Guilty Pleasures in the Emerald Isle by Victoria L. Cooksey

While planning a recent trip to Ireland, it was easy to find photos, maps, and long lists of things of interest to do, but often information on the cuisine was lacking. I had a few ideas of what to expect, but was especially unsure of what types of desserts (and lets admit THAT is the most important part) would be available. Once the trip began I came to expect the unexpected as I sampled (consumed completely with greed and delight) desserts all along the circumference of Ireland. I even managed to
maintain my exact weight due to all the amazing walking available. Join me on an oh so pleasurable sweet list of my favorite Irish treats, and block out any guilt by planning a stroll along to walk it off, Tips for this are located at the end of each recommended dessert. (Besides, everyone knows vacation desserts are calorie-free).

Dublin: Queen of Tarts for lemon meringue tarts piled high with meringue and even a little whipped cream on the side to really gild the lilly in the best way. There are two locations open seven days a week at Cows Lane and Dame Street. Walk it off by hoofing it over to the Guinness Storehouse, and really feel the burn by taking the stairs up seven stories to the Gravity Bar (where you will then add a few calories back with a free pint of Guinness, but there is always the walk back).
Kinsale: Max’ s Seafood Restaurant for a baked rhubarb tart with meringue and a mini creme brulee garnish. The sticky toffee
pudding is nothing to sneeze at either! Located at 48 Main St. . Walk it off up and down the hill of this medieval town or out to Charles Fort built in the 17th century.
Dingle: Murphy’ s Ice Cream in the town of Dingle on the Dingle Peninsula is all about tasty, but sometimes unusual flavors made from the milk of Kerry cows. Pick your own favorite or go with the recommended flavor combinations. Peanut butter with brown bread is a killer combo. The hot chocolate list is such a dream it will make you cry (in a good way). I may have gone back a second time for strawberry and dark chocolate Valrhona ice cream combo with a Valrhona white hot chocolate on the side to
wash it all down nice and proper. Located on Strand Street (also a Dublin location)
The Chart House, voted best restaurant in Co. Kerry in 2008 and 2010, does not disappoint on any level, but especially wooed me with a rhubarb tart topped with rosemary ice cream. Walk it off in a breathtaking way by hiking out to the lighthouse for spectacular views, and if you are lucky like I was, you might just see a dolphin jumping about. (I can’ t swear it was Fungi the Dingle Dolphin, but it was a dolphin for sure).
Portrush: This Northern Ireland resort town inaugurated my obsession with banoffee pie which is a luscious concoction of graham cracker crust, bananas, caramel, whipped cream and a dusting of pure cocoa powder. Try your fork at two different
locations and see which version you prefer at either 55 North, or Ramore Wine Bar, where the banoffee pie slice is the size of an iceberg, . Walk it off with an evening stroll along the beach or catch a ride over to The Giant’ s Causeway, or Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
Belfast: Co Couture was an unexpected treat in Belfast. I especially enjoyed the chocolate brownies there. For an extra wow, they even have high heeled shoes made out of chocolate, located at 7 Chichester Street . Walk it
off by strolling over to the St. George’ s Market open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but be warned, with so many goodies available you probably will be adding, not subtracting calories.