I am very fond of the Irish.
Sadly, I’ve never been to Ireland, though it’s one of the countries I dearly long to visit. The few things I know about Irish culture are through my Irish friends, American stereotypes and my favorite Irish American actor, Alec Baldwin.
From what I learned, the Irish drink ale like the Koreans drink barley tea. I’ll bet Irish pubs rank the highest amount in the list of alcohol-serving public houses in America.
As I walk the streets of New York City, I feel like I pass by at least one Irish pub every few blocks. Now that it’s Fleet Week, I have my eyes peeled wider so that I can spot solid-built sailors and navy officers strutting in and out of the pubs in fine-looking packs.
I may have classes till late at night, six days a week, but I managed to dine at a couple pubs last week.
Last Thursday, our whole class visited Foley’s on 33rd Street for a dinner session with one of our instructors, Les Sillars, and our deputy director, Kim Collins. I didn’t have to pay a dime, because it was World Journalism Institute’s (WJI) treat.
It might seem weird to some that WJI, a Christian organization, would lead us to an Irish pub for dinner. But hey, we’re Christian journalists, not nuns. Great stories and friendships take place in Irish pubs.
Foley’s is the ultimate sacred place for baseball, a cathedral for baseball fans to congregate and have communion over beer and the latest sports game records.
Look up, and you’ll see jerseys hanging all across the ceiling.
Look around, and you’ll see plaques and photographs plastered all over, with seats plucked out from demolished ballparks, Apparently Foley’s boasts one of the finest baseball memorabilia collection in the country. The dingy yet somehow distinguished atmosphere reminded me a lot of the last Irish pub I visited in New York, Sorley’s. It doesn’t share as long a history as Sorley’s, but Foley’s has a rich tradition and character of its own.
Fun fact: Foley’s is named after Red Foley, a sports writer for the New York Daily News and official scorer for 10 World Series. Another reason why WJI chose this place for the dining venue—it was built in commemoration of a journalist!
Another fun fact: See that anti-Danny Boy sign? Foley’s made news for banning that popular song for the entire month of March 2008. Foley’s lists several reasons for the Danny Boy outlaw: it’s depressing, it’s misused and overused on St. Patrick’s Day, and the lyrics were composed by an Englishman, for Hail Mary’s sake.
We were a huge crowd of about 21 individuals, so we were led to the back to a long dining table that we reserved beforehand.
The problem with such an elongated table is that you’re stuck conversing with only your neighbors. I ended up sitting away from my roommates, next to people I had not talked to before, which was great because then I got to make new friends.
These two beauties, Kira and Samantha, are now part of my morning running group. When we can all get up in time, that is.
Across from me are two other gorgeous ladies, Katie D. (there are two Katies in our class) and Rebecca J (there’s also two Rebeccas in our class—what gives?).
Sandwiching me were Chelsea and J.C. I didn’t manage to take pictures of them because I was sitting too close to them, but below is a picture of the adorable gal Chelsea from Radio Day:
And the (non-balding) guy on the right below is J.C.:
The tall, lean guy on the left is actually my radio teacher, Joseph Slife, whom I mentioned on my last post. Look at them both, so GQ. Or MIB. They don’t usually stand like that, though I have to say they are usually just as cool.
I think we are such a fine group, even if we don’t don crisp sailor suits. Together we exude an aura of youth, passion and hope that is invigorating and attractive to me. I wonder how our professors felt surrounded by us.
I was amazed and delighted by my classmates’ appetites, too. I don’t think anybody is a “foodie” per se, but golly, are they eaters. Between four people, we started out with a Home Run platter of wings, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers.
Served with marinara sauce, honey mustard sauce, ranch and a healthy shot of YUM.
We were also served baskets of assorted bread: white country bread, wheat rolls, some kind of brown bread, and Irish biscuits (or scones? Barmbrack?).
I opted for the Irish biscuit, which wasn’t as warm as I would have liked, but had a soft, crumbly kind of flakiness, sort of like a cross between a Southern drop biscuit and a scone. The dark bread was also good; I love how dark and dense it looks.
Everybody reached for the butter at once, a scene I rarely see unless it’s with my family.
Foley’s may be an Irish bar, but it serves mainly American food like burgers and fried finger foods. It doesn’t really strike me as a place you’ll go to be fed gastronomically. It’s not all that cheap, either. You go to Foley’s for the cheap beer and the sports fan camaraderie.
Since I already had my camera out and was flashing my camera into my dining companions’ faces, they urged me to take a pic of their dinners as well. This below is J.C.’s healthy salmon dish:
Pan-seared salmon, green beans, seasoned rice and BBQ Creole sauce. Typical American dinner, I’d say.
Chelsea and I both high-fived and went for the Traditional Irish Breakfast:
A full platter of Irish bacon, Irish sausages, fried black pudding, poached eggs, toast and fries. I wasn’t too pleased with the eggs—they were overcooked. The Irish bacon tastes like a fattier Canadian bacon: thick, cured and ringed with fat. The sausages were fat swollen fingers of fine-ground pork and beef. Hard to mess that up. The fries and toasts were most likely bought prepared, but meh, it’s a stretch to expect a humble Irish pub to bake all its own bread and hand-cut its own fries.
The black pudding…Hm. It was the first time I tried this, though I have read about it before (so I knew it resembled nothing like the chocolate pudding packed into kids’ lunch boxes). It’s a link pressed from pork blood and oatmeal, then fried to a crisp. I was nonchalant towards it; it wasn’t what I expected at all. It tasted kind of burnt with a crunchy then soft porous interior. Or perhaps it’s just Foley’s. I’m gonna have to try it once again at a better food establishment before I judge.
We ended up spending more time than we should have here at Foley’s, chatting and laughing and stuffing our faces. That meant when we got back to class, we were all comatose from food overload and really weren’t the most attentive students for the next two hours of critiques.
The next day, a bunch of went to an Irish pub again to celebrate a non-Friday weekend (‘cause we have class Saturday as well!).
This time it was to Rattle N Hum, also on 33rd Street.
Rattle N Hum calls itself “a New York City craft beer experience,” It’s basically a more sophisticated Irish pub with great beer on tap and fusion Irish pub-grub, though the interior is less comfortable than that of Foley’s. I just couldn’t get comfortable on my seat; the place was super crowded and I felt like I was about to fall off my high stool.
But food and drinks were delicious. I shared a Apricot Wheat with drink buddy Rebecca.
That was one of the better beers I’ve had—sweet and malty, aromatic and complex.
Then Rebecca and I helped my roommate demolish a mile-high platter of in-house tortilla chips, topped with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, grilled chicken and cheddar cheese. I stopped taking pictures by this point because it was too dark and I hate using flash.
I can’t believe all this was last week. And that second week is coming to a close. I’m kind of dreading the last day of this course now. I think I just might cry having to say goodbye to everyone here.
Question of the Day: Name me one Irish thing you like?