Stonecutters Kitchen, Doolin, Co. Clare

If you’re on your way to Doolin or the Cliffs of Moher, be sure to stop by Stonecutters Kitchen.  It’s right on the main road between Doolin and the Cliffs, and has some of the freshest and tastiest food I’ve eaten in Ireland.  One of my favorite ways to pass a day on holiday in Doolin is to walk from the Rainbow Hostel, past Fisherstreet, uphill to this restaurant, enjoy some soup and tea and dessert while reading or writing, and stroll back downhill.

The owners and staff are very friendly, as is the resident sheepdog, and the views can’t be beat.  Their plates and teaware are made by a local potter (who, sadly, has moved out of the country) and are a pleasure to use.  Plus, the desserts are absolutely scrumptious.  My favorite is their banoffee pie – a wonderful concoction involving caramel, banana, a graham cracker crust (actually made of digestives), and chocolate.

Learn more and make sure to check out their hours (which vary by the season) at http://www.stonecutterskitchen.com/,  and keep track of their delectable specials via facebook here.  I wish I could stop by for lunch now!


Burren Perfumery, Co. Clare

As the days get colder here in the northeastern U.S., here are a few more photos from my midsummer trip to Ireland.  When I visited the Burren Perfumery in 2005, for whatever reasons I was nonplussed.  Not so this trip!  We visited the shop first, sampled all of their wonderful new herbal balms, and ended up bringing some borage balm home.  Then we had a walk around the garden, where I took these photos.  Finally, we met a friend at the tearoom for, well, tea.  Everything was so delicious that we stayed on for lunch.  The special was a spiced vegetarian dish served over quinoa, which was an unusual treat, since in Ireland healthy vegetarian options are often limited to a hearty carrot or potato soup.  The Burren Perfumery is out of the way, but well-marked.  If you’re in the area, I highly recommend a trip there, preferably on a nice day so you can enjoy the garden and then sit outside in the cafe.

Taking off from a borage flower.

If you look carefully, there’s a moss-man lying in the bed, and a fireplace to keep him warm.

A moss lady luxuriating in a verdant tub.

Yummy Crunchy Delectable Food: A Post for Blog Action Day 2011

West Show Jersey July 2010 46

I’ve blogged before about ethical issues concerning food, but this Blog Action Day, I’d just like to say a few words about how delightful food is.  There are such a wonderful variety of tastes to choose from:  earthy-sweet carrots, rich cream (or, for me, goat’s milk), nectar-like honey, warming chai.  I’ve gotten to enjoy an even wider range of tastes since I’ve become a fan of tea and, more recently, a student of herbalism.  Any day can be made better by a cup of tung ting, an oolong that tastes like spring, or the oceany gyokuro.  Herbs might taste super-sweet like licorice, refreshing like lemon balm, or harshly bitter like hops, but they’re always interesting.  Herbalist Guido Masé described Rhodiola as that herb that “tastes like roses and then sucks all the water out of your mouth.”  I doubt you could fail to identify the taste of Rhodiola after that description!

Kulikov Bazaar with bagels 1910Food is fun to taste and smell, but it’s also fun to chop and blend and knead – and buy.  When I lived in Philadelphia, my favorite day of the week was Saturday.  My boyfriend and I would walk up to the Headhouse Square farmer’s market.  I’d buy basic veggies from the Amish farmer there, and heirloom tomatoes and other delightful things from the organic farm stand.  Saturday’s market wasn’t as big as Sunday’s, but there was more opportunity to chat with the farmers, and maybe find out what could be done with that strange vegetable I didn’t know the name of.  As a Vermonter, visiting the farmer’s market felt like a little bit of home.  I’d always impulse-buy something that I hadn’t planned on – often kale, which I knew I didn’t like (at the time), but which is so gorgeously richly green I could rarely resist.


We’d tote our goods back home and I would usually spend the day cooking:  Perhaps making a chili-inspired stew with fresh tomatoes and peppers, and maybe some sweet potatoes and kale.  I might make some brown bread or stove-top pizza, too.  Saturdays always seemed so satisfying, and I felt a lift in low-level anxiety that I always had in the city. 

Ferdinand Wagner MarktfrauI think it was because of all of that basic, nourishing sensory stimulation.  This week I read a blog entry over at Three Highlights that said, “Machinating is what we do when we let the mind spin with little more intention, flexibility, or creative openness other than to ‘get things done.’  It’s not the same as thinking. Or musing. Or imagining. Or creating. Or experiencing.”  Since I spent a lot of time on the computer – and was missing my accustomed natural, low-concrete landscape – this was a real danger for me.  But getting and making good food always lifted that cloud and got me back into experiencing and musing and creating.

So, I guess that’s another reason why I like to buy local, from the grower, and to buy whole food that takes a bit of preparation:  I’m getting even more for my money.  I’m not just getting calories, I’m getting nutrients, and tastes, and smells, and textures, and even conversations and friendships.  I’m getting food for the body – and food for the soul.


Tea in NWK

On the way home from Ireland, we had a layover in Newark.  There’s nothing to make you feel human – after seven hours on a plane and the culture shock of going from Shannon to New Jersey – like a good cup of tea.

(The tea is set on the sill to the right.)

Tea on the Burren

One gorgeous day in Doolin, with an unexpected couple of hours to spare, we decided to have tea, at the mouth of a prehistoric souterrain in the burren.  You know you’re really lucky when you have the opportunity to sit out under a clear blue sky, surrounded by stone and wildflowers and ocean, and sip on a cup of tie guan yin while contemplating the stories that might live in that stone.  You know you’re a bit of a dork when you have a travel tea kit all set, just in case.

In previous years, I always had a horrible time finding this spot. This summer, I started to get better at seeing the individual features of the burren, and so, tucked away out of the wind, this became a favorite place to visit.

Bloody Cranesbill, a relative of geraniums, was growing over the entrance to the souterrain.

 The way it was described to me, this man-made underground passage would have been used for storing food (since it stays at a cool, consistent temperature), and possibly for hiding in. I was told that fourteen people had once fit in there during a downpour.  It must have been a tight fit!

A Hart’s Tongue Fern growing just inside the entrance, protected from the wind.

Conversations over Tea and Dogs