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Sally's blog

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

#ZeroKM Dinner @Macreddin

Certain events signal a new epoch in food: the opening of Ballymaloe; the invention of Milleens Cheese; the first Eurotoques dinner in Trinity College; Food On The Edge.

Evan Doyle's Zero Km, 1 dinner, 1 night, 100 people, at the Brook Lodge Inn, belongs in this exalted list of culinary game changers. 

Eamon Barrett experiences a rare level of luxury in the super-spec Ballyfin, in County Laois.

Ballyfin is the kind of hotel you desperately want to hate. It's owned by a billionaire American; it has a room called The Gold Room; the staff form a line to meet you at the front steps when you arrive, and Condé Nast Traveller voted it the Best Hotel IN THE WORLD - it just has to be all in the most appallingly bad taste, doesn't it? But it isn't. In fact, it's the most exquisite and perfect hotel I've ever stayed in. If I could afford it, I'd stay there at least once a month.

Tara and Enda are taking the humble burger to new artisanal heights in Burgatory, and playing some good rock ’n’ roll tunes whilst they are at it.

Would you like a side of Guns 'N' Roses, The Eagles, Green Day and The Doors as you step inside a Galway cottage predestined to be a punk of a joint?

In the brand new Burgatory, in Galway’s Spanish Arch, it’s almost as if a shack from the Midwestern United States flew across the Atlantic and rooted itself in the proud West coast city of Ireland.

Previously, Burgatory was a truck called Harlowe, which toured around festivals. But now owners Enda Hoolmaa and Tara Haugh have decided to root themselves in the heart of Galway's colourful Quay Lane.

Washington Street in Cork is where it’s all happening. PJ McKenna admires the rotisserie style of Spitjack.

The first thing one notices about Spitjack is that you could – in theory – enter this new Cork city restaurant by stepping up and through the large bay window that fronts onto Washington Street. On the day I visit, the window is opened out, letting the atmosphere of Washington Street come in to brighten up the calm, charming dining room.

Soma is a lean, mean machine of a coffee house, and a pivotal addition to Cork’s coffee culture

SOMA is the cool school, minimalist counterpoint to Cork city’s more typical bricolage style of coffee house, typified by the excellent Filter and Alchemy.
Where those great coffee houses are maximalist and choc-a-bloc, Soma is lean, stripped back, a Bauhuas coffee house. The exterior is matt black, counterpointed by the white lettering of the name. Inside the lighting is bright, the tables are hewn from thick planks, and there are couches and a long communal table.

Who doesn’t love a sushi conveyor belt? Connie McKenna pulls up a stool and reaches for a few plates in Tomodochi.

Tempting as it is to watch Tomodochi's sushi plate conveyer belt roll away slowly past your eyes, you should make sure to look around you when you climb the stairs to this new Galway restaurant, for Tomodachi also boasts an admirable interior.

The three sections of the room give the diner a choice of sitting cross legged, tatami-style,  on the floor in a descending square dip; there is the snug square zone of the conveyer belt district; or the more 'westernised' eating area.

Want to bake perfect sourdough bread? Just go back to school. Sally McKenna explains how to do it.

The idea of being able to make a Californian-type sourdough is the dream of many a domestic baker. I set about to see can if it be done: can you make crunchy-crusted, chewy-airy, satisfying and flavourful bread in a domestic oven in small batches?

Yes, is the answer. But, it takes time, and I think you need a lot of help. I did anyway.

Palmento Pizza in Douglas is the Real Deal, says William Barry

Elio Tavolieri has had his hands in 00 floor since he was a boy.

His father, Elio Snr, moved to Ireland from Italy in 1972, married a Kerry woman and they have been running pizza restaurants in Cork ever since. Like most offspring of restaurant folk Elio and his siblings were drafted in to help at every opportunity, so he has spent most of his life making pizza.

He decided to take it further, and moved to Naples and to work with Ciro Salvo, a masterful pizzaiuolo who owns a famous pizzeria in Naples where they are known to serve up over eight hundred pizzas on a quiet day.


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