Saturday, October 10, 2009

Scotland and Ireland Family Food Trip

We recently took a bit of a family food trip to Scotland and Ireland. With a 1 and 3 year old, lots of time in the car, museums, shows or most other cultural events were out of the question, but food was definitely necessary! I should explain that we were not in anyway planning to only visit the best of the best, but just trying to eat well and meet the needs of a real family. From the Edinburgh restaurants to tea at a grand estate in the country, the trip was a very pleasant surprise and definitely not the British Isles I was expecting.

Our trip landed us in Edinburgh with a brief stop in Wishaw to re-trace my wife’s family roots, where we enjoyed an amazing caramel shortbread and tea. The shortbread was covered in caramel and then covered with freshly melted chocolate. My father-in-law, who was on a mission to taste every soup he could find, had a great bowl of Cock-a-leekie soup which was full of homey goodness that warmed you after being out in the cool, fall weather of Scotland.
With a stop at the Hopetoun House, we took the train and ferry over to Belfast in Northern Ireland and stayed one night. We ate at the famous Crown Pub’s dining room (above the pub) and although the food was okay, I am sure it didn’t live up to the whiskey downstairs. Belfast seemed to be a city trying hard but still not quite making it (I think they have too much of the past still lingering).

From Belfast we travelled through Portadown on the way to Cabra Castle which was a well needed and beautiful break. As a Rosette Award recipient, the dinner and breakfast were definitely castle quality! From Cabra Castle, we went on to Dublin with another apartment rental very close to Lansdowne Stadium and the area of Sandymount. Although more modern and more expensive than our Scottish adventure, it was a quaint area with local shops that were definitely foodie quality and catered mostly to locals.

Overall, I can say I was almost shocked how good the quality of the food was with lots of flavours. After living in Toronto for 7 years and travelling to places like New York, San Francisco and Montreal on the corporate dollar, I can say that the mid to high end restaurants in Edinburgh and Dublin were definitely as multicultural diverse as anything found in North American and competed for quality of food. It definitely was not boiled beef and potatoes!

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