Ireland enjoys a favourable reputation worldwide and is a beloved spot for backpackers and lovers of green, if misty, landscapes. The Irish are generally hospitable and love a bit of craic (fun). The land has changed rather dramatically between my first and my last visits, respectively 1995 and 2004, benefiting from an economic boom and the wealth that goes with it. Hence there are more cars, modern houses and high prices for everything, but that's nothing new for the inhabitant of the Eurozone. Still, it's worth a visit as it still has lots of charm.
This chocolate Guinness cupcake is somewhat misleading in its Valentine's attire, but that is a long story. The recipe is here, or in Feast if you own it,and if you don't, you should. I halved the proportions and ended up with 12 medium-sized cupcakes. Didn't bother to ice them. They are nice little chocolate cakes, but I am afraid they are nothing special for the chocolate cake lover, but that may be because I used 60% fat trans-free marg and a little less sugar. Nigella says a whole big cake is damp, my cakes were not damp, they weren't really dense either.
Also make sure to check out last year's beef and Guinness stew and Irish stew, as well as my soda bread recipe.
And check out Zorra's gathering of recipes for St Paddy's.
On another note, Ireland has brought the world many fine writers, from Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels) to James Joyce (Ulysses), and today's Marian Keyes and Roddy Doyle.
I have recently read Roddy Doyle's latest novel, Paula Spencer, given to me by The Daddy as a Christmas present, as we both enjoy his writing, and can only recommend it. It is the follow-up to a previous novel entitled The Woman who Walked into Doors. It features Paula, a middle-aged cleaning lady, recovering alcoholic and widow of a violent husband. She struggles with her addiction and feelings of guilt (she's had four children), but with the good sense and humour of someone who loves life and is starting anew.
You can read it without knowing the first one, which as I remember it, had more pathos in it. It reflects some of the changes in Irish society that I mentioned earlier.