Friday, September 1, 2023

Underground Donut Tour Digs Into Cork's History And Diversity. And Doughnuts Of Course!

Underground Donut Tour Digs Into Cork's History And Diversity.

And Doughnuts Of Course!

Donut ranks at Offbeat

Pat, a proud Corkman, was our guide as we marched through the city last week in search of doughnuts, or donuts as the Americans, and now most of the world, spell it! 

Not exactly marching, more like strolling. And not just doughnuts, there were other sweet treats in the mix, including croissants and churros and quite a chunk of local history.

The tour takes about two hours and there are four food stops in total, each chosen because they are local and support local. Dulce Cafe (Oliver Plunkett Street), Cameron Bakery (Parnell Place), Offbeat Donuts (French Church Street) and Golden Bites (Kyrl Street) are the quartet.

Our guide Pat

And all this fits in well with the aims of founder and owner Jeff who started the tour in his native Chicago and guided its spread to over a dozen cities in the US and Canada. Now, Europe has been added to the list with Dublin and London starting just before Cork. 

Jeff: “At each stop you sample donuts, beignets, churros or other local delicacies while learning the history of each shop”.

We linked up with guide Pat outside Dulce, the first stop, and, as he sang the praises of the establishment, we happily tucked into our first donuts, one an Oreo, the other churro-based. Think we two preferred the Churro over the darker Oreo but no doubt chocolate lovers will go for the other one.

Dulce Bun House is centrally perched on the main thoroughfare of Cork City on Oliver Plunkett Street. The family-run café, which already has achieved many awards, opened its doors in 2017 with an ethos to provide deliciously tasting coffee and sweet treats.

A little history now as we strolled up Oliver Plunkett Street. Do you know where Turner's Hotel was? Look on the wall above JJ Walshe’s pub. Speaking of walls, we soon saw the old city wall in the Grand Parade, the onion seller (sculpted by Seamus Murphy) in the park, the Berwick Fountain, the cannon that masquerades as a bollard.

Gone but not forgotten on North Main Street.

Back down the Mall then, past the National Monument and others, past the restaurant Jacobs on the Mall (once the Turkish Baths) and past the famous Imperial Hotel. 

Around the corner into Parnell Place and here we called into Cameron, a French bakery, and they had some sweet (and large) croissants for us, one with chocolate chip, the other with apricot. Here, though both were delicious, a pattern began to emerge as it was the lighter one that got the nod.

Cameron is a traditional French Bakery, now with three locations across Cork City. They offer a large range of French bread, baguettes, sandwiches, pastries,... "all prepared in store under your eyes with seasonal ingredients".

Mary Elmes, hero of WW2

Tanora, the Real Cork donut
Up Merchants Quay after that, Pat uses the river and its two channels to hammer home the point that the city is an island. Two bridges named after two famous Corkonians lay ahead. First, the newish pedestrian bridge named after the heroic Mary Elmes, the second was named after sporting icon Christy Ring.

Into the middle of the island to visit Offbeat Donuts who recently opened their first shop in Cork to add to a string in Dublin. It has an amazing range. No Corkman could turn down the famous Mi Daza (flavoured with a famous local lemonade Tanora).

The second, the Caramel Crumble, is dipped in a smooth luscious caramel, topped with homemade crumble and milk chocolate, and finished with a piece of Twix, which is also very acceptable indeed. So too were the seats upstairs.

St Fin Barres, from Nano Nagle Bridge

After that short rest in what is known as the Huguenot Quarter, not that we were under any pressure, we headed for North Main Street (the original "main" street of the nascent city) and its famous ancient lanes, many of them now closed but even those are recalled with bronze plaques on the footpath. Instead of looking up here, we were looking down!


Soon we were turning right into Kyle Street and the Brazilian-owned Golden Bites. They are famous for their mini churros and we enjoyed two versions, with a delicious sauce of Nutella or Caramel (Dulce de Lecce). Freshly deep-fried and covered in sugar and cinnamon, these were sweet! You can guess our favourite.

Golden Bites is well-known in the markets where, as in Kyle Street, they offer Mini Churros, Savoury Snacks and Acai Smoothie Bowls. Of course, they appeal to Brazilians living here. "Are you homesick? Golden Bites is the best place to solve it! Here, you can find the best Brazilian snacks. You'll love it! You can have all these delights in your home too, order them on Deliveroo or Uber Eats."

An unexpected end to the Underground Tour. But nobody will be complaining if all endings are as sweet as this Brazilian touch in an old Cork street.

Cameron's Croissant

The Underground Donut Tour Cork is a great and relaxing way to learn about the city's history and sample some of its delicious food. 

More on the Cork tour here.

No comments: