Exploring suburbia

Out of last week’s slump, and into new territory. This was a good weekend for hanging out with myself and enjoying where I am now. My neighbor and I explored the vicinity of UCD. Dundrum shopping cenre is only an hour’s walk away! All in all it was a precious glimpse into the last decades’ suburban development. Celtic Tiger Ireland in South Dublin. In contrast, on Saturday, I ventured out to the closest “Irish Round Tower”. These date from between the 9th and 12th centuries and are Ireland’s only totally unique architectural edifice. Excepting, of course, the odd one in Scotland and the Isle of Man – but we won’t mind that. I would love to visit every Round Tower which still stands.

In order to get to this one, I needed to head southeast to the village of Clondalkin. And to challenge myself, I consulted no further directions than that. I walked out my door in the morning and after stopping at my favourite garden in Dublin (Iveagh Gardens of course) I got on the Luas. I had my knitting with me, which made for a good journey. I got off at Red Cow because I liked the name, perhaps not a good enough reason but after 30 minutes walking I rambled into Clondalkin. Can you tell- Dublin city is on the small side.

The village of Clondalkin has been occupied since neolithic times, which makes sense. It was fairly apparent that no planning regulations, zone-, building-, or vehicular- related, contributed to its current form in any way at all. So Clondalkin was delightful!  A small village well integrated at this point into the fabric of Dublin’s suburbia. When a city grows in this way, homes pop up on connecting roads and former villages become new high streets. Buses zip along the corridors, which become ever denser.

The tower was around the corner from the main street, standing only six feet from a busy narrow lane. Unfortunately, the OPW has closed the tower to the public, but it has its original “stone cap” and is a whopping 84 feet high! The tower is typically erected, with four wee windows which rise counterclockwise and a nice set of stone steps up to the door. After some consideration, I have decided it is probably not very pleasant inside. What with the excellent public transit, the busy lane and a McDonald’s over the road, I don’t see why this round tower is not more popular with the tourists. I meant to end my day there, but as the LUAS passed Smithfield, I was lured into the Cobblestones where an old-time session was in full swing!

Also, I made my best supper EVER tonite. I don’t know HOW, but somehow walnuts and mayo came together perfectly in a vegetably pasta. And as a dinner which happened to contain every food item I currently have in the cupboard (except freeze-dried strawberries, flour, butter, bread, jam, tea bags, and digestives) it was nearly miraculous. Cooking gets a lot more interesting when you use what you have around! Here is the recipe:

Walnut Mayo Pasta Makes 2 servings 

Boil water in the kettle for the pasta. Pop in enough penne for two in with the water and some salt. Take a zucchini, and cut it in half lengthwise so it can lie down. Then cut one half into long strips like octopus tentacles, about 5mm wide. Put into a wok and cover with water, and salt. Turn on the heat. Slice very fine and keep separate for now: 2 cloves garlic, one big mushroom, and 2/3’s of a peeled carrot.

Once the wok starts steaming and the zukes are looking part cooked, drain the water out and rinse. Add a bit of olive oil, the veg, a pinch or two of cavenders (ie herby things), a teensy bit of ginger, onion salt, and black pepper. Add some walnuts. If your situation is like mine, where your mother has mailed you 3 huge bags of walnuts in the past month, throw in a half cup or more! I try to never measure. If the state of your press is like mine last month, walnut-free because of the prohibitive cost… whatever.

Stir and let saute for a while while you grate a bit of hard strong Irish cheddar (not the pansy red stuff). Get out a teaspoon of mayonnaise. Drain the penne really badly, and slop it all (including some of the salted water) into the wok. Add the cheese and mayonnaise and let it figure itself out.

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