We rolled through the dewy, green Irish countryside – my best friend and I – in the direction of Galway on the Atlantic coast. We stopped at castles and lakes, took selfies with sheep and at the edge of the rocky Cliffs of Moher. We stopped in the town of Doolin to drink a pint of Dooliner while our driver smoked and used the restroom. At one point we stopped in a quaint village called Cong (population 185) on the border of County Mayo and County Galway. Cong was the filming location for John Ford’s 1952 Oscar-winning film, “The Quiet Man”. There’s a book store with a nice collection of vintage sheet music from the 50’s and 60’s (I bought 3 for 3 euros). There’s also a little place called Puddleducks Cafe across the street from the SPAR, catering to visitors and guests of the town and of the (relatively) famous Ashford Castle nearby. Puddleducks is lauded as having the best scones in town.
So we stopped for tea and a scone. They have a limited selection; scones come plain or with raisins only. I went for the second option with butter and a ramekin of raspberry jam on the side. It was a crumbly, buttery thing that fell into chunks when torn into. A golden brown crust gave way to a creamy white interior that wafted off steam and warmed the tips of my fingers. I smeared on a thick layer of butter, prepackaged and chilled stiff but still wonderful as all Irish butter, no matter the cost, tends to be.
Even the cheapest, most mass-produced Irish butter is better than anything in countries like, for example, Mediterranean Spain where olive oil reigns supreme and dairy is put on the back-burner. Butter here sucks, really. On my flight home I checked my bag so as to bring home a significant quantity of Kerrygold (salted), which costs in Dublin about a third of what it costs outside Ireland. My boyfriend (who is an avid bread ‘n’ butter enthusiast and who also happens to be French and quite apt at recognizing the good stuff) made loud throaty noises after his first bite of the marvelous grass-fed cow spread. Anyway Irish butter is good, even if not house-churned by the restaurant or whipped into the perfect quenelle.
I digress. After a few minutes in room temperature the butter melted and added a slippery texture to the scone, hydrating each bite and making the relatively dry and crumbly pastry easier to swallow. The raspberry jam was also quite nice, though a bit too heavy on gelatin for my taste.
If ever en route to Galway from Dublin stop in the village of Cong. Buy yourself an old book, pose for a photo with the hilariously accurate “Duck Crossing” sign, read about Cong’s fascinating biodiversity and get yourself a scone and a hot pot of tea at Puddleducks Cafe. This is truly a timeless place, where one can imagine oneself enjoying the same scone years in the future. Eszter and I sure did…