The cool weather and tendency to dump water on the head of anyone walking under Irish skies may not dispose this lovely island toward warm beaches and piña coladas, but hot drinks and delicious sweets are definitely on the menu! I have a few things that are on my regular schedule of indulgences. Here, then, is a sweet little taste of Cork for you. (Note: all links in here are totally and completely unsolicited. I just love everything too much not to share!)
Getting hungry just looking at this.
One of my absolute, most favorite things to do in Ireland is go out for tea and scones. In some regions of the world, this is known as "cream tea" or Devonshire tea. I always enjoy sampling local delicacies and specialties when I travel or live somewhere as an expat. Although it may be argued that it's not actually part of traditional Irish cooking, the ready availability of the components makes this one of the most accessible, as well as delightful, snacks for a rainy afternoon.
Best served: split, toasted, buttered, with jam and whipped or clotted cream.
And of course you must have hot tea with sugar and milk!
While I have not managed to sample scones from every establishment in the city center, I have tried a fair number. If you are staying in a self-catering apartment or other place with a kitchen, I highly suggest buying fresh scones from the English Market to take home. If you don't have your own kitchen, or you'd simply like to dine out, my favorite spot is The Natural Foods Bakery on Paul St. The scones are made from organic ingredients, the tea choices are wonderful, and the staff is lovely.
There is also a delectable selection of sandwich options and fresh soup available. I discovered our favorite Irish condiment, Ballymaloe Country Relish, while having lunch there. A visit may be well suited for a family outing, as the young ones can be encouraged to finish their soup and sandwiches more readily with the promise of cakes, cookies, and scones tempting them throughout the meal. ;)
The extra letters in the name are representative of the extra belt notches required post-indulgence.
One of the best things about the Irish is their complete willingness to indulge their sweet tooth. There are a handful of specialty chocolate shops along Oliver Plunkett Street, but I find Mr. Simms to be possessed of a particular charm.
There are shelves full of chocolates, sours, fudge, lollies (lollipops), and all manner of sugary delights. After nearly a year of questing, I even found my old favorite: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! The meaning of that old adage, "like a kid in a candy shop" became clear when I stepped inside. I love going there for the experience as much as the candy!
Not too far from The Natural Foods Bakery, I discovered another place of sweetness and tasty beverages: O'Conaill's Chocolate Shop. Located on French Church Street, a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, the premises is comprised of a chocolate shop for take home treats and a small cafe for hand made hot chocolate and coffee.
The hot chocolate is, as far as I can tell, the best in Ireland. Part of what makes it amazing is that it's not made from powdered cocoa, but melted chocolate. It's astonishing in its richness, as well as all the flavor combinations available. I usually get something with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and I've seen friends get chocolate orange. You can choose white, milk, or dark chocolate, and it comes served with a small side of mixed chocolate chips. It's practically a meal in itself!
Just looking at this is making me feel full!
Finally, a post about the wonders of hot beverages in a cold climate would not be complete without a mention of Hot Whiskey and Hot Port, the cold remedies of Ireland. And by cold I mean both the sniffles and the shivers.
A Hot Whiskey consists of 1-2 shots of whiskey, hot water,
and a slice of lemon or orange pierced with cloves.
My second trip to Ireland did not start out with a bang, as I had a bit of a stuffy nose when I got on the plane in Rome. By the next day, I was sniffling and sneezing fit to blow the windows out of the house! A friend who had lived in Ireland for several years recommended that I head to the nearest pub and order a Hot Whiskey. I followed her advice and, whether or not there was actually any medicinal value in the drink, I certainly felt warmer and more cheerful!
Recent Hot Port deliciousness with a Hot Whiskey waving from the background.
Later, during a walk around the city on a rainy day (more fun than it sounds), I suggested we take a break and warm up inside a nearby pub. I mentioned getting a Hot Whiskey. My friend Paul asked, "Have you ever tried a Hot Port?" I confessed that I had not. He told me it was like a Hot Whiskey, but better. The only difference is that instead of whiskey, the recipe calls for – *drum roll* – port! After trying it, I had to agree with Paul. It was fantastic!
It's much sweeter and easier to down, in my opinion. Some of the alleged medicinal qualities may be lost, but the palatability factor (for one who only occasionally drinks whiskey, that is) is greatly increased. It's now one of my favorite adult beverages here in Ireland!
What are your favorite hot and sweet culinary indulgences?
What a delightful post! Beautiful images that conjure up the most delicious taste sensations that emanate from the screen. Love clotted cream. Love that kind of made-from-scratch delectable hot chocolate. Thanks for warming up this cold night here in Canada.
My pleasure, Doreen. Here’s hoping you make it to Cork to sample it in person yourself! :)
Oh, how I love Irish breakfasts- the tea, the scones, the clotted cream…mmm. Your photos make everything look delicious. Now, I’m kicking myself for not tasting the hot chocolate.
I’m so missing Ireland right now. Think we may head back in April after a few friends visit Italy. Cork is home! Once we’re there, come visit, eh?
I’m about to move to Cork with my girlfriend. I have to admit your posts are bloody useful and fun! Thanks :D
Seriously? That is the Best Compliment Ever! Wow. You really made me smile with that. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know! :D
I think you’ll enjoy Cork tremendously. We did, really loved it. We are planning on buying a house and moving to Beara in the next 2 years or so. Ireland is so, so beautiful, and Cork really is the best city there. I laughed at the idea at first, but now I completely understand why native Corkonians are so proud. Please let me know how it goes, Nicol! :)
Baileys irish cream! yum!
I have to admit, I was glad to see Baileys on the shelf of the pubs here. I can never tell if something called “Irish” in the US is genuine or an affectation/marketing ploy.
Hmm… maybe it’s time for me and Dario to go in search of Irish coffee again…
Hot chocolate AND hot whiskey – delicious!!!
I don’t suppose you know if chocolate and whiskey go together, do you? Rum and chocolate, yes, but whiskey? Hmm. Sounds like I need to do some experimenting…
That could not look any cozier. YUM!
And it’s dangerous to have this post on my own site. I keep looking at the first photo and needing scones! ;)
My favorite hot sweet drink is Mexican coffee. Makes me happy just to think about it. It’s a lot like Irish coffee (do they call it that in Ireland?)
Mexican coffee: Coffee, Kahlua, cream & sugar (or Baileys) cinnamon, and TEQUILA! As some of my friends used to say: “Tequila doesn’t make you drunk–it makes you crazy!” (even if it doesn’t, it warms up my innards and maked me very happy on a cold gray day.
It sounds great, except for the tequila part, hehe. I keep thinking that one day I’ll be able to have a mixed drink with tequila in it and not be totally distracted by that one ingredient, but it hasn’t happened yet. But then, maybe I’ll learn to like it in the proper context, same way that I learned to love red wine in Italy. Say, on a beach. Somewhere warm. A place that has avocados and coconuts growing wild, and fresh fish on the grill… Mmm!
And yes, there is Irish coffee on the menu in Ireland, but I have yet to try it. Maybe tonight! :D
[Update: we went to the local Couchsurfing meeting at a pub last night, but they didn’t serve it. We will keep trying!]
I’ve been wondering about Cork. Now, I’m so going!
Hahaha! So glad to be doing my bit for Irish tourism. ;)
I am in Ghana at the moment, so the idea of a hot drink is a bit hard to stomach. That said, I’m sure if I was home right now or in Ireland, I would be able to appreciate this a lot more :) Seriously, I need to get to Ireland while you are still there!!!
Haha! You’d need to get here in the next 2 weeks, Phil. Unless Dario gets some angel funding for Secondwheel, we’ll be using Rome as our home base for a while. I don’t want to be in Ireland for the winter, but I love it here so much that I’m pretty broken up about leaving. I try to tell myself that for some folks, going to Rome is a dream trip that would make them cry tears of joy. Unfortunately, my heart is in Ireland. :(
Also, there are tasty cold beverages here, too. If nothing else, you could just set your drink on the window sill for a little while and *poof!* it would be magically cool!
I read this right after I woke up…now I’m craving a sinful breakfast!
Mission accomplished! ;)
Tea and scones, chocolate, whiskey! Yes! Your photos really are enticing. Enjoy your indulgences!
Thanks, Cathy. I hope we managed to catch up on the road some time. Wherever it is, I’m sure we’ll find something amazing to nibble and share. :)
That hot chocolate looks simply divine!
It is so rich that I can only go there every once in a while! I think Dario has as a higher threshold than I do, as he’s always just, oh, mentioning in passing that we should go there, lol.
Are you kidding? What’s my favorite? How on Earth am I supposed to choose between all of these? :-P
You don’t have to choose between them! The question uses the plural form: “culinary indulgences”. I’m all about multiple sweets options, believe me!
…Aaaand you don’t need to choose between the options I’ve listed. Considering how many places you’ve been (including many that I’ve not — like Germany, for example!), I’m sure you have some amazing sweets encounters to share. What’s delish in Germany? :D
Dammit, people, can we not come to some sort of agreement not to post delicious looking food-related items until after I’ve had lunch?! Kidding, of course, but not entirely– looking at this giving me serious hunger pangs! Also reminds me that I’ve been wanting to find a good recipe for Mexican-style spicy hot chocolate…
Dude, think about me! It’s nearly 6 pm here and I haven’t eaten yet today. The torment of editing photos and writing about my favorite foods while I’m starving — oh, what I do for my fans!
And now I’m off to eat. After that, I will read your post about Christmas trees because, honestly, I’ve been wondering that for a while now. (I’m guessing real trees are better in the long run, if transported from a near-ish location, since they are renewable. But don’t quote me on that.)
You had me at cream tea :)
And you know, that’s a term I just learned recently? I think it will help me on my international wanderings.
“Do you have tea and scones?”
“Umm… ‘cream tea’?”
“Oh, cream tea! Why didn’t you say so?”
I don’t know how I missed out on this for so long!
I don’t think the term is used outside the British Isles :)
Umm… what about former British colonies? :D