I can’t talk about my time in Ireland without talking about Guinness. I might as well have eaten at a Michelin-star seafood restaurant and told you all about the bread basket.
According to the friend I was visiting in Cork, there are two things you cannot visit Ireland without trying: the chocolate, and the stout. Now, I was all for the chocolate (obviously), but Guinness? Beer? Stout? Hops? Imperial pints in the UK/Ireland are huge and I had never drunk so much as a can of beer before visiting Europe (the taste of beer reminds me of that nasty Chinese herbal medicine we used to drink as kids), so I felt a bit nervous about what I’d do when faced with a whole glass of that dark, intimidating liquid. All the same, I certainly hadn’t come halfway across the world to sip on sparkling water–so when Alex proposed that we go out for a couple of rounds at the local pubs, I was ready to give Guinness my best shot.
Verdict: Turns out, I am actually a fan of the well-poured Guinness! Alex explained the process to me while we waited for our bartender to finish pouring,* then we found seats outside and enjoyed the live music wafting through the town streets while we sipped on glasses that were nearly overflowing with creamy white head. We later met up with a group of his school and university friends, who were probably the friendliest folks in the northern hemisphere and made me feel absolutely welcome. Of course, the second pint of Guinness probably helped! Best of all, Alex and I got home the first night at 1 AM, poured ourselves some cereal with milk, and watched Louis Theroux documentaries into the wee hours of the morning before we were too tired to stay up any longer. Keepin’ it low-key classy in Ireland!
*(What is a well-poured Guinness? It involves pouring at the right angle, letting the Guinness settle before continuing to pour, and other technical mumbo-jumbo that is explained here.)
Given how memorable a time I had experiencing pub life in Ireland, it would have been ungrateful of me not to blog about this Chocolate Guinness Cake. If you didn’t already know, extra stout beer has a deep, rich taste that pairs perfectly with chocolate: I added just enough in this recipe so that you can taste it, but it doesn’t overwhelm the chocolatey goodness of the cake itself. That being said, the two frostings that this cake uses–a regular cream cheese frosting and a stellar chocolate cream cheese frosting–bang on make this cake awesome. Multiple people have sworn to me that it’s the best frosting-in-a-cake that they’ve ever tasted, so don’t skip on them! This cake is moist, richly chocolatey, and definitely in the top 5 cakes that I have ever made.
All in all, I am SO glad that I decided to make the short but worthwhile trip to Ireland, and even gladder that I’m able to bring home a taste of it with me through this cake. In fact, I was photographing this cake on a morning when a whole team of repairmen (plus my landlord and property manager) came to do inspections, so I even got to share a taste of Ireland with all of them! Talk about an amazing take-away Now if only someone could tell me what to do with the remaining 5 bottles of Guinness… (haha, just kidding! …Maybe?)
In the next few posts I’ll be sharing some of my adventures from southern Italy, as well as the incredible food (OMG THE FOOD) that we encountered there, so stay tuned!
Do you have any Guinness stories to share?