning on writing many detailed posts about every meal, every adventure, every milestone.  Instead I wrote two posts (this one and this one), neither of which detail the delicious food we experienced.  So, let me take this opportunity to talk about Ireland’s lamb stew.

IT IS SO GOOD.  Especially when it is freezing and raining outside (which it was) and served with soda bread (which everything is) near a hearth fire (of which there are many).  Our favorite place for stew in Dublin was a pub near Trinity College called The Duke.  It is two stories tall with nooks and booths to hide away in, there are several hearths crackling, comfortable seating, lovely servers, and – of course – delicious lamb stew.  It was so perfectly warm and welcoming in The Duke, and the stew was hearty and flavorful; a happy combination perfectly suited to weary travelers on a chilly afternoon.

In honor of all things Irish, on St. Patrick’s day whilst pining for beautiful Ireland, I made my own version of Lamb Stew.  See below for the recipe.

And since I neglected to snap any photos of my stew, please accept this Instagram shot of Ireland instead.

Galway

The Domestic B’s Lamb Stew
Makes almost enough for 8 neighbors in your backyard on St. Patrick’s Day.

Ingredients:

4 to 6 pounds of lamb (Ask your butcher which cuts he / she recommends for stews.  I like to make sure at least one bone is included for flavor.)
1/2 pound end cut bacon pieces
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
flour (enough to coat pieces of lamb)
a handful of carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
5 to 7 small red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 leek, chopped
5 cups of water
3 beef bouillon cubes, dissolved
1 can / bottle Guinness beer
grapeseed oil
2 bay leaves
thyme

Instructions:

1)  Fry bacon pieces in a pan.  Remove from pan, cut away as much visible fat as possible, cut into bite-sized pieces and add bacon to empty crock pot.  Discard fat, or toss a little back into the pan.
2)  Re-heat pan (using the bacon fat that still remains), and add whole pieces of lamb, lightly browning the outsides.  Remove from pan, cut into pieces and remove as much excess fat as possible.
3)  In a bowl, add plenty of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and flour to a bowl.  Coat pieces of lamb.  Re-heat frying pan and add the lamb pieces.  Fry until cooked medium rare.  Add to crock pot.
4)  Sautee chopped leek and minced garlic in pan for a few minutes (use a drizzle of grape seed oil if all bacon fat is gone).  Add to crock pot.
5)  Add 5 cups of water and beef bouillon to the crock pot.  Cover and turn on high.  Allow to cook for 1 hour.
6)  Add Guinness beer, carrots, celery, potatoes, barley, and bay leaves to the crock pot.  Sprinkle a pinch of thyme on top, stir and cover.  Cook for 1 hour.

For best results, serve on a cold and rainy day with soda bread near a crackling fire.  Have lots of craic.

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Soon to be ‘mooning!

In four short weeks, the old man and me will be celebrating wedding anniversary Numero Uno!

And now that our first year of legal love is drawing it’s close, we are going to celebrate by FINALLY taking our honeymoon!  When G first suggested that we wait a year for our honeymoon, I got uncharacteristically freaked out.  My parents never took their honeymoon, and it was always a sore issue for my mom, and a source of contention.  (She is now on to her second marriage and still has not gotten a honeymoon.)  And I suddenly was having flashbacks of sitting in the theater watching the first seven minutes of Up, and Carl and Ellie keep having to smash the piggy bank:  broken arm:  SMASH, busted car:  SMASH, new balloon cart:  SMASH… and then Ellie is dead and Carl is alone and Ellie never got to travel with Carl and them I’m CRYING and then squirrel!  (See the movie if this last part makes no sense.)

But, once the real wedding planning began, it became quite apparent that the old man was right: planning the honeymoon we wanted (and could afford) while also planning the wedding we wanted (and could afford) would be very difficult, if not crazy-making.  And nobody wants to marry a crazy-made over-stressed bitch.  Much less go on an extended overseas vacation with her.  So, thanks honey.  (And, you’re welcome.)

Thus far, the plan is this: cross the pond to Ireland (a mere 14 hours), spend a couple days in Dublin, then it’s off to Galway for a few more days; a visit with some of G’s distant cousins, many many beers, a horse race, much too much soda bread, and then it’s back to Dublin via rental car to fly to Madrid.  We’ll stay only one night in Madrid, then take the train to Granada where we have rented an apartment in the Albycin!  Whose porch overlooks the city and the Alhambra!  (Scroll down for photo.)  After three days there, we rent a car and drive to the coastal city of Almeria – the city of my grandmother’s birth (and the city of spaghetti westerns!  They have old western towns built outside of Almeria where Sergio Leone would shoot movies.  (For a couple of weirdos like us who totally watch old westerns, this is awesome.).)  Then roadtrip to Barcelona, stopping perhaps in Valencia for a good night’s sleep and a day wandering BioParc before our 3 days in the big city.  And then, it’s back to the states.  16 days in total.

CANNOT WAIT!

Things that have been helpful for planning:

TripIt.com:  I give it a B-.  It’s a great idea, but has got some frustrating kinks that should be worked out before I give it an A.  Such as:  When a new activity is added to the itinerary, Tripit does not organize them very well.  It is totally non-intuitive in the area of organizing.  Great idea for a travel tool, but not perfect yet.  Though I have high hopes for you, Tripit.

VRBO.com:  RAD.  A-.  This is a website where people with second homes rent them out to hotel-weary travellers such as you and me.  They’re generally less expensive than hotels, more spacious than hotels, and more better than hotels.  But one does risk having to deal with a not-professional / personally-attached-to-the-place-that-you’re-staying home owner who may or may not be crazy.  But this is a risk I am willing to take.  A manner of travel that may not be for everyone, but definitely for someone.

The view from the place we are renting in Granada.

Hotels.com:  B-.  Above average, but still not my Happy Place.  I recently used hotels.com to book a room in LA near husband’s place of work, and the ratings for the place were great.  But the place was a shithole.  A stinky shithole.  (Really.  We had to ask for another less-stinky shithole room.  Which we got, but which instead had forehead prints on the windows and hair on the bathroom floor.)

Family:  A+ for donating their years of saved-up American Express points to help us buy our plane tickets.  SO AMAZING.

Blogs:  A+.  I have been following mycastleinspain, and holavalencia for tips on the best local places to go in Granada and Valencia.  I am still looking for Irish blogs and Barcelona blogs, but I don’t want to step on the old man’s toes because he is in charge of plotting our Ireland course, and I our Spanish one.  (I know he’s reading this.  Hi honey!)

Word Lens:  GET THIS APP!  If you have an iPhone and are planning on travelling to any Spanish-speaking country, GET THIS APP.  It is great for several reasons.  1) If you point your phone’s camera at a sign written in Spanish, it translates it instantly – in the same font and color – into English.  2) It is FREE… except it’s not because the Spanish library is $10.  But still!  SO ok with me.  And 3) it does NOT REQUIRE INTERNET CONNECTION!  Which means you will not come home to a $2,000 phone bill (which has happened to some unsuspecting travelers who use other apps which do require connection).  Which also means you can use it on the dirt road you just got lost on when your burro got spooked by gunfire and you don’t know what “PELIGRO:  COCODRILOS MORTALES” means.  All good things.  Watch the video here.

PELIGRO: COCODRILOS MORTALES

Capital One Credit Cards:  No rating yet, but possible A for not charging foreign exchange rate fees.  This is what I have heard, anyway.  I’m trying to get us  signed up for one before we go so we can put all our charges on it and pay it off *crossing fingers* when we get back.  Every single other credit card adds a percent ranging from 1 to 4 of the purchase price of foreign charges.  NO GRACIAS!

And since no blog post is complete without lots of visual stimulation, here are some photos from last year.  We DID take a “mini ‘moon” to Monterey for a few days after the wedding.  It was lovely.  See below.

View from our mini'moon room in Monterey, CA

Sea Nettles at the Aquarium

Newlyweds!

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