The Winding Stair is a delightful book shop overlooking the River Liffey: we are in the heart of Dublin, on Ormond Quay Lower near the Ha’penny bridge. To start a tour linked to the local gastronomy, the choice of the bookshop which, in addition to the literary novelties, also has a large collection of second-hand books is almost a must: first of all because this year literary anniversaries such as the 100 years of Ulysses by James Joyce and the 125 of Dracula written by Dubliner Bram Stoker in 1897, but also because the Winding Star upstairs is a delightful restaurant. Always a meeting place for poets and writers, the restaurant, which since 2006 has also become a small gastronomic mecca, offers home cooking accompanied by a selection of local beers and wines from all over the world. People come here for the seafood soup with chorizo and molasses bread, for the black pudding served with potatoes or to taste the wild venison made with bacon, spring onions, quince and spiced red cabbage.
The literary celebrations for the centenary of Ulysses they continue throughout the year, but in June they culminate with the 28th James Joyce International Symposium, thanks to the collaboration between Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin. Among the scheduled events there are also the meetings inside the Museum of Literature Ireland: called MoLI in homage to Molly Bloom, Joyce’s heroine in Ulysses, the museum hosts one of the most evocative cafes in the city. It is called The Commmons Cafe and is located in the original student dining rooms of the University College Dublin Newman House (where Joyce studied): led by sisters Domini and Peaches Kemp is a real showcase of the products and culinary heritage of Ireland and it overlooks the garden of the readers. Specialties are toast, such as grilled cheese and Irish smoked ham.
And always thinking about Joyce’s Ulysses it is worth stopping from Davy Byrnes, a place that appears in chapter 8 of the novel: the protagonist Leopold Bloom goes there for their famous gorgonzola sandwich which he drinks with a glass of Burgundy. The sandwich is still on the menu and the place is also ideal for some classic dishes such as smoked salmon from the Burren or a selection of oysters.
But even if the soul of the city is deeply linked to the great authors of these places (among them also Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, GB Shaw and WB Yeats), it should not be forgotten that Dublin is a city on the sea where the days flow to the rhythm of culture, but also of creativity, nightlife and traditions. Framed by the mountains, it is full of historic and artistic buildings, trendy cafes and old pubs that tell a centuries-old history also made up of cobbled streets, colorful houses and food markets such as the Temple Bar Food Market open on Saturdays. And if Guinness (https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/it) is the iconic beer par excellence (the historic brewery at St Jame’s Gate is worth a visit) there is another local boast that is celebrated in the city : the whiskey to which Dublin dedicates a real museum, but which can also be tasted in places such as the historic Palace Bar. Among the many pubs to choose from, Spitalfields offers dishes prepared with a careful selection of not only local raw materials People also come here to enjoy grilled meats and fish.
Irish cuisine is based on simple tastes and on the great products that the sea and the land can offer: this is how traditional dishes are born such as the Dublin coddle (the beer stew with pork and potatoes) served with wholemeal bread, the timeless Fish and chips prepared in the most varied versions or even artisanal cheeses, Connemara lamb or fish chowder, mussel and clam dishes which, together with molluscs and crustaceans, are a great resource for the tables and the local economy.
For the most demanding palates, the city also offers countless suggestions, also starred, and in the month of October it will host, within the Airfield Estate, Food on the Edge the international symposium wanted by Michelin chef JP McMahon which will bring chefs from all over the world to the city such as the Slovenian Ana Ros or the king of ‘Copenhagen Alchemist Rasmus Munk. The Variety Jones managed by Keelan Higgs, albeit starred, is an informal, young and urban chic place: much loved by Dubliners, it has an incredible value for money and offers refined but concrete dishes. And if Chapter One, the two-star chef from Finale, Mickael Viljanen, boasts a cuisine that has been among the most appreciated and sophisticated in the city for years, the second city starred restaurant is located inside the 5-star The Merrion: his name is Patrick Guilbaud from the name of the chef, is housed in a Georgian-style building and offers a cuisine with strong French influences.
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