Saturday Musings: Belfast Walks and Foodie Havens

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Belfast spring is picking up nicely. There have been some lucky weather days of late, almost California climes. That means sunbathing in the parks and the hunt for food. Not to mention the lovely walks getting there. Get your suncream on. Take that vitamin D.

Morning Start

Coffee and tea, breakfast goodies sound the thing. Belfastians are chomping on the bit and out in it today. Did you take some Vitamin D this am? What are some of the best places for a great breakfast in this town? Harlem has the atmosphere for me. No matter what town I travel to, a breckie place like this just makes me want to slide into the booth and salivate. Gluten free offerings, too.

However, if you are on the move and want to just get out in the fine weather, the Market Stalls and pop-ups in St. Georges’ look to be the treat for eating and hanging about. Great shops to look in when done as well.

Afternoon of Dreams

Now, how about those walks? Great entertainment and healthy for families as well. Just walking the neighborhoods is great fun, but combine that with a park walk and you get it all in. Self Guided Belfast tours are listed here, and you can use some City walks apps as well, check your Android or Apple Apps for travel apps featuring Belfast. Do not forget the Belfast Art Walks, many of the tours and paths intersect so you can fill your day, but don’t forget to nap on a green somewhere, bring a blanket or rug. And just like in any city you visit this spring, shop the farmer’s markets for your picnic fare.

Are you out and about in Belfast today? Let us know your finds. Fill your Instagram account today.

Places

Harlem Bistro on Bedford Street

http://harlembelfast.co.uk

Best Breakfasts in Belfast

http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/18-brilliant-breakfasts-in-belfast-8547716

Self Guided Tour

http://visitbelfast.com/home/search-keywords/Self-guided%20tours/151

Free Useful Apps Ireland

http://www.ireland.com/en-us/what-is-available/articles/apps-for-ireland/

Mural Tours

https://www.virtualbelfastmuraltour.com/map-of-belfast-murals.htm

Best Parks in Belfast

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/telebest/activity-leisure/tele-recommends-northern-irelands-best-public-parks-30344585.html

Eat Belfast Guide

http://visitbelfast.com/assets/gallery/generic/FINALVBEatBelfastGuide.pdf

Farmer’s Markets Belfast

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/telebest/food-drink/tele-recommends-northern-irelands-best-farmers-markets-30402148.html

Other Posts

Street Art Glasgow Interview

Art Walks: Spring in the UK and Ireland


Photo © 2012 William Murphy

 

Saturday Musings: Dublin Out and About Spring What’s On

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I love watching people. When I go to a city I love to sit in a cafe and just people watch. I also like to do and explore. I have always been a wanderer of the odd and strange. I like neighborhoods and their communities. I can’t wait to get back into a place like Dublin and get a feel for things. Tough when you are not a local, or a Dub. You can try to scratch the surface of a city, but not necessarily get a truer feeling for it with online guides. So, the answer is, always read up on the local What’s On, and I always look for the independent and non mainstream.

When you land in a city and need to get a feel for it, neighborhoods are the best bet I feel. Catching up with a local feel even if you aren’t a local to this city is more holistic. Starting with a cup of coffee in the morning, and finding the right cafe is key. While Dublin and many other Euro cities have Starbucks imports, just like at home here in the PDX the fine crafted local coffee and beer brews are the thing. You are supporting small businesses which mean local families. Plus you can really talk to artisan baristas about what they are doing.

Clement and Pekoe sounds like the treat for me, and will I check out Petit Cafe as I really like the small homey ones, since that’s so up my alley for sleepy wake up mornings. What will you adventure with in coffee in Dublin? Let me know your favorite coffee spaces.

Article The Top 10 Independent Coffee Shops in Town
https://lovindublin.com/food/the-top-10-independent-coffee-shops-in-town

Lunch or having your tea in the afternoon after walking the town? I spend hours roaming area and trying to get to as much as I can that is alternative or just unique to an area. I find that restaurants can be hit or miss, but pop ups can be fun because someone new is coming in with a new foodie sensations to try. In Dublin the places for Pop Up culture are Granby Park, Temple Bar area, Dawson Street area, Henry Street and Merchant Quay areas. Pop-Ups happen as they are much easier to start up than a brick and mortar type restaurant or shop. They still have their challenges as any merchant will tell you, but the Pop-Up can offer you a great affordable experience to your shopping experience, and talking to the people running these fabulous treats will give you great cultural insight to the area. Chat up a Poppie.

Oh, and of course moving on to the lovely afternoon brew of the well crafted amber liquid will snag your taste buds too. Dublin has started exploding with craft beer in the last few years. Dublin has beer a plenty, and besides it’s most famous exports, has the crafty artisan variety plenty. Look for Porterhouse Brewing, Trouble Brewing with it’s Pumpkin, and Eight Degrees.

Not a beer drinker. I must confess that being a Cali Expat, I grew up on wine. Wine can be hit and miss in the isles I have found, great imports mostly from France and Italy, you can find some really good wines. In my recent travels I did find that some South American Sauvignon Blanc seemed to be popular. Sometimes you can find a good German Rhine at some wine merchant’s. For some of the best wine bars, try Ely Bar & Brasserie or La Caverna. Or check out the wine merchants in town to snag a bottle for an evening picnic since it’s light until 10 pm or later in the summer.

Now, what’s really going on this next month here, well Drop Dead has a Burlesque show Sunday the 30th, looks like some great Ska music going down on May 5 With Selector and The Beat for an after party. For some great shows, go to The Grand Social.

Calendar for May
http://www.dublintown.ie/whats-on-events/may-listing-at-the-grand-social/

Check Out What’s On
http://www.dublintown.ie/whats-on/

15 Top Craft Beer Bars in Dublin
https://foursquare.com/top-places/dublin/best-places-craft-beer

Top Wine Bars
http://thetaste.ie/wp/13-great-wine-bars-to-visit-in-dublin-this-christmas/

10 Dublin Pop-Ups
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ireland/articles/10-dublin-pop-ups-to-check-out-in-2017/

Are you a resident Dub or travelled there recently, share your foodie finds with us.

Whiskey Tourism and You; Have a Dram With Me

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Okay, so it’s sad to admit this, but I am not much of a drinker these days. Sadder still, when you go to countries like Scotland and Ireland and whiskey is a national drink or a beer is, and you don’t really do either, you feel a bit out of place. In my youth I could drink some heavy drink, not to say that I didn’t suffer the next day, but I certainly could hold it better. Back in the day, though it was Vodka for me. I spent many nights in Irish and Scots pubs in San Francisco, but could never develop a taste for the amber liquids. I hope to change that as I have found that true whiskey is so not what it is in the states. It’s a rare thing that needs appreciation.

Having a taste for something  like whiskey means growing up with it. In Ireland and the UK in general, alcoholic beverages take on a different aspect to how we view such things in the US. Well, granted we all look at it as a good time, and see what happened when we had Prohibition, we just wanted it more. So the attitude to take when you are in another country, is yes, try the wonderful varieties of whiskey, but think a bit before you do. In the US we have our versions of Scotch and various whiskeys with an American twist, but it’s nothing compared to true Irish or Scots whiskeys. Simply put, our soil is very different and we don’t have as much bog, we got swamp, and well if you got swap you got some bog, but not like in these countries.  In the US, our alcohol content is not as high as other in other countries. In the US we still have our mentality of supersize me, when we pour a whiskey it’s maybe a half glass of liquid, but not made like it is in the UK or Ireland. It’s a bit watered down. We view it like we do in excess of soda pop or anything else we have in the states. We have a lot at once. It’s quantity, not quality.

Have that mentality in the Uk and Ireland and sticker shock will get you. Alcoholic drinks are heavily taxed in the UK, it’s what drives the price up. You will get a smaller portion very exactly measured out. And whiskey is traditionally a dram. It’s a wee amount. I have been told by whiskey enthusiasts that true, well done whiskey is best in small amounts and should be savored, rolled on tongue and many other tasting rituals that we do. If you are an American and ask for a half glass of Scotch at a pub, they will just look at you. Ask for a Whiskey and be prepared, there are so many varieties you have never encountered unless you belong to a whiskey club in the US.

EDINBURGH’S WHISKY HERITAGE

Then we come to the fun part. Tourists have become big enthusiasts in tasting tours. We love them, even when we are not on tour at home. People go to beer tastings, Sake tastings, and of course whiskey. But it is oh so different in the UK and Ireland, and your sommelier will enlighten you so. Listen up. There are so many establishments wanting your business, banking on your tourism that they blast the pipes music out the doors and hope you’ll come tasting with them. So how do you tell the good with the bad? How do you figure out having a quality experience? If you are traveling with a group, decide what it is that you want from a tasting. Not everyone will like the whiskey, so go somewhere that also has a bit of wine or beer on tap just in case. But go with this in mind: You are going to have a verra small taste of the hundreds of distilleries in the country. It is a discovery of what you like and may prefer. Let your taste develop, don’t think of it as a brand like you do in the states. It’s a name, like a fine wine, only a great deal of time is spent on its creation, up to 30 years aging. So, don’t get too intimidated, talk to the sommelier. Admit you have only had American style and want the real thing. Yeah, in the US we get most of our alcohol courtesy of our immigrants heritage and much was changed in the process. So be prepared for a little going a long way.

And to truly make a appreciation, take a distillery tour. All major and many minor labels have a tour of their facilities. If you can squeeze one in your travels, you will greatly appreciate the art of drinking when you see what goes into it. And what the heck with peat? Peat is used in the kiln during the heating during the drying process for the malt. This gives it a smoky flavor. Yes, in the US most of us heat with wood, in the UK and Ireland sod burning still goes on.

Best Distillery Tours

How to not get overwhelmed by so many whiskey choices? Check out some articles on places to try whiskey in Scotland and Ireland, take your friends and just try a wee tasting. It may take a while but you will find a whiskey or two that you enjoy.

Oh, and if you are visiting friends in the UK or Ireland find out what their favorites are and get them on the plane or at airport, duty free. As I have said, it’s very expensive and host gifting is still very big in these cultures. If they can get a really nice bottle from you that will make them very happy.

Bring bottle of aspirin when you travel.

Don’t forget, in Ireland, there’s a whiskey museum. Now how good is that?

Links

Whiskey Basics

The Scotch Whiskey Experience

8 Best Whiskey Bars in Edinburgh

The Best Whiskey Bars in Glasgow

Top 10 Best Whiskey Bars in Dublin

Best Places to Drink in Dublin

Whiskey Walk Belfast

Galway

Ireland Whiskey Trail

British Distillery Tours