A few months ago, back when we had just found out we were going to be parents all over again, we got the itch to travel. Great timing, right? Just when we were finding a bit of normalcy again as the little girl became just that–a little girl, we realized another baby meant we would be tied to home again for quite sometime. We weren’t the kind of people who could jump up and go anywhere we chose with two babies in tow. First, we didn’t have that kind of extra money just laying around waiting to be spent on a European vacation. Plus, we knew from experience that our babies needed routine, a quiet place to sleep, and a stable place to call home. (We needed it too, as it turns out). Suddenly traveling felt like an elusive dream, one that older and wiser couples with kids told us would happen if we didn’t travel together before we started our family. Why didn’t we find a way to follow their advice?
I’ll never forget that night in October, sitting at that little Mexican Restaurant on the first date we’d had in months, eating chips and salsa and Arroz con Pollo and dreaming of all the places we would go if we could, and how an idea was born (perhaps out of our immense creativity, and perhaps out of sheer desperation) that was actually doable.
We would bring the world to us. Cook traditional food. Listen to traditional music. Watch a travel video. Perfect plan. The only problem was, it took months for us to follow through.
Finally, in March (right after Saint Patrick’s Day), we made our trek to Dublin, Ireland. On the menu was a traditional Dublin Coddle, Mills Inn Brown Soda Bread, and Apple Fool, recipes we chose together out of The Irish Heritage Cookbook.
The Dublin Coddle sounded good (bacon, sausage, potatoes–what’s not to like?), but it was rather lackluster. It was bland and a whole mess of trouble to make. If you ask me, for a peasant dish, this one was complicated. Perhaps I made it wrong or something. I would rather have browned the sausage and mashed the potatoes and eaten them both with sauteed onions over the top. But alas, we had to do things by the book to make them as traditional as we could, right?
The Apple Fool was … gross. I’m sorry, but it was. I know you liked it, but all I could taste was cloves, and I really just don’t like cloves. It was a lot of work, too – cook the apples, let them cool, puree them, whisk the egg whites; mix the two together and let set for a few hours. The fool part of the name must come from people being foolish enough to take the time to make it. (Is that terrible of me to say?). To me, it was so bad that I didn’t even bother taking a picture. Guess I really didn’t care to remember it, huh?
Thankfully the brown soda bread salvaged the evening for me. It’s delicate tart-sweet flavor was complimented beautifully by lemon curd, so much so that neither of us cared whether it was authentic or not. (Would the Irish berate me for putting something so English on this bread?)
I don’t remember what travel video we watched, but that’s probably because it was so boring that we both fell asleep. Luckily we still learned something valuable – namely that we didn’t have to actually travel at all to have a stunning picture to prove we were there.
Thanks for the adventure. Next stop: Prague.
This bread was the clear winner of the evening. It was simple to make, sort of like stirring together one giant biscuit, but with a more complex (and in our opinion, superior) flavor than a regular ol’ biscuit. Though we’re sure it’s not the traditional way to eat it, we liked it best when eaten straight from the oven, slathered with butter and lemon curd.
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
4 T cold butter
2 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease one 8″ round cake pan.
2. Stir together flours, baking soda, cream of tartar and sugar. Then, use a pastry cutter to cut in butter until it forms a crumb-like texture.
3. Make a well; fill with buttermilk. Stir together flour mixture and buttermilk until it forms a soft dough.
4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a little bit (just until you form a ball). Then, flatten the ball a little bit and make a cross-shaped slit on top.
5. Bake until lightly brown or it sounds hollow when you tap the top of it, about 35-40 minutes.