Strawberries and champagne: an infamous food and drink pairing enjoyed by lovers the world over. And with the international holiday for couples, Valentine’s Day, earlier this week, I’m sure there was plenty of champagne sipping and strawberry-in-chocolate dipping going on all around the globe.
Though individually renowned for their aphrodisiac properties, when strawberries and champagne are combined they’re believed to make a very powerful love potion. So, of course, when the boyfriend and I headed over to Ireland for a Valentine’s getaway last weekend, we thought we’d get all romantic and try…
Oysters and Guinness.
Yep, the lesser-known food and drink pairing of slimy molluscs and strong Irish stout is a “thing”. In fact, it’s so much of a thing in Dublin that most of the bars and restaurants have it on their menus. There are even special bars selling only oysters and stout. So when in Ireland with your partner for Valentine’s Day, it’s the obvious choice really. We headed to The Temple Bar for our romantic “treat”…
Sure, on first glance the bogey-looking things pictured above don’t look very appetising, let alone something that’s going to increase sexual desire. But if you read up on the science of oysters, they’re high in zinc and have a reputation for being great for boosting libido, as they contain amino acids that trigger production of sex hormones. And Guinness, well that just tastes good.
I know what you’re thinking though: Guinness and oysters is just a “poor man’s strawberries and champagne”. However, at 27€ for two pints of Guinness and six oysters, it’s hardly cheap. But that’s Temple Bar for you.
Though I’ve had oysters plenty of times before, it wasn’t my suggestion to try them with Guinness… After spending the afternoon doing the Guinness Experience at the famous Storehouse, the boyfriend (who was possibly a bit drunk…) said he’d try an oyster for me.
“For me”, because he loves me that much. He’d try one of those slippery, slimy shellfish for me. I felt honoured. I felt like Rachel from Friends when Ross is about to prove his love for her by drinking the fat. It was one of those moments.
So we ordered a plate of six Dublin Bay oysters and two pints. He tried one, I ate the other five. We then proceeded to make friends in the bar and downed another couple of pints. It was a very enjoyable afternoon, but I don’t think the oysters really did much for our libidos, sorry scientists.
What (and where) else to eat in Dublin.
As well as oysters and Guinness, there are a few other things you should try when visiting the Dublin. First off, have a hearty Irish breakfast at The Merchant’s Arch:
An Irish breakfast isn’t much different to an English fry-up, with the exception of white pudding, which is similar to black pudding, but doesn’t contain any blood. Instead the sausage is filled with pork meat and fat, suet, bread and oatmeal – it’s filling and quite salty, so I’d recommend lashings of brown sauce and Guinness to wash it down.
After breakfast and a bit of sightseeing, why no head to The Boxty House for a bowl of traditional Dublin “Coddle”?
Coddle was described to me by the waiter as “an Irish stew with ham and sausage served with rye bread”, though when it arrived it was more akin to a watery broth. It was really tasty nevertheless, the perfect lunch for a cold winter’s day.
The boyfriend also had a stew: beef and Guinness, of course. This was complemented with a tasting platter of Irish stouts: Beamish, Murphy’s and guest ale Jack Smyth. See we’re not all about the Guinness.
My favourite meal of our trip to Dublin though, was from The Woolen Mills:
We opted for the Early Bird menu (served from 5-6.45pm), which gave us a starter and main course each for 24€. For starter the boyfriend went for ham hock and cheese croquettes served with a celeriac slaw, while I opted for Ortiz anchovies with potato sourdough toast.
Then came the mains, and boy were they beautiful:
I chose poached smoked haddock with crushed baby spuds and scallions, a lemon and tempura poached egg, kale and mustard sauce. It was amazing, but the portion size was huge and I couldn’t clean my plate.
The boyfriend went for a slightly less rich dish of Irish beef burger and hand-cut chips, but even that portion size was huge and he didn’t finish it all. The food was lovely though, and very reasonably priced. The service was also faultless, really friendly but not too intruding. We had a lovely Valentine’s meal at the restaurant.
I’ll definitely head back to Dublin (when it’s a bit warmer), so if you’ve been to Ireland’s capital, or you live there, where would you recommend to eat next time I visit? Drop me a comment below.