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All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.
1. The St George's Saturday Market, Belfast: now the second-best market in the land after Cork, a rollicking food-fest that is the North's first great food and tourism success story.
2. Mary Ward's colcannon in Country Choice, Tipperary: spuds and cabbage in blissful union.
3. The Cherry Tree Restaurant, Clare: right back on form with inspired cooking.
4. The Taste of Mayo: an eye-opening collection of west coast artisans.
5. Same Happy, Belfast: where you now go for echt Chinese food, and great smiling service.
We are still sort of on Easter break down here, but this caught our attention. The Irish Times reports that "Multi-millionaire beef processor Larry Goodman has taken a 50% stake in CandD Foods, the Co Longford pet food business owned by two sons of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds."
Well, yes indeed...
CandD will now invest €30 million in a new "pouch single serve" petfood facility.
My colleague Sylvia Thompson has written on these pages about Michael Pollan’s important new book, “In Defence Of Food: The Myth of Nutrition and the Pleasures of Eating”. Today, however, I would like to look closely at the point with which Pollan concludes his eloquent defence of common sense when it comes to our diets and our health.
A trip through the Monday snows, from Macroom to Mulranny, to launch the first “A Taste of Mayo” booklet in the Knockranny House Hotel in Westport.
And what a thrill to discover new food such as Patti Moss's banana butter, Sean Kelly's amazing putog – a black pudding cooked in sheep's stomach which Mr Kelly makes twice a year – and lots of other delicious foods.
We call him “The Smiliest Pork Butcher”, because he never has a big grin off his face, but we could also call T.J. Crowe of Tipperary one of the great unsung heroes of pork production in Ireland.
An interview with Hervé This, the French chemical physicist who is one of the creators of “molecular gastronomy” in the FT makes interesting reading.
If he were a young man, says This, he would today shun molecular cooking, and instead try to create using “note by note” cuisine: “A carrot is made up of molecules, like notes in a musical chord. Traditionally, if you cook carrots and turnips together, you have two chords”.
Only a Frenchman could come up with such utter bull, and say it with a straight face.
We get all sorts of interesting queries at Bridgestone Central, and the following was particularly intriguing:
“I am in need of advice for a posh stag do in Galway. Groom is wine buff and excellent cook and loves good food, wine, conversation and will bring 7 of his closest pals. He needs a place to stay and somewhere to eat and linger. This is not a drunken stag do but a group of good friends. Any suggestions?”
Well, what would you do for a wine buff, serious cook and lover of good food? Here was what we quickly proposed:
Eighteen months ago, we had the temerity to suggest that the raft of new hotels being built and opened in Ireland – more than one a week opening on average over the past two years – had no future, other than perhaps as old people's homes.
A letter in today's Irish Times, from Noelle Cronin, of Ashford in County Wicklow, suggests that we might have overlooked something.
Ms Cronin writes: “The Burlington Hotel is up for sale, ready and waiting to be occupied. The HSE needs individual bedrooms with bathrooms. Why not?”
The news that one of Ireland's most outstanding artistes, Dustin the Turkey, may represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest, has sent a frisson of excitement through the country.
Of course, there are doubters.
“We had a turkey of an entry last year”, they say. “Do we really want another turkey so soon?”.
To which the answer is: “Yes!”.
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