Nicole Server-Pawlukojc celebrates a milestone. PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF RUTH CALDER POTTS AND IG/ARANKILKENNY
The medieval town of Kilkenny, often chosen as one of the prettiest cities in Ireland, is indeed a sight to reckon.
Nestled some 120 kilometers away from the capital city of Dublin, it was built on the banks of the River Nore.
Surrounded by breathtaking rural landscapes of peaceful, tranquil parklands and woodlands, its historical architecture is reminiscent of the once-foreign Anglo-Norman influences.
The Medieval Mile, which runs through the core of the city, transports us back in time as it links several notable sights full of discoveries.
Kilkenny Castle, which perfectly encapsulates the tumultuous yet colorful past of the republic, is considered as one of the most recognizable landmarks in the country.
An integral part of the monastic settlement, composed of St. Canice’s Cathedral, with its adjacent 100-feet well-preserved round tower in Celtic Christian motif, is dedicated to the Abbot and missionary who is the patron of the shipwrecked.
The Rothe House, a prime example of an Elizabethan place with surviving post-medieval features, is the restored half-acre 17th century garden with an expansive orchard, topped off with herbs and veggies.
The Butler House is a Gregorian establishment exceptionally preserved through the years.
Finally, the Medieval Mile Museum hosts an encyclopedic archive of 800 years of artwork. It displays a massive collection of civic treasures and serves as a space for temporary exhibits and cultural events.
However, these are not all that Kilkenny has to offer. It is the home of traditional Irish arts and crafts, homegrown cafes and souvenir shops, and the home of award-winning restaurants.
Only a brief 10-minute leisurely walk from the center is Arán Artisan Bakery and Bistro — most recently recognized as one of the Top 100 Best Places to Have Lunch in Ireland by the Irish Times, Ireland’s Best Brunch at the Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards, and Leinster’s Local Food Heroes at the 2020 Irish Restaurant Awards.
The culinary geniuses behind this lauded concept is the dynamic and innovative duo of Filipina Nicole Server-Pawlukojc and husband Bart Pawlukojc.
Nicole, an alumna of the Assumption College, whose formal culinary education began at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde — and trained at Costigliole d’Asti Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Italy and the Ristorante La Fermata, among others — first met professionally-trained butcher and meat fermentation expert Bart in a restaurant simply known as Noma in Copenhagen, but regarded as the number one in the world. This was where they worked together, fell in love and eventually got married.
Their combined expertise from global exposures in various capital cities of the world, fused with their passion to serve a sample of all their learnings, resulted in the birth of Arán Artisan Bakery & Bistro.
Arán, meaning bread in Irish, focuses on this staple as their main come-on. The star is their bestseller sourdough, which they have perfected, baked fresh every day with just four ingredients — flour, salt, water and natural leaven or a fresh yeast culture. It leaves patrons wanting for more. This is not to forget their selection of buns, loaves, rolls, croissants, scones, squares, cakes, tarts, cookies and brownies!
The breads — and, of course, their quality — are the only main constants. Because on the bistro side, they change their all-day brunch offerings regularly, to guarantee only the freshest ingredients from local farmers and producers!
This way, they offer the surrounding community more livelihood as they please the taste buds of customer after customer.
During this coronavirus pandemic, they have shifted operations to be purely takeaway and delivery. They are open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays to Sundays.
Arán Artisan Bakery and Bistro is located at 8 The Arches, Barrack Street, Kilkenny. Visit their website at https://www.arankilkenny.ie or Instagram at @arankilkenny.
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