To celebrate St. Patrick’s day, here’s a recap of my trip to Ireland and my quest to find peanut butter in my homeland (I’m 37.5% Irish!). Ireland was everything I hoped for and more. After landing in Dublin we drove our over-priced rental car across the country and back, staying in Athlone, Dingle, Killarney, Kilkenny and Dublin along the way. We stayed in 5 B&B’s, toured 2 breweries (Smithwick’s and Guinness) and saw/smelled more cows than I can count. I found a new favorite beer, Guinness Foreign Extra, but unfortunately I’ll never have another unless I return to Ireland or visit Nigeria or the Carribean (Update: It’s been imported to the US!). Read on for the details of my hunt for peanut butter in Ireland.
We first stayed in the rural countryside of Athlone where we had fresh milk and homemade scones at St. Ruth’s Farmhouse B&B. It was on our way to Athlone where we first noticed how many cows and sheep there are in Ireland. Farming is a popular profession in Ireland and the Irish take great pride in where their meat comes from. You can question the source of any meat purchased from a grocery store, butcher or restaurant, and it must be traceable back to the farm. You’ll know when you’re eating Irish beef since restaurants in Ireland often display signs boasting “100% Irish Beef” on their menus. Not only that, but you can see the cows outside, grazing on grass. This is in sharp contrast to America where our meat comes from an unknown location and cows are kept in terrible conditions and fed exclusively corn. Given the amount of green in Ireland, the cows there seem quite happy and just a bit inquisitive:
We then headed to the Dingle and saw the coast on a breathtaking hike that is best described as “dangerous”:
We then explored Killarney National Park which was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The sheer quantity and variety of green in Ireland is truly astounding:
Next up was Kilkenny, a medieval town that was probably our favorite town of all. Besides some incredible castles, great food and a fun atmosphere, my favorite part was Kyteler’s Inn, a pub established before Christopher Columbus’ grandfather was born:
Lastly, we stayed in Dublin for a few days and thoroughly enjoyed the area around Grafton Street. The atmosphere and vibe in this area was excellent, with great shops and delicious food (we even found sushi). We particularly liked tapas at Havana and the creative and nutritious food at Honest to Goodness (not to be confused with the cafe chain called “Munchies – Honest to Goodness”). The prized foodie find was a gourmet food store called Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street, that had an excellent assortment of dark chocolate as well as peanut butter!
I found Panda brand peanut butter in several grocery stores around the country. Panda is an Irish company, and offers a standard “American style” creamy and crunchy peanut butter. But it was often sold out in the stores and by the time I got to Dublin, I never saw it again. So unfortunately, I was unable to get my hands or taste buds on Panda peanut butter but by the end of the trip I did buy the following three jars:
Meridian is a UK brand that makes a variety of health food products which are often available in health food stores in Ireland. Kelkin, on the other hand, is another Irish company. This variety of peanut butter is unique in that it only contains peanuts, palm oil and sea salt. In America, we call this a natural no-stir variety, but all the brands in America that I’ve seen include sugar, whereas Kelkin doesn’t. I always wondered what this recipe for peanut butter would taste like and now I know – delicious! The oil in Kelkin didn’t separate at all, even after the long journey back to the US. I have yet to find a no-stir brand here that can make that claim. It spreads easily, doesn’t require stirring and doesn’t have any added sugar. Kelkin, you’ve inspired me.
Verdict: there IS peanut butter in Ireland. Could there be more? Absolutely. Chatting with a few locals, some Irish people love peanut butter while others don’t understand it. But judging by the sold-out shelves, there is room for growth in the Irish peanut butter market.