Showing posts with label Mahon Point Farmers Market. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mahon Point Farmers Market. Show all posts

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cork City by The Lee. Stay. Eat. Shop. See!

Cork City by The Lee. 
Stay. Eat. Shop. See!
Music city



The Firkin Crane in Shandon,
once the butter capital of the world
See: The Queen made it her number one stop in Cork so you’ve just got to see the English Market, an institution in the city since 1788. Nearby, you’ll see the spires of historic St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

St Anne’s Church in Shandon is another landmark. Visit and don’t forget to ring the bells.  Cork was once the butter capital of the world and the Butter Museum is in the shadow of Shandon.

Staying north of the river, why not pay a call to the storied cells of the 
City GaolThe Glucksman is a lovely art gallery in the leafy grounds of the university while the well established Crawford Gallery is easily accessible in the city centre, next door to the Opera House. And don't forget Elizabeth Fort and the newly opened Nano Nagle PlaceAlways something interesting on at The Triskel, an arts venue in a converted church.

Shop: While in the English Market why not do a bit of shopping and check out local delicacies such as buttered eggs and spiced beef. The compact city centre boasts a few top notch shopping centres: Merchants Quay, Opera Lane and the new Capitol area. North Main Street has Bradley’s, founded in 1850, and famous for its wall of craft beers.

For a different experience head to 
Mahon Point Farmer’s Market every Thursday where you’ll find fantastic local cheese and meat and much more, including wild mushrooms, all within a few yards of the large shopping centre.
No shortage of farm to fork restaurants in Cork

Eat: No shortage of eating places including Greene's, JacquesLesGourmandises and Isaac's while lively lunchtime venues include the Farmgate and Nash 19Mad on meat? Try Son of a Bun, Holy Smoke, SpitJack, and many more. Exceptional Japanese at Miyazaki (just six stools though!) No meat? Then the amazing Cafe Paradiso is the one, Iyers is another. Idaho is the city centre cafe while coffee stops abound.  For a fuller list of restaurants and cafes, city and county, see my regularly updated list here. Also check the Whazon Cork listings.

A city of bridges
Drink: For something a little different try L’Atitude Wine Café close to the City Hall. The emphasis here is on quality wines and tasty local snacks with a continental touch. Electric, with its downstairs bar and upstairs fish bar, has taken the South Mall by storm since it opened in 2010.  SoHo and the Bodega are other modern bars with restaurants attached.

For something more traditional, including the music, there are quite a few with The Oliver Plunket being very central indeed.
And, if you prefer craft beers then the Franciscan Well on the North Mall is the place to go as they have a micro brewery right behind the counter. Other pubs with micro-breweries include Rising Sons (Cornmarket Street), Elbow Lane (Oliver Plunket Street, excellent food here also) and Cotton Ball (Mayfield).

Stay: With excellent food in the building and efficient and friendly service, the River Lee is a lovely place to stay in Cork. If you need something more central, the Clayton is for you. A short distance from the centre, you'll find the Ambassador and the Montenotte, each with great views over the city
Fitzgerald's Park

If you are caught for time, stay at the Metropole and explore the amazing McCurtain Street, its pubs, theatre, cafes and restaurants.

Something on the traditional side? Why not the Imperial where you’ll be wined and dined and never be short of company as the locals come and go. Like it leafy? Then the Hayfield Manor and the Maryborough near Douglas are recommended as is the Radisson in Little Island.

Making a quick getaway? The Cork International Airport Hotel is excellent. Heading north or west? Check the Commons Inn.

Walk: Cork is very compact and great for walks. Call to the tourist office and pick up the maps and info for some city centre strolls.

Like to try something more energetic? Then start at the 
North Mall and take a brisk riverside stroll through the Mardyke, into Fitzgerald’s Park, past the UCC Grounds and then onto the Lee Fields. Just remember you have to come back!

There is a very popular walk by the harbour starting at 
Blackrock Castle, another great place to visit with an excellent restaurant, the Castle Cafe. For something shorter but still interesting, do the circular walk around the Lough, a suburban lake full of swans and ducks and other wildfowl.

Ballycotton cliff walk, just east of the city
Get Out: No shortage of things to see and do on the eastern side of the city. Take a trip to Fota House and its famous gardens and arboretum. If you have kids, then the Fota Wildlife Park is at hand. Much to do in Cobh also, including a trip by boat to Spike Island, a former prison with history galore. 

Spike Island
To the south then and a highlight in Crosshaven is the coastal artillery fort of 
Camden with a wealth of history and great views. Another fort, this also being restored, is Charlesfort in Kinsale, a historic town rich in excellent eating places and with a must visit Wine Museum in Desmond Castle. Blarney is just north of the city. The castle, and its famous stone, is a busy spot. Eat at The Square Table.

Strike off to the west and take in the impressive ruins of the abbey at 
Timoleague . WestCork boasts magnificent beaches and good food producers whose products you may sample in restaurants such as the Pilgrim's (Rosscarbery),  Richy’s Bistro (Clonakilty), and Bastion (Kinsale).

For more detailed guides to the county, check out my East Cork and North Cork recommendations.

Jazz time
Listen: There is almost always a music festival on in Cork and surrounds and the big one is the Jazz, always on the final weekend of October. There is a Folk Festival at the end of September and film buffs are in town in force in November. Check them all out here.

The Choral festival dominates in the spring and summer sings with the Midsummer Festival, followed by the International Folk Dancing Festival. 
Music in the Marquee  is a big highlight. Night after summer night, the Marquee hosts top names. Bryan Adams, Cliff Richard and Elton John played this summer (2017).


Avoid: The usual big city security precautions apply. Avoid leaving anything visible in your car and so on. Not much else to avoid. Maybe the rainy days. But even those can be fun. Never know who you’ll find singing at the local bar, even on the street. It is a fun city. So enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Taste of the Week. Coffee & Walnut Cake

Taste of the Week
Coffee & Walnut Cake

I’m a reasonably regular caller to Mahon Point Farmers Market and there are three particular stalls, more or less together, that I call to (call to quite a few others too!) when I'm there on a Thursday morning. The Woodside Farm and their free range pig products is one; Lennie and his boxes of granola and dried fruits is another. Sandwiched in between is Clare and Gan Gluten.

Clare, whose sisters run the Farmgates (in the city and in Midleton), sells her cakes, breads and savouries here every Thursday and also sells to restaurants, cafes and delis. Why not check out her stall tomorrow? I might meet you there!

Sometimes, I buy one of her savoury pieces, usually for a convenient and very tasty lunch. Sometimes, I feel like sweet. That was the case recently and we went off home with a large tranche of her Coffee and Walnut Cake.

It didn't last too long. It was moist and delicious, full of all the flavours you’d expect from an expert producer and proved to be our unanimous Taste of the Week. A rather short lived one, though! Short and sweet.

Gan Gluten
Gluten and Wheat Free Tarts, Cakes and Savouries
Unit 9, Riverside Grove, Riverstick, Cork.
Tel: 086 2339519


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Taste of the Week. Ballyhoura Apple Farm Milk Chocolate

Taste of the Week
Ballyhoura Apple Farm Milk Chocolate



Lots of chocolate tasted over the past few weeks - it’s that time of year. But very hard to beat this Milk Chocolate or Seacláid Bhainne. Hard too to get us Irish to turn our backs on that bainne as milk has been part of our lives for ever. 

The package emphasises that link with the words: A taste of bygone days. Well maybe the days are gone but the lovely flavours of milk remains. It is alive and delicious in this bar, that I bought from the Ballyhoura Apple stall in Mahon Point Farmers Market. Made for them  “by a local lady”, it is full of flavour with a pleasing texture and is our Taste of the Week. Well worth a try!


For more on Ballyhoura Apple Farm, check their website here.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Taste of the Week. Cookies of Character.

Taste of the Week
Hazelnut & White Chocolate Cookies


I’ve never really held cookies in high regard, especially those chocolate chips ones. But West Cork’s Cookies of Character have changed my mind and my favourite (current!) is their Hazelnut & White Chocolate version. Rich and luxurious, these cookies are packed with toasted hazelnuts and creamy milk chocolate and made using vegetable oil in place of butter and are our Taste of the Week!

These delicious handmade cookies are made by Richard and Jane Graham-Leigh at their Regale bakery near Dunmanway. They started making the cookies by hand through necessity, then realized how much better they were made that way, rather than on a machine.

And the other good news is that they are widely available in Cork and also in several outlets in Dublin along with a  scattering of stockists in Galway, Louth, Meath and Waterford. And if you visit Mahon Point Farmers Market any Thursday (10.00am to 3.00pm), you’ll find their stall there and quite a selection to choose from. Check stockists here

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Taste of the Week. Santa Isabel Coffee

Taste of the Week
Santa Isabel Coffee
via the Golden Bean
I recently bought a pack of new crop Santa Isabel Coffee beans from Golden Bean at the Mahon Point Farmers Market and have been enjoying cup after delicious cup. It is nearly finished now, unfortunately.

The beans come from the region of Coban (around the city of the same name) in Guatemala and are grown at a height of 1400 to 1600 metres. The Valdes family have put the emphasis on quality in recent decades and the result has been two placings in Guatemala’s Cup of Excellence.

This current coffee is full of flavour with a bright acidity and is our Taste of the Week.

For tips on making the perfect cup of coffee, check out the Robert Roberts website. For me, the best way to enjoy the full flavour is to take the Espresso route. In addition, I always stir the cup as I think the flavours concentrate in the bottom otherwise - probably no scientific basis for this, but it works for me!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Taste of the Week from Woodside Farm

Taste of the Week

from Woodside Farm

Low and slow was the advice from Martin Conroy of Woodside Farm as we put our Shoulder of Pork into the bag at Mahon Point Farmers Market the other day. Have you tasted his super pork in a bun at the markets? This guy knows what he is talking about and so we took serious heed of the cooking hints.

The pork went into the oven around lunch-time on Sunday and was perfect when dinner-time rolled around. So too were the root vegetables that had been cooked with it. We were expecting something special but it went far beyond that.

The meat was so tender, so full of flavour, so absolutely tasty that nothing was left. Don't think the begging mutt got his usual scrap.

Woodside only sell meat from their own pigs and don't buy in any meat and pass it off as their own. When you buy their products you can be sure you are getting a Truly Free Range Product. They do not use antibiotics, growth promoters or copper nor do they feed their pigs commercial ration or pre-medicated feed. 

This is a Taste of the Week with a delicious difference. Highly Recommended and well worth a try! They also do the markets in Wilton, Midleton and Douglas.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Irish Fish - Two Ways. Hederman and Goatsbridge

Irish Fish - Two Ways
Hederman and Goatsbridge
Enjoyed an Irish fish dinner at the weekend, starting with smoked mackerel from Hederman’s and then a main course of fresh trout from Goatsbridge in Kilkenny.

If you want to buy Irish, you have to keep your eyes open and read the labels. That, surprisingly enough, applies to fish as well, not that too many of them will have labels!

Take Sea-bass as an example, a species that is protected here.  According to the fishmonger.ie website, we import wild Sea-bass from France and farmed version from Greece and Turkey. In all, in 2012, we imported (according to BIM figures) some €203 million worth of fish, a staggering 75,000 tonnes (mainly from Norway).
No problem buying Irish fish at your local market stalls but be careful in the supermarket, especially at the fresh fish counter. The Goatsbridge trout is not always sold under that name but the tag on the counter does say Irish farmed trout.

Cobh’s Frank Hederman is renowned for smoking fish. Not just mackerel but also salmon and do watch out as well for his mussels. If using mackerel in your main course, go for the whole fish but as a starter, the fillets (which come plain or coated with chives or chili) are fine. We used the chive one and bought it at the English Market. By the way, the salad and the baby beets both came from Derek’s Green Field Farm stall at the Mahon Point Farmers Market.

Over then to the local Dunne’s Stores for the trout and that was eventually served with seasonal vegetables and new potatoes. The potatoes and carrots were also bought at Mahon, from the Burns farm stall. And if you do call to Sandra and Joe, be sure and get some of their fabulous Vegetable Crisps.
The vegetables, for the trout, were done using Edward Hayden's Prepare-Ahead Vegetable method, detailed in his book Food to Love (pub. 2011). Basically, the veg are cooked separately, then cooled off, and kept in the fridge; take them out close to dinner-time and cook them all together, not forgetting to blanch and refresh! Got that book in the library the other day and it is proving very handy indeed.

Speaking of local, the raspberries for the delicious soufflé came from the back wall. Thankfully, the considerate blackbirds left just enough for us! Very satisfactory meal overall, especially suited to this time of year. Both the trout and mackerel are top notch products and I'd urge you to try them. Each is highly recommended.

Find out all about Frank Hederman and his smokehouse here.
All the details on Kilkenny's Goatsbridge Trout available here.
Both have online shopping.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taste of the Week. A Woodside Farm Special!

Taste of the Week. A Woodside Farm Special!
If you are heading down to the weekly Mahon Point Farmers Market this Thursday, make a beeline to the Woodside Farm stall and treat yourself to our Taste of the Week.


Martin Conroy’s blackboard gives all the details: Free Range Saddleback Hog Roast, with caramelised Onion, Apple sauce, Ballymaloe relish, Mustard and salad, all contained (almost) in a lovely bap by Pana. The slow cooked meat comes with a guarantee:  All our meat comes from pigs born on our farm.


Martin and wife Noreen (and increasingly the younger members of the family) operate not just in Mahon but also in Douglas, Cobh and Midleton markets. Their products are on sale in the shop at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and you’ll also see them next month in the Big Shed in Ballymaloe during the LitFest.


“We breed pedigree Saddleback and Pedigree Gloucester Old Spot pigs.They live outdoors all of their lives where they root and forage, they sleep in movable arks on straw bedding.We don't feed our pigs commercial ration instead they are fed mainly rolled wheat and we also grow Kale and Swede Turnip.They are rotated onto fresh pasture regularly.”

You may well be familiar with his tasty pork and bacon products but this recently introduced hot dish is something special. “That’ll set you up for the day,” Martin called to me as I queued up last Thursday (it does get very busy as lunch-time  approaches).  He wasn't kidding. This wasn't just a lunch snack. Think dinner here! Massive and massively tasty. Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Old Millbank smoked salmon, served with a Cajun style potato salad.
Sometimes I make the mistake of thinking all good things are to be found on social media, that all local food producers use either Twitter and Facebook or both. Of course, that is not the case. And you could lose out if you confine yourself to those online. Take the Old Millbank Smokery in North Cork, for instance. You'll find Geraldine Bass's smoked salmon in some of the best local restaurants. And you can get to meet and chat with the award winning producer herself at her stall in the local markets. I bought the salmon in the picture above from her at Mahon Point where she also had other tasty products on sale, including a smashing salmon Pate.

The Conroy's of Woodside Farm in East Cork are also regulars at Mahon and other markets and are no strangers to social media. I have mentioned some of their products in recent weeks. But not this fantastic salami. All you need here really is a sharp knife. Be careful though, not just with the knife. I was eating this as fast as I could cut it. Addictive!



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Una's Pies are becoming widely available though it was from her regular Mahon Point Farmers Market stall that I bought this Chicken, Chorizo and pepper beauty, a real warmer-up on a cold winter's day and our Taste of the Week.

No wonder she has been picking up Blas na hEireann awards in Dingle for the past three years, including Artisan Producer of the Year in 2011. The pies are produced in Cork "with the finest Irish ingredients and using suppliers we know and trust". 

The chorizo in this one comes from Gubbeen and the pastry is absolutely gorgeous. A pie full of flavour and my current favourite. But that could change as Una has quite a list to choose from including Chicken,Leek and Cheese; Steak & Murphy's; Chicken Thai Green Curry; Chicken and Asparagus; Roast Veg and Goats Cheese; 4 Bean Chilli; and Chicken and Mushroom.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Market Meal #6. Scallops and Rashers, John Dory and Puy Lentils, Bromleys and Dates

Market Meal #6
Buy local, fresh and fair!
Scallops and Rashers, John Dory and Puy Lentils, Bromleys and Dates
A three course meal, sourced mainly in Cork’s English Market on Saturday morning.
Chateau Soucherie
Anjou Blanc 2009.


Bought the scallops and the John Dory from the cheery crew at Ballycotton Seafood. I was on the lookout for the Ummera Smoked Rashers but the Market’s Good Food Shop was out of stock and they didn’t have them in Brown Thomas Food Emporium either but there was a super sub available in the nearby Supervalu where I got a pack of Truly Irish Beechwood Smoked.

You’ll find lots of Scallops plus Rashers recipes on the internet and most follow the same pattern. Fry the rashers first but take them up before they start to get hard; wrap them around the scallops, securing each "parcel" with a cocktail stick.
From the local market!
Heat some butter and crushed garlic in a pot and brush the exposed parts of the scallops with this. And you’re on your way to a terrific starter. The bacon is a very compatible wrap for the sweet scallop in terms of structure, colour, texture and flavour and certainly a change from the black (sometimes white) pudding option.

The John Dory was fresh as could be and, pan-fried with a knob of butter and olive oil, went very well with the Puy Lentils (from Lenny in Mahon Point Farmers Market) and some sun-dried tomatoes from the Olive Stall in the English Market.
A healthy dessert might seem like a contradiction in terms but there are quite a few of them in Healthy Ways, the new cookbook by Croí, including Winter Spiced Baked Apples by Gregan’s Castle Hotel. They use eating apples (Granny Smiths) but we had some Bromleys from Cahir’s Apple Farm to use up and they worked well (with an extra bit of brown sugar!).

The spice is provided by a combination of dried dates (€1.99 for a packet from Dunne’s Stores), raisins, light muscovado sugar, mixed spice and orange zest and juice. 
You may order the recipe packed Healthy Ways online at www.croi.ie . Highly recommended.