Friday, September 3, 2010

Ethnic Picnic: Irish Food

My first experience with Irish food was while we were living in Cincinnati.  A nice restaurant down at Newport on the Levee opened up called Claddagh, which I’ve found is a chain restaurant.  It has an upscale pub atmosphere.  We were invited to go with our friends Matt & Becky, so we tried it out.  They loved the fish & chips and recommended that, which was a fairly reasonably priced option at around $10.  But that didn’t seem to trip my trigger that night, so I went for something a bit more indulgent: chicken stuffed with ham and herb cream cheese smothered with a cheesy sauce, served with mashed potatoes and veggies.  This feast was preceded by a bowl of creamy clam chowder served with Irish soda bread.  As you know if you’ve read this blog previously, I’m no bread lover.  But this bread was dense & chewy, similar to a bagel but slightly lighter.  Perfect for dipping in the clam chowder.  Sadly, it appears that this chicken is no longer available on their menu.  I would be surprised if some of their other offerings don’t have a similar delight, however.  Definitely worth checking out!

One of the best Irish food experiences was had at a nice Irish pub restaurant in the Washington, DC area with our friends Amy & Curtis.  I loved what I had so much I made a point of going back there once right before they moved from that area just to be sure I had it again!  And for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant.  But I remember what I had: cottage pie.  This is similar to a shepherd’s pie, but with chicken and a creamy sauce instead of tomato-based sauce.  Which is similar to a chicken pot pie, except that it is topped with whipped mashed potatoes instead of a flaky pastry crust (or biscuits, if you’ve seen my recipe).  The cottage pie I had is the only cottage pie I’ve ever had and I loved it.  Big chunks of chicken, creamy but flavorful sauce, perfect mashed potatoes.  All baked to golden perfection.  And it was a large portion, served in a single serving baking dish – all for me!  It’s just a simple meal, but just delicious.  And I’ve had shepherd’s pie since and really enjoyed it too.  But cottage pie will always take precedence for me.

My favorite and most recent Irish food delight took place last March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day 2010.  Jake’s aunts, mom and I were having regular “Ladies Nights Out” and had just incorporated the idea of some “Ladies Nights In” as well, to save a big on budgets.  So Marti, Jake’s aunt, cooked up a smorgasbord of amazing dishes to tantalize our taste buds.  And it did the trick!  Beef & rice stuffed cabbage rolls covered in a creamy tomato sauce paired with mashed potatoes infused with chunks of ham and cabbage (which was perfect with the cabbage rolls’ sauce).  This was such a good meal that I’ve already told Marti I’m requesting it for my birthday dinner!  It was even great as leftovers.  I raved & raved about it to Jake and since we had leftovers for him, I don’t think he was disappointed.  Cabbage can be kind of daunting to some, too, so I’m sure he was prepared to not appreciate it as I had.  I’ve found I rather like cabbage, though.  Not when it’s rotten and stinky (i.e. sauerkraut) but prepared pretty much any other way, from fresh to stuffed.

So there you have it!  I would recommend anyone try a good Irish feast.  There are several pubs around Omaha with which to experiment as well, though I’ve yet to try any and therefore have no specific recommendations.  Perhaps one of these days someone will pay me to try their restaurant creations & then I will finally be able to afford my expensive taste!  Though I’ll take a good cheap order of fish & chips too.


  1. Greetings from Irelans, its so nice to hear positive experiences of my native cuisine,you must try Dublin coddle, colcannon, Irish stew and Dublin Bay Prawns. In Ireland if at all possible!!!

  2. Dundee Dell has great fish 'n chips, and quite reasonably priced too!

  3. Yes, I've had Dundee Dell's fish 'n chips & I concur, Anne!!