Gypsy Grub

A fine food enthusiast travels the world, and her own backyard in search of the best eats.

Month: July, 2012

Scotland

 

  Scotland is an utterly beautiful place. My first stop was near Loch Arthur. There is a wonderful community called Camphill there, and I decided I would stop in and say hello. While I was there I picked up a Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream from the wholesome little food store run by the Camphill community. As you can see I had a Sticky Toffee Pudding hankering ever since my experience at the Ramore Wine Bar.SCOTLAND (6)

The ice cream overall in the U.K. and Ireland is much better than America’s. It is also more popular. Children and adults alike can be seen rain, or snow licking their ice cream bars, or cones. This ice cream in particular was very good. It was from local cows, and you could taste the freshness. There were also bits of sticky toffee pudding cake in it, which were delightful little surprises!scotland

Driving through Scotland, I stopped at the famous Bushmills brewery. After a fun, and informative tour, we ended at the bar where everyone was given a little shot of whiskey. I chose to try a hot toddy. It was good, as far as hot toddy’s go, but I appreciate a little more sweetness in my alcohol. Call me a child.

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The whole point of my venturing to Scotland was to see a dear friend in Glasgow. When I arrived, I was greeted warmly and asked if I wanted a “penguin”. I laughed a little, but said I was up to trying new things. These are what I received (along with tea, milk, and sugar of course!). They essentially are just chocolate covered biscuits, filled with chocolate crème. They are not anything specially really, except for the fact that they are native to Glasgow.

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Glasgow is really a lovely place. I was told that it was a shabby art town, but it was a lot of charm. When I asked a local where the best spot for a mid afternoon bite to eat, they recommended an ice cream shop down the road. I was excited to hear of a new European ice cream joint, but when I was there I was shocked. The ice cream shop they so revered was a Cold Stone! I decided I was not going to waste a snack on a shop I could eat at in America, so I went to a little Italian joint next store. I tried this cookie sandwich which was very strange. The crème inside was not fantastic, just fatty, and sweet. The cookie was especially surprising, it tasted very burnt, but I think that was the intention, there was no traces of burn on the cookie.

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Irn Bru. A soda that doesn’t even exist in America. I was scared to try it because it smelled rather interesting. The taste is hard to explain –  it tasted a bit like Tea Tree Oil. That’s the best I can do, it had a faint hint of the smell of that oil, but it was pleasant.

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This face completely explains my confusion/satisfaction with the “Irn Bru experience”.

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The next day, while walking down the street, I spied a woman in the window of a cafe. She had a cupcake in front of her. I know that in America cupcakes are all the rage at the moment, but I had never seen a specialty cupcake shop in Europe! I went in and got the ‘sampler’ plate. Here we have Chocolate with Flake, Strawberry, and a Carrot Cake. They were all artfully adorned, and looked so lovely in the display case. I found both the chocolate and vanilla cake to be dense, and harder than I usually like. The chocolate one was just too chocolaty for me, and I didn’t end up eating very much of it. The Strawberry cupcake’s icing was very light and buttery, and I did enjoy the fresh strawberry on top. The Carrot Cake was perfect – and I am very hard to please with carrot cake. The cake was moist and flavorful, and the icing was much lighter and fluffier than typical cream cheese frosting, but tasted the same. The edible sparkles and walnut also added to the visual appeal. They have perfected the Carrot Cake cupcake.

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My companion got a gingerbread cupcake which was not extremely impressive tasting, but had a good presentation.

SCOTLAND (4) As you can see, they were very generous with the frosting!

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When I looked up Glasgow, and popular foods to try in Glasgow, the first thing I saw were fried Mars Bars. After a while of staying there and not seeing any fried foods at all, I concluded that this was a bit of a fib. However, off the road at a fish and chippie shop I did ask if they would fry a Mars Bar for me, just so I could say I had one. Here is the result. Obviously the presentation isn’t the loveliest, and it is quite repulsive looking. It tasted as one would expect it to taste. It was a bite of sweet, caramely, chocolaty, friedness, but nothing to do back flips for. In my opinion if one consumes fried foods often, it begins to ruin their palate, so I only had a small taste, and was satisfied.

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After three days in Glasgow, my friend took me to her vacation cottage in the country. This was our gorgeous view of the sunset from her porch. This is why I never want to go home.

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Portrush

Portrush is a beautiful seaside town. It has been said that it is Ireland’s Coney Island. Surprisingly many of the houses are barren and falling apart, but it is beautiful with quiet intrigue.

Ireland 433 For almost the whole trip I had been waiting to dine at Ramore Wine Bar. It has escalated in popularity the past year, and was packed after only one hour of opening. There was a beautiful display case where you could see all the salads, and cold desserts. Any dish here would be truly magnificent.

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After looking at the display case, I decided one salad would not be enough. Therefore, I asked to get a small sample of each one to try.Ramore Wine Bar (4)

All of them were remarkable. But some were more memorable than others. Some of my favorites were the lentils, potatoes, beet salad, and rice salad. The lentils (nearest in the picture) were spicy and tasted as if they had Indian inspiration. The potatoes were very creamy and rather dense, while the grated beet salad was light and refreshing. The rice had bits of peas and bacon in it and was smoky and simple at the same time.

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My companion ordered this dish, of fish in a bed of lentils. The fish was a bit cold, but had good flavor, and the lentils were the same ones that I liked from the display case!

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  With food, presentation truly is everything!

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I had been waiting the whole meal for dessert.There was a large chalk board in the dining room which listed all of the “pudding” options, and while waiting, I had read carefully threw everyone. But there was one particularly that caught my eye.

 

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No doubt it caught my eye because of its grandeur. It looked like a magnificent piece of art, and tasted wonderful.On the bottom, was a layer of digestive biscuits and chocolate, Than a whole big slather of clotted cream. It was adorned with burnt honeycomb candy and a mocha cream puff on the back.

 

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It was worth ordering simple to look at it. Whoever crafted this was a genius. However, the tastes were very monotone, and too heavy to call it perfection

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After staring at its beauty for a long while, I decided to dig in!

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My companion got the sticky toffee pudding. I could not wait to try it. I had never before eaten sticky toffee pudding, and wanted to dig into the moist cake as soon as the waiter set it down. It also came with a side of ice cream. All of the ice cream flavors offered were eclectic and sounded delicious but we decided on honeycomb. This is no doubt one of the best desserts I have ever had! It was not too sweet or mushy, and had the perfect bread consistency along with a moist interior!

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Before we left I took the liberty of snapping a photo. I loved the decor of the place, so modern! A restaurant I will definitely remember fondly.

Westport

  The town of Westport is very small and quaint. It has huge canals that almost resemble Venice, Italy. I woke up and got to enjoy my breakfast with a lovely view of outside.

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Beyond the parked cars was a beautiful canal, with trees surrounding. After a long car ride to Westport I happily jogged around it a few times.

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The breakfast room was set up artfully, with tasteful decoration. The host ran the B&B with her husband, and was very kind and hospitable.

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Here is the adorably-organized variety of breakfast cereals, muesli, and a basket of bread.

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She set out the cold cuts, cheeses, beverages, yogurts, and granola as well. All the cold cuts were delicious and I don’t generally enjoy the taste, or concept of cold cuts. She provided both plain yogurt (in a bowl) and individual yogurts with different flavors. I love how they celebrate the simple beauty of plain yogurt in Europe. I also tasted an individual one that was flavored Champagne Rhubarb and it was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

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Here is what I plucked from the table; brown bread, plain yogurt with granola, and half a scone. Both the breads were unimpressive, but the yogurt was good.

Westport (10)The canals in Westport were lined with trees and benches to sit on and enjoy the towns beauty.

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At a trip to the local grocery store, I discovered something I had never seen before – Yogies frozen yogurt for dogs! I was very homesick for my baby cocker spaniel, and wanted to bring them home to her. Sadly, they would probably melt on the plane back. This flavor was banana and peanut butter, they had many more.

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The night ended with a trip to the pub with the best music – Matt Molloy’s. Unfortunately their pub grub was sparse; only providing peanuts and candy bars.

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My first pint was a dark ale Guinness. It was my first Irish beer, and tasted much different than any other I had ever tasted.

Breakfast

 

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, but I feel that American culture does not honor it as the Europeans do. A constant staple of British meals is tea. I believe that tea is a beautiful thing, it brings peace of mind, and is good for your body. Whilst in Europe I drank at least fifty bathtubs worth of tea. Here is a cup of tea, with a beautiful Irish spoon!

Breakfast (1) In Europe there are many alternatives to butter, which I had never heard of. Margarine is also more common. I think its because of societies awareness to dairy intolerance. Here is one common Irish brand served a lot with breakfast.

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Irish, Scottish, and English breakfasts are all generally the same. I find them to be very heavy and greasy. These breakfasts are more touristy than traditional. The natives don’t commonly eat this breakfast, or there would be far more obesity. The components of a breakfast is mainly composed of; mushrooms, eggs, sausage, bacon (ham), tomato, and a potato component. There are variations of these components which are different with every B&B.

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Breakfasts generally start with a fresh starter. Locals typically have something like this for breakfast. Here I had; plain fresh yogurt, fruit in syrup, fresh fruit, Weetabix, muesli yogurt mush, and preserves. Weetabix are very popular here, and I think should become a popular breakfast cereal in the U.S. They are more nutritious and have less sugar than the name brand American cereals.

 

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This is another breakfast that I had at a B&B. There was more of a variety of fruit in syrup. There were apples, rhubarb and plums. The best was the plum, it was sweet (but not too sweet) and very light and juicy.

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