A short notice from Fáilte Ireland to meet  aces Amy Cao (New York) and Chris Connolly (San Francisco) turned into a long and leisurely tour of the outstanding Farmgate menu, our guide none other than owner Kay Harte, recently named Good Food Ireland’s Ambassador of the Year for her tireless promotion of local food.

Amy  is Head of Community at Foodspotting, a worldwide visual guide to good food and where to find it. Photos are important here and that is where Chris comes in. Aside from being an expert with the lens he is also a designer.

Kay sat down with us and ordered samples of everything on the menu and told us all about each part of the dish as she shared it out. I don't think the Americans had ever seen any restaurant owner as informative and as passionate about food and where it came from.

The tour was delivered with a calm passion that amazed the visitors and was illustrated in the best possible way: with examples from virtually every single dish on the current menu at the English market institution. Didn’t have enough room on one table so we had to move to get space.

Some of the simple things took the interest of the visitors, including the starting plate of breads. And then there were the “balls of flour”. Kate illustrated that with a bowl of Golden Wonders, skins intact, and cut one in half to show just what she meant by the phrase. The potatoes come from her regular supplier in Ballymacoda in East Cork.

Oysters were on offer and they were ordered from the O’Connell’s fish stall downstairs, the regular practice here. The oysters originally come from the appropriately named Oysterhaven near Kinsale. And there was also her marvelous fish pie, cod on this occasion. This looked so delicious that even Chris, not a lover of fish, was tempted.

All the time emhasising the place of food in the Irish way of life and , at one point, making reference to the Irish language book, the Diary of Humphrey O’Sullivan (Cín Lae Amhlaoibh), which details the rich and varied diet of an ordinary Irish household in the first half of the 19th century, Kay emphasised the importance of local provenance. Not just Cork, by the way: if the best cheese in Ireland comes from Donegal, then she will get it from Donegal.

Farmgate classics on the table included Old Millbank Smoked Organic Salmon, Spiced Beef, Irish Lamb Stew, Corned Beef, Lamb’s Liver and Bacon and, of course, Tripe, Onions and Drisheen (with those local jacket potatoes).

Time flew by and I got a bit worried towards the end when I spotted my two hour parking had long since run out but luckily I wasn't clamped or anything like that. In any event the two bloggers were also anxious to head off to the Cliff House in Ardmore and very sorry that they wouldn't get to Ballymaloe.

What an enjoyable afternoon. Oh, forgot to mention the drinks. Both were craft beers. From Mitchelstown’s Eight Degrees Brewing: Chris took the Howling Gale Ale while I choose the Knockmealdown Porter.

To read more about the Foodspotters trip...


Ireland once again on the menu for 450,000 US Foodies

Two of the world’s top food bloggers arrived in Ireland today to see and taste all that is good about food in Ireland. Christopher Connolly and Amy Cao, from US based food blogging site, will tour key locations including Dublin, Galway, Cork, Waterford and Kilkenny, as part of their week long culinary food expedition. During their trip, the duo will be blogging to their 450,000 followers and showing them all that Ireland has to offer food enthusiasts.

Speaking today, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Marketing, John Concannon emphasised -

“ is the perfect platform to promote the food of Ireland and this country as an important destination for the best dishes and beverages. Ireland has some of the best quality ingredients as well as its own unique cuisine and this partnership allows us to get that message across to the people who count in the US.

“Having the Foodspotting team in Ireland and blogging about Irish food and their experiences will go a long way in helping to ramping up Irish tourism’s presence online and through social media. In this day and age, if you are not online, you are nowhere and opportunities such as this are vital.”

‘ is a highly regarded US based food blogging site that sets out to make it easy to find and share favourite foods using its website and mobile apps. Instead of simply reviewing restaurants, users can recommend their favourite dishes using photos as well as seeing what others have recommended during their travels. Launched in January 2010, now has over 450,000 users – ranging from those who just love food to experts from the Travel Channel and Zagat. It was named as one of Time Magazine’s 50 Best Websites of 2010.

Food is a central part of any visitor’s stay in Ireland. Current research shows that approximately €2 out of every €5 spent by tourists in Ireland is spent on buying food and drink. In 2009, close to €2 billion was spent by visitors on food and drink with overseas visitors accounting for 60% of this figure.