November 8- Kilkenny
Josh found an adorable little cafe for breakfast Wednesday morning called Cafe La Coco. I enjoyed a “fancy” hot chocolate (it had a design on top!) and a brekkie sandwich (with bacon, sausage, and tomato relish) and crisps (aka potato chips to us Americans). Josh had a cappuccino (also fancy!) and blueberry and banana pancakes with maple syrup.
After breakfast, we walked the short distance to Kilkenny Castle. We arrived at the perfect time- we only had to wait about 10 minutes until the next guided tour was to begin. The hour long tour was really informative, especially about the family and all who had lived there in years past. We saw a bit of the medieval part still visible in the basement, beautiful hand painted wall paper, the large and stunning dining room, the vividly bright yellow walled library (before electricity, they used bright colors on the walls to reflect the natural light from the windows and help light up the room), as well as several gorgeous original Italian marble fireplaces and hand-carved wood staircases.
Perhaps my favorite part was the 150 foot long picture gallery hall with a large Carrara marble fireplace, gorgeous hand painted wood ceilings, and lots of family portraits lining the walls.
I also really enjoyed the small cafe which used to be the kitchen. There was a great collection of copper pots and pans!
Of course, we had to stop for a pic in front of the castle’s water fountain!
On our way to the Smithwick’s Experience, we stopped off at Dunnes Store for an Aero chocolate bar to snack on. It tasted very much like a Hershey’s bar, but with an almost “bubbly” texture.
The Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny was next up on our list of things to do. Our tour guide was so sweet and welcoming. A large portion of the tour was done through video with only a little done by the guide herself. Although the tour was full of great info, I would have preferred to have more given by the tour guide than the videos. At the end of the tour, we stopped off at the bar where you could choose from a pint of one of their three beers, a soda, or a water. As I don’t very much care for beer, I was a nice wifey and gave Josh my ticket, so he was able to try a half pint of the pale ale and a pint of the original (he preferred the original).
After Smithwick’s, we wandered around the streets of Kilkenny for a while, just taking in the atmosphere. Everything was so quaint and much more relaxed than back at home.
For lunch, we stopped in at The Gourmet Store which had several options of paninis (hot or cold), coffee, teas, and baked goods. We stopped in during the school and work lunch rush, but had our order taken right away and found a spot at the front window counter. I had the French panini (turkey, French brie, and tomatoes) and Josh had the Kilkenny panini (ham, Brie, white pudding, and ketchup). Both sandwiches were warm, gooey, and very tasty.
We were able to check into our hotel after lunch, so we strolled down to the Kilford Arms Hotel where we were staying. For the same price as our hostel the night before, we were able to get a room at this hotel. I was quite perplexed when we walked in and there were two twin beds and a full bed in our room. Lots of beds to jump on! Lol just kidding! I think we got what would normally be a “family” room. I also couldn’t figure out how to turn on the lights until Josh found a spot on the wall where you had to insert your room key card. When you put your room card in, all the lights turned on!
After I got some work done on my blog post and Josh had a quick nap, we headed back out and spent quite a bit more time just walking around. We stopped in for a loaf of fresh soda bread from Tess’s Homestyle Bakery, perused several shops, and took pictures of St. Mary’s and St. Canice’s Cathedral, as well as the Black Abbey.
We stopped in at CakeFace, a patisserie near St. Canice’s. I thoroughly enjoyed the Devilish Biscuit Cake (dark, rich, and sinful- it tasted like a really good crunchy chocolate chip cookie). Josh had a cup of the 3FE Momentum Blend and the Tarty Apple (light homegrown apple mousse with a caramel custard center on a buttery biscuit base). To me, the mousse tasted exactly like my grandma’s homemade applesauce which is heavenly. With the crust, it was more citrusy and reminiscent of key lime pie. Add in that caramel custard center and it was just amazing.
We had passed by The Dylan Whiskey Bar a few times on our walks and Josh wanted to stop in to see what it was about. I ordered a Bulmer’s draft (guys, I’ve really tried to like Bulmer’s, but it’s just too dry for me…from now on, I’m sticking with Orchard Thieves only). Josh opted for the Irish Three whiskey tasting which included a taste of Connemara Single Peated Malt, Teeling Small Batch, and Irishman Founders Reserve. While we were enjoying our drinks, a very drunk Irishman with a very heavy accent came in and started asking the bartender and us over and over who was singing the song on the speakers. He was asked to leave us alone, but he continued on. He wasn’t really bothering us, but I couldn’t understand much of what he was saying at all. Eventually he cursed at the bartender and was asked to leave, I believe he even called her the anti-Christ as he was walking out. There really is no end to our adventures here! Anyways, back to Josh’s opinions of the whiskeys- Irishman: one note, it was ok. Teeling: really enjoyed the sweet woodiness. Connemara: too smoky, but still better than Irishman.
You shouldn’t be surprised to know that we went back to Matt the Miller’s for dinner. I seriously love this place. On this particular evening, there were two guys playing a guitar and banjo and singing traditional Irish music. The music and atmosphere were exactly what I imagined Ireland to be like. I was feeling good enough after the Bulmer’s at the whiskey bar, so I stuck to Diet Coke. Josh had a Guinness (he’s really fallen in love with this beer!). We shared a crispy Brie parcel (brie wrapped in a spring roll pastry served with tomato & chili jam dressed with a baby leaf salad with a port wine and star anise reduction) for an appetizer. For dinner, I was so in the mood for seafood chowder, so that’s exactly what I got. It was a homemade seafood chowder with seafood from Dunmore East in a creamy white wine sauce with fresh herbs served with homemade soda bread. It was everything I wanted and more. There were whole shrimp and huge pieces of fresh fish throughout the chowder. So creamy, so fresh, so good. Josh had the golden crumbed cod and chips (fresh Dunmore East cod coated in golden crumb served with Matt’s fries and homemade tartar sauce) which was so light (I promise this fried fish breading actually was very light!) and tasty.
Just one more stop before it was back to the hotel to relax and go to bed- dessert! We had walked by a cute little ice cream shop, Murphy’s, multiple times throughout the day and each time the girls working there waved and said hello and offered us a sample of the ice cream. So we had to go back, obviously. Both Josh and I had the sticky toffee pudding sundae which had carmelised brown bread ice cream (Josh had one scoop of sea salt and one of the brown bread) covered in a caramel sauce, brown bread crumbles, and whipped cream. The girl working was super sweet and had great suggestions for what to try. It was the perfect end to the day!
Tip of the day: Walk around and explore Kilkenny as much as possible- it’s lovely.