County Cork: A paradise for foodies

Photo: www.englishmarket.ie

Photo: www.englishmarket.ie

Over the last half century, County Cork in south eastern Ireland has been slowly establishing its place on the map as one of the most exciting foodie destinations in Europe.

The start of this boom is often credited to Mrytle Allen, the Michelin-star winning cook, who set up Ballymaloe country house hotel in County Cork 50 years ago. Mrs Allen changed the game when it came to eating out in Ireland at the time, by offering local, seasonal and sometimes foraged Irish food on her daily changing menu. People came in their droves to visit Ballymaloe, and still do to this day. What was especially remarkable is that people really came out of their way to get there, and it’s fair to say that the house is in a pretty remote, but beautiful location.

Cork city is a very interesting city for foodies, too. The English Market is one of the most famous food markets on the continent and is always a first-stop on the agenda for important visitors to Cork. A particularly special element of this market is that it offers superb quality local produce at a fair price to customers – something that can’t be said about all top food markets. If you can, take some time to visit, and pop upstairs for a coffee or some lunch. The food is very good and again, reasonably priced.

Cork city has some very interesting restaurants, which include Dennis Cotter’s Café Paradiso vegetarian restaurant, Nash 19 and Café Idaho.

Further afield, Fishy Fishy in Kinsale is a country-wide renowned fish restaurant, run by celebrity chef Martin Shanahan. Their warm seafood salads and top-notch fish and chips are especially delicious. West Cork very interesting. Too. It’s very beautiful in the summer months and the Island Cottage restaurant run by John Desmond is a must.

The town of Midleton may be small, but it an interesting foodie hub. With one of the most vibrant farmers markets in the county, its residents really care about the food they eat. Sage restaurant in the town has a sourcing policy that entails the careful selection of all their ingredients from a 12 mile radius. And Farm Gate is a very popular local haunt, again specializing in local, seasonal Irish food.

Cork is very easy to get to by air from the UK and beyond. Aer Lingus operate direct flights from London Heathrow to Cork. For more information on fares and schedules and to book log on to www.aerlingus.com.

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