Friday, October 19, 2012

Irland: Warum?

If I had a Euro for every German who's laughed at the idea of an American chef ... well, let's just say I can sympathize with the British, who are also often ridiculed by Germans (of all peoples) about their cuisine. I know I was pretty harsh about Scottish food in the last post and I can't take that back because it was really more bad than good, but....I have eaten really well in England and Ireland. That said, on the heels of my Scotland trip, I couldn't get too fired up for an Irish meal (I know they're not identical, but they aren't worlds apart either and the Irish options in Berlin aren't exactly varied). After all those Scottish B&Bs, an Irish breakfast was definitely out. In my current state, swilling a pint of Guinness and calling it a day was also out. But then a friend pointed out that we could go for Irish stew. The weather had turned grey and rainy (as it will dependably do in Berlin) and that didn't sound like such a bad idea. So I tracked down an Irish pub, which claimed on its website to serve it. Thus, we convened at The Cliffs of Dooneen on a wet and windy evening, thoughts of hearty bowls of stew in our heads. Only to find that there was a big German soccer game on and the place was full of Germans watching the game and smoking up the place (Qype, for what it's worth, also has The Cliffs listed as nonsmoking). Luckily my friend knew of another pub nearby, so undeterred, we set out to try for our stew again. The luck of the Irish was with us - The Dubliner was open, not entirely packed with soccer-watchers, not overwhelmingly smoky, and they had Irish stew (homemade according to the menu)! We ordered our stew and took in our surroundings. The Dubliner is a pretty big place with the requisite Guinness paraphernalia, etc., though somehow it has more of an Old West saloon vibe. The saloon doors and Irish beer posters don't add up to much of anything, though. Honestly, it would have to have been really, really good stew to make me return. I loved the pubs in Ireland, but Irish pubs outside of that country are, in my experience, universally lame. And then the stew arrived. It was.....mostly edible. I have trouble believing that it was homemade. It really tasted like canned stew to me, but I guess it's possible they did "make" it, but used some scary instant broth and possibly frozen vegetables. For better or worse, there was very little meat. Most definitely for worse, it was way, way over-seasoned with black pepper. I know people in this part of the world are sensitive about their food being labeled tasteless, but excessive black pepper is not the answer. Normally I wouldn't have touched the piece of toasted Wonderbread served on the side, but it was absolutely essential. As was making a dash over to Hokey Pokey - the culinary highlight of the night by far (a scoop of caramel plum and goat milk chocolate in case you were wondering. The Dubliner Gleimstrasse 33-35

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