Cooking in County Clare, Ireland

August 2009

bedroom1_250After a lifetime of teaching home economics, with a few forays to the continent for advanced cooking schools, Rita retired in 1994 to the sometimes exhausting job of running this five-bedroom B & B, a short walk from the sea. Lahinch’s Old Course, one of Ireland’s most celebrated golf courses, snakes along the sea a couple of miles from here, and the Cliffs of Moher, that draw millions of tourists each year, plunge into the sea a little farther down the road.

  • Steamed Mussels in Coconut Milk with Lime and Coriander
  • Oysters in Tempura Batter with Sesame Seeds and Lime
  • Carrot and Dillisk Bread

On those Saturday nights when there is no cooking class to clean up after, Rita serves dinner in the homey dining room, where she and her four siblings gathered around the long wooden table.

But on this particular night, cooking students laugh, clink glasses and congratulate one another as they enjoy devouring their day’s lessons. The sound of mingled voices wells up in the happy sound known in Ireland as craic, friendly conversation. The dishes keep appearing out of the industrial-size kitchen.

  • Roasted Salmon Trout with Cucumber Butter Sauce
  • Finnan Haddock Cream
  • Pickled Sea Bream

Rita tries in her classes and in the dinners she serves, to educate people to the new Irish cooking. Her blue eyes smile as she talks about the bounty of the sea food in the waters less than a mile away and the organic fruits and vegetables now available in Ireland. “We used to be inclined to cook things too much,” she says, adding, “The nice thing about the classes is that they are all things you can do yourself.” Other classes she schedules feature methods like roasting or grilling. Her favorites include Cooking from the Farmer’s Market, and using seasonal foods. Don’t forget dessert.

  • Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote
  • Tarte au Citron

The menu does not include mud and gravel scones mixed with goose eggs.

The writer received a complimentary stay at Berry Lodge.

9 thoughts on “Cooking in County Clare, Ireland

  1. What a gorgeous setting. I haven’t been to Ireland, but we saw the same kind of cooking trend in England and Scotland – emphasis on fresh local ingredient with nothing overcooked. This sounds like a fun getaway.

    1. Ready Mom: Rita is one of a kind, and so are her recipes. She not only is a master chef and a born teacher, but a neat and organized b and b keeper as well. And, Alexandra, she’s a master of P.R. as well.

  2. Never would have thought of cooking for Ireland, but, hey, why not? Rita may be on to something, offering cooking classes to girlfriends who book early. Perhaps I’ll try that as a special next spring at my Cape Cod B&B!

  3. Love the idea! Girlfriends, eating and Ireland! Can’t be beat.

    I love that the Irish love us Americans, they’ve all been here and have relatives here, and they’re just fun and friendly. And the countryside is SO beautiful.

    1. Yes, they love Americans, and figure we’re all as Irish as we pretend to be on St. Patrick’s day. But the funny thing was that 90% of the Irish people I met had been to the U.S.–but only to Boston! We should rename it “The Republic of Ireland in America”.

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