1.8 miles long, 40 foot high, and 30 foot wide, the granite and basalt ancient Walls of Derry form a complete circular walk around the inner city and encapsulate the tumult of Ireland’s history. A tour of the walls should be on the bucket list for anyone interested in the goings on on this island since 546AD, when Saint Columba first established a monastery on this oak covered grove.
“It’s not too mad in here, so we’re ok for help.”
As the lady behind the counter in Sprout, on Ballsbridge Terrace in Dublin, calmly said this to her fellow worker who was offering to lend a hand, I took a look around me.
The queue was out the door. The staff were working at a frantic rate filling the bowls and making the wraps. The shop was sardine-packed with hungry people. The brews were brewing. The soup was bubbling. The juices were flowing. The orders were stacking up. The till was churning.
Adam Lynas has an impressive CV in Irish food - he worked alongside Andy Rea in Roscoff, and put in kitchen time in Belfast’s excellent Shu restaurant.
But the direction of his cooking changed after he met Mexican Eliza Vignolle, in Montreal, and travelled back and forward to her native Monterey, all the while learning the nuances of cooking real Mexican food.
In 2016, he opened La Taqueria, in an utterly unprepossessing upstairs room in the building that also houses the Belfast Cookery School.
Starting at the top of the town in pretty little Ballycotton village, in East County Cork, the Cliff Walk travels a well-worn single track path that follows the cliff edge, and the walk culminates after 8kms at Ballyandreen Beach, where you can either pick up the second vehicle you parked earlier, or else walk back on your tracks and enjoy the views from the opposite perspective.
We imagine that, like ourselves, most of the hungry citizens of Cork city had been eagerly awaiting the opening of the West Cork Burger Company, on Washington Street, an area fast becoming Cork’s Food Quarter.
Day after day, waiting for the renovations to finish as we walked past the large, anticipating sign above the door of the restaurant, we would dream of burgers and fries, beers and shakes. Henry Hegarty and his team had made everyone in Cork into a panting Pavlovian, eager for some sort of release from our cravings.
Rory O’Connell is your wise friend in the kitchen. He’s the cook who will walk you through the process of making light, crisp pastry, poach the perfect monkfish with accompanying green sauce, even make complicated stuff like langues de chat biscuits (definitely a life skill worth knowing).
Whilst Cook Well Eat Well is unambiguously a book of dinner party recipes, there are many tricks and treats here that can be ticked off as valuable life skills, rather than simply seeking success in seamless entertaining.
In the beginning of Diana Dodog’s cooking was the word.
And the word was ‘Wow!’
You get proof of the Wow! word every time you stand in the queue at Diana and Mike’s Food Depot cart, and see the people ahead of you take their first bite of Depot Curry, or Rakott Krumpli, or Double Chocolate Brownie.
They take a bite and, either audibly or silently, they say: Wow!
They can’t help it. Nobody can help it. Confronted with food of this deliciousness, this succulence, this excellence, we are all reduced to monosyllables of delight: Wow!
Perfection in restaurant cooking operates on a biblical time frame.
Every seven years or so, you have a meal in a restaurant where everything is perfect. You get the 10 out of 10, the perfect score, the Nadia Comaneci, the faultless parade of food, the peerless understanding of cooking.
Having had that perfect meal, thanks to Matt Strefford’s cooking in Moy House, just south of Lahinch in County Clare, I’m already looking forward to 2024.
We don’t know anyone who chines and grills a better lamb chop than Kevin O’Sullivan, the chef in the Samphire Restaurant, at the Garryvoe Hotel, facing Ballycotton Bay in east County Cork.
Grilling is an art form that eludes many Irish chefs. When you order grilled meats, you are looking to enjoy the char of the grill, and the tenderness of the marinading. The chops should be precisely trimmed, so that you can pick up the meat like a lollipop, and get all the lush goodness of that umami hit.
Matt Strefford cooks for the guests in Moy House (see photo and review on blog), so the only way to be absolutely certain of getting a table is to book a room, though if guests are eating elsewhere then non-residents can be accommodated.
There are many other distinguished destinations in Ireland where, in order to ensure that you get to stay when you want to, you need to be booked well in advance. Planning that 2018 trip? The time to make reservations is: Now!
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