On Friday, I took off for the west coast with my friend Kirsten. We hadn't planned a single thing and even as we hit the motorway, I was saying "Cork! No no, Galway!" And in that way that holidays sometimes are when left blissfully unplanned, our jaunt turned into something pretty special.
Trips west are most often about landscape and sea. That's certainly been my agenda before (here and here and here). We didn't do that though. We booked ourselves a table at Aniar in Galway, drank champagne and ate one of the most mind-blowing meals I've ever experienced, including a dessert of beetroot and rose parfait, hazelnut praline, sorrel. The entire experience was perfection.
Really amazing food just makes you think and talk about other memorable food experiences. So, we decided to get up the next day and head to Cork for lunch in Cafe Paradiso. I've eaten there before and loved it, and it didn't disappoint a second time.
We got back to Dublin in the late afternoon and I booked myself into The Merrion. There's something deliciously selfish about staying in a hotel when you don't need to and I've always fantasized about The Merrion. My suite was utter luxury and I went for a sunset walk around Merrion Square in all its Georgian splendour, before coming back for a long hot soak and king-sized sleep.
When I come home to Ireland, it's so often about the heaving sea, the rugged beauty, the patina. It was nice to have a few days exploring and indulging in flavours more delicate and refined... things that really rise above the everyday. And while I'd never want to normalize those things so that I no longer noticed how special they are, there truly is beauty in experiencing rich brocade of everything.
Finally, because it's Bloomsday today, a picture of the Rowan Gillespie Joyce sculpture from the courtyard of The Merrion:
Images via Aniar and The Merrion. Joyce picture, my own.