So it looks like Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland is a drinking town too. As soon as I arrived the first words I saw were ‘Wine Bar’ and ‘Guinness’. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; after all, this is Ireland, land of the pub, where getting a little over-served is not a taboo, but rather par for the course. Irish Baltimore is down on the south west coast of the Emerald Isle and like our Baltimore centers around a harbor full of sailing boats. A village about the size of Fells Point, the main industry here is fishing (Fresh seafood!) and more recently tourism as people come for sailing trips and pretty seaside scenery.
So how did I end up 3,250 miles away in our Irish counterpart? Well no great reason really, while on a bit of an unplanned, circumstantial holiday to Ireland my foodie-instinct directed me down to Kinsale, often said to be known as the ‘Foodie capital of Ireland’. Whilst querying the Lonely Planet for where to find the best lunch, low and behold on the map there was a Baltimore just 40 miles up the coast. It had to be done.
But while I mention Kinsale its worth digressing a little. Kinsale, similar to Baltimore is a little fishing village/town nestled in a harbor on the south coast of County Cork. It’s a super pretty place which lots of twee houses, all different colors. And of course an ample supply of pubs and restaurants everywhere you look. I only wish I’d had more time (and the appetite of a cow) so I could tell you about more of the places that looked and smelled so appetizing! On the advice of Lonely Planet I chose to have lunch at the Fishy Fishy Café and I did have a very good lunch indeed. If you’re heading to Ireland sometime soon and you have a vacation planning ethos similar to mine (all schedules revolve around mealtimes), put this one on your list. I had a scrumptious warm salad of chilli seafood, which was loaded with fresh fish and shellfish in a light, but tasty sweet chilli sauce. It was one of those dishes you want to last all afternoon. Also at Fishy Fishy I first discovered what appears to be an Irish trend of going all out on the bread: Irish soda bread, fresh baguette served with butter AND fresh hummus in an oyster shell. This was almost a dish in itself, fresh and tasty bread. I’m ashamed to tell you I ate the entire plateful by myself, but Irish soda bread is so mourish… Yes I did come back from Ireland 8lbs heavier; I am now paying the price for my indulgence back in the gym.
To do my duty to the wine side of the blog whilst in Guinness country, I visited the International Museum of Wine in Kinsale. The museum is located in Desmond castle, which is an attraction in its own right, having been used to house various prisoners over the centuries. It might occur to you that a wine museum in Ireland is a bit strange since Ireland doesn’t really make wine (it rains, a lot). But as I said the Irish like to drink and wine is no exception. Since they weren’t able to make much of the stuff, they did a lot of importing (and smuggling of course) so Kinsale became quite a central point of the wine trade. The museum focuses on the story of the generation of Irish migrants, known as the ‘Winegeese’ who left Ireland in the 17th and 18th centuries to become viticulturists in some of the most prominent wine growing regions in the world. And today you can see some of those Irish names have transcended the generations in places such as Bordeaux (Chateau Dillon, Chateau MacCarthy) as well as into the ‘New World’ (for example Cronin and Concannon vineyards in California). Pretty fascinating.
So back to Irish Baltimore. After finding myself some lodgings for the night at the old post office Bed and Breakfast I went to the pub and had a beer and researched dinner options (I think you might now be getting a sense of how I travel…). I was rather dismayed to find a fairly poor selection of beers on offer at the pub. Ireland is crazy for the black stuff (and the brown ones that taste like the black one) and I have to be honest, I’m not a fan. Other than that the choice was very limited to a few European mass produced lagers, a sweet cider and non alcoholic Becks. Living two block from Max’s and having just come from England where I had enjoyed plenty of cask ale, I guess I was travelling with high expectations. I was a little disappointed to have to settle for Danish lager, still, there’s nothing better than soaking up the afternoon sun in a pub garden on the seafront, in a Baltimore.
One of the things that Irish Baltimore has that we don’t have here in Maryland is a large, white, falic shaped headland marker. I think we should get one and sit it in the middle of Fort McHenry somewhere. To work up an appetite for my next feeding session I took a walk up to tise headland. It certainly its striking amid all the green and grey cliffs. Just a 30 minute walk and I was away from the rest of the world in the fresh air surrounded by beautiful coast lines. That’s what I enjoyed most about Ireland; the escape.
My walk served me well and I was more than happy to take the 3 course option for dinner at Casey’s of Baltimore, just outside the village center. Ireland does well with fresh fish what with being an island and all, hence my fantastic lunch. The other abundant source of food you will notice as soon as you are 20 miles out of Dublin is sheep. There are sheep everywhere in Ireland so I chowed down on Casey’s roast lamb. It was so good I forgot to take pictures. The house wine was a little like paint stripper and I suspect it came from a box, but by now I should have learned that Ireland is not a wine destination. And besides the food was good enough to let me forget about it.
My time in Ireland was short so after the traditional Irish Breakfast at the old post house I was back on the road. I waved goodbye to Baltimore Ireland and I then I stood on the seafront and waved to all of you back in our Baltimore. Irish Baltimore certainly has the peace, fresh air and charming people, but the (only) wine bar shuts at 5:30pm. I’m happy to be home.