The Dogs of Ireland

On an island famous for its ubiquitous sheep, man’s best friend needs a little photo love too!

Tipperary Dog
He didn’t like to pose… County Tipperary
Curious Canine in Lough Key Park, County Rosscommon
Curious Canine in Lough Key Park, County Rosscommon
Ballinskelligs, County Kerry
Ballinskelligs, County Kerry
Lilly from Bridgeview Farmhouse B&B, County Cork
Lilly from Bridgeview Farmhouse B&B, County Cork
Guardian of Dysert O'Dea Castle, County Clare
Guardian of Dysert O’Dea Castle, County Clare

Hazel Mountain Chocolate: Yield to Temptation

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it…

I have seen that Oscar Wilde quote scrawled across pub and cafe walls all over Ireland. I suppose it’s good for business; if you’re trying to decide between one more pint of Smithwicks and going home, those words might inspire you to buy the pint.

As for myself, I don’t spend a lot of time in pubs these days. (What was that? A collective gasp from my American friends?) It’s true. I spend more time driving around looking for the real Ireland, the one found on roads my GPS doesn’t recognize. And you know, temptation can even strike in the middle of nowhere!

Between Galway and Doolin on the Wild Atlantic Way, a Burren Chocolatier sign points down one of those lazy roads, coaxing you to take a quick detour. I have driven by it countless times since 2012, and every time I tell myself, “Nope. You are not going there. You’ll end up with a bag full of chocolates, and you’ll say they’re gifts, but that’s a lie. They’ll be gone before you make it back to the B&B. Don’t turn down that road!”

However, I can only drive by a sign pointing to chocolate so many times before turning my car in that direction. A few weeks ago, I finally did it. I turned, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it! I’d yield to Hazel Mountain Chocolate over and over and over again too… I even have some good reasons.

_DSC0935Atmosphere.
Located in the rugged foothills of the Burren, it’s close to places like Doolin, the Cliffs of Moher, and Poulnabrone dolmen. I drove through 6,000 years of history to get there.

Hazel Mountain Chocolate has a cafe, shop, and factory. Whether you choose to eat in the cafe or simply snag a couple of truffles in the shop, you can enjoy it indoors to satisfy your frilly feminine sensibilities or head outdoors to admire the County Clare landscape.

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Cake! And Everything is Gluten Free!
The cafe had a gluten and dairy free lime and blueberry cakeI couldn’t say no to that! Neither could you, even if you’re not on a restricted diet. Plus, all cakes and pastries are made in their kitchen with locally sourced ingredients, whenever possible. They taste especially good with a cup of tea.

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I’ve gotten a lot of good home decor ideas in Ireland.
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Strawberries and walnuts are one of my favorite combinations. And yes, even this is gluten free!
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I’l take the whole cake, please.

 

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A slice of heaven.

 

Bean to Bar
When I finished my cake and tea, I visited the chocolate shop and had a little conversation about cocoa beans.

Hazel Mountain’s beans are imported directly from cacao farmers and then prepared on site. The process of converting beans into chocolate bars takes about one month, but it ensures consumers are getting some of the finest chocolate in Europe. I liked being able to watch employees make the truffles through the glass.

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I resisted the temptation to buy one of everything and purchased ONE dark chocolate bar, which I opened as soon as I got in the car. After devouring one square, I packed the rest away. I would later enjoy it slowly, one square at a time, with a glass of wine back in Sneem.

I think Oscar Wilde would approve.

Rhubarb and pink pepper gave my chocolate a bit of a bite.
Rhubarb and pink pepper gave my chocolate a bit of a bite.