To start with... THE CROUP. Ominous sounding to say the least... but actually it's just a cold that Brad brought home from work. Then Nikolai caught it, and I have since caught it. In children less than 6 years old, the "frog in your throat" style of cold, comes across as the croup. Since their windpipes are so small the congestion in the larynx results in raspy breathing and seal bark style coughs. Since colds are viral, there is nothing to be done for the croup except to wait it out... and humidify the environment. Since Ireland is currently suffering from rain storms reflected from the Atlantic Hurricanes, humidity is not a problem for us! We are all making our way through various levels of recovery and hope to be back to normal shortly.
Now, Sligo is place which is definitely not on a typical tourist circuit... but since it is the end point of our railway line, it does make it into our consciousness with regularity. This Sligo trip, however, rightfully belongs to Brad's intrepid cycling friend, Kieran. Kieran won a family train ticket to Dublin. Given that we basically live in Dublin, Iarnod Eireann exchanged that train pass with a pass to Sligo. Our part in the story comes into being when Kieran rang me up while I was in the playground offering (perhaps veering more towards insisting) the ticket to us. As he put it "his kids (all teens) would rather jump around home then spend 2 1/2 hours on the train to Sligo". Unfortunately, the tickets required that we leave on the Saturday of Lorraine's b-day party (fyi, it was a huge success, Nikolai can't wait for the sitter to come back) so I did try to decline. However, Kieran was not to be detered, and we became the proud owner of train tickets that we could not use. Luckily, all that was required was a trip to Connolly Station, some smiling and flaunting my accent, and I got the ticket bumped forward a week. Phew!
We set out on our journey after Brad got off work on Friday night. We brought a posh picnic dinner, bought beer off the trolley (not at all recommended... all the other passengers BYOB, so I'd do that if you would prefer your beer at all cold) and quite enjoyed the pastoral scenery that rolled past our windows. Nikolai naturally enjoys any event that involves eating for 2 1/2 hours, and we did have freshly made empanadas.
There is not much to see tourist-wise in Sligo beyond the ruins of the Abbey (definitely fun for Nikolai as they let you climb up, over, in, and around all the turrets etc.), but as a town, Sligo is fantastic! It has loads of charm, great restaurants, cafes, shops, etc. I bought some Dillisk off of a street vendor (I already had Irish Moss at home). We bought an Irish wool blanket at P. F. Dooney & Sons and generally found the prices were much better than what we're used to paying!
Best of all we found a bakery and... without meaning offence to anyone at the Elite Confectionery in Maynooth... it was the first real bakery that we have been to while in Ireland. The person who served us was so French that he refused to even acknowledge my "Parlez-vous Francais?", insisting "mais, non" before storming off to the ovens leaving us alone in the shop. (To be honest though, their dough lacked the flavour that arises from a properly fermented dough, and so they barely passed as a proper bakery in Brad's eyes).
Having spent a lovely morning in Sligo, we decided to take the train to Carrick-on-Shannon (to break our return trip up). We only spent 2 hours in Carrick-on-Shannon, but would like to go back. It is a lovely village that was basically designed for tourists. They have a great art gallery and a boat filled harbour (much to Nikolai's delight as he dreams almost nightly of being on a boat. Since his only nautical experience was on the Victoria bound ferry these dreams must stem his previous life as a fisherman).
So if you want a weekend away and don't need to follow the tourist path and kiss the Blarney stone, then head on down to Sligo for some easy enjoyment.
Below is my empanada recipe (and Brad's dahl recipe is in the comments of the last post) so we've got recipes all over. Now... I only had 15 minutes to pack for our trip and a sick toddler to boot, so I forgot our camera. Somehow, the cellphone camera is not quite the same... so I've included a picture of the steam engine that came through town yesterday. It's only €10 return to Dublin!! but all the rest of the trains for this year are booked up. I'm eager to take one of the many Santa trains, so if someone has spare tickets, think of me!
Dough: 2 cup flour, ½ cup butter, water based on need (approx. 1/3 cup). Refrigerate
Filling: Olive Oil, 1 onion, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, 500g chard (finely diced). Saute. When cool add 1 lime of juice, ¾ cup Parmesan and ¼ cup of cheese.
Make into semi-circular pies. Glaze with egg and bake at 350 for 30 min.
(I also freeze them shaped, but before cooking for an instant party food).