Drawn to the Magical Emerald Isle, again . . .

Cloghan Castle July 20th, 2002

We leave tomorrow for our third trip to Ireland, the magical Emerald Isle. We were married in Ireland in 2002, returned in January of 2012, nearly ten years later, and now here we go again. Even though there are so many places in the world I have never seen, even once, and want to go; Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Fiji, an African safari, and a Mediterranean cruise. So many other places I long to return to; Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and the Umbria Region of Italy. So why a third trip to Ireland? What is it about this small country, the size of Indiana? A country which over 70% of Americans cannot locate on a map bereft of country names. Where do I begin . . .

Love the thatched roofs.

It’s the people. The Irish are warm, friendly, approachable and funny. They live, on average, one year longer than us. Their eyes sparkle with a sort of joy I just don’t see here often. They laugh, and listen. They drink, and eat, together, in groups, often and long.

January 2012

Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Pub, Dublin

It’s the food. I always laugh when people talk about the bad food in Ireland. I am fairly certain I have had a not so great meal in Ireland, but I don’t remember it. The food is wonderful. Fresh, without preservatives, and you can tell the difference. The dairy products are rich. The vegetables are earthy, colorful, and flavorful. The grass-fed pork, beef and lamb taste almost gamey to me, in the best way. You know what you are eating. But it is the seafood that I anticipate the most; oysters, mussels, lobster, monkfish, halibut and salmon. The seafood from the cold waters of this part of the Atlantic ocean are unmatched to anything I have experienced. Simple preparations, which is perfect because this fresh seafood does not require a formal, fancy presentation.

County Kerry

It’s the landscape. Stone and green, cliffs and green, water and green, hills and more green. It is lush, breathtaking, striking, and even a bit whimsical.

It’s the weather. Yes, I said the weather. I love the weather I have experienced in Ireland, first in July, and then in January. It is temperate; never hot, never cold. Just cool enough to make a turf fire feel good, and there is nothing quite like the smell of a turf fire. Just cool enough that you don’t sweat while you are trekking around the countryside. However, let’s wait till I return this time and see if I feel the same because the extended forecast does not look so good for us this time around.

Live Music at Oliver Gogarty’s

It’s the pubs, and the music. Need I say more?

It’s the ability to communicate. Two of our favorite places in the world are Ireland and Belize, both English-speaking countries. I have come to the conclusion, that at least for us, we connect more to a place when we can communicate with the locals. Hear stories, ask questions and make friends. Although in some parts of Ireland, the accent can be so thick that it does not particularly sound like English, at least as we know it.

Our first trip was with 30 plus friends and relatives who celebrated our marriage with us. It was just the two of us the second time around. This visit we will be joined by my son, his girlfriend and best friend, my beloved cousin and his family, a dear childhood friend along with her husband and daughter, and Jack’s dearest childhood friend and his wife. BallyVaraWe are staying along the Wild Atlantic Way, in a guest house, Ballyvara House, in the small town of Doolin. We will visit Galway, Cork, Ennis, Midleton, Kilkee, Blarney, Kenmare, the Aran Islands and the Loop Head. Some will golf, some will take a cooking class. We will explore, break bread together, and drink a bunch of Guinness. I promise to share along the way.



Out of the Mouths of Babes

Island Way Grill

Kids say the darndest things, without filter and no ill intention. Just honesty, and I was reminded yesterday just how refreshing that is. Jack and I were at Island Way Grill in Clearwater for Sunday Brunch and while visiting the restroom, a small boy waited with his mother. He was saying, ‘I gotta go, I […]

Our Top Local Chef VIP Table Is Filled


LocalShops1 and Intensity Academy Gourmet Sauces will host Tampa Bay’s hottest competition on Sunday, April 26th, Top Local Chef 2015, connecting the area’s food lovers with our best restauranteurs and chefs in the region. The event takes place at the Gulfport Casino and Ballroom from 5 to 7 pm, and also features a Neighborhood Market, a […]

Sweetheart Pasta


This is by far the simplest, yet most delicious, pasta dish I make. I call it “Sweetheart Pasta” because it became our favorite date weekend, make-at-home treat while Jack and I were dating in 1999. It seems so simple now, but back then, we enjoyed making this, while sharing a bottle of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, and […]

Famished Fish, Finicky Shark Love


The Famished Fish, Finicky Shark has created a beautiful and delicious salad featuring my Out of the Weeds Roasted Beet Vinaigrette Artisan Dressing and the combination of flavors is truly divine. Fresh asparagus and arugula, candied bacon and gorgonzola cheese. I know you’re looking for a new recipe to try this week, and another way […]

The Raw ABC’s of Owning a Restaurant


As Jack and I approach our six-year anniversary as restaurant owners, I decided to share some of the many things we’ve learned along the way.  Not the warm and fuzzy stuff – follow your dreams, if you are passionate you will succeed, if you build it they will come, etc.; but rather the nuts and […]

New Orleans for NYE AND A Buckeye Victory


New Orleans is one of my favorite cities not only in the U.S., but the world. The people, food, music, culture, art, architecture, sounds, and yes, even the things that make it undesirable to some; the smells, fog and humidity. I love it all. Could I live here again? Probably not, but for a brief […]

New Year’s Eve Memories


When I think back to the holidays I spent growing up in Fairview, New Year’s Eve actually evokes many, if not most, of my childhood happy holiday memories. I could speculate why that is, but that’s for a much longer, much more revealing testimony. I only have one memory of Mom and Dad going out […]

My Christmas Gratitude List for 2014


Thank you, Santa! What I wish for Christmas is already here. Jack, Rooney and Coco are snuggled in bed. Mackenzie just left the house to start her early work day. And I woke to these boots and a solo sock, reminding me that Zach is upstairs and home for Christmas. Feeling blessed is an understatement. […]