There was soooo much anticipation for our trip to Dublin. Ty & I have been going full steam ahead since Christmas (craziness right?!) and this was going to be our last trip while living here in Europe. AND it was our first extended trip away from Aiden. EVER. So my nerves were on fire from excitement, anxiety & anticipation all at the same time.
But luckily Aiden was in amazing hands with Baka Barb (my mom), so it made the separation much easier (although as a mom you always worry!). So off we went to Dublin, looking forward to hearing the Irish accent, exploring a new city, eating the local fare, and of course, drinking a few pints of beer!
Our first stop was the Guinness Storehouse, one of the most incredible buildings I've ever seen. This giant factory continues the 200+ year-old tradition of brewing like a gazillion pints of Guinness daily, as well as roasting all their own barley on site. Did you know Guinness is only made of 4 ingredients? Roasted barley, hops, yeast & water. That's it! Of course the magic is in the alchemy of it all - the science and the art of crafting beer. And while I never liked Guinness before, I gotta say, it's totally different in Ireland! I really walked away with a new appreciation for this beer. It's really an integral part of Irish heritage & culture and contributed to shaping the city & supporting its people.
After a few pints it was time for some FOOD! And there's seriously no shortage of options when it comes to grub in this town. But of course we wanted to sample many of the traditional dishes that Ireland has to offer. Traditional Irish stew was on the menu for me, and I fell in love with it so much I decided to re-create it a recipe for you guys - hence this post! It was super flavorful and hit the spot, especially on cold and rainy days.
Refueled & re-energized we hit the town and made our way to the Temple Bar area, known for its pubs, nightlife, and general good fun. The streets were packed with the Irish and tourists alike, and the vibe was hip and magnetic. We hopped around from some of the more well-known pubs like the Temple Bar, to other more traditional pubs like The Palace Bar. I didn't drink at all of them, but just soaking in the live music & jolly atmosphere was good enough for me.
Another awesome experience was a tour of the Kilmainham Gaol (that's pronounced Kill-main-am Jail). For €8 a person you get to walk through a piece of Dublin's history, where men, women, and even children were sent for all sorts of crimes. Stealing potatoes sent kids as young as 7 years old here! Harsh times. But the once-prison remains an important historical monument to the Dublin community, where many important political prisoners were kept & eventually hanged for their part in the Easter Uprising and movement for an independent republic. Our tour guide was awesome & incredibly knowledgeable, and for someone who's not a history buff, I absolutely loved it. This stop is highly recommended!
After some touristy attractions Ty and I just wanted to explore the city on foot. Dublin is relatively small and the River Liffy runs through it, so there's tons of cool bridges like the Ha'Penny pedestrian bridge that you've got to stroll across. There's such a nice mix of beautiful old Victorian & Georgian buildings intermixed with funky street art and graffiti, giving the city a very cool & eclectic vibe. And among the historic old buildings are beautiful parks like St. Stephen's Green, which I'm a bit disappointed we didn't spend too much time in due to the rain - typical Irish weather :(
Tons of cool coffee shops like Legit Coffee Co. on Meath St grabbed our attention & euros with their hipster feel and delicious bevvies. And walking the grounds of Trinity College only to stumble upon a rugby match was such an unexpected treat. Have you ever seen a game? I have no idea what's going on but man, those guys are built like brick s*@t houses!
And after a whirlwind trip, just like that we were on our way home again, back to Maastricht and soooo excited to see our little Aiden. Who, by the way, had a great time with Baka Barb :D
We had such a blast in Dublin, and I wanted to keep some of the Irish vibe alive on our return so this is my attempt at a Traditional Irish Stew. It came at a great time because the weather has shifted gears to fall sooooo fast here in Maastricht, and it's these kind of meals that I love coming home to after an awesome, tough workout.
And if you give this recipe a test run, let me know in the comments below how this compares if you've ever had Irish Stew before. Enjoy! xoxo
Traditional Irish Stew
Prep Time: 15min | Cook Time: 50-60 min | Total Time: 65-75min | Yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 large onion, chopped into large pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 carrots, peeled & chopped small
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped small
- 3 large white potatoes, peeled & chopped small
- 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
- 600 grams lamb steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 Liters vegetable stock OR (in a pinch) 1.5 bouillon cubes with 2 Liters boiling water
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves picked off and a bit left for garnish
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, place EVOO over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add onion, garlic, and lamb, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until onion softens and meat is browned on all sides.
Add white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and celery, and continue sautéing for 5 minutes.
Add vegetable stock, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme and increase the heat to high. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let the stew simmer for up to an hour. **
Once the stew is cooked, garnish with remaining fresh thyme & enjoy a big bowl on its own or with a slice of whole grain bread.
**Alternatively you could do Step 1, then transfer the meat, onions/garlic, herbs and veggies all to a large slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours - even better!