Latham Seeds takes on the Emerald Isle!
Hallmark and Hollywood often use creative license when filming, but the Midwesterners who recently traveled around Ireland as guests of Latham Hi-Tech Seeds will tell you none is needed. For us, the Emerald Isle lived up to its billing – in beauty, hospitality and intriguing local lore. Each day was like a scene from a movie, made only better because we were experiencing it right on set!
Our eight-day adventure began with a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, the “eighth wonder of the world.” We were blessed with beautiful clear weather. Not only were the cliffs in full view, but we also saw the Aran Islands in the distance. After admiring the view, we traveled by motorcoach through the countryside to County Kerry where we enjoyed a delicious white tablecloth meal complete with traditional Irish music.
The next day we fueled up with a Full Irish Breakfast before heading to the Muckross House. Nestled in the heart of Killarney National Park, Muckross House is Kerry’s premier visitor attraction. However, “house” is an understatement for this majestic 19th century Victorian mansion that overlooks Muckross Lake. Its rooms are elegantly furnished in period style. Extensive improvements – including adding the Sunken, Rock and Stream Gardens – were made during the 1850s in preparation of Queen Victoria’s visit.
Today’s visitors to Muckross can step back in time on a 1930 to 1940s-era working farm. Electricity had yet to be introduced to the countryside, and horses reigned supreme. There are three separate working farm sites that are furnished in traditional style right down to the livestock raised. The black Kerry dairy cow is one of the oldest breeds in Europe, descending from the 4,000-year-old Celtic shorthorn. In fact, this breed has been kept from extinction thanks in part to Muckross Farm.
From Muckross, our band of roving Midwesterners traveled to Blarney where many climbed the winding stairs of the castle to kiss the lucky Blarney Stone. We also enjoyed walking through the beautiful gardens and visiting Blarney Woolen Mills.
Another highlight of our Irish adventure was a tour of Ballymaloe House. What’s not to enjoy about being encouraged to taste the sun-ripened strawberries and vine-ripened tomatoes? This family-run hotel, restaurant and cooking school is situated on 300 acres of rolling green hills in southern Ireland’s beautiful County Cork.
Focus on Quality Ingredients Transforms Irish Cuisine
With its emphasis on high-quality, fresh ingredients, Ballymaloe is internationally recognized as the birthplace of modern Irish cuisine. This organic farm includes gardens, glasshouses and a micro dairy. The glasshouses were developed with grant aid money in the 1940s, making Ivan and Myrtle Allen among the first tomato producers in Ireland. Myrtle started a restaurant in her dining room in 1964, and she created a recipe for tomato relish to preserve the tomatoes Ivan grew. Ballymaloe Relish was a break-out product and remains the flagship product of Ballymaloe Food Co.
Myrtle’s daughter-in-law Darina Allen started Ireland’s first farmers market and helped develop it into a national industry. Darina’s daughter-in-law Rachel Allen is a graduate of the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School, so she has taken on many of the duties she learned from Darina.
Local ingredients, including water, also are key to the success of Jameson Whiskey. The word whiskey is derived from the Irish “uisce beatha,” meaning water for life. That’s fitting because the barley used to make Jameson comes “from up the road and [its] water comes from outside the window.”
During our tour of Jameson Distillery in Midleton, we learned that in 1780 John Jameson established the signature triple distillation process that it still used today. Our tour concluded with a whiskey tasting of Jameson, Scotch and an American whiskey. Afterward, we could choose to enjoy Jameson with Ginger Ale and a squeeze of lime.
Our “agricultural tour” continued in Dublin where many of us took a self-guided tour of the Guinness brewery. The tour ended on the seventh floor at the rooftop Gravity Bar, which offers one of the best views in the city. Visitors can admire the Wicklow Mountains where Guinness sources its fresh Irish water as they enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness.
Sláinte! (Prounced slawn-che, this is the Gaelic toast to good health.)
Today we’re sharing a recipe we received on the Guinness Brewery tour. For more Irish recipes, click on the following links: From Ballymaloe with Love, Ballymaloe Recipes, Ballymaloe Foods and Ballymaloe Cookery Schools.
If you would like to take a ‘once in a life time trip’ with Latham Seeds or to become a dealer call 877-GO-LATHAM to learn more!
Beef and Guinness Stew with Champ Potato
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 200 ml (or approximately 2.8 ounces) of GUINNESS® Foreign Extra Stout
- 400 g (approximately 1 pound) stewing diced beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 large celery stalk, diced
- 1 large parsnip, diced
- 1 Litre (or 1 quart) of thick beef stock
- Sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
- Champ potato (creamed mash potato & spring onion)
- Stir fry the beef; add vegetables and cook till tender.
- Pour the GUINNESS and reduce by half.
- Add the beef stock and herbs; simmer very slowly for between an hour and 90 minutes.
- Serve with the champ potato and honey roast carrot and parsnip.
NOTE: This stew is always better made one day in advance.