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The organisers of the Cork Summer Show got the weather they, and it, deserved this weekend and once again it proved to be a very enjoyable occasion, a chance to catch up with old friends, to try something new (like the Cotton’s Ball’s Cascade beer), to pick up info from the County Council tent on the many things to see and do from Mitchelstown to Allihies, from Youghal to Newtownshandrum.
First friendly face we recognised was Sandra Murphy. She had been up late at the previous night's fashion show in the Cork International Hotel but was in bubbly form as always at their desk. We entered a competition there, so fingers crossed!
Then we met Rebecca at the Taste Cork tent, all busy preparing for the day-long schedule of cookery demos. Up and down the rows of trade stalls then before arriving at the County Council stands where we collected quite a few information leaflets on places like Spike Island and Camden Fort Meagher, along with those handy town maps for places like Clonakilty, Youghal etc.
It was getting busy at the western section as owners (often with the whole family) prepared the cattle and horses and more for the judges. The equine judges were first in action and I must say I was taken with the side saddle event even if there were just two competitors.
Something cool was now in order and we got a delicious ice-cream from Clonakilty Ice-cream (I recommend the honeycomb!) before moving on to see the petting section. Luckily for the pigs and hunting dogs (there were two packs) here, the tops of their cages were partially covered so that they could enjoy some shade.
The poultry section had quite a few exotic breeds including a big line-up of bantams. The owner of one helpfully opened the cage door for me and I was able to get a close-up of his Polish Bantam hen; the cock was next door but that cage stayed shut! “A high maintenance couple,” the owner confided.
The newly elected City Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald was being shown around as we got back to the entertainment area where many families were sitting on anything from long wooden seats to bean bags) having a bite and a drink and listening to the music or enjoying the magician.
A bit early perhaps but we did enjoy a glass of that Cascade, a well hopped deliciously flavoured beer from the Cotton Ball, with an abv of just 3.8%. Lots of other choices here too, including local gins and whiskeys.
By now, lots of old Ford vehicles were motoring into the grounds, cars, vans and tractors, as the show organisers recognised the company’s 100 year old links with the city and county. Some lovely old, and not so old, vehicles here and we got a personal run-down on a 1947 Prefect, even info on courting in the back seat! My Dad had one of these in the early 60s
How about a bit to eat? The only problem here was making up your mind; there were so many stalls, big and small, selling food to eat on the spot. A few months back, I got some Peri Peri sauces to sample from Athula and when I saw he was doing food here, I had to try it. And yes indeed, his Peri Peri Chicken Pitta was delicious and nicely spiced (I had asked for medium!). That and a glass of water was dispatched while standing at a barrel table as the sun beat down.
We were into the afternoon now and, having arrived early, stamina was running out. Besides, the dog, who had been left at home, would need to be walked, so we retreated from Curraheen, meeting many people on the way in. This is a huge attraction for town and country and deserves all the support. And they came in record numbers. It is estimated that 27,000 people attended the show on Saturdayand a further 33,000 attended on Sunday.
Allison, on her bike, with her Clonakilty Chocolate
Clonakilty hotels and restaurants were out in force as A Taste of West Cork festival kicked off in the town’s Spiller’s Lane on Saturday. The sun came out too and so did hundreds of punters as the local mayor opened the event.
With music playing, we sauntered up and down the narrow lane and started off with a delightful cocktail from Fernhill Hotel. Ingredients were mostly local, of course, and the "Corktail" included service with a smile. Neighbouring stall saw the Emmet Hotel dishing out loads of delicious small bites. We sampled canapés featuring Union Hall Salmon and Chicken Paté, both excellent.
An Sugan (top)
and Richie's bun.
A beetroot salad? The offer came from the man at the Baile an Ard Foods Stand and, of course, we said yes. It was very impressive. He told me the salad, along with quite a few others, may be bought in local shops and supermarkets and that they also do catering for events such as Communions, Confirmations, parties, even Christmas. So now you know.
An Sugan had quite a menu on offer and we picked their Scallops with a parsnip and potato puree. Three big juicy scallops, for a fiver!
And we did well next door too with Richy’s Bistro where the man himself served up their Steamed Pork Bun, based on a dish by a top New York chef. Ricky took a while to figure out how to reproduce it but it was worth the wait as it is a beauty, another gem for a fiver.
The Lettercollum Project
On the way back down (maybe up!), we stopped for the speeches alongside the Clonakilty Black Pudding stand. And then there was ice-cream from the lady at Clonakilty Homemade Ice Cream. The Honeycomb was delicious and a reasonable two euro for a boule. They have a shop in the town and do outdoor events and supply to restaurants and hotels around West Cork. They’ve been doing it for the past ten years and all the ice cream is made on the premises.
We had lots of other samples as we made our way around but our final stop was at Clonakilty Chocolatewhere Allison was not alone displaying her range of freetrade bars but also the newest addition to the family, the baby sleeping soundly despite the crowds. No need to sample here, we know how good her chocolate is.
We did buy a few bars, including the favourite Mo Milk Chocolate. This includes goats milk and Coconut Blossom Syrup, a creamy compromise between the bean and milk. Enjoying it now as I write this. Tough going!
A Taste of West Cork continues all this week with events, big and small, taking place across the area. Get your hands on the brochure or check it out here .