Eat local: Yuan Yuan Restaurant, Shanghai, China

Yuan Yuan Restaurant in the French Concession, Shanghai, China, is one of the premier, authentic Shanghainese restaurants in the city, where our Context Travel food tour guide knew the owner and staff

Yuan Yuan Restaurant in the French Concession, Shanghai, China, is one of the premier, authentic Shanghainese restaurants in the city, where our Context Travel food tour guide knew the owner and staff and ordered what she considered some of the highlight typical dishes of Shanghai

 

Following our walking tour of the Guangyuan Lu Market (a so-called “wet market” — 菜市场, cài shìchǎng) in the French Concession [see our previous blog post, “Shop local: Guangyuan Lu [‘wet’] Market, French Concession, Shanghai, China (2019)”, our guide from Context Travel tours walked us through the neighborhood, ending up at one of the premier, authentic Shanghainese restaurants in the city, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, where she knew the owner and staff.   With some input from our small group, she ordered what she considered some of the highlight typical dishes of Shanghai.  It was an excellent meal and opened out eyes to the diversity of ingredients and flavors in the local cuisine.

 

Crystal Shrimp (a local specialty), Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Crystal Shrimp (a local specialty), Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Tea-Smoked Duck, Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Tea-Smoked Duck, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Red Braised Pork (a real signature dish of the city, alternatively available for locals as red braised eel), Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Red Braised Pork (a real signature dish of the city, alternatively available for locals as red braised eel), Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Local Dumplings, Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Local Dumplings, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Eggplant with Pork, Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Eggplant with Pork, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Rice Cakes (noodles) with Greens and Pork, Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Rice Cakes (noodles) with Greens and Pork, Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Braised Chicken (another local specialty), Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Braised Chicken (another local specialty), Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

 

Amerinth greens (generally purple in color, not green – a local specialty), Yuan Yuan Resuarant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Amerinth greens (generally purple in color, not green – a local specialty), Yuan Yuan Restaurant, French Concession, Shanghai, China

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

From the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we walked through the covered Hondori shopping arcade to Okonomimura where we had okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) for lunch, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

From the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we walked through the covered Hondori shopping arcade to Okonomimura where we had okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) for lunch, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

Hiroshima, Japan’s culinary profile attracts foodies from around the globe.  Birthplace of Japan’s famous okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), the city’s version of the dish is a must-try for gastronomes.  Piled inside a thin crepe are layers of shredded cabbage, meat or seafood, fried noodles, and an egg; all topped with sauce, seaweed flakes and, optionally cheese or sliced green onions (scallions).  From the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we walked through the covered Hondori shopping arcade to Okonomimura, an 8-story building with a collection of okonomiyaki restaurants on the second, third and fourth floors, all little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall “restaurants” specializing in the city’s signature meal.  We read brief English language descriptions of the various restaurants and liked the descriptions of those on the second floor, where we headed.  Only about half were open, so we chose one in the front corner of the building filled with Japanese customers.  Luckily, they had an English-language menu so we were able to order two different okonomiyaki for lunch with a draft beer.  We sat at the counter, watching with great interest the construction and cooking of our made-to-order okonomiyaki on a hot griddle.  They were quite delicious and very filling.  No desert needed!

 

Okonomimura (on the right), an 8-story building with a collection of okonomiyaki restaurants on the second, third and fourth floors, all little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall “restaurants” specializing in the city’s signature meal, okonomiyaki

Okonomimura (on the right), an 8-story building with a collection of okonomiyaki restaurants on the second, third and fourth floors, all little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall “restaurants” specializing in the city’s signature meal, okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

There was a staff of 5 or 6 to prepare the okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) on the hot griddles for a total of only about 14 seats (customers) at the L-shaped counters in front of the griddles, Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

There was a staff of 5 or 6 to prepare the okonomiyaki (a savory pancake) on the hot griddles for a total of only about 14 seats (customers) at the L-shaped counters in front of the griddles, Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

After making the pancakes on the griddle, the okonomiyaki were piled high with shredded cabbage, proteins (pork in one, pork and shrimp in a second), with oil for cooking poured on; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

After making the pancakes on the griddle, the okonomiyaki were piled high with shredded cabbage, proteins (pork in one, pork and shrimp in a second), with oil for cooking poured on; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

After cracking an egg and spreading it on the griddle to a circle the size of the pancake, the okonomiyaki was flipped over on top of the cooking egg; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

After cracking an egg and spreading it on the griddle to a circle the size of the pancake, the okonomiyaki was flipped over on top of the cooking egg; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The finished shrimp and pork okonomiyaki topped with shredded dried seaweed; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

The finished shrimp and pork okonomiyaki topped with shredded dried seaweed; Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The finished pork okonomiyaki with udon noodles and topped with sliced green onions (scallions); Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

The finished pork okonomiyaki with udon noodles and topped with sliced green onions (scallions); Okonomimura, Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

 

The road north from Okonomimura, where we had lunch, to the Shukkeien Garden [see our upcoming blog post], through downtown Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

The road north from Okonomimura, where we had lunch, to the Shukkeien Garden [see our upcoming blog post], through downtown Hiroshima, Honshu Island, Japan

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (Føroyar)

Frumbiti Restaurant in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, focuses on offering the bounty that the Faroese nature has to offer -- the menu features both classic and seasonally inspired dishes from locally sourced meats, fish and vegetables

Frumbiti Restaurant in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, focuses on offering the bounty that the Faroese nature has to offer — the menu features both classic and seasonally inspired dishes from locally sourced meats, fish and vegetables

 

We had a nice introduction to some Faroese cuisine with a small family dinner at Frumbiti Restaurant in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.  The two-month old restaurant on the ground floor of a hotel in the center of the city focuses on offering “the bounty that the Faroese nature has to offer.  The menu features both classic and seasonally inspired dishes from locally sourced meats, fish and vegetables.”  Their philosophy is the same as the concepts behind so-called “California Cuisine” inaugurated by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse (restaurant) in Berkeley, California, USA, in the early 1970s.  We all enjoyed the really fresh cuisine and appreciated the introduction to Faroese dining – with our small group sharing the dishes.

 

A first course of a cold salad of local haddock, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

A first course of a cold smoked salad of local haddock, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

 

A first course of a yellow and green zucchini salad with herbs and orange slices, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

A first course of a yellow and green zucchini salad with herbs and orange slices, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

 

A first course of local salmon tartar with a delicious homemade mayonnaise topped with lemon peel and pepper, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands; this was our favorite starter

A first course of local salmon tartar with a delicious homemade mayonnaise topped with lemon zest and pepper, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands; this was our favorite starter

 

A side dish of sliced cucumber and green apple salad with fresh herbs, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

A side dish of sliced cucumber and green apple salad with fresh herbs, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

 

A side dish of pan roasted local potatoes, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands – really delicious, with a crusty skin and soft insides

A side dish of pan roasted local potatoes, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands – really delicious, with a crusty skin and soft insides

 

A main course of pan sautéed shredded local lamb with vegetables, Frumbiti Rest., Tórshavn, Faroe Islands; our favorite main, with excellent flavors and a nice contrast between the crunchy top of the lamb and the juicy shredded lamb below

A main course of pan sautéed shredded local lamb with vegetables, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands; our favorite main course, with excellent flavors and a nice contrast between the crunchy top of the lamb and the juicy shredded lamb below

 

A main course of seafood chowder with a slice of homemade bread, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands; a nice array of local fish and shellfish in an excellent broth

A main course of seafood chowder with a slice of homemade bread, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands; a nice array of local fish and shellfish in an excellent broth

 

A main course of Reydsprøka, the local fish in a delicious sauce and a garbanzo bean salad underneath, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

A main course of Reydsprøka, the local fish in a delicious sauce and a garbanzo bean salad underneath, Frumbiti Restaurant, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

 

As we walked back from the center of town to catch a ride at the ferry terminal, back to our ship in port about 12 miles (19 kilometers) north, we passed the harbor with reflections of the harbor buildings and beautiful twilight sky colors

As we walked back from the center of town to catch a ride at the ferry terminal, back to our ship in port about 12 miles (19 kilometers) north, we passed the harbor with reflections of the harbor buildings and beautiful twilight sky colors

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud at the Merrion Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Exterior of the Merrion Hotel, one of the leading hotels in Europe, that occupies one of the finest, most beautifully restored and best located Georgian buildings in Dublin City Center, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Exterior of the Merrion Hotel, one of the leading hotels in Europe, that occupies one of the finest, most beautifully restored and best located Georgian buildings in Dublin City Center, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

One evening in Dublin we had the pleasure of joining a group from the ship for a tour of the Merrion Hotel, one of the leading hotels in Europe, followed by cocktails and a private dinner at Ireland’s only Michelin two-star restaurants (on the one night a week the restaurant is normally closed).  We were very fortunate to have had three leading Irish officials join the group and make presentations after dinner – offering very insightful perspectives on the current Irish political and economic situation, particularly with respect to the upcoming decisions in the United Kingdom regarding Brexit.

“The Merrion Hotel occupies one of the finest, most beautifully restored and best located Georgian buildings in Dublin City Center.  Our reputation is rooted in a happy marriage of effortless style and unparalleled service, making us one of the finest 5 star hotels Ireland has to offer.  Our 123 guest rooms and 19 suites are light and airy, decorated in colours selected from a subtle palette inspired by one of Paul Henry’s Irish landscape paintings which hangs in the Front Hall of the Hotel… During the spring and summer months, guests can enjoy the tranquillity of the Garden Terrace, while the Drawing Rooms, with their open log fires,  are perfect for Afternoon Tea at any time of the year.  The Tethra Spa’s calming interiors make it an ideal place to unwind, and to restore and invigorate both body and mind.  Whether on a business or a leisure trip why not unwind in our infinity swimming pool and steam room.  The Merrion is home to two bars and two restaurants, including Ireland’s only 2 star-Michelin Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.” – http://www.merrionhotel.com

 

Georgian Drawing Rooms, The Merrion Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Georgian Drawing Rooms, The Merrion Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

The Merrion Hotel’s 123 guest rooms and 19 suites are light and airy, decorated in colors selected from a subtle palette inspired by one of Paul Henry’s Irish landscape paintings which hangs in the Front Hall of the Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

The Merrion Hotel’s 123 guest rooms and 19 suites are light and airy, decorated in colors selected from a subtle palette inspired by one of Paul Henry’s Irish landscape paintings which hangs in the Front Hall of the Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

The Merrion Gardens, The Merrion Hotel – “As a city centre hotel, The Merrion is uniquely privileged to have two period gardens, designed by Jim Reynolds, the noted Irish landscape artist”, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

The Merrion Gardens, The Merrion Hotel – “As a city centre hotel, The Merrion is uniquely privileged to have two period gardens, designed by Jim Reynolds, the noted Irish landscape artist”, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

The Cellar Bar offers a casual gastro-pub menu in the basement of The Merrion Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

The Cellar Bar offers a casual gastro-pub menu in the basement of The Merrion Hotel, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

Painting in the Merrion Hotel, “The Battle of The Boyne 1690” by Jan Van Huchtenbburg 1647 – 1733. King Janes II was defeated by William of Orange. After the Battle, James fled first to Dublin and then to France

Painting in the Merrion Hotel, “The Battle of The Boyne 1690” by Jan Van Huchtenbburg 1647 – 1733. King Janes II was defeated by William of Orange. After the Battle, James fled first to Dublin and then to France. William, King of England, Scotland & Ireland reigned until his death in 1702. The battle is remembered in Northern Ireland every year on July 12th. Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland- “A truly sumptuous restaurant in an elegant Georgian house; Patrick Guilbaud has run it for over 35 years

Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland: “A truly sumptuous restaurant in an elegant Georgian house; Patrick Guilbaud has run it for over 35 years. Accomplished, original cooking uses luxurious ingredients and mixes classical French cooking with modern techniques. Dishes are well-crafted and visually stunning with a superb balance of textures and flavours” — The Michelin Guide, http://www.viamichelin.com/web/Restaurant/Dublin-D2-Patrick_Guilbaud-35n13bv

 

“Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud holds two Michelin stars, in addition to virtually all top national and international restaurant awards.  This bright, elegant restaurant, situated in an 18th Century Georgian townhouse, adjoins the five-star Merrion Hotel.  Patrick  Guilbaud created his restaurant in 1981, now established as a centre of fine dining for over thirty years… the cuisine is contemporary Irish with classical roots.  Patrick Guilbaud’s pursuit of excellence can be seen in the delicious, immaculately presented dishes, prepared from the finest Irish produce in season.  Service is equally meticulous, combining efficient French decorum with discreet Irish charm, ensuring the delivery of an impeccable dining experience.  Everything is made on the premises, from the wonderful selection of breads to the petit fours… signature dishes include lobster ravioli, roast challans duck for two and assiette gourmande au chocolat… Patrick Guilbauds has an extensive wine list, which includes many fine wines, to delight the most fastidious and discerning connoisseur.” — http://www.ireland.com/what-is-available/food-and-drink/restaurants/

 

A first course of Annagassan Blue Lobster Boudin with Green Apple Jus accompanied by 2017 Chablis, Domain Servin, Vielles Vignes, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

A first course of Annagassan Blue Lobster Boudin with Green Apple Jus accompanied by 2017 Chablis, Domain Servin, Vielles Vignes, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

A first course of Aubergine Baked with Mellow Spices, Cepe Biscuit, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, accompanied by 2017 Chablis, Domain Servin, Vielles Vignes, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

A first course of Aubergine Baked with Mellow Spices, Cepe Biscuit, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, accompanied by 2017 Chablis, Domain Servin, Vielles Vignes, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

Your blogger in the bar between courses at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Your blogger in the bar between courses at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

A main course of Truffled Chicken “Tourte” with Foie Gras, Port, Périgord Truffle(a specialty of the chef, not on the regular menu) accompanied by 2014 Savigny-Les-Beaune “Ez Connardises”, Domaine Françoise Andre , Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud

A main course of Truffled Chicken “Tourte” with Foie Gras, Port, Périgord Truffle (a specialty of the chef, not on the regular menu) accompanied by 2014 Savigny-Les-Beaune “Ez Connardises”, Domaine Françoise Andre , Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

A main course of Grilled Wild Halibut, Violet Artichoke Fricassé, Roasted Bone Jus, accompanied by 2014 Savigny-Les-Beaune “Ez Connardises”, Domaine Françoise Andre , Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

A main course of Grilled Wild Halibut, Violet Artichoke Fricassé, Roasted Bone Jus, accompanied by 2014 Savigny-Les-Beaune “Ez Connardises”, Domaine Françoise Andre , Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Drink local: Slane Distillery, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

 

The Slane Distillery was opened in 2017 by the family owners of Slane Castle in a joint partnership with Brown-Forman Beverages and Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA, in the River Boyne region

The Slane Distillery was opened in 2017 by the family owners of Slane Castle in a joint partnership with Brown-Forman Beverages and Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA, in the River Boyne Valley that has a rich heritage of Irish whiskey distilleries, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

 

Situated about an hour north of Dublin alongside the River Boyne, Slane Castle has been home to the Conyngham family since 1703.  Surrounded by parklands designed by landscape architect Capability Brown, the four-story, crenelated castle was reconstructed in 1785 with the guidance of three leading architects: James Wyatt, James Gandon, and Francis Johnston.  Music lovers may know it as the setting for one-day annual summer concerts by U2, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, and many others.  We began our visit at the distillery with cocktail made from Slane Irish Whiskey, accompanied by some canapes.  Our tour began outside in the 250 year-old Georgian stables, converted to the distillery which opened in 2017.  Over the course of the tour we learned about the distinct steps that are involved in turning barley into Irish Whiskey.  Using estate grown barley and water from the River Boyne, Slane Distillery produces a distinctive Irish whiskey, triple-aged in virgin American oak casks, Tennessee whiskey casks, and Oloroso sherry casks.  Slane Irish Whiskey takes many of its complex and smooth qualities from the cask aging, after which the whiskeys are blended to create the complex but smooth final whiskey – we enjoyed some neat at the end of the tour, and then were surprised how the addition of just a few drops of water changed its character and made for a fine, even smoother, silkier drink.

 

Slane Castle, a four-story, crenelated castle was reconstructed in 1785, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

Slane Castle, a four-story, crenelated castle was reconstructed in 1785, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

 

The distillery was carefully built in the landmark status stable buildings of Slane Caste, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

The distillery was carefully built in the landmark status stable buildings of Slane Caste, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

 

A flow chart from Slane Distillery showing the many steps involved in turning barley into Slane Irish Whiskey, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

A flow chart from Slane Distillery showing the many steps involved in turning barley into Slane Irish Whiskey, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

 

Brewing at Slane Distillery takes place in the Lauter Tun and Mash Tun, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

Brewing at Slane Distillery takes place in the Lauter Tun and Mash Tun, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

 

The distillation columns at Slane Distillery, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

The distillation columns at Slane Distillery, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

 

These old barrels were shown as examples of the three types of barrels that the whiskey at Slane Distillery is aged in before blending to create the complex but smooth final Slane Irish Whiskey, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

These old barrels were shown as examples of the three types of barrels that the whiskey at Slane Distillery is aged in before blending to create the complex but smooth final Slane Irish Whiskey, Slane, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

The Winding Stair Bookshop & Café became a famous Dublin landmark in the 1970s and 1980s and is named after the Yeats poem and in honor of its winding staircase (from the ground floor bookshop to the upstairs restaurant)

The Winding Stair Bookshop & Café became a famous Dublin landmark in the 1970s and 1980s and is named after the Yeats poem and in honor of its winding staircase (from the ground floor bookshop to the upstairs restaurant)

 

On our first night in Dublin, before attending a performance at the nearby iconic Irish Theatre, The Abbey Theatre, we dined early at The Winding Stair, highly recommended by an American friend (now living in Norway) who has had many business trips to Dublin where he was introduced to many local favorite restaurants.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, with a friend from the ship, and regret that we missed dessert and after dinner drinks due to our appointment at the theatre.

“The Winding Stair Bookshop & Café became a famous Dublin landmark in the 1970s and 1980s.  Named after the Yeats poem, and in honour of its winding staircase, it is perfectly located, overlooking the river Liffey, with an iconic view of the Ha’penny bridge.  As a popular meeting place for writers, musicians and artists, it was a well known hub for debate and creativity with many poems written, novels penned and movies shot within its walls.  When its closure was announced in 2005, there were mutterings about the end of an era, but in 2006, Elaine Murphy brought this much-loved spot back to life as a restaurant, championing seasonal, Irish produce.  The bookshop, located on the ground floor, was retained, as were many of the old bookshelves, photos and memories.  The room retains its timeless charm with stripped wood tables and floors, and Bentwood café chairs.  The old girders give a nod to its past as a tweed loom and the view remains as quintessentially Dublin as ever.

 

The Winding Stair Bookshop & Café dining room on the floor above the bookshop overlooks the River Liffey and the Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

The Winding Stair Bookshop & Café dining room on the floor above the bookshop overlooks the River Liffey and the Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

A shared first course was a huge platter of many local smoked fish with Irish bread and butter – delicious!, The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

A shared first course was a huge platter of many local smoked fish with Irish bread and butter – delicious!, The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

Another first course (also shared) was an excellent potted crab served with toasted Irish bread, The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Another first course (also shared) was an excellent potted crab served with toasted Irish bread, The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

“The food is good, old-fashioned home cooking, with produce sourced from artisans within the island.  The beer list focuses on local and international micro breweries with an emphasis on good food, matched beers and ales.  The wine list is extensive and also aims to showcase some of the new and emerging stellar boutique wine makers from the new and old worlds.  We aim to be a restaurant devoid of bells and whistles, with food cooked by chefs devoid of ego and served by warm, friendly professionals with a passion for their business.  We hope we have succeeded! “ — https://winding-stair.com

 

A main course of pork belly, The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

A main course of pork belly, The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

A main course of fresh, local salmon with roe and zucchini and mashed potatoes

A main course of fresh, local salmon with roe and zucchini and mashed potatoes

 

A main course of a pot of steamed local mussels, clams and crab meat served with chips (called French Fries in the US), The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

A main course of a pot of steamed local mussels, clams and crab meat served with chips (called French Fries in the US), The Winding Stair, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2019 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Drink local: Holy Vale Winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Holy Vale Winery's vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 by local resident and hotelier Robert Francis who wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Holy Vale Winery’s vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 by local resident and hotelier Robert Francis who wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

In the afternoon on St. Mary’s Island we joined a small group for a visit, tour and tasting at the Islands’ only winery, Holy Vale Winery.  The winery and local vineyards are a project of local hotelier (and chairman of the Council of the Isles of Scilly) Robert Francis, who knows wines from around the world and wanted to pioneer the production of good quality wines on the Isles of Scilly.  Because production of local wines is so difficult and there is very limited availability, the winery’s second goal is to select some fine wines from around the world and introduce them to winery visitors (in lieu of tasting only local wines).  The winery’s website notes: “Holy Vale Wines is a British family owned and run company, created to bring you a very special collection of some of the most exciting, delicious wines from around the world, featuring California [from the Francis Ford Coppola Family Winery, and others]. Our selection is driven by our passion for great wine that is ready to drink, offering exceptional value and quality.

“Holy Vale Vineyard was planted in the spring of 2009 after a couple of years trying to beg, borrow or steal redundant farm land on St Mary’s.  With co-operation from the Duchy of Cornwall and local farmers we were able to set about obtaining the land we had found that suited the planting of the vines, mostly sloping and facing south, to aid water drainage and aspect to the sun.  These parcels of land are situated in Holy Vale, Maypole, Silver Carn and Helvear.  It was not possible to obtain all the land together in one parcel, but that in some respects is an advantage because it will give diversity and different character to the wines.

 

The winery has several parcels of vineyards across St. Mary’s Island on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom; these are located at the winery where we visited and had a tour and tasting

The winery has several parcels of vineyards across St. Mary’s Island on the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom; these are located at the winery where we visited and had a tour and tasting

 

“We carefully selected nurseries in Burgundy and Luxemburg to nurture the vines of our grape varieties grafted on to our rootstock. 7,000 vines were ordered of our selection, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  These were chosen instead of the normal, mostly German varieties that have traditionally been grown in the UK mainly for climatic reasons. Our choice reflected the commitment and quality that we wish to achieve, rather than quantity. Our resolve is to produce the most special wines, even though working with Pinot Noir is especially difficult.

“We are now producing, bottling and selling Holy Vale Wines, 2014 was our very first vintage. We offer tours of the vineyard and tastings of wines at the vineyard…”– http://www.holyvalewines.co.uk

 

The first vintage of Holy Vale Pinot Noir was 5 years after the vines were planted, in 2014; there was no wine made in the subsequent four years due to weather and loss of grapes to predators, so there are no tastings of recent vintages

The first vintage of Holy Vale Pinot Noir was 5 years after the vines were planted, in 2014; there was no wine made in the subsequent four years due to weather and loss of grapes to predators, so there are no tastings of recent vintages

 

Some of the wine making equipment at the Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Some of the wine making equipment at the Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

The wines from around the world that we tasted with winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

The wines from around the world that we tasted with winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom. Note that Robert was very gracious and generous and pulled a couple of bottles of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir from the winery’s “library” to taste with us; at 11.5% ABV (alcohol) – due to the cool weather on the island — the Holy Vale Pinot Noir was lighter that we are used to on the West Coast of the United State, but refreshing with good acidity and fruit.

 

Winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery in the vineyard with a bottle of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

Winemaker Robert Francis at Holy Vale Vineyard winery in the vineyard with a bottle of his 2014 Holy Vale Pinot Noir, St. Mary’s Island, Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

 

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