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Taste of Cork

Taste of Cork
Taste of Cork

Taste of Cork

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!

Taste of Cork

Taste of Cork

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.

Potato soup with garden lovage pesto and chive flowers from Ballymaloe House

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.

Ballycotton mackerel with gooseberry sauce and organic Shanagarry salad

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.

Blackened Swordfish with Banana Ketchup and Mango Salsa

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.




  1. Yay – Taste of Cork! Is it me or do the portions seem bigger than taste of London? That black pudding sarnie looks bloomin’ gorgeous!

  2. WOW – some really great looking food, especially considering what a large event this is. I love the look of the pork belly and white bean soup.. but then pork belly is one of my favorite things to eat.

  3. Gosh – did you go to both London and Cork Taste festivals? Lucky you! Was there a favourite, or were they both different in their own right?

    I’ve linked your blog on mine, I hope you don’t mind :)

  4. Wow, sounds like a fun event to be! Loved the pictures. I especially got attracted to the many types of breads you have on one:)))

  5. Hi Helen! I trhinkmthey were a little bigger alright, I still managed to have alot of them! The black pudding was superb. I brought lots back with me and have been eating it since. Just for lunch now, in fact :-)

    Matt, the food was great, really superb. Pork Belly is fantastic, one of my favourites too, I can never resist it!

    Lizzie, I did :-) Indulgent me. They were both good in their own way, hard to pick a favourite. I did more at Taste of London but enjoyed the food more generally at Taste of Cork . Thanks so much for the link!

    Farida – it was great fun! Thanks. Oh, the breads, and the cheeses, all of it was just delicious.

  6. Thanks Kieran! I thought it was great. Poor veggies though, forgot to mention that.

  7. Phenomenal! No wonder you’re so pleased, with all that amazing food on offer. Is it my eyes at 11pm or do the portions look a lot larger than the Taste of London ones??

  8. Hello! Yes, bigger portions but I think it was a *little* more expensive with the euro conversion and all that. About €8 on average per main course. Fantastic food though!

  9. Kitchen Goddess says

    Great photography Niamh!!
    I wish I could have gone, I’m guessing there was a fabulous atmosphere, not to even mention the glorious food. You’re lucky to have been to this and the London festival ;)

  10. Thanks George!

    I know, I am. I haven’t been on any holidays this year (well, outside of Ireland anyway – doesn’t count!), so, I thought I should do something nice.

  11. OMG – must have that pizza ice cream and the crusted lamb chop!! Sounds excellent and I can imagine that a more compact festival might be more manageable.

Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)