Ah, the Emerald Isle.
It’s every bit as beautiful as it’s made out to be. And just as rainy. But the rain and cold is a wonderful reprieve from the 70-something degree October that’s been happening in Bordeaux.
There was even a rainbow the morning that I arrived. But I still have yet to see a leprechaun – perhaps at the National Leprechaun Museum tonight, though.
Dublin has been a wonderful adventure so far. It’s so lively, walkable, vibrant, and there are so many different little shops, sites, museums and food places to explore. So far I’ve learned all about the Vikings who settled Ireland, a history of Dublin from 1900, seen the Christ Church (which oddly has a café with free wifi in the crypt), and navigated around the entire Dublin marathon today in order to see the Book of Kells. It took a good two hours to get around the marathon, which happened to be on the road directly next to Trinity College, where the Book of Kells exhibit is.
Needless to say, there’s been ample opportunity for exercise.
In between snacks, of course.
ALL of the beef jerky (which granted is not very much, but still) I have come across uses gluten-free soy sauce. Hallelujah, because being able to have beef jerky as a protein source on-the-go whilst touring and sightseeing and walking all day is a complete blessing. Now we just need a company to start making jerky sans soy sauce. But anyways:
It’s been quite a foodventure so far.
First of all, it’s amazing how many restaurants advertise gluten-free and dairy-free meny options. About half of the restaurant menus that I’ve stopped to look at have indicators for allergy-friendly dishes. There is gluten free bread and soy milk everywhere, and people actually know what celiac is.
The difference between here and Bordeaux is astounding. Dublin is quite literally a completely different world from Bordeaux for the food-allergic.
Predictably, there has been one pitfall already. After interrogating the poor guy at the “Joy of Chai” café this morning about breakfast, he served me a plate of fried tomatoes, leeks, ham, bacon, sausage and a plate of gluten free bread (I tried to explain that the bread was not going to work but somehow didn’t communicate clearly). Anyways, about 2 minutes after he set down the plate and I had begun to cheerily dig into my breakfast, he peered around the corner at me. Then he said those words that no celiac wants to hear about what is on their plate.
“I’m so sorry, but just went and double-checked, and there is bread in the sausages.”
Well lovely. Since the sausages were fried up on the same grill as everything else, pretty much everything was contaminated. He apologized profusely, refunded me and offered some free fruit and peanut butter (in those single serving packets, mercifully). But still, the damage was done. Fortunately I remembered seeing 2 health supplement stores yesterday, and scuttled off in search of some gluten-gest, which helps the body break down gluten. The second one had a little bottle, which was ridiculously expensive but worth it. It was such a lovely surprise that they actually had some, too, and the girl that sold it to me said she had celiac and actually used the product (and that it really helped, which was reassuring). If this had happened in Bordeaux there would be no help.
So we survived the gluten attack. And there are lots of things in Dublin to distract from that I-just-ate-gluten feeling. Wasting time in Dublin is not an option. Onwards.
Since soy milk and chai tea lattes don’t exist in Bordeaux, I’ve been sampling chai tea lattes across the city, despite the fact that soy milk generally falls into the ‘avoid’ category in my book…I’m using the ‘I’m on vacation’ excuse. Caveat to the ‘there’s soy milk everywhere’ statement though: soy milk has the POTENTIAL to be everywhere. The coffee shop where I got a rather satisfactory chai latte yesterday didn’t have soy milk today (nor did they have chai though, so it wasn’t that big of a deal). The Starbucks near my hostel was also out of soy milk yesterday. Go figure.
There is a burger place, The Counter, that I read about in the newspaper a while ago and have been wanting to go try, just for kicks. It’s a California based company with restaurants in California, New York, and places like Abu Dhabi. And Dublin, as luck would have it. So last night’s dinner was a burger salad with bacon, avocado, grilled pineapple, cucumber, red onion, and apricot dressing. It wasn’t bad, but not as good as I’d been hoping. Also, since the fries were gluten free, I thought that I’d give those a whirl, only to be disappointed. There was absolutely nothing special or wonderful about them, except that they were piping hot.
Tonight’s dinner made up for last night in spades.
Fallon & Byrne is a swanking little grocery/specialty food store that kind of reminds me of the co-op near school in Vermont. They also have a ‘food hall’, which means that they serve hot food. The entire menu is marked with wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options. It was like paradise, being able to look at a menu without wondering if something might possibly be safe with some tweaking.
I had beef bourguignon. With green beans and mushrooms tossed with pine nuts. And roasted carrots and spring peas. Let me tell you, it may be a French dish, but some Irishman knows how to make a mean beef bourguignon. It was the perfect dinner on a cold, blustery night, not to mention downright delicious.
They also have lots of specialty food items, both foreign and food-allergy friendly. Including my dessert!
Fallon & Byrne had ice cream. Vanilla ice cream that didn’t have any of the above-mentioned items or soy.
Ice cream is my favorite dessert ever. The hardest part for me about being allergic to dairy has been not being able to have ice cream. A lot of dairy-free ice creams are sweetened with brown rice syrup, and I’m allergic to rice. Sorbet is lovely, but sometimes all you really want is a bowl of smooth, creamy vanilla ice cream.
Tonight I did. It even came in a little single-serving carton! The ice cream is made with water, cashews, agave and vanilla. They also have the same brand in chocolate, which I may try tomorrow night, but the vanilla really was wonderful.
I also bought a tamarillo at Fallon & Byrne. If you come across one, DO NOT BUY IT. It was gross. The first instant of the first bite was kind of lightly sweet, but the skin was horribly bitter and the black seeds inside were tasteless and slimy (the sign next to the fruit said that you are supposed to eat the inside, too).
It’s kind of funny how Ireland is a little island far away from everything, and yet there is so much diversity here. So many languages are spoken and there are restaurants of every type, from Lebanese to Thai, Mexican, a traditional American diner, Indian, Greek, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, and classic Irish.
So many choices, so little time!