Ireland means breathtaking scenery, unconditionally friendly people, and ridiculously good food. That last one often surprises people since Ireland has long been known for the perfect pint of Guiness but less so that it has become a culinary gem. The little emerald island bears cuisine with origins rooted deep in home-cooked comfort food made with love by mothers throughout the country. In a place that is chilly and rainy more often than not, good hearty soups, stews, and shepherd’s pies paired with soda bread function to both fill the belly and warm the soul.
Consider this: In the tiny idyllic town of Greystones in county Wicklow, set on the rocky coast of the Irish Sea there sits an unassuming little restaurant called The Happy Pear. The name itself, is paired with a brightly colored exterior which is lined with high stacked wooden crates with fresh fruit and vegetables. Owned by two brilliant twin brothers whose energy is as contagious as their smiles, The Happy Pear is a farm-to-fork vegetarian restaurant with an Irish twist. Step inside and you are greeted by the friendliest staff, offering you soups, stews, curries, salads, homemade breads, and even healthy superfood dense sweets. Point to what you’d like and they pile it high, no skimping here, the portions are Tayler size and full of color. Being handed a plate overflowing with delicious, nutritious, homemade vegetarian dishes is heaven. Add to that, they roast their own coffee beans which well trained baristas use to brew you up a perfect cup for the meals made. The home cooked family feel of The Happy Pear is undeniable as the twins themselves along with their mother can often be seen milling about in the kitchen, helping customers, or busing tables. Pick a seat outside on a sunny day or upstairs in a cozy loft like setting and enjoy pure bliss.
Wicklow is one of my favorite places in the world to train. The roads there are both beautiful and brutal. Ride an hour from downtown Bray up to the Sally Gap and you feel as if you have been dropped into the middle of nowhere, miles from civilization, surrounded by scenery so stunning you can’t help but get lost in it. The thought of The Happy Pear has inspired me on many a ride to dig just a bit deeper, ride just a bit further and suffer just a bit more, in order to earn a second slice of brown bread or super seedy cookie they sneakily place right next to the register making it impossible to turn down. If cycling inspiration comes in many forms, up the Sally gap in Wicklow County, Ireland, the Happy Pear is mine.
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