I’ve written before about how I’m powerless to resist a line-up for food. Yes, some restaurants can be over-hyped, but generally speaking if a place is popular enough to generate a long line, the food is probably pretty good.
So I got pretty excited when I saw the line at the Green Bench Cafe, a takeout joint (or “takeaway,” as they call it here) that’s well known for its sandwiches. I mean, look at this crowd:
All those people can’t be wrong!
Or maybe they can. I got the beef brisket sandwich, and it wasn’t bad — there was actually a lot about it that I quite liked. But the beef (and you can’t really tell from the picture, but there was a lot of it) was super dry. It was somewhat jerky-esque. It kinda sucks all the moisture out of your mouth.
In case you haven’t been following Crispygate (i.e. the most important story of 2017), you can catch up here and here. Basically, the doughnut shop Aungier Danger served me a doughnut with a crispy exterior, and I proceeded to spend way too much time thinking about it.
After concluding that no, the Irish do not like their doughnuts crispy, I figured the best way to close the book on this thing would be to go to a different Aungier Danger location, try a doughnut, and see if it’s crispy.
So that’s what I did. I got the HoneyFoam doughnut, which is filled with “honeycomb infused foam.” A couple of things:
- The doughnut was not crispy. This officially closes the book on Crispygate. As I suspected, this must have just been a frying mishap.
- Holy crap, the doughnut was so damn good. The “foam” actually tasted like a super fluffy buttercream; between its perfect, rich texture and its deliciously subtle honey flavour, it might have been the best doughnut filling I’ve ever had. And the doughnut itself was great, with an amazing balance of lightness and chewiness. So good.
Well, I’m a tourist. I like must-visit places. I also quite like Guinness, so yeah, it’s a no-brainer.
And the Guinness Storehouse is neat, but it’s hard not to compare it to my recent tour of the Glengoyne whisky distillery, in which we got to see every step in the actual production process.
The Guinness Storehouse is a slick multimedia experience that’s compelling to walk through — but it has very little to do with how the drink is actually made.
You get to see a bunch of historical equipment, and there’s a lot of talk about things like the perfect temperature to roast barley (232 degrees) and the number of nitrogen bubbles in every pint (30 million), but almost no insight on how Guinness is actually produced today. What machines do they use? What does the factory look like? Who knows! There are photos and videos of what the factory looked like decades ago, but pretty much nothing on how it looks now.
Still, it’s an enjoyable enough way to spend an hour or so, plus at the end you get to go up to the Gravity Bar (which is surrounded by windows offering amazing views of the city) and have a pint of the black stuff. Anything that ends with you drinking a glass of Guinness can’t be all bad.
You’ll recall that a few days ago, I posted about the doughnut I ate at Aungier Danger, which had a bizarrely crispy exterior. I wondered: was that supposed to be crispy? Was the oil just at the wrong temperature? Or do Irish people like their doughnuts crispy?
Clearly, this could be my Watergate moment. Are Irish doughnuts crispy? The world needs to know about this. I’ve gotta blow the lid off of this thing.
So I went and ate a couple more doughnuts, obviously.
The first one was from a place called The Rolling Donut. I got the salted caramel pistachio doughnut, which was pretty good — pistachios turn out to be a surprisingly good compliment to the slightly salty, sticky caramel. The doughnut itself was a little bit too dense, but otherwise not bad. More importantly: not crispy. Not even a little bit.
On to the next one. I got the Ferrero Rocher doughnut from a bakery called Krust, which was kind of ingenious in that it looks like a standard ring doughnut, but it’s been injected with Nutella at multiple points along the circle.
Like the other doughnut, it was good but not great, and like the other doughnut, it wasn’t crispy.
So there you have it: the Irish people don’t eat crispy doughnuts. Aungier Danger just make them that way for some reason. Case closed.
You may have noticed that there was no McDonald’s Around the World for Scotland (what? You didn’t notice? And you’re baffled as to why I’m spending so much time and energy on McDonald’s? Yeah. Sounds about right).
Well, in case you did notice, the menu at McDonald’s in Scotland was identical to the one in England, so I didn’t bother.
The Ireland menu was pretty similar as well, but I did manage to find a couple of things interesting enough to post about.
(Also: the McDonald’s I went to had a microwave out that the customers could use, which is odd.)
The first was a veggie burger called the McVeggie — not to be confused with the McBean from Sweden, which was actually completely different. This one was much less mushy and was quite falafel-esque both in its texture and flavour. It wasn’t bad.
The next was fish fingers — these weren’t bad (and I actually think they were pieces of fish and not the reconstituted fish slurry that you might expect), but they really needed some kind of sauce. They’re pretty plain.
I don’t know that I’ve ever actually gone on a hike before. Also: I’m honestly not entirely sure what differentiates hiking from walking. I mean, is it basically just walking, but in nature? If so, maybe I have hiked?
I’m fairly certain that this is the first time I’ve been on a predefined hiking trail, so there’s that.
There’s an area just outside of Dublin called Howth, and it features a lot of stunning cliffside vistas, and yes, a hiking trail.
Four, actually. The official map rates them from easy to hard, and I figured, hey, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this. I went with the 10 kilometre “hard” trail, The Bog of the Frogs.
I actually enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. There was something oddly compelling and almost soothing about just trekking along in nature. The scenic beauty of the area certainly didn’t hurt.
Plus, as someone who can barely even tell left from right without thinking about which arm my watch is on, I appreciated the frequent sign posts, which make it nearly impossible to get lost.
And thanks to the sheer amount of time I’ve been spending walking around the last few months, the 10 kilometre hike wasn’t too exhausting (though it was quite a bit more strenuous than the city walking I’m used to).
So now I’m wondering if I really like hiking, or if that was just a particularly good hiking trail. I guess I’ll just have to go on more hikes to find out?
They have a bunch of really interesting looking flavours, but I went with the Dublin Death Trap, which is pretty straightforward: it’s filled with vanilla custard, and topped with a chocolate ganash.
The flavours were great — the filling was really rich and custardy, and the ganash was admirably restrained in its sweetness, with a very pronounced dark chocolate flavour.
But the doughnut itself was just odd. The whole bottom was weirdly crispy, and as you can see from the picture below, there was a fairly thick layer of grease that soaked into the pastry. I have no idea if this was intentional or if there was just an issue with the temperature of the oil, but it actually wasn’t bad. It was a bit off-putting at first, but once you get used to it the crispy/chewy contrast is actually pretty satisfying.
I wonder if the crispy exterior is an Irish thing? I guess I’ll just have to eat more doughnuts to find out. Such is life.
The full breakfast at Matt the Rashers comes on a plate that has been precariously overloaded with: eggs, hash browns, bacon, tomato, liver, black pudding, white pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, and sausage. It also comes with two slices of very hearty soda bread. It’s the breakfastiest breakfast in the history of breakfast. You can’t have more breakfast than that. It’s physically impossible.
It’s amazing. The white pudding and the liver are what differentiates this from the English and Scottish versions (though from what I can tell, the liver is more of a Matt the Rashers thing than an Irish thing).
White pudding is like black pudding, but without the blood. It’s quite tasty, though it’s basically just a slightly blander version of the black.
Everything on the plate was super tasty, and the soda bread — which has a very dense, almost cakey texture — is a great accompaniment.
It’s not even close; I liked the other two full breakfasts a lot, but this one is hard to beat.