Back at the B&B, we switched into better walking shoes, grabbed a cup of tea, and set out again in the opposite direction to what’s known as the Salthill Promenade (or “Prom”, for short). About a 10 minute walk away, this path goes all along the water as far as the eye can see before the road wraps around and out of sight. Even in the face of the blustery wind and dark clouds building in defiance of the earlier sunbreaks, plenty of people were out walking, jogging, and even biking.
What at first appeared to be a long pier intersecting with the Prom was actually a small road to Mutton Island: an area mysteriously blockaded off from outsiders at about the halfway point, with the rest of it stretching off into the distance beyond the padlocked gate and ending at the island. In the distance beyond, a lighthouse and indistinguishable buildings rose up.
Buffeted by the wind, we walked out to the gate with a number of other walkers and joggers, snapped a few photos, and then went back to the B&B to freshen up for dinner.
The previous night, we’d stopped in at a restaurant called Kai, right up the street from The Crane Pub. It was recommended by the bartender at the Crane, who called it “the best food in the whole west of Ireland.” It was one of the first restaurants we checked that had been full up, but we’d had the foresight to make a reservation for Sunday night on the spot to safeguard ourselves against a repeat of the Super-Valu dinner incident. After all, with a recommendation like that we felt we couldn’t possibly go wrong!
Indeed, we couldn’t. We tried blood sausage for the first time as an appetizer, plated elegantly with baby beets and wild mushrooms. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was delicious.The flavor was mild and meaty, and the texture throughout was, I suppose, a bit like the caramelized exterior of a hamburger or other ground meat. It wasn’t particularly dry or strongly flavored – really just a sausage with a slightly larger grain, and a flavor not unlike a more crispy pork sausage. I’m not sure I’m doing the best work describing it, but I really liked it and certainly plan to try it again.
Following the appetizer, Jason opted for Irish tuna with lentils, and I for pork belly with turnips, carrots, and parsnip puree – a beautifully seared square, crispy-brown on top and sizzling. Both were massive portions, much larger than we were expecting, especially given the relatively modest size of the appetizer. My pork belly alone was probably a good four inches square. I was only able to eat a few bites of mine given the richness of it, but it was really fantastic. Vegetables, particularly potatoes, are often brought out as complimentary side dishes with dinner, and this meal was no exception: we received a bowl of fluffy, buttery, golden mashed potatoes, which were quite possibly the best I’ve ever had (except yours, mom.)
For dessert, vanilla burnt honey ice cream (which included shortbread cookies and an oat crisp), and Jason’s first ever “real” Irish coffee. I thought the ice cream was a little too cloyingly sweet, but the coffee was very good and very boozy. It came out in a wineglass, topped with a lush layer of frothed thick cream and a sprinkle of sugar.
We walked back to the B&B and called it a night. After a long day of walking, exploration, countless photos taken, and more than a few great meals, we certainly felt accomplished.
Today I learned:
- How to jaywalk like a champ.Remember those complicated intersections from day 1? Well, we haven’t found any to top that first one, but we’ve learned the only way to really cross streets here is to jaywalk. It’s both art and science; there are some very brave pedestrians here who have no qualms about darting in front of careening tour buses or semis. Rest assured that we’re not quite that adventurous.
- Irish coffee isn’t just a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream in coffee (which I’m sure a lot of people already knew, but actually trying the real deal has a way of driving the point home.)
- Blood sausage gets a bad rap, and so far seems to be really delicious.
- I’m obsessed with brown bread (like you didn’t know this already.)
Tomorrow (day 5 already, can you believe it?) we’ll be driving Connemara, a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) region which is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful places in all of Ireland. Can’t wait!