Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Best Laid Plans ...

Two years ago, our family began discussions about the four of us travelling to Italy.
One year ago, we started making plans.
Three months ago, we realized - it wasn't going to happen. The costs were far more than anticipated. The four of us are only free at the same time in August (when Italy is closed and on vacation.)
We got on the Internet and investigated Alaska, Vancouver, San Francisco and Seattle.
Ultimately we are landing in the:
"Land of Heart's Desire,
Where beauty has no ebb, decay, no flood,
But joy is wisdom, time an endless song,"

We are going to to Ireland! Land of Joyce, leprechauns, Yeats, Synge and fine cheddar. Where history is embroiled with myth, and faeries dance on Midsummer's Eve.
To celebrate finally making a decision, I devised an appetizer plate for today. Something simple:

Fresh apples, Irish Cheddar with a little Irish whiskey thrown in for what ails you, bread and currant scones.

Dinner was from Bon Appetit's May's 1996 (yes, I do tend to keep things and I'm glad I do) The Romance of Ireland.

Salmon with Lemon and Chive Cream Sauce
(and of course, I altered a few things)
4 servings
3/4 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (you strain them so you don't have to go crazy with the mincing)
1 T dry vermouth
1/2 cup whipping cream (I used 1/4 cup)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T chopped chives (I used about three! - I love them and they're sitting in my garden)
1 1-pound center cut skinless salmon fillet (I skinned it) about 1-1/2 inches thick
2 T butter (I did use the 2T but I didn't need it - 1T would have worked)
Ground nutmeg
Whole chives (optional) for garnish
Combine stock, wine, shallots and vermouth in small saucepan. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup (about ten minutes - for me it was 8). Add cream; boil until sauce coats spoon. Add lemon juice. Strain sauce. Return to saucepan. Add chopped chives. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce came together in no time - it was very easy.
Cut salmon into scallops (I cut the fillet in half and then did about 2 inch pieces down the fillet; I found it easy to skin after it was cut.) Sprinkle salt and pepper on the salmon and then lightly sprinkle some nutmeg. (Easy to do if you grate it right over the salmon-scallops.) Melt butter in large non-stick skillet and add salmon. Cook until just opaque in center - about 30 seconds per side.
Pour sauce onto plates (or platter; I reserved some for on top of the salmon), place salmon in sauce and garnish with chives.
I was able to receive my first taste of the Irish Sea! (Even if they were Norwegian fillets!) It was grand. With some quick substitutions (chicken broth for fish stock) this would work on chicken. I also think it would be nice - as is - on halibut. My husband chimed in with the idea of adding a little Gorgonzola or blue cheese and putting it atop a steak. All in all a fun beginning for my Irish journey. As someone more literal than visual (you've seen my photos), going to Ireland is a playwright's dream.
Until then I shall dream:
" till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun."
And read my beloved Yeats.
P.S. Matthew signed a lease for a one bedroom in south Fargo - a little further from the U than wished for but the price was right, he did get a garage and he claims it has a gourmet kitchen!


Scate said...

Wow - a decision on a trip and for your son, knowledge of where he will be living for a while. Nice. I LOVE being able to visualize and dream about the future when I have an idea of what it will look like. I'm also trying to figure out an early Aug trip with my DH... Lot's of places are out in Aug. Lots of Minnesotans ask - why are you leaving in August? It's a good question.

Pearl said...

oh my gosh - yay congrats to matthew, first of all, and second of all, WOW! IRELAND! HOW EXCITING!

i can't wait to hear about the trip :D

Sara said...

I would love to go to Ireland, can't wait to hear all about it - take lots of pictures :)

Elyse said...

Man, that salmon looks amazing! Congrats on planning such a wonderful trip. I love Ireland. You guys are going to have such a wonderful time. Can't wait to hear more about your preparations!!

Lickedspoon said...

What a wonderful trip you have to look forward to. For our honeymoon 12 years ago, my husband and I did what he calls 'the crinkly edge tour', starting in Dublin and driving our way around the coast to Sligo. We've been back many times since and it never fails to delight. County Cork, in particular, is a great place for foodies. Try to fit in a visit to Ballymaloe House if you can - I promise you won't regret it.

Lovely blog, by the way!

Wanda..... said...

A trip to really have something to look forward to...just photos alone of Ireland are so unreal with such natural beauty...the greenest green in hills and moss...You are very lucky!

Anonymous said...

Wow, congratulations! We were in Ireland last year in August too - it was an amazing experience! Please let me know if you need any dining/sightseeing recommendations. We mostly spend time in Dublin but did some fabulous day long trips to the countryside. I didn't have a blog back then, but my daughter has a nice write-up of our trip in her online diary -

Claudia said...

Thanks for the well-wishes and tips for Ireland. I am compiling all advice!

OhioMom said...

WOW! Ireland .. not a bad choice :)

That salmon looks and sounds mouthwatering ... congrats to Matthew on his new digs.

unconfidential cook said...

I'm dying to go to Ireland. Lucky you! The salmon looks delicious...especially in that divine sauce.

Reeni said...

Second best to Italy in my book is Ireland! I'm so happy to hear your son found a place to rent! Yay on both accounts! Your salmon sounds delicious-the sauce sounds divine!

Pam said...

How exciting! I have always wanted to go to Ireland - you lucky girl. The meal looks and sounds delicious.

Lickedspoon said...


Returning with another tip and thank you for visiting my blog! We stayed at a beautiful place in Sligo called Delphi Lodge, a Georgian fishing lodge with the mountains behind and the loch in front. Quite magical and run by the most charming people. I'd certainly recommend it if your trip takes you that way.

Bunny said...

I'm with Reeni , even though I'm irish my first choice would be Italy but Ireland is right behind it! I hope you take tons of pictures to share with us!

Anonymous said...

Lucky you! I would love to go to Ireland. Scotland would be nice too :)

Jennelle said...

That salmon looks great! My friend lived in Dublin for a year. Let me know if you need any tips!

Heather said...

what lovely travel plans! i hope you guys have a wonderful time! i've never been to ireland, so i'm so excited to hear about your trip!

Donna-FFW said...

How nice for you I am happy for you Ireland.. how exciting.. Your dinner looks lovely. I save magazines like you do too!

Ann said...

Wow.. Ireland sounds so interesting.. have a wonderful trip!! the meal looks so yum!.

Sara said...

Have fun in Ireland!

Your dishes looked great!