Monday through Saturday, Corkonians have the opportunity to shop at The English Market. And as an added treat, some days there are festival markets or other local markets, like Mahon Point or Elizabeth Fort, to meet new favorites.
From fish to cheese, bread to cake, fennel to gooseberries, The English Market place has nearly anything you could want. Yes, you can even find ranch salad dressing there! The farmers have permanent stands there and sell their produce, meats, and products for fair prices. Sometimes you are paying more than at Tesco or Aldi, other times it is comparable. I always remind myself that buying at The Market means knowing where it came from and supporting the local economy. Not to mention the freshness of the foods!
I have a few favorites at The Market.
Mr. Bell’s for bottled ranch dressing, tinned artichokes, and inari sushi pockets.
P. Coughlan’s is our butcher of choice offering very tender striploin steaks. They also sell honey from West Cork.
On the Pig’s Back for cheese, duck live pate, chicken liver pate, and French bread.
Alternative Bread Company (aka ABC) has a wide selection of breads, including challah and sourdough for homemade French dip sandwiches.
Roughly Fruits King for local things like Macroom flour, Green Saffron, and local jams.
Kay O’Connell Fish for scallops.
O’Sullivan’s Poultry for their free-range eggs.
Duncan’s ready-cooked Spiced Beef.
Olive Stall for garlic-stuffed olives and Sicilian Hummus.
Hederman’s Fish Stall for their salmon spread.
Edward O’Mahony’s Butcher for lamb. (Though my heart belongs to the lovely Jerry Kennedy in Dingle for that too, but that’s for another post)
O’Flynn’s Sausage Co. sells raw sausages to cook at home and also cooked ones to eat right then. I do not eat pork for allergy reasons, but my friends and family swear by O’Flynn’s as a Market experience. I’m just happy when they have sausage with synthetic casing in-stock.
The list goes on and on and it seems I notice a new place every time I wander around. I mean, just the other day we noticed another amazing cheese place called Iago in the aisle behind P. Coughlan’s on the Princes Street end of the Market. Delicious flourless chocolate cake, delectable cheeses, fresh pastas and pizza doughs, and they even sell fig and chestnut spreads!
But local foods are not limited to The English Market. Festival markets are a wonderful chance to discover something new too! At the Christmas on the Grand Parade market this month, we feasted on delicious Mexican-style burritos, the likes of which we’d not enjoyed since living in California. Sigh. At the Mahon Point Farmers Market (Thursdays year-round) there is a place with addictive Indian take-away as well as Magpie Cottage Dairy which has melt-in-your-mouth goats cheese.
Over the summer, we enjoyed the Elizabeth Fort Market Festival which ran for six consecutive Sundays at Elizabeth Fort’s Garda Station at Barrack Street. Highlights of the festival included Ardsallagh Goat Farm, Baldwin’s Ice Cream, Crafty Confections, Arguing the Mobius, Alfeen Glassworks, JR’s Lemonade, and slow-roasted pork sandwiches. This market was a particular treat since I’d not had a chance to enjoy Ardsallagh or Baldwin’s before.
Ardsallagh Goat Farm is a goat dairy farm boasting delicious goat’s milk, cheese, and yogurt. With over three decades of experience and several hundred happy goats, it’s no wonder the product has caught the attention and admiration of The Bridgestone Guide (“Best In Ireland” 2005, 2006, 2007) and local foodies. We tested a few of their cheeses and finally settled on the Garlic and Turmeric Chèvre (€3.75), though were quite tempted by the Fresh Black Pepper Chèvre since it has a reputation for endurance in the face of forgetfulness (it lasts nicely in the fridge).
Baldwin’s Ice Cream is the result of Tom Baldwin and his sweet imagination. Farm fresh ingredients make all flavors from vanilla to honeycomb extraordinary. I hesitate to refer to any of Baldwin’s flavors as ‘classics’ because great care and thought has gone into cultivating and selecting the ingredients. You can also satiate your sweet tooth with flavors Strawberry, Mint and Regular Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Madagascar, Bailey’s, Honeycomb, and Caramel Fudge. Even more ice cream flavors, in addition to a sampling of sorbets, are available from Baldwin’s catering menu. Though based in County Waterford, you can get your fix locally at O’Keeffe’s Grocery (St. Luke’s Cross in Cork City), Jo’s Café (Main Street in Kinsale), Hurley’s SuperValu (Midleton), Farm Gate (Midleton), Posh Nosh (Rathcormac), and Coachouse (Youghal).
There are local culinary artisans all over and when I run across a new favorite, I keep an eye out for them at every future market. Hopefully this inspires you to look both ways while crossing a festival or market, in case a future favorite of yours is lurking just around the next corner.