Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I've spent the past few St. Patrick's Days in Annapolis where I would meet friends for dinner at the Killarney House, a restaurant done up like an inn with a large fire going at the end of the room in a stone fireplace. We always order the Corned Beef and Cabbage and warm pots of steaming tea. They cook the beef for ten hours, so it tastes incredibly tender. All very civilized.
The polar opposite of where I spent my lunchtime last year in Davis' Pub, (look at their photo gallery. You walk out the door and hit the brink in just about any direction) a waterman's pub a block from the water, sailboat masts clanging in the sea wind, and everyone eating fried "you name it, but it sticks to yer ribs out on the cold wind and water" and exceedingly drunk by 11 a.m. Everyone wearing yellow rubber boat clothing, too, so if you fall overboard, "I think I see Harvey over there dog paddling by the buoy." You'd think it's a no-brainer. You walk through the bar to the back where the long tables are for serving food, and coming back out, you get hugged a great deal and make a lot of new friends; at least for that moment.
We've been planning this year's event for weeks, weighing where else we might go this year. There are several Irish pubs in Annapolis, but it became obvious in the past week, with conflicting schedules, this year was going to be a bump and no go.

Corned Beef and CabbageGet a shamrock for your site

I was raised in a family that honored holidays. One year my mother and I made sugar cookies cut out like yellow chicks and shamrocks, and I took those to work in a towel wrapped wicker basket. One year, at the insistence of my co-workers, I brought in my mother's shamrock templates and we spent a few hours cutting out shamrocks to put around the office. My mother would invariably be given a shamrock, (or buy one,) and it would go inside her kitchen window sill, so that became tradition, too: having a shamrock plant.

I still have the pendant part of my babyhood shamrock necklace (the bracelet went missing,) and I still have silly shamrock earrings I paid a dollar for at a party store two years ago. I inherited the shamrock paper templates. I inherited the Waterford. I inherited the shamrock cookie cutters. What I can't have or replace is my mother calling me saying, "Can you stop and buy some beef so we can make an Irish dinner for your father?"

My parents had large gardens, and Mom would call when certain things were blooming to either cut (flowers) or pull for dinner. She always loved the new potatoes and baby peas coming in, and for some reason, I always associate that dish with this season as well, because now is when that crop is ready, and the coloration of cream with bright green.

Oh the little white road climbs over the hill,
My feet they must follow, they cannot be still,
Must follow and follow though far it may roam.
Oh little white road you will never come home.

Oh, the hills they are patient and steadfast and wise,
They look over the valleys and up to the skies,
But the little white road scrambles up them and over.
Oh, little white road you are ever the rover.

I fain would go with you right down to the sea
Where a ship with white sails would be waiting for me,
Go sailing and sailing to strange lands afar
Where deserts and forests and lost cities are.

But when I grew weary of my gypsying ways
I'd sail home again for to end all my days
In the little grey cottage, beside the grey hill.
But you, little road, would be wandering still

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Get a shamrock for your site A small piece of corned beef I bought at Whole Foods and shredded with boiled cabbage and a cubed orange on my mother's antique Majorca plate and her antique silver (Williams Rogers "Berkshire") fork from 1847.

Postscript: My ancestry is British-Scottish. Go figure.


Blogger Kate said...

The Belique teapot is beautiful. we were given two Belique tea cups for an anniversary one year early in our marriage. It would have been 40 years this January and I still have them, although still lovely one of them has a wee chip. This translucent china is still some of my favorite in the world. Think I will have a cup of tea in the one that is not chipped right now!

10:51 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Kate: I lost my parents when I was still relatively young, so remembering the parental patterns is important to me to give me some sense of having been part of a family once.

When I was selling off some china (not the good stuff,) to a consignment shop, I was told "No one wants this anymore," which I knew just from talking to friends and their own tastes.

A younger woman I know is getting married this year, and she isn't registered yet. I told her "At least Crate and Barrel.") If they do register it's places like C&B or Target, and they aren't out picking china or silver or crystal patterns. Although....I've heard from Southern friends that girls do that more there, but the South still entertains like in the past.

I've been making an effort to use "the good stuff" on a day to day basis, using care in cleaning it; because that was something else I was taught as a child. The rules about gold-rimmed china and silver knives and such.

My word verification is "undsta," and I thought, "Why yes, I do undsta." Word.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Hammer said...

Many bars go out of their way to make themselves look like an Irish pub and/or restaurant, but far fewer actually feel like one. The closest thing I've found locally that gives me the right vibe is that place on MacArthur up in Glen Echo. Great food, great atmosphere, and if a friendly older gentlemen who just exudes "having his shit together" starts talking to you, ask him if his name is Chris. If it is, then congrats - you just met the guy who owns the place. Hands-down the best fish and chips I've had in DC by a significant margin, and they do a mean shrimp and grits too, believe it or not.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Hammer: I'll have to go there some time. For some reason, I have three blog pieces I've been working on (all overdue in my head,) and yet all I "seem" to be doing is writing about green food this week. (Insert heavy sigh.)

1:23 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

There used to be a wonderful Irish pub across the street from the Mayflower, where Filene's basement moved in. When we had annual meetings in DC in the 80s Pew would put us up in the Mayflower and nearly every night we would trot across the street to drink and sing and carry on! It was wonderful. I think I still have the t-shirt from there that our students gave Steve and me. Fond memories indeed.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

The Playaz naturally celebrated St Patrick's day at the most authentic Irish restaurant in the world: O'Charley's

It is very fancy, too.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Kate: My strongest memory of what's across the street from the Mayflower Hotel was Monica Lewinsky's lawyer.

Phil: That actually looks like a decent place to hang. I notice they have some franchises in Virginia, but not D.C. suburb Virginia.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Ah - fabulous post as always. Love your pendant and earrings. And your dinner looks delicious.

Thanks for the blessing and back at you.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Reya: I normally would never wear anything as over the top as those glitzy cheap earrings, but what the hey. On the plate the portion looks huge, but one thing I liked was that it was a "taste," i.e. small plate, small portion.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Ryane said...

I have a large shamrock plant that was started from a cutting that came from my grandmother's plant. It's probably at least 30 years old and I love knowing that it came from her, was a part of her at one time. Traditions are wonderful, you are right...

8:12 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Ryane: We have plants like that in our family. Boxwoods from mother's family's land that go back to 1733, my grandmother's narcissus, my grandmother's peonies, my mother's Chinese holly. When my father abruptly sold the family home after my mother's death, so much got left behind: these yellow flowers my mother got from a friend who worked at the White House (where they tossed plants from beds in changing them,) some Oriental poppies I had going for years, because Mom had a good sunny spot for them. Her Chinese forget-me-not. So much stuff I would have dug out and transplanted. It broke my heart to leave it, because if my mother's spirit was anywhere, it was in her garden. I did get some rare, smaller azaleas dug out, and some of her weird rock collection, but so much had to be left. My mother rooted and planted a huge section of my neighbor's back yard in her own pachysandra, and some of her hostas are there. You see it and it just speaks of my mother.

10:33 AM  

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