I have come to the conclusion that anything tastes better with ketchup. (Minus the ketchup & bologna sandwich my friend packed in her high school lunches.) Since returning back from spring break, a few of us have been lamenting the sudden detioration of mensa food. You remember the brussel sprouts, right? Nowhere to be found. (In their place…baby-food-mushy cauliflower…blech!)
Therefore, to remedy the problem of the relatively inedible mensa food, I have started to plop squirtfulls (yes, that’s a word) of ketchup on my lunch & dinner plates. For every item of food on my plate. Err’day. Hence, last night, I had green beans & ketchup. Roasted potatoes and ketchup. Eggs & ketchup. And chickpeas
and ketchup (Please guys, I’m not that weird :))
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my recent spring break visit to Cork, Ireland. Well, you’ll see the connection soon (in the chow portion of this post)!
In other words, I really enjoyed my time in Cork. While Dublin’s on the far east side of the country and Galway’s directly west of Dublin on the coast, Cork is smack dab in the middle of the two and south. It’s located in County Cork, the largest of Ireland’s counties, and is actually Ireland’s third-largest city (after Dublin and Belfast, in the North). The River Lee flows through Cork City, which makes for a lot of bridge-hoppin’ (and pretty seaport views!).
We divided our spring break pretty evenly (2 nights in Dublin, 2 in Galway, 2 in Cork, and 3 in Edinburgh, Scotland), so, once again, we had only 2 days to explore Cork…and they flew by! (Seriously, why can’t regular old school go by that quickly? Or my dentist appointments? P.S…I am doing pretty well at keeping up with my New Year’s Resolution! Are you?!)
Besides going out for three(!) delish meals (more on that soon!) with the girls, we trekked over to the Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone (read about the legend of it all here), shopped ’til we dropped in…none other than H&M (and other Italian stores, of course), and hung out with a few of the girls’ friends from the States who are studying in Cork. The whole city was so quaint and walkable, but so…happenin’. There was definitely a lot going on (when a city has an H&M and a Gap, it’s definitely semi big-dog status. Hear me, Sheboygan?!).
1. The Chow.
Cork — in NO way — disappointed on the chow (home)front. Meaning, I had the best meals of my 10-day sb trip here. On that note, without further ado…
a.) A traditional Irish breakfast.
We all really wanted to get in an ‘ol traditional Irish breakfast before we broke off into our respective groups and departed for London/Scotland. That being said, Tuesday morning (after Julie & I’s legit power walk), the eight of us went to a small restaurant recommended by the woman who owned our hostel. Although the food wasn’t tdf (to die for), it definitely hit the spot at the moment. (i.e. I was really hungry after having power-walked the city of Cork and hadn’t had a decent, warm breakfast since…my dad came?)
I ordered a toasted bagel (it came smothered in butter…Paula Deen much?) with sausage and scrambled eggs. I guess you can’t really screw that up, can ya?
Needless to say, I devoured it all. But…could probably recreate this (in 5-7 minutes, 9 if i’m distracted) in my apartment. I also took this as an opportunity to
carefully liberally sprinkle my eggs with salt, as I knew I’d be giving up adding (additional) salt to any of my food during Lent. (So far, I’m doing well! I just douse everything in ketchup, which has salt…haha.)
b.) An outta-this-world burger.
The bold-face text needed to come out for this one, ladies & gents. Please sit down while I present to you…
…one of (if not) the best BURGER I’ve ever had. Since I rarely (if ever) order a burger when I go out to dinner, I suppose I can’t pretend I’m a hamburger connoisseur. BUT…my girls agreed these burgers were insane and so perfectly satisfied our craving for some meat. Another eatery recommended by our hostel owner (she knew her food), we all thoroughly enjoyed our time at the restaurant…so aptly named Ketchup! (I know, right?!)
For any of you traveling to Cork, Ireland, in the near future (I know — y’all have it marked on your calendars for next month) or ever, for that matter, please please PLEASE visit this restaurant. A self-described “gourmet burger bar,” Ketchup‘s slogan is “Heaven in your Mouth!” and they strive to create for their customers “a casual dining experience with the assurance of eating quality food at a reasonable price.” Besides the fact that students get a 20% discount, the menu sports everything from a warm chicken salad in honey mustard dressing to O’Flynn Gourmet Sausages served in a “submarine bap” with carmelized onions. And let’s not forget the burgers. They’ve got burgers…and lots of ’em! Just because it’s fun, I’ll let you “ketchup” on a few of Ketchup‘s burger offerings:
- Original (What I chose!) (with lettuce, onion, and beef tomato)
- The Classic Burger (with bacon & cheese)
- Hot Stuff (with jalapeno peppers and chili mayo)
- Italian burger (with buffalo mozzarella and basil pesto)
- Avocado (with BLT and carmelized onion)
- BBQ (with red cheddar and house BBQ sauce)
- Cajun (with white cheddar and house Cajun sauce)
Those are only the beef burgers! They also offer lamb burgers (such as the greek burger with feta cheese, cucumber, and apple chutney…or the madras with curry mayo and mango chutney); chicken breast burgers (the sweet & spicy is smothered in sweet chili sauce); and veggie burgers (why not dig into the pan-fried falafel with house basil pesto and rocket, or the grilled aubergine/eggplant with buffalo mozzarella?). If the burger itself doesn’t convince you, the “fresh floury bap” (bun) that it comes on is incredible in itself. No joke. (Plus, all of their beef, lamb, chicken, and fish are locally sourced!)
Like I said, I chose the Original (plain & simp) because I was just craving something normal. No frills. No lace. None of that fancy schmancy stuff. Just plain good.
In order to handle this massively awesome “bap” (and accompanying burger), I sliced the beast in 1/2. Half with ketchup, half with ketchup & mustard. And a generous drizzle of ketchup on my fries, natch.
c.) Cork’s “City Famous” Fish & Chips
Two of my traveling companions’ friends had an apartment mere steps away from Cork’s so-called “famous” fish & chips spot, so on our last night, we decided to try it out in the hopes of leaving Ireland feeling assured we had had a tried and true fish & chips dinner.
…Whew. That’d be the understatement of the year!
Jackie Lennox is not at all what we expected (ambience-wise). We had expected to sit down in a (semi) nice restaurant, where we could put our feet up, take off our coats, and relax. Well, turns out it’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall place with, tops, 8 stools and a shallow counter if you chose to “dine-in.” What truly convinced us, though, was the long line to order food. And the people behind the counter knew what they were doing. They were whippin’ out those orders like there was no tomorrow!
I ordered the fish & a side of chips (not the meal because I didn’t want those mushy peas!). Let me just tell you that this meal could have fed Sheboygan for a month. (Needless to say, I came nowhere close to finishing it.). Both components of the meal came out steaming!
(Side note: My “health conscious” self was totally not at this meal. Check out that grease lining the ginormous paper they wrapped it in! Ya only
live once go to Cork once though, right?!)
I tried to savor each and every bite. And the bites were small…since they gave me a lame piece of plastic that was trying to imitate a fork for my dinner utensil. (Though I’ve gotta admit, it was actually kind of fun attempting to eat with this.)
Crisp, flour-battered crust; warm, delicate, flaky fish. I even tried dipping it in tartar sauce (meh…) and ketchup (I know…my name is Anna and I’m addicted to ketchup. Maybe I should have given up that for Lent!).
2. Cork…through the photos.
While I truly enjoyed walking around Cork (I mean, our power walk itself, plus our 3 treks to H&M took us through a good chunk of the city!), I now realize that many of my photos are from our trip to the Blarney Castle. They’re fun, though — so enjoy!
And…since we got to the airport well before our flight and couldn’t even check in our bags at the time (we took an earlier bus to the Dublin airport to be sure we’d have plenty of time but really couldn’t walk around the city with our luggage), we did what any mature 20-year-olds would do…
…took coloring sheets and crayons from a McDonald’s and colored our little hearts out. (It was Ash Wednesday, btw…didn’t want you to think my friends didn’t realize they had “dirt” on their foreheads!)
3. Random tidbits of information 🙂
- Yes, kissing the Blarney Stone was pretty
awkwardamazing, but now that I think about it, millions of people have kissed that stone-cold piece of stone. Which basically means that I just kissed like a million people. Hmm…wonder if there’s a “lip sanitizer” available in Italian Farmacias…
- Listen to the restaurant suggestions of the woman running Aaron House Tourist Hostel. Homegirl knows her food!
- Never be afraid (or ashamed) to ask for an extra blanket at a hostel/hotel/B&B/any place you’re sleeping…so you don’t freeze your booty off at night! 95.3% of my life, I am cold. And I’ve decided that taking the 15 seconds to ask for another blanket is far better (and more enjoyable) than spending the night shivering. I found that, in most of our hostels, the owners were more than happy to give me an extra blanket, comforter, heck, even a space heater!
Since Julie threw a fit when I didn’t include a question at the end of my Galway post, what is your favorite thing to order at your favorite restaurant?
- One of my favorite restaurants is Panera (don’t judge), and I lovveeee me the You Pick Two with 1/2 a Frontega Chicken panini (smoked & pulled white meat chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, red onions, chopped basil, and chipotole mayo…grilled hot on their specialty foccacia) and the French Onion soup. I just try to shy away from talking to people for a good 3 hours after this meal…except my mom…because she loves me even if my breath stinks 🙂