Well, I've returned from Ireland well-rested and well-fed. And frankly, I could've spent another week or two - or three. It was lovely.
Above, you'll see a Dublin street scene. Look closely. Look closer. OK. I'll do it for you.
Yes folks - a pub. Kehoe's is a lively old spot on South Anne Street, off of Grafton, Dublin's main shopping boulevard. This is where I popped my cherry - so to speak - and downed my first real Irish Guinness. It was a bit sweeter than its Yankee counterparts, but I must tell the truth, I'm not a big Guinness fan.
Not that I decided forgo the Irish national pastime. Instead of imbibing the Emerald Isle fave, I turned to a lighter, brighter offering - Bulmer's Hard Cider. Over a glass of ice, this bubbly, light, fruity drink was just right on a warm day while still providing the requisite buzz.
With my drink-of-choice determined, I decided to take in a few of Dublin's sites, in amongst my historic pub crawl stops. I ventured to the important cultural landmarks like Ha' Penny Bridge...
and Trinity College to visit the Book of Kells...
I also, enjoyed a bit of Irish gourmet cuisine at Pearl Brasserie.
There, I indulged in plump, briny Kilkee Rock Oysters with a Shallot Vinaigrette, followed by an utterly decadent plate of Pan-Fried Duck Foie Gras served on Toasted Brioche with Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote. Mmmmm...It was a grand meal indeed.
Everything was grand - from the friendly service at my Georgian townhouse hotel near St. Stephen's Green to the weather (blue skies!). But despite all the other glories and adventures that Dublin had to offer, something kept drawing me back to the pubs. One that actually required a second go-around was a hidden jewel known as The Stag's Head.
Tucked in a quaint alleyway, the pub oozed old charm. The Bulmer's was fine too. However, it was really the toasted sandwiches that got me. Not that I ate one mind you. But, these suckers were actually tossed into the toaster oven completely encased in plastic wrap.
Why didn't the Saran Wrap melt in the hot oven? What leprechaun trickery was this?
The barkeep explained. Apparently this space-age plastic wrap was actually made of glass. How it worked exactly was a mystery to her too. But, there it was on the plate as proof positive that this real-life "magic wrap" worked: a toasted sandwich sans an icky film of melted plastic.
I had a second Bulmer's to commemorate the fact that I'd learned something for the day.
What would the rest of the trip bring? At that point I didn't rightly know - except that I was pretty sure that a Bulmer's or two would be involved.