Go Green for March

Irish Kale Salad Recipe

Kale Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing and Crispy Shallots

I don’t know about y’all but all the winter and holiday eating has caught up with me and it’s time for me to Go Green and eat some healthy and ‘in season’ Kale. I mean, the recipe does call for Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Crispy Fried Shallots, but it sure beats the heck out of Fries and Butter Burgers?  It’s also the month of March where we celebrate our beautiful Emerald Isle and our patron Saint Patrick. So, here’s a healthy Salad with the goal of going green…

…and finally, in keeping with the theme, here’s a verse from one of my favorite artists and songs, written by Johnny Cash and Forty Shades of Green...

“I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea

From the fishing boats at Dingle to the shores of Dunardee

I miss the river Shannon and the folks at Skibbereen

The moorlands and the midlands with their forty shades of green”

Hers the recipe…

Kale Salad with a Warm Bacon Dressing and Crispy Fried Shallots


  • 2 ½ oz (5 cups) Kale (hard stalks removed and hand torn)
  • (for the dressing)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 slices uncured apple smoked bacon (finely chop)
  • 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • (for the fried shallots)
  • 2 shallots (finely sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper

How to make it:

  1. Heat oil in skillet and crisp bacon. Remove bacon from the pan and set on plate lined with a paper towel.  Drain bacon fat from skillet leaving 1 Tbsp for a little flavor.
  2. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute to soften but not brown. Remove from heat and add vinegar, (being careful as pan may splutter some).  Gently shake the saucepan to mix.   Use as whisk to mix the mustard, sugar.  Add ground black pepper.  Finally whisk in the olive oil and gently heat on low.
  3. To make the fried shallots toss in the flour. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan or fryer to 360 degrees F.  Add the shallots in small batches so they do not stick together cooking for 10-12 minutes until they are really crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.   Season the shallots with a little salt and pepper.
  4. To serve toss the kale in the warm vinaigrette with the bacon.
  5. Serve right away and top each salad plate with a small handful of friend shallots and enjoy!

Judie the Irish Foodie



Winter Solstice at Newgrange, Ireland

We all know Ireland is a special place, but did you know about Newgrange on December 21st? – Now this is really special….

New Grange is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids and on December 21st ( the Winter Solstice) it is a symbol of light to our dark world. The Winter Solstice is the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year.  The mound that you see in the picture covers a single tomb that consists of a long passage and a cross-shaped chamber. The Megalithic chamber was build for the Winter Solstice and when the run rises a shaft of light illuminates the chamber through an opening in the roof box. The actual purpose of the chamber is unclear, although recent research suggests it could of had an astronomical function, but whatever it was built for…it is amazing! How could stone age people have built such an amazing thing?

This year I lead a tour of American guests to NewGrange and the response was that of complete awe and fascination! Just like the ancient Celts we look for light and the sun to break forth in the midst of the Bleak Mid Winter!

…just amazing. Please check it out and I do hope everyone is enjoying the run up to Christmas – excitement is building!

Judie the Irish foodie

Ireland’s 2017 Hotel Restaurant of the Year Awards

I am so proud of the deserved success of Chef Noel McMeel and his talented chef team at the Lough Erne Hotel. The Catalina restaurant was awarded Best Hotel Restaurant of the year at Ireland’s Food and Wine awards.  Miriam Atkins, editor of Food and Wine Magazine said “Ireland is celebrating a Food Revolution” – and how true that is!

This summer I was able to bring my wonderful American tour guests to dine at the Catalina restaurant and stay at the prestigious Lough Erne Hotel, which is always a particular treat. The welcome and treatment we receive is second to none and one guests even said that we are treated like royalty!  We are so looking forward to returning to dine in 2018 and on behalf of Shamrock and Peach tours offer our heartfelt congratulations!

Judith the Irish foodie

Wild Foods Walk in the grounds of Ashford Castle

Chef Jonathan Keane and his team forage daily on the 350 acre Estate at Ashford Castle and were willing to share their experiences with Shamrock and Peach tours this summer.  Eating Wild foods is growing in popularity in Ireland and so has the idea of working with what we have. Certainly, a value my parents taught me and I feel ingrained in the Irish psyche.  There’ nothing like the flavor of fresh wild greens, flowers and berries just hand picked that day.  Our guests got to taste this first hand when dining at Wilde’s restaurant.  One of the culinary highlights of our meal at Wilde’s restaurant was the wood sorrel sorbet.  The tangy acidic herb  (also know as sourgrass) has a tart green apple flavor and it was the perfect palate cleanser with our feast.

May you enjoy the bounty of fields, forests,  gardens and coast!

Joy in the Journey

Celtic Culture on the isle of Mull

Sitting in a wee pub in Tobermory on the island of Mull, also know as the Western Isles of Scotland, I was transported back home to Ireland. With only 12 miles of water between Scotland and Ireland, the people of the narrow water are held together closely, not just by geography, but also by culture.  Our red headed bar tender was from Donegal in the North of Ireland and we were later entertained by a musician (also from Donegal) singing modern and  popular Irish songs to the early hours of the morning. The locals were only getting going around midnight when we left and we knew the craic (Gaelic word for a good time) was only getting going!

At the bar sat the fishermen, and we knew that the fish had to be good, – and it was. Our guests all said it was the best fish and chips they had ever tasted, with flaky meaty flesh and perfectly crispy batter as we enjoyed a farewell luncheon booked at Macgochans Pub , sitting, viewing the bay in Tobermory in idyllic surroundings.

The joys of Scotland – the other Gaelic land!

Take me back to Tobermory!

Judie the Irish foodie

Congratulations to Rory McIlroy and Erica

Built in 1228

800 years of history

Shamrock and Peach would like to congratulate Northern Irish Golfer Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll on their recent marriage and wedding at Ashford Castle, in Co. Mayo.  It’s just lovely to see a fellow countryman enjoy so much success and still maintain the Irish values of humility and generosity. I loved reading how the couple met in 2012 and did not date until 2015 and Rory appreciated the fact they were friends first before going out together.  The fairy tale wedding was this past weekend at the 800 year old Ashford Castle built by the Anglo-Norman de -Burgos.  The castle has had several owners since including the famous Guinness family.  The Castle is nestled in 350 acres of gardens and woodlands and the perfect setting for this grand affair.

Shamrock and Peach tours are gearing up to visiting the Castle staying at the Lodge at Ashford this June.  Here a few pictures from our stay last year!

Keep up the great work Rory and we will be raising a toast to you this June!

Joy in the Journey!

Judie the Irish foodie

Newgrange winter solstice-a 5000 year old puzzle


In Ireland, December brings many things – frost that coats the ground, cold foggy mornings, hot whiskeys, and all things Advent and Christmas, of course – but an even older tradition happens each December 21st…

5000 years ago, an ancient people in Ireland built a temple dedicated to the sun – or so we think. That temple today stands at Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland, and is a most incredible place. Especially tomorrow, December 21st, which happens to be the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year, and the point at which the earth is farthest from the sun.

Amazingly, these ancient people knew all this, and they built a temple with a light projector to celebrate!

5000 year old solar alignment

Above the entrance to Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 meter passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated. -The opening to this light passage is pictured below.


Access to the chamber on the Solstice mornings is decided by a lottery that takes place at the end of September each year. So, a handful of lucky people get to witness this beam of light as it travels perfectly down this 5000 year old passage and illuminates the triple spiral in the chamber at the center of the temple…must be a sight to see!!


But how did they know to do this? How did stone age people align this temple so perfectly to catch sunbeams at 9 in the morning on December 21st.Truth is we really don’t know….but sometimes, mystery can be a good thing! right?

Join me in Ireland, and we can check out Newgrange together- you will be absolutely puzzled and amazed by this incredible place…


Merry christmas everyone!

Judith xx

Ox retains Michelin Star in Belfast

Congratulations to Ox for retaining a Michelin star in Belfast.   It’s pretty amazing that Belfast has two restaurants achieving awards for the world’s greatest dining.  Both Chef Michael Deane’s restaruant Epic and Ox with Chef Stephen Toman and Alan Kerloc’h deserve the highest applause for retaining their 2017 Michelin stars. Ox is one of the incredible fine dining experiences I schedule on my Shamrock and Peach Tours each summer, and am always so proud to showcase just how good the food is in Ireland!

Being a Game of Thrones fan I was also excited when Chef Stephen Toman showed me his set of three Valyrian Steel kitchen knives on display inside the restaurant.  The knives were delivered by Tourism Ireland in partnership with HBO to celebrate Northern Ireland as Game of Thrones Territory.  Chef Stephen told me he has cooked with the knives and they are remarkably sharp.

The photos were taken when I was in Ireland to lead Shamrock and Peach tours. My sisters treated me to lunch and meeting Chef Stephen was a surprise bonus – and I am very excited to be bringing my USA guests to dine there next summer!….please plan to join us!


Judith the Irish foodie

Titanic Belfast crowned as Europe’s leading attraction!

Titanic Belfast - Shamrock and Peach Photography

Titanic Belfast – Shamrock and Peach Photography

When I bring Shamrock and Peach guests to see the Belfast Titanic Center the response is always one of unexpected emotion and reverence. The center tells the story of the great and famous Titanic liner that sank in 1912 on her maiden voyage, and in so doing literally became a world icon. So, when I heard the news that the center has just won the 2016 Travel Award as Europe’s leading visitor attraction I was amazed, pleased and naturally wanted to blog about it…yes, Belfast Titanic beat the Acropolis, Athens, Buckingham Palace, England, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, La Sagrada Familia, Spain, Ribeira do Porto, Portugal, The Eiffel Tower, France and The Roman Colosseum, Italy – to name a few!….wow!.

The Titanic Center just opened four years ago on the actual slipway in the titanic Quarter where the mighty ship was built and set sail in 1912. The building itself reflects the exact dimensions of the bow of the ship, and has won many awards itself for it’s outstanding design. Another addition is the exhibit of the last white Star liner, the Nomadic, that was used to ferry passengers back and forth to the Titanic, and is docked peacefully in Belfast again after 100 years of service.



The center is all very nostalgic for Belfast and an award like this is to mean feat for Ireland’s shores.

Shamrock and Peach tours have just also added the 2017 schedules that includes visiting the Titanic Center in Belfast. So, way to go Northern Ireland!

Sending my love from an unusually rainy Atlanta evening,

Judie the Irish foodie

Shamrock and Peach Cobbler

Summer Peach Cobbler

Shamrock and Peach Cobbler

In celebration of my return to Georgia after spending 5 weeks in Ireland leading 3 very fun filled tours, it’s time to make dessert!  Summer has arrived here in Georgia with the harvest of fragrant juicy peaches, so, its time to make one of the South’s most beloved desserts, namely Peach Cobbler.  When fruits are in season, no frills desserts that accentuate the flavor and texture are the way to go!  Our ‘go to’ fruit dessert growing up in Ireland is always a crumble topping made with oats, and in this case, a transition to a cobbler from a crumble makes perfect sense and achieves the same delicious goal of warm luscious fruit textures with a perfect crumbly paring, and oh, don’t forget the ice cream.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and savor each summer day before it’s gone!

Peach Cobbler

(serves 6)

  • (for the peach filling)
  • 8-10 medium size peaches
  • 1 vanilla pod (scraped)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter
  • (for the topping)
  • 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 ½ oz unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter (cold)
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 2 Tbsp milk

How to make it

  1. To make the peach filling toss the peaches with the sugar, cornstarch and vanilla seeds. Melt 1 Tbsp of unsalted butter in the pan and add the peach mixture and cook for 6-7 minutes until the peaches begin to break down but are still firm.  Add the lemon juice and honey and chill.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. To make the cobbler sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using your finger tips or food processor blend in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir in the boiling water and milk.
  4. To assemble the cobblers grease 6 small dishes or one 8’ pan with butter. Spoon in the peach filling and then add the topping by dropping spoonfuls of the batter on top of the peaches.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes until the topping is golden brown and serve with ice-cream.

Joy in the Journey, and enjoy the summer!

Judith the Irish foodie