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If you go to the Diva in Ballinspittle, and you should, and if you order a side of those gorgeous Sweet Potato Chips, and you should, then you should also mind your manners and do please share with the person you came with!
If the team here, in their newly revamped kitchen, back in action (since 21.10.15) after months out due to fire, can get the small things right, and they do, there is every chance they’ll get the big things right. And they do. Big time.
The Big One!
We called there for lunch last week and thought we’d have no problem by going early. We just about managed to get a table for two. Lots of different styles of tables here - it was after all the kitchen that got the revamp! But it is all part of the charm, as is the friendly service and the imaginative use of all that brilliant local produce.
Indeed, one of the first things you’ll notice is the back wall (the left bit) as you go in. Here there is a huge declaration of provenance. Meat from Lordan's butchers in the same street, greens from Horizon Farms, vegetables from All Fresh, free range eggs from Beechwood Farm and fish supplied by James O’Keeffe.
All Wrapped Up!
I had enjoyed a Reuben sandwich at the recent Waterford Harvest Fest and so was open to trying the Diva version. The Waterford one, in a Blaa, was very tasty but, in fairness, it was from a street food stall and could hardly be compared to the Champions League effort in Ballinspittle. Well, maybe New York rather than European. Massive, contained (not quite) in two large slices of their own bread, the length of my knife and about half the height, corned beef from Lordan’s, Sauerkraut, Gherkin, cheese and more. A magnificent Reuben. Worth the journey on its own.
But it wasn't on its own. We had ordered a side of those Sweet Potato Chips. Put them with the Reuben and I had hit the jackpot, even if I did share! CL was enjoying herself as she tucked into her excellent Roasted Veggie Wrap, with goats cheese and a mango chutney. And a well dressed salad of course. And those chips, of course!
We were sitting at a small table and directly opposite us was the counter and the utterly tempting display of sweet things. We settled for a pot of tea and two cakes from the display, sharing (again!) the Raspberry Crumble and an equally lovely Honey and Spice (ginger) Cake.
Honey & Spice!
And after that, we said goodbye to the efficient and friendly folk in the cafe and strolled down to the bakery to see more good things, including produce from other local and Irish artisans. Some lovely breads on display - probably would have been more had we called in the morning. One that we bought was the Potato Loaf. It is a delicious souvenir (didn't last too long, of course) of a pleasant trip to Ballinspittle. Very Highly Recommended.
No mystery about the title Diva, the name of a bakery and foodstore on one side of the main Street in Ballinspittle and, on the other side, of a village cafe. Owner and founder Shannen Keane named it after a cafe in her native Seattle.
But there is a bit more to it, methinks. After all, some of the walls and some of the tables are plastered with black and white photos of real women from the forties and fifties, maybe some from the sixties, before that decade inflicted Twiggy and a forest of lookalikes on us.
All well and handy for slipping into a mini-dress or a mini-car but hardly robust enough for the farm! Our farmers did appreciate the diva size. I always remember being in a yard one day as one of the women hauled a couple of full buckets across the square with two old fellows watching. Her skirt had been hitched up for the milking and, when she bent over to drop the buckets for a rest, even more of her legs, perhaps the pale backs of the knees (God forbid!), was exposed. “Hasn’t she a fine pair of shafts*,” exclaimed one grizzled fellow to another.
The Diva BLT
Size is important here in this little cafe in Ballinspittle. They make big cakes, big sandwiches. Called in there the other day for lunch and was surprised to see it full. But they got us room, sharing a table with a guy who was working his mobile like mad. At an nearby table, another guy was engrossed in his laptop while all around couples and trebles and groups were noisily tucking in. Welcome to village life in Ireland 2013.
Quite a selection on the blackboard, though we were told they were only operating at half power, it being so early in the season. We were too late of course for the breakfast but no shortage of lunch choices.
CL went for the BLT and got quite a surprise when she found three or four big rashers tucked in between the slices of bread. Plenty of tomato as well and a big crunchy salad, no micro this or mini that here. All for less than seven euro.
I went upmarket, a bit, as my Chicken Wrap cost all of €7.95. Again it was substantial but so tasty. No shortage of tasty chicken and I too enjoyed that rustic salad. Quantity and quality. With so much to eat, we both went for the tea. Total cost €18.40 and they knocked the forty cent off. Only in Ballinspittle!
* The horse carriage or cart, once common in the Irish farmyard, was equipped with two (timber) shafts which ran along the horse's sides. Example here.