Five Foods Worth Travelling The Country In Pursuit Of (or, Why I’m Going On Tour Next Week, And Where)
It’s not often you get to pack your wellies and your favourite high heels for the same trip. But tomorrow’s road trip is no ordinary road trip, taking in everything from farm and fishery visits to some of Ireland’s finest dining in the likes of Kilkenny’s Campagne and Dungarvan’s The Tannery. I’m packing my Berocca too, cos I’ll need all my energy for the busy itinerary lined up which involves three and a half action packed days around Waterford and Kilkenny. I’m packing my laptop so I can blog daily about the visits to bakeries and breweries, meetings with fishermen and cheesemakers, tastings of Ireland’s first caviar and one of it’s few PGI status foods, not to mention the likes of a Nose to Tail masterclass with Michael Quinn of Waterford Castle. And I’m bringing my pen and notebook, dictaphone and camera so I can log all the insights into everything from the growing production of oysters and conservation of lobsters to the History of Food in Ireland’s South East. I’ve even downloaded Instagram to my trusty iPhone4 so I can pretty-up all my amateur photography and share it with anyone who fancies following the Twitteraction on #IrishFoodTrip and a new Facebook page for Holy Mackerel if you want to follow me there.
And how, you might well ask, does it come to be that I have such a delicious week lined up?
In a joint effort by Failte Ireland, BIM and Euro-toques Ireland, this week’s Food Tourism Road Trip in Ireland’s sunny South East was designed to educate a handful of talented young Irish chefs about the availability, range and quality of regional food produce and producers in Ireland. They’ve chosen to bring the six finalists from last year’s Euro-toques Young Chef Competition on this whirlwind feed-fest in order to foster them as food ambassadors within the industry.
And you would be right in thinking that I am neither young (well, not in my early 20s as this crew are) nor a chef nor a finalist of last year’s competition, as are Kamil Dubanik (23) from Knockranny House Hotel, Westport; Aisling Gallagher (24) from Ballynahinch Castle, Co Galway; Kyle Greer (24) from No 27 Talbot Street, Belfast; Micheal Harley (22) from Rathmullan House, Co Donegal; David Magaeen (24) from Restaurant Victoria Belfast and Margaret Roche (23) from The Cellar at The Merrion Hotel, Dublin.
But in their generous wisdom, the brains behind the trip thought they had such a good itinerary lined up that it’d be a shame not to bring a blogger and journalist along to document the experience. I heartily agreed.
And so, as promised yesterday, herein my list of some of the highlights I’m most looking forward to visiting, or Five Foods Worth Travelling The Country In Pursuit Of:
- Waterford Blaa: a simple bread roll with legendary status in the Waterford region to which it is unique. Both grandparents on my maternal side hailed from Waterford city, so it’s slightly alarming that I’ve never tasted one of these bundles of floury fluffiness before. We’ll be visiting both M&D Bakery & Barron’s Bakery both of which are famous for their blaas.
- Goatsbridge Trout: Not all farmed trout can be classified as a gourmet product but not all farmed trout is produced by Margaret Kirwan at Goatsbridge Trout Farm near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. I love her smoked trout, and can’t wait to try her brand-new trout caviar.
- Dungarvan Brewery: It doesn’t seem like long ago since Dungarvan Brewing Company was the new kid on the block in what was then a very nascent local micro-brewing scene. How much can change in two years – the beers produced by these brothers-in-law and their wives looks positively old guard on the fridge shelves today. Looking forward to seeing where the magic happens in their Dungarvan Brewery.
- Comeragh Mountain Lamb: The general meat-eating Irish public is slowly but surely starting to realise that Irish meat, whether it be beef or lamb, is some of the best in world – and that what makes it so are the 40 shades of green available in their natural grass-fed diet. Some smart producers are a step ahead in further reminding us that if the particular grazing area of a particular herd is unique, the resulting flavours of its meat will be unique too. The place name Comeragh derives from the Gaelic ‘Cumarach’ meaning ‘abounding in hollows and river confluences’. That the land itself is lush and remote and has never been intensively farmed will has a direct influence on the lamb’s particular flavour.
- The Truffle Fairy: I can’t decide which I’m most excited to try – their Guinness truffles or their goji berry, ginger and pink peppercorn truffles… or maybe tequila, salt and lemon will be my favourite? Or chilli, ginger and orange? Ooh, or what about Jameson whiskey, clove and lemon?!? Tell you what, let me go do my research and get back to you on it. (The things I do for you eh?)
Right so. See you on the road?