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Dublin 3: This is Laid Back?

Sunday, August 11, 2019 - 12:05

(This post is stitched together from various facebook postings throughout the day.)

My "rest day" was restful in the sense that I didn't have anything in particular I was committed to accomplishing. It started with an excellent night's sleep. (Maybe readers are bored with me talking about my sleep habits, but between my usual sleep issues and coming off jet lag, the topic is highly relevant to me.) 

Continuing my culinary tour of Dublin, I had a chance to read through the convention dining guide. Not a “complete list of nearby eateries” but more of a “foodies’ guide to Dublin.” Thanks to the recommendations, I had breakfast at Bewley’s, where I finally sampled the “traditional Irish breakfast” complete with black and white pudding, bacon (more like ham) and sausage, eggs, tomatoes and brown bread. Their version is quite delightful. (It didn't include the baked beans that seem to be a required element elsewhere, but I was ok with that.) Having passed the pastry display on the way in, I was tempted to add a scone or danish to the meal but it would have been too much. I'll go back some other time.

Bewley's has quite a history and is a gorgeous building. I particularly enjoyed my view of a large stained glass window based on a Jim Fitzpatrick design. (Since the linked website features a picture of said window, I won't add my own photo.) Fitzpatrick is one of the featured artists at Worldcon this year. When I was looking him up on Wikipedia to check something, I realized I hadn’t known he also created the famous image of Che Guevara that you see everywhere.

After that, I capitulated to curiosity and decided to check out the Dublinia Viking and medieval museum. Not being in a hurry, I did one of my favorite things in an old European city and simply aimed in the right direction and started wandering. One of the things I love about walking around cities like Dublin is soaking in the random and ad hoc nature of the city layout. The winding narrow lanes, unexpected stairs, archways that are portals to functions left behind. The way streets dodge around buildings and markets that have left their names and footprints while the city moved on. It’s never truly random, of course. Such cities have a logic and meaning woven through them that must be deciphered. While I love museums and guidebooks, one of my favorite activities while on tour is simply walking and wandering. (And, of course, I save up the memory for when I need to evoke this sort of layout and atmosphere in my historic writing.)

When I was here in Dublin two years ago, I took in the "serious" museums. (I spent an entire day in the National Museum of Archaeology.) But since one of my writing-related research interests is Viking-era Dublin, I thought it might be fun to see what they'd done. Dublinia is...quite good for what it is. Clearly aimed at the schoolchild level of interaction but not entirely oversimplified. Several re-enactors were presenting crafts and information. Obviously if you have to make a choice, go to the National Museum instead, but Dublinia was fun. I finished with the climb up the tower which gives a good view of the skyline, as well as the best view of the Viking house floor plan marker that's part of a trail of artifact markers around the Wood Quay excavation site.)

Outline of Viking house

After that, I thought about maybe checking out the "real" archaeology museum again, but at that point there were only a couple of hours left before it closed, so I took a leisurely random walk past Saint Patrick's cathedral (bells ringing!) then sufficiently in the direction of Saint Stephen's Green that I came out where I intended. Wandered through the park and then checked out the museum gift shop to see if they had anything intersting I hadn't bought last time. They still had some of the volumes from the Wood Quay excavation reports (though they said pretty much what was on display was all that was left--everything else was long out of print) and I picked up a couple that might be useful for deep background.

I dithered a bit over whether to find a place for an early dinner or take the books back to my room first. The decision was made when I was passing by the Millstone restaurant and glanced that their menu. I'd been looking for a plce to try some local lamb and they had a "lamb trio" entree that looked like it would hit the spot. Reader: it was delicious.

The food presentation was very much on the upscale side but the dishes deserved it every step of the way. The lamb trio was a mini rack (2 ribs), a bit of tenderloin, and a roll of lamb belly that had been slow-cooked to the dissolving point then crisped up. The other two items were cooked to order as pink. The plate was decorated with a mildly acidic mint sauce with a thick brown gravy served on the side. The nod to vegetables was a small mound of potatoes and what may have been carrot purée. Everything was delicious and all in different directions. I had a Bulmer's cider with it which, as I’ve noted before, is very light and on the dry side, making a good dinner accompaniment.

Having enjoyed the main course that much, I said yes to dessert. Cointreau creme brûlée with espresso. (I hope I don’t regret the caffeine but it isn’t even 6pm yet.) Again, delicious, with a nice sugar crust and you can clearly taste the Cointreau. Garnished with raspberry purée, half strawberries, and an unidentifiable orange object (mild, very slightly acidic, many tiny seeds--the leaves are attached but dried out while the fruit is fresh) which facebook commenters identified as a ground-cherry. (If we're friends on facebook, I have dinner pix there.)

And that brings us up to date. I'm just going to chill in my room for the rest of the evening. I contemplated taking advantage of my location in the middle of the pub-and-live-music quarter, but although going to a pub to listen to music with friends would be enjoyable, I'm less interested in doing it on my own in a crowd of strangers. (Dining alone is entirely different. I'm very good company for mysefl.) Tomorrow is Newgrange!

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