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Had a wonderful meal yesterday at a most unlikely place.


Actually, a decommissioned church, now known as The Belfry, located in Mullingar in County Westmeath. This little marvel has been completely renovated, and has a lovely, peaceful vibe to it. (It's especially peaceful in the wine cellar, which is actually a converted crypt under the church. The wine racks are stacked on the cool stone slabs where bodies and coffins used to rest.)

A mezzanine has been built on which the bar sits; you relax and have a drink, order your lunch, and only meander downstairs when your appetizer is ready. We were there with our good friends Anne and Fiach - two of the best people on the planet, and who personify the phrase "Irish hospitality" - and we all enjoyed warm herb potato cakes with a Corry Lane Smoked Fish medley and horseradish cream. We had the oven roasted cod with a Dijon and garlic crust served with tomato salsa, washed down by a Chilean wine (all the rage in Ireland these days) - a 1998 Enigma Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley. And then, one of the best things we've ever tasted (though we seem to be saying that a lot lately): Homemade brown bread ice cream with a butterscotch sauce that was thick and rich and engulfed the palate.

The Belfry sits like a culinary oasis in the middle of endless Irish pastures; it
is way out of the way, but worth the effort. (Especially when someone else is doing the driving…we napped on the way back to Dublin.)

More tomorrow…Slainte!
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