holy smokes, ireland is a dream. it's not leprechauny or saint patrick's day 24/7 (and i'm a bimbo for ever having that impression), it's basically home to what i imagine would be the greatest somersault ever in the history of mankind. because there are endless rolling hills that are covered in the greenest fluffiest grass you ever did see, they're dotted with zillions of huggable cuddly little lambs*, and when you're done with your miles-long somersault, you could probably just brush the dirt off yourself and walk into a pub and make a million new friends because everybody in ireland is the nicest person you've ever met. it's so cozy there, physically/socially/mentally, it's impossible not to be extraordinarily happy, even outside in the rain with an open container of labneh that's getting soupy. it's very hygge. i think i'm using that word correctly...?
*in my somersault fantasy the lambs don't poop.
the food was another part of my trip that was completely unexpected. i mean, i came for the butter, and i got the butter, which i ate with total abandon. but i also had meals filled with rhubarb, dainty asparagus, gorgeous greens of every kind (even from the sea!), and the most flavorful gooseberries from the gardens of wherever my group ended up. everybody we met had these massive healthy gardens and the way they used them, how they didn't just pluck a few herbs to put on their supermarket things but rather centered their whole meals around whatever was looking ripe that week, made me determined to come home and finally figure out what to do with all of the chamomile, chive blossoms, and other random plants that popped up in my garden without me even asking them to. i also revisited the idea of getting a pet cow to put the butter making skills that i learned at the butter museum to good use. everything i ate in ireland tasted so pure, there was nothing too complicated or frilly, it was just honest and good to the bone.
my trip and my liver ended at the ballymaloe literary festival of food and wine, which was next level. i spoke a little about it here and here, but to recap: i can't imagine a food festival getting much better than this. ballymaloe is a little like ireland's stone barns in that it has a huge insane garden and greenhouse that grows everything, even nuts and kiwis, for their restaurants, cooking school, and farm shops. during my days at the fest i learned from yotam, francis, and claire, and at night the place turned into a wild face-melting techno club. i loved every second of it. i took notes, obviously, in hopes that maybe one day there will be an eggboy and molly farm litfest of food and wine.
eeep i can't wait to go back. see you at litfest next year??