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Sally's blog

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

The Heron Gallery, West Cork

Sally McKenna finds a sanctuary of beauty and beautiful food in deepest West Cork.

The Heron Gallery Cafe is one of those places that give West Cork its quirky gourmet reputation. The cafe is part of a shop and gallery curated and owned by artist Annabel Langrish and her husband Klaus. You have to go way west, past Ahakista, and up a hillside road to find it. It’s a culinary destination where the journey itself is full of fun, through characterful West Cork villages, only a breath away from the sea and Dunmanus Bay.

Rocketman & EAST, Cork

Jack Crotty got vertical liftoff when he opened Rocketman in Princes Street. Now, he’s applied the rocket boosters and opened EAST, in Winthrop Arcade, bringing his riff on felafels to the southern capital. Connie McKenna dons her space suit and grabs a fork.

Shines tuna

John and Marianne Shine know the good stuff. They have a simple objective they want to achieve every time you buy a jar of a tin of Shines Irish Tuna: “Buying our fish is not a lottery.”
So, how do they do that? Simple: they know the business of fishing inside out, and they have the eyes and the ears working for them out at sea: catching the best albacore tuna, fish that is fresh, that is caught only a few hours out of port, on the shortest tow, with a modest catch brought on board before the boat heads back to port.

Limerick charcoal

In 2015 every single bag of charcoal sold in Ireland was imported. And virtually every bag of that charcoal was crap, soaked full of chemicals and water to bulk out the weight. Wonder why your barbecues were a damp squib? That’s right: it wasn’t your fault. It was the dire quality of the fuel you bought at the petrol station that meant you wound up with smoky-smelly sausages and barely-cooked burgers.
And then along comes a knight in shining armour to save your barbecue, to deliver perfect outdoor cooking, to make you the object of grateful adoration of your friends and family.

Murphy’s ice cream

The Murphy brothers are not just the emperors of ice cream. They are the most unlikely emperors of ice cream that one could imagine.
Consider their story: two American brothers move to Ireland and start an ice cream business. In Dingle. In a cold country where people only eat ice cream between June and August. In a country where a huge amount of the ice cream that is eaten is imported. A country with no gourmet tradition of ice cream, a country where the choice of commercial ice creams is between the Bland and the Wan.

Rick’s Salami

Rick Higgins is already known to food lovers as the fourth generation of the family to run Higgin’s Butchers at Sutton Cross, in north Dublin, the funkiest and most stylish butcher’s shop you can imagine. His newest venture, Forage & Cure, sees this master butcher teaming up with an Italian friend and charcuterie master, Antonio Princigallo, to create a range of cured meats that include salamis, coppa, chorizo, bresaola and pancetta.

Beeactiv Honey

It is one of the unfortunate ironies of Irish life that whilst our beekeepers produce magnificent honeys from native Irish bees, many people are foolish enough to pay over-the-odds to buy imported manuka honeys of dubious origin.

The Cookbook Cafe, Glasthule

On a sunny Sunday morning, there can’t be a friendlier room in county Dublin than Audrey McDonald’s Cookbook Café, in little Glasthule.
Ms McDonald’s partner, Tom Dunne, is spinning vinyl, an album of covers by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. The floor staff have that sixth sense that allows them to pre-guess what it is you want to eat and drink.
Above all, there is a powerful sense of generosity, of the pleasure of sharing, implicit in this lovely, colourful, one-year-old space.

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