- Taste of Cork
I do like to do nice things, and these often involve food, ok, mostly involve food. I can never pass up the chance to attend a food festival, so when a friend mentioned that Taste of Cork would be running for the first time this year in Ireland, I made sure that I would be there for it.
Taste of Cork, like Taste of London, showcases the best food that the area has to offer. It was in a fabulous setting, in the old city gaol, and on a beautiful day. We went along to the evening session, and keen as ever, arrived early to join an enormous queue. Well, to be truthful, I thought I was late as I had the time wrong, but, just as well!
Now, I’d done a little research, and some Cork restaurants that I really wanted to try were there, so I had already drafted a list in my head, determined to start first with Ballymaloe House and then the Ivory Tower, moving onto Bell Tower, Capella from Castlemartyr. There were some others that I was curious about but these were my top three, anything after that would be a bonus.
First impressions, the venue was great and it was more compact than Taste of London. This, for me, was a good thing, as I only saw a small portion of Taste of London in the time that I was there. Not that that’s a hindrance, next year I’ll just go twice! Nestled in at the base were two of the restaurants from my short list, so I went straight to Ballymaloe House to sample their wares.
Ballymaloe is famous for a few things, their restaurant, Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, Rory O’Connell, their cookery school and their passion for local irish ingredients. I wasn’t ready for a dessert yet, and given I had yet to have anything to eat, a starter seemed like a sensible option. On offer was potato soup with garden lovage pesto and chive flowers. It was pretty, delicious and very smooth, full of flavour, with the chive flowers offering a bold textural contrast, that at first I wasn’t too sure about. By the end, I wanted more.
The main course available was Ballycotton mackerel with gooseberry sauce and organic Shanagarry salad, however by now, I already had my eye on swordfish from the Ivory Tower next door. The swordfish was served with mango salsa and banana ketchup. I was intrigued by the banana ketchup and wondered how it might taste. It sounds idiotic to say but it tasted exactly like you would expect it to taste – banana flavour with the texture and viscosity of ketchup, yellow of course. It was beautiful with the mango salsa and the swordfish. I fell in love and must try and find a recipe to replicate it.
Next up, a browse around some of the stalls, a taste of the new Lindt chilli chocolate (yum!), some flavoursome irish strawberries, and some prosecco, to wash it all down. The English Market from Cork were there, a fantastic indoor food market that has been serving the city since 1786. There are lots of traditional butchers in there selling the likes of tripe, drisheen and spiced beef, fishmongers, cheese shops, a fresh pasta stall, the farmgate café, it deserves a blog post of it’s own so I’ll leave it for now.
At the Pig’s Back from the English Market had lots of wonderful irish cheeses at Taste of Cork, and I was quite pleased to see a girl there, that had served me at the market some months previously, quite nervously as it was her first day, she seemed to be enjoying herself, which was nice to see.
What else did I eat? White bean soup with pork belly and chorizo oil from Capella, one of the stars of the evening. Definitely one restaurant to return to next time I am in Cork.
Surely, I couldn’t handle another main? Well, they were small, and I just had to! There was roast fillet of pork with black pudding, potatoes, caramelised compote of apple and plums and marjoram juice from Orchid’s at Hayfield Manor in Cork City. Phew, what a mouthful, but the dish itself, regardless of the complexity of the title, tied together beautifully and was responsible for me buying lots of black pudding to bring back to London. A potato and black pudding sandwich with tender fillet of pork on the side – soul food.
- Roast fillet of pork with black pudding, potatoes, caramelised compote of apple and plums and marjoram juice from Orchid
What about dessert? I kept it savoury and went back to the Ivory Tower for some pizza ice cream: tomato and basil sorbet, olive and parmesan tuile and it was great.
- Pizza ice cream: tomato and basil sorbet, olive and parmesan tuile
What about the food I wanted but didn’t have the space or mental capacity to fit? Herb Coated Slaney Valley Lamb, Carmalised Onion Crushed Potato, Saffron Emulsion from Bell Tower, Capella featured as did the aforementioned mackerel witrh gooseberry sauce from Ballymaloe, the porchetta on the spit, gubbeen cheeses, clonakilty black pudding and the connemara smoked salmon.
- Herb Coated Slaney Valley Lamb, Carmalised Onion Crushed Potato, Saffron Emulsion from Bell Tower, Capella
I am afraid I was pretty poor on the demonstration front but I did catch the end of Rory O’Connell who was very enjoyable.
Overall, it was a very pleasant evening with some outstanding food. I’d definitely recommend it and I’d go again.