Only half an hour by DART from Dublin city centre and we can be on wonderful Howth peninsula.
We were in there for the first time on late October and the weather was great - there was strong sun and no rain.
The plan was to go around the peninsula but we strayed from the original path to see the ruins of St Mary "Abbey" Church and cemetery and then we came back to the trail.
We wanted to go by cliff path over the sea but I am afraid of height and view of a gulf on my left leading straight to the sea and open view of rocks on the right discouraged me so we changed our plan and went by more wooded inland path.
When we were still close to the cliffs we heard a group of people clasping and then we saw a man proposing to his girfriend which Tomek commented:
"You see, maybe if we would go by this path I would propose to you".
"I don't think that easy or complicated path should affect your potential proposal".
"You're right. But if I would propose to you I would do it on the cliff so I can jump into the sea if you would say no".
"So I know where we don't go together". ;)
Other attraction of Howth is the Castle and georgian Kitchen in the Castle where they have cookery classes and demonstrations. I was on one of such demonstrations a few weeks ago. I got very accurate directions by e-mail but when I was getting there...
Have you ever felt like in horror movie where group of people is coming to some forgotten by people forest to have fun and when night comes strange things happen?
I felt like that when I was walking to the castle, but the thing was that I was completely alone.
And it was deep darkness - it was already autumn, after 6 pm, no rain since a few days so dry leaves were falling down with rustling sound.
Howth is a curort and at this time of the year and day is almost completely empty. During my walk I met only one person.
Firstly I had to go from the station by the main street to some smaller lane on the left, so I turned. I saw the sign "Deerpark Hotel", two lamps somewhere far and in front of me a gate looking like a cemetery gate from victorian ghost story. But I wanted to see the demonstration so I passed the gate and I found myself in a middle of great park or maybe rather small forest. I heard every leaf falling down from the trees as well as some animals rushing in bushes but I couldn't see anything because there were no lamps inside the park.
After a few steps I started to hear my heart pounding but I was repeating to myself: "those are only animals and leaves, calm down".
At least I saw the sign "Kitchen in the Castle" so I turned right and it was even worse because behind me and in front of me was total darkness. But I looked in front of me anxiously to see the car park, because I felt that I needed to see some sign of civilization - I guess my pulse reached at least 200. After a while I was relieved because I saw the car park but it also wasn't lit and there was no sign of people.
After the car park I came through total darkness and I reached the courtyard. I saw the right doors, went in and with my heart pounding, afraid what I will see in there - but there it was! Very well lit, big kitchen and a large room with table and cameras over the table and few rows of chairs.
Demonstration was cool and it was about how to prepare Christmas dinner. It was very interesting for me because Irish people have completely different traditions and meals for this holiday than Polish.
At the begining we could taste mulled cider, later we got warming spicy butternut squash soup. After that we saw how to prepare sprouts (I heard that it's difficult to imagine Christmas without a sprouts what sounds a bit abstract to me), turkey in parma ham, honey glazed ham, bread sauce - it's something I have never heard of before but I really liked that (I heard that there's a difference between sauce and gravy which is a new thing for me as well), red cabbage with apples and my culinary love - Pavlova - a meringue with orange curd, whipped cream and icing decorated with raspberries, blueberries and mint leaves what gave it nice Christmas look. I need to make it.
Unfortunately, regardless my expectations, I was the only person coming back on foot but luckily this time car lights were lighted my path.
I think the best recipe from demonstration is one for the mulled cider because it's winter time and we need to warm. From those ingredients you will have amount for 12-14 people:
- dry cider - 2 litres
- apple juice - 1 litre
- apples studded with cloves - 2
- cinnamon sticks - 2-3
- zest from one orange
- allspice berries - 6
- muscavado sugar to taste
- apple slices to serve
- dark rum - 60 ml - optional
Combine all ingredients exept sugar in a large stainless steel pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes, don't boil.
Add some sugar if necessary. Pour into mugs and garnish with apple slices to serve.