I lived in Ireland for a year, I say lived because at the time I didn’t know if I was ever going to leave so I started to carve out a life for myself there. While I'm not sure if I would ever live there again, I really do love Canada despite the horrible weather (Ireland actually has some pretty nice weather compared to here), there are some days that I really miss it and long to be back.
The oddest things will remind of my time there, for example bus exhaust on a rainy day always reminds me of Belfast (often I used public transport) and makes me crave an ice cream cone with a stick of flake stuck in it (I would go for long walks on misty days and often pick up a cone).
Whenever I miss a place I make food; it seems like you take that first bite and you are transported back to the place you were thinking of, cheesy I know but it really does seem to work. Ireland isn’t really known for its food (those fry breakfast are deadly – bacon, sausage, black pudding, white pudding, eggs, potato farls, soda farls and a half tomato all fried in butter and bacon fat) there are some things that I wish they sold in Canada. I miss rhubarb yoghurt, honey yoghurt (why don’t they have these flavours in Canada? They’re amazing), store bought bakewell tarts (the store bought ones are basically pie crust, raspberry jam and topped with white cake), mini honey-nut Wheatabix (they sold these in Canada for awhile but now all I can find is the regular mini Wheatabix), Smithwicks on tap (the bottled stuff just isn’t the same), cheese & onion crisps (although you can find these in some specialty shops), cheese toasties made on an Aga (I stayed with some people who owned an Aga for awhile) and soda farls. I used to eat a toasted soda farl every day, they are so good.
So, in honour of St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland, I give you a simple recipe for Irish Soda Farls:
I used whole wheat flour in these ones, that's why they look darker, I normally use white flour, it's more Irish
Irish Soda Farls
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp butter
1. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and cut in butter with a fork (crumble in like a pie), make a well in the centre and pour in buttermilk, then mix.
2. Lightly kneed the mixed dough on a floured counter, form this into a flat circle (about ¾ inch thick) and cut into quarters with a knife.
3. Heat a large fry pan, sprinkle on a bit of flour and cook the farls for 6-8 minutes on each side or until browned
4. Once browned, remove the farls from the skillet and wrap in a clean tea towel and let sit for a few minutes.
**TIP** if you don't have buttermilk you can use 1 cup of milk with 1 tbsp of white vinegar added to it (let the mix sit for 5-10 minutes before using), or you can use plain yoghurt.
So Happy St. Patrick's Day! Avoid green beer (no one in Ireland drinks it) and have some Irish food & drink ;) instead.