Dining in Ireland

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England
Black Sole at the Fish Kitchen in Bantry

Lorna and I spent 15 days in Ireland, dining out every night. We learned a few things that you might want to know if you are planning a vacation to Ireland.

Driving in Ireland

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England
Inishowen Vista

Regular readers know that we drive quite a lot. Our favorite Saturdays are spent in the car, exploring scenic locales and discovering foodie goodness.

Coffee in Ireland

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England

Coffee in IrelandTravelers from New England soon learn that Ireland has a very different coffee culture. While Americans consume on average .931 cups of coffee per day, the Irish consume only .215, or less than one quarter of the coffee their American counterparts consume.

A Swedish Feast

We had a Swedish feast. I don't remember why...I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time. We had no lutfisk, but I had acquired some Swedish potato sausage and the rest became self-evident.

A Swedish Feast

We had: 

Bondir

Type of Post: 
What's on my Mind?
Bondir

There is something to be said for a restaurant where you order your favorite dish every time you go, and it always tastes the same. It’s as comforting as the pillow upon which you lay your head, but Bondir isn’t that sort of place.

New England Rum

Type of Post: 
What's in my Glass?
Destination: 
New England
Best of Show: 
Medford Rum from GrandTen Distilling
14 New England Rums compared with some island rums

New England has a long relationship with rum, dating back to colonial times. Rum was invented in the Caribbean in the 17th century, and in the years just before the Revolution, over a hundred and fifty distilleries were making rum throughout New England, mostly wherever molasses was imported. In those days, American colonists drank more than 5 gallons of rum per capita annually.

The pot still and column stills at Privateer Distillery, Ipswich

Today I count 23 distilleries actively making rum in New England, with a handful of them that have not yet aged enough product to release an amber rum.

This article is an exploration of what is known about colonial rum and rum made today to see if we can identify the characteristics of a New England Rum. I'll start with a brief discussion of the steps in producing a rum, and then I will highlight four areas where New England's climate and economy would contribute to making a distinctive style that can be called New England Rum.

Italian Meal 2: Lake Garda

Sirmione, in Lake Garda

The second discovery meal of the trip was in Sirmione, a beautiful resort town on a skinny peninsula that juts northward in gorgeous Lake Garda somewhat like Nantasket juts into Massachusetts Bay. 

We had not planned to visit Sirmione, although a drive to Lake Garda was one of the optional drives we had hoped for.  But we slept late after the opera and the preceding night's late dinner, so a long drive in the mountains and lake would have taken too much time from Venice. 

The castle

Sirmione is a resort town, with basically one road in and out, little parking, fine hotels, beautiful beaches and a castle at the end of the peninsula. The northern half of the lake is surrounded by great mountains, and the eastern shore is covered with vineyards growing grapes for Valpolicella, Bardolino, and Amarone wines. It reminded us of a cross between Provincetown and Santa Cruz, with the wine country and a castle thrown in for good measure.  

In Cod We Trust

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[amazon 1493004034 inline], by Cape Ann food columnist Heather Atwood, is both a comprehensive practical record of Massachusetts coastal cuisine and an affectionate, humorous, thoroughly enjoyable coastwise journey from the Rhode Island border to the border of New Hampshire.

Atwood maintains the Food for Thought foodie blog, and does much more than that online, in print, and on video. Here's a bit that I stole from her website; I'll add more about the book below the quote:

 


Heather Atwood is author of the blog "Food for Thought" and the weekly column by the same name syndicated in a number of Massachusetts newspapers. For the online cooking site Cook123 Ms. Atwood hosts cooking videos featuring regional Massachusetts chefs and cooks. This combined work has created a web of connections in the New England food community, allowing Atwood a prized familiarity with Finns in W. Barnstable who still make fruit soup, the Gloucester Sicilians who bake their own zeppole, and day boat fishermen who sell pearly scallops from coolers out of the back of their cars. She reveres the people who preserve and energize the New England food landscape.

 

Her cookbook, "In Cod We Trust, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts," explores the cultures that have made this ragged coastline home, and the meals they prepare.


 

Back to my review:

Italian Meal 1: Emilia-Romagna

Hayfield in Parma

This was our first locavore meal in Italy. It was at the  Hotel Sole in the town of Busseto, in the province of Parma, in Emilia-Romagna in north-central Italy's agricultural heartland. Busseto was the hometown of my favorite composer, Giuseppe Verdi.

Culatello, a premium cut of Prosciutto di Parma

Emilia-Romagna is dominated by the rich agricultural flatlands around the Po river valley. The climate is mild and the growing season is long. This long-settled region is home to a lot of familiar foods that we see in supermarkets all the time: prosciutto and Balsamic vinegar, Reggiano-Parmigiano and Grana Padano cheeses, Lambrusco wine, and many pastas.

Region: 

Yankee Fish Dinner for June

A Sunday June Dinner by the ShoreIt was a June Sunday and I had some nice produce from farmstands in Maine, so I made this nice old-fashioned Sunday dinner with all local and seasonal ingredients.

The haul included three pounds of fresh peas in the pod, a pound of new red potatoes, broccoli raab, strawberries, and a pint of super-fresh local heavy cream. That would surely inspire any cook!

We opened with the delightful Chilled Mint & Pea Soup. That recipe has French roots, but so did some of our colonist forebears and everything in it was local to New England and it's great for June when the peas are just ripe, so I included it.

We had:

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