“You have to have a full Irish Breakfast,” was the first thing people said to me when I told them I was going to Ireland.  Since our flight landed in Dublin at 7:00 AM, it worked out quite nicely.  After a harrowing (“drive on the left! the left! another roundabout?!”) drive to Kilkenny and a quick tour of the castle, our group was ready for a late breakfast.  To soothe our nerves and since it was just about noon, what better pairing with a full Irish Breakfast than a tall glass of Kilkenny’s finest?

kilkenny better

The Kilkenny brewery was founded in the early 18th century and produces Budvar and Smithwick’s.  Kilkenny ale is a red ale with a nice creamy head similar to Guinness.  While we were nursing our ale, the server brought large hunks of white toast and brown bread.  Brown bread has a very distinctive soda flavor and rough texture.  It’s definitely not for everyone.

Irish breakfast

Here’s my first full Irish breakfast which we enjoyed at an Irish pub in Kilkenny.  Clockwise from top: white pudding, fried tomato, black pudding, bacon, beans, sausage and brown bread.  Mushrooms were optional.  Oh, and of course there’s a fried egg in the middle.  To my absolute shock, as I didn’t expect to, I loved the black pudding and looked for it on each menu after, though I have to confess by the end of the trip I was ready to leave a daily ration of black pudding behind.  I’ll be wondering if there’s anywhere I can get it in Houston, though.

In Cork, we stayed at the Garnish House, a delightful surprise.  We hadn’t planned any overnight stays, and this was an outstanding find.  Upon arrival, the cheerful proprietress set up tea for us in her sunny patio.  We stepped outside to find a table set with a pot of tea and two french pressed coffees, two baskets of fresh baked scones, pastries and danishes, kerry fresh butter and home made jams.  I about died when I realized that I had left my camera in my room.  Luckily, our friend Les took some pictures with his camera phone of the delicious spread, as well as the homemade clotted cream (!!!) and amazing chocolate cake which was brought out with the admonition, “of course you will have some cake, because you deserve it!”  Well, if you put it that way…

cake

scone basket

clotted cream

The next morning we were met with the most beautiful breakfast spread.  An array of fruits, juices, more cake, cream, cheese and scones were set on a buffet.  In addition, a dizzying array of hot foods were presented to us.  Along with the full Irish breakfast, I was introduced to Irish porridge with cream and honey, which I gathered was the approved way of partaking (though with whiskey and Baileys were also options).

porridge

How can I get porridge like this in the states?  Thick and creamy, hot and satisfying, everything that I always wanted porridge to be when I read Goldilocks and fairy tales and Dickens.  Between the beer and the cream and the hearty meals it was a good thing I didn’t do any of the driving, though riding on the right side of the car along roads narrower than my driveway was scary enough.

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