September 30, 2013
Irish Gold, Part 1
I loved being in Cong!
What do John Wayne and Bing Crosby have in common? True, they were both actors from the same era, but, more importantly, for me they determined where I/we would visit on our three- day trip to Ireland. The “Duke’s” classic movie “The Quiet Man” formed my vision of (Inisfree) Ireland since first seeing it in my teen years, and Crosby’s catchy rendition of “Christmas in Killarney” served to fill in the pieces of the Ireland of my imagination.
Upon landing in Dublin, and reminding Dale to drive on the left-hand side of the road, the GPS destination in our trusty rental car was set to Cong. Located in County Mayo in Western Ireland, the small Irish village of Cong, through the magic of the movies in 1951, became the fictional Inisfree for the film “The Quiet Man”. (Our Bed and Breakfast hostess explained that it is called County Mayo, rather than Mayo County, because this is the way it is translated from the Irish language.)
The two and a half hour drive presented us with an Irish countryside that confirmed the images that had long been part of my imagination. Idyllic bright green fields presented themselves at every turn, dotted with fluffy cream-colored sheep, black and white dairy cows, furry-coated cattle, and, occasionally, sleek grazing horses. Fields divided via low stone “fences” could be seen throughout the unobstructed vistas, with a mountainous backdrop in the distance. Having missed the turn to our Bed and Breakfast lodging (for the next two nights), we suddenly and accidently found ourselves in Cong/Inisfree, staring at a major movie set location! I will save all of “The Quiet Man” memories for my upcoming blog in two weeks (The first of that two-part blog post is here), but let me just say that I was more than just a little bit excited to find myself in the town where John Wayne had once been! )
The Irish Countryside
When booking unseen lodging from over 3000 miles away, one always feels a bit uncertain, approaching thus lodging with optimistic trepidation. Our optimism was not unwarranted, however, and the Ashfield Bed and Breakfast, located on a peaceful Cong country road was friendly (Thank you, owner Christina!), clean, comfortable, quiet, and across from a sheep- inhabited field. )
The view of sheep grazing out the window of Ashfield House Bed & Breakfast
In addition to our “Quiet Man” immersion while in Cong, we also had the pleasure of partaking in teatime at the Ashford Castle, a mere two miles down the road from our B & B. This stately hotel has been temporary residence to many world celebrities including Ronald Reagan while he was president, and actor Pierce Bronson (AKA James Bond) had his wedding reception here in 2001. The original castle was built in 1228, going through many changes and owners over time, including ownership by the Guinness family, of Guinness Brewery fame, in the 1800’s.
Teatime in the Grand Drawing Room, with views of the gardens and lake was a calmingly relaxing experience. While sitting in overstuffed chairs, we were presented the “Lord & Lady Ardilaun’s Traditional Afternoon Tea”, three tiers of “Sandwiches and Miniature Pastries with Fruit Scones” and a pot of wonderful Irish tea. One tea sandwich, in particular, caught my attention and tickled my taste buds, and in true “Annette fashion” I prevailed upon the chef for the recipe. He generously complied, and I share it with you below. Thank you, Chef Stefan! (My additional recipe comments are in italics.) And, thank you Ireland for the wonderful memories, which are truly “Irish Gold”! )
Did you know?
There was a time when The Quiet Man was shown daily at Ashford Castle.
Read about that here.
To read my post “Irish Gold, Part 2, click here.
To Read My Other Posts on Ireland …
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Teatime at Ashford Castle
Strolling the Ashford Castle grounds with my hubby
Ashford Castle Tea Sandwiches
Ciabatta of Goats Cheese & Peppers, Fresh Goats Cheese from Co. Clare with Melted Peppers, Reduced Pinot Noir Vinegar on Toasted Olive Ciabatta:
Note from Chef Stefan-We sometimes vary this sandwich. Olives, tomato chutney or rocket pesto can be all used either as sole component or in combination.
Note from Annette-The day that we had the tea sandwiches, I do not believe that any olives, or tomato chutney was used. Only pesto.
3 slightly toasted slices of olive ciabatta (I believe that we had regular ciabatta.)
20 g tomato chutney (the pesto replaces the chutney)
40 g melted peppers (yellow & red) (recipe follows)
50 g fresh Bluebell Falls Goat Cheese (3 slices)
5 g herbal Mie de Pain (soft bread crumbs)
3 (15 g) stuffed green olives ( the pesto replaces the olives)
5 g reduced Pinot Noir vinegar
20 g mixed leaves (organic & frissee/curly endive)
5 g Balsamic Dressing
Standard of Procedure:
- Slightly toast 3 slices of ciabatta
- Spread with tomato chutney
- Layer with melted peppers
- Place 1 slice of goats cheese on each bread
- Sprinkle with herbal bread crumbs
- Toast slices gently to a light colour
- Garnish plate with vinegar reduction
- Place croutons over and garnish with 1 olive each
- Place Leaf garnish and drizzle with balsamic dressing
- Assemble as per above image with tomato chutney in a side dish
No. of portions 500 g
200 g Rocket/Arugula leaves, washed and picked
50 g Pine Nuts
4 clove garlic, peeled
300 g extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Standard of procedures:
- Combine all ingredients and process in blender until very smooth
- Adjust seasoning
10 yellow peppers
10 red peppers
200 g extra virgin olive oil
Salt pepper to taste
Standard of procedures:
- Top and tail the peppers
- Place on a s/s tray and gratinate (cook covered with oil) the peppers skin side up under salamander (a type of toaster oven that has high temps, guessing like a broiler) until skin is crispy and well browned, but not burned
- Remove peppers and place on cold tray
- Cover tightly with cling film while hot
- Allow peppers to cool and remove the skin
- Season to taste and place in container
- Cover with olive oil