Friday, March 22, 2013, landed in Dublin..

Budget rent a car and off I am for Baltimore Co. Cork.  And here I am..6 hours later and 30 some odd hours up straight..all good, I am in Ireland after all. After a good night sleep, off I am.....

Those top 2 pics are the views from my front door...not a bad way to kill time away from home.  So my deal is, and I screwed this up, but all is good.  I start at the Woodcock Smokery on Monday, which leaves me today (friday), sat and sun to get the lay of the area and eat some good local food, drink some good local beer (guinness, craft beer hasnt quite landed here yet) and be a tourist for a couple of days.  I know, I know...I say "I screwed this up" yet it sounds pretty good.  I really did come over here to work and stage at as many places as possible and hopefully on Monday it will be all work and no play..or maybe 90% work and 10% play, but anyway, I hope to be working hard and learning tons.....anyway...more of that when that comes.  So today I headed into awesome little Irish town, you know the typical small town...local pharmacy, the local butcher, the candy store, hardware store, post office, mom and pop shops, cafe's, pubs, small banks, the gambling parlor, the small town grocery, the mens wear store, the womens wear store, the kind of "catch all" store for post cards and such....all those things we have lost and never to be seen again yet wish we still had.  Skibbereen is that town, and bustling.  People all over the place, stores busy..a thriving town.  So...since I am killing time and not actually cooking food, I figure I might as well eat it and sample the local fare......This leads me to "The Elder" (and to the next couple of pictures) pub on the main drag in town....a chalkboard outside saying today's special is Irish Bacon and Cabbage......easy sell for me.  In I walk...empty, except for a an old guy to the left end of the bar, and an even older guy to the right....  I figured the guy to the right may be less "chatty" all of you that know me know how darned "social" I am....or not (it's not my fault, or yours...I blame my genes) well this guy saw me as a new best friend.  He just started chatting like I was the son he hadnt seen in 15 years and I just walked in just to see him.  He started chatting my ear off....the only thing was, I couldn't understand a word this guy was saying..he was speaking half English with an Irish accent, obviously, and mixed with Irish (Gaelic)...I had no idea what he was saying, but laughed when he did and got serious when he did.....he kind of caught on after a while, but then would forget and start up again....  Well when i was finished up and was ready to settle up, I asked the bartender to buy my new friend a Guinness for me...well he told "Michael" that I bought him a would have thought that i was the "Prodigal Son" come home...this man Michael was so taken aback that he grabbed my hand to shake it, yet held it for what seemed like 3 days but was probably 6 minutes while asking me all about me....who I was, where I was from, about my family. He gave me his address, and said alot of other things that I couldnt understand..and with that I was off.  But have a new friend.  All of that being said.....The Irish Bacon and Cabbage was frickin' awesome, Che Danny killed it!.....the Irish flag toothpick was a bit over the top, but then again, maybe they saw that I was an "American" and thought I would dig it.  Michael Hegarty is my new best friend....and i wish him the best. (and if you want to send him a note I have his address....)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So, somehow I'm that guy- you know the shifty one, a bit shady and suspicious looking..the scar across my cheek, the index finger missing above the middle know "that" guy...I was picked for the body scan and the pat down.  All good, I made it through without much damage and made it to my gate.  I ask if there is a place to grab a beer before the flight and pointed int he direction of a Buffalo Wild Wings.  Now you all know how I feel about "Chains".....well at this ver moment, I'm gonna be an asshole (I know, some of you are saying what makes today any different than any other day) I am gonna have my last guinness on US soil and kiss NJ good bye for the next 5 weeks.  Touchdown in Dublin is in about 8 hours and i am looking to some good Irish chaos.  I can't wait to dig in to the restaurant scene here....looking forward to hard work, picking chef's brains, eating some good food, drinking some "perfect" Guinness, maybe compare a few whiskey's, catch some fish..and of course stay out of any ditches along the way.  It was a little nerve wracking sending my knives through with my luggage...come to think of it maybe this is the reason I was hand picked to be seized and searched....but when I went to see about sending them ahead it was like hell with that.  For that price my knives could get their own seat, less the meal, the personal entertainment system and the choice of adult beverages and smoked almonds.  So I figured they could sit in the baggage to hope they meet me at the terminal in Dublin......This is the start of a great adventure!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ireland 2013 "R & D"

So here we go again....48 hrs out from the 5 week jaunt to run around the Emerald Isle learning and taking in as much as I can from the great chef's and artisans I will be working with throughout.  So I have been hearing "Brad, what the hell are you doing? How did this come about?" and "Brad, Ireland?  Really? Cooking?  are you gonna learn how to perfect the shepherd's pie or a better boiled Potato?" or "Brad, can I come?" or "Brad..What the hell are we going to do without our Fearless Leader for 5 weeks?" (ok, I never really heard that one.  Well, I did but it was just the voices in my little head).  So this all started 3 years ago after my first trip over to the wondrous land of whiskey, salmon and Peter O'Toole, among other things, with my beautiful, understanding, incredibly smart and witty, loving wife and the best mom in the world (yes, I am buttering her up, it is 5 weeks...) I fell in love.  I also realized that Ireland is on the cusp of a food revolution, similar to where we here in the US were in the late 80's early 90's.  They are developing their own Modern Cuisine, have started taking advantage of what they have right at their finger tips and are developing products right at home that are just that being said, and doing what I do for a living, it was incredibly intriguing. So after another trip where I brought my Son, my Dad and my Uncle...more research....I realized I really wanted to go back and to work, to learn some new techniques, work with some new products, maybe pick up a few new recipes and bring it back here to Byram.  So after googling the best chef's and restaurants in Ireland, after a bunch of e-mails and networking, here it is.  Its a trip that will take me from Dublin to Baltimore.  From Galway to Belfast. From Cong to Skibbereen.  From Boyle to Dungarvan.  Working with fish smokers to fish catchers (better known as fishermen).  From chef's to cheese makers.  From Bushmills to Jameson.
   So that answers a couple of questions.  For the "Can I come?" one...No, I am on my own with this one..if I were to bring someone with me we would just sit in pubs all day taking in the incredible pub food, tilting back Guinness and toasting ourselves with Irish Whiskey to what a great time we are going to have.  Only to wake up 5 weeks later, not having done a thing except eat, drink too much and have 300 new best No!  And as far as the whole "Fearless Leader" thing, I just made that crap up....and I am incredibly lucky to have the Salt Family I have that can allow me to do this and to not have to worry as much as I might if I didnt have them.  So here's to the 2013 Salty Excursion......I will be trying to blog each day with my trials and tribulations, with my experiences of driving on the "wrong" side of the road, with stories of the people I meet, the food I am eating and cooking and just the general chaos that I am sure my life will be.