Good Food Ireland kicks off Cork Week

As proof that the food-minded things I’ve written and photographed have been noticed with hunger, I was generously invited to attend Monday evening’s Good Food Ireland showcase to kick-off Cork Week. The cheery yet understated invitations arrived via post and were just perfect paper thickness and size to make me feel like Charlie Bucket as I stood waiting to be let through the gates of Cork’s English Market after hours. Our turn approached and we entered, leaving the chilling wind of Prince’s Street behind us and entering an extremely crowded wonderland of food.

Upon entering, we walked around the ground level once, enjoying bites from trays that passed. We enjoyed glasses of the sparkling apple juice from County Tipperary then made our way to the upstairs area (Farmgate) to sample the fare more studiously. While mingling our way to the stairs, we enjoyed squares of fresh-baked bread dipped in olive oil thanks to the Alternative Bread Company, goats cheese with beets, chicken on endive, and smoked salmon from West Cork on brown bread.

Try to imagine a fabulously catered cocktail party held in the fountain hall of the Market. Mingling, passed nibbles, bottomless glasses of wine, sparkling water, and juice, and everyone talking about their work. The best part of the work discussion at this gathering was that foodies from around County Cork (and beyond) were in attendance. The event was formally recognized with words from Margaret Jeffares, leader of Good Food Ireland, and the presence of Lord Mayor of Cork Dara Murphy and his wife Tanya. Pre-written name tags were offered to most guests upon arrival so all the names you see over some of the well established and delicious doors in Cork seemed to be there. So instead of overhearing something about the stock market you’d be hearing about the farmers’ market. One of the few social occasions when it is acceptable to introduce someone and use the word ‘rashers’ in the same breath. For instance, “Have you had her gorgeous rashers?” was uttered in reference to Caherbee Free Range Pork. The word ‘diet’ was not uttered once. Though the crowd of over 200 people made us feel like sardines, it wasn’t long before we were upstairs being stuffed to the gills.

I tried to take notes on (and video of) who was serving what from which farms, but it was next to impossible to keep track. A partial list with links is at the end of this post as well as a couple photos from the event (more photos are in my Cork Cuisine Flickr set). We divide and conquer in terms of tasting. I taste all fish, Conor tastes all pig, and we both covered everything else. Conor’s favorite was a poached quail egg on toast with hollandaise (I had my ‘Baby Benedict’ minus the Gubbeen ham) from Liberty Grill which was soft and crunchy in all the right places with a divine flavor best described by a big smile after eating it. My favorite was a seafood medley from Fishy Fishy (who also had langoustines), though a close second was the smoked chicken from Ballycotton Farm Poultry that Ballymaloe House served. We both agreed that the most decadent dessert was Hayfield Manor’s cheesecake, but maybe that is because I selfishly didn’t share my Seymour’s of Cork shortbread biscuits with him. The selection of food and enthusiasm of the guests really set a tone for Cork Week and for local cuisine in general. Bibliocook, Cork Food Blog, and Irish Times were also there.

Even if you did not attend the showcase event, you can still enjoy the quality ingredients with thoughtful menu compilation offered by local restaurants and culinary artisans during Cork Week, 8th through 12th of February, 2010. This means you can feast on a Good Food Ireland local cuisine plate with a glass of wine for €15.00 or whisk yourself off for a three-night getaway for the price of two nights at a Good Food Ireland accommodation in Cork! Oh yes, Ballymaloe House and Hayfield Manor are both participating in this so pack your bags! For a full list of participants, visit the Good Food Ireland Cork Week page. And if you’re on the go Good Food Ireland will help you by giving you more details over the phone, just call 053-9158693. Keep this in mind not just during Cork Week, but all year because Ireland is fast becoming a foodie destination, particularly the sweetest and most savory spots in Rebel Country.

A few of the local favorites enjoyed at the Good Food Ireland Cork Week showcase:

Alternative Bread Company
Ardsallagh Goat Farm
Baldwin’s Ice Cream
Ballymaloe House
Ballyvolane House
Cafe Paradiso
Cronin’s Pub
Fishy Fishy
Glebe Café
Gubbeen Smokehouse
Hayfield Manor
Liberty Grill
Lorge Chocolatier
McCarthy’s Family Butchers
Nash 19
O’Brien Chop House
O’Flynn’s Gourmet Sausages
On the Pig’s Back
The Poachers Inn
Seymour’s of Cork

Liberty Grill's Poached Quail Egg on Baguette with Hollandaise 1

Celebration of Cheese Thanks to On The Pig's Back


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