This is a post I wrote, now slightly modified, for a class I took after a trip to Ireland that my wife and I took in 2010. I’m including it as a special for St. Patrick’s. Here are a few photos I took during the trip.
“Now when you get to Ireland,” said my mother for the umpteenth time, “try the brown bread wherever you go – every place has it, and it’s always different.” Every time we talked about the trip, and always with that little extra encouragement at the end.
But I knew I’d get that.
Once I let my veteran-Ireland-visitor mother in on the anniversary surprise I was planning, I was bound to get more Where I Should Go and What I Must See than by talking directly to the Irish tourism authority. For my first overseas trip, and for such an important event, I really wanted to do my own plan. But since another’s experiences can help you appreciate little things you can otherwise miss when traveling, I added it to my growing list:
Avoid the kitsch.
Talk to the locals.
Try the brown bread.
It turned out to be good advice.
Everywhere we ate, from the seasonal Hungry Monk Cafe that sat 12 in the wee village of Cong, to the silver-laden tea service in the Georgian grandeur of Adare Manor, and every place in between, all had the famous Irish brown bread on the menu.
And sure enough, no two places made it the same way. My wife, raised on white bread, noticed and could not get enough of the hearty and chewy treat.
After we returned, I thought trying it myself might be fun to help remember the week and show the kids a little piece of Ireland. Their “What the hell is this?!” forehead crinkles almost made me regret it. Fortunately, they both like Irish butter, and warm bread out of the oven is downright irresistible.
I got requests for it all winter after that.
Making this bread is generally easy and fun, and there are many variants. I’ve settled on this recipe because it has only a few ingredients and I can finish it in under an hour. Best when it’s warm, with a generous spread of Kerrygold on it. Slainte!