A 2016 tour across the changing culinary landscape of Ireland

  • April 21 Thursday

    Arriving in Dublin

    Aer Lingus plane
    Are Lingus flights from Boston to Dublin tend to arrive on the early side, which is great if you have the energy and want to jump right in, but it makes checking into your hotel a bit of an ordeal.

    If you’re lucky the hotel will allow you to leave your luggage with them because you’re almost guaranteed the room won’t be ready for several hours.

    We limited our luggage to backpacks and that gave us some freedom to roam.
  • April 21 Thursday


    Alchemy Juice Co.
    Inside Alchemy
    Alchemy juice slections
    Alchemy baked goods
    Alchemy fridge
    Alchemy is located at 28A Grafton Street in Dublin. You need to make your way through the clothing retailer BT2 and up to the second floor to gain access to the juicery.

    Alchemy juices are cold pressed, raw and unpasteurized. Their food menu has vegetarian, vegan, celiac, ketogenic, dairy-free, sugar-free, paleo and low-carb offerings. And there are smoothies and health shots as well.

    Juices come in four pre-chosen mixes. Tea, coffee and various baked goods are also available and the view overlooking Grafton Street offers a wonderful break from the hubbub below.
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    How do you conquer jet lag?


    We made our way to Alchemy Juice Co. just off Grafton Street in downtown Dublin for a healthy and delicious start to our exploration of the new food scene in Ireland.

    We were greeted with fresh, vibrant juices in a surprisingly not-so-easy-to-find location.

    Click the image for more.
  • April 21 Thursday

    Cúlcow ice cream

    Culcow ice cream
    Cúlcow owner Jim Kirwan met us at Alchemy Juice on his delivery rounds through Dublin, an unbelievably kind gesture on his part.

    He also left us with two tubs of his creamy treats.

    There’s more about Cúlcow in our food tour pages as well as our Spotlight section.
  • April 21 Thursday

    The Farm — Dublin City restaurant

    Open daily, The Farm has two locations in Dublin. We ate at the 133 Leeson Street Upper, Dublin 4 site, a 10 minute walk from Stephen’s Green, across the Leeson Bridge over the Grand Canal.

    The Farm Restaurants are Irish-owned and family-run and they focus on Irish food with international inspirations, sourcing a lot of their ingredients locally. A great percentage of their meat, vegetables and other ingredients are organic and they have many gluten-free and vegetarian options.

    Their menu includes crab cakes; free range Irish chicken wings; hummus; organic quinoa, chickpea and couscous cakes; fish pie; slow braised lamb shoulder; teriyaki salmon; sea bream fillets; organic stuffed peppers; rhubarb crumble; organic ice cream; fair trade coffee and tea and much more.

    They also carry a nice drink selection, including non-alcoholic offerings like coconut water and Kombucha.

    Check out their menus online as meals vary depending on time of day and season.
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    This cottage pie, made with organic Irish beef, was the best I’ve had in recent memory and the fresh side of perfectly cooked and seasoned vegetables made a tasty and crunchy complement.

    Click the image for more.
  • April 22 Friday

    Down on Olly’s Farm

    Feeding cows
    After not quite a day in Dublin, we head south, stopping along the way to visit a new friend, Olly, who runs a farm in the Dublin Mountains.

    Olly raises cattle, including Dexter, which are a rare Irish breed. He also keeps sheep and bees.

    He suited us up in bee outfits and gave us a first hand tour of a bee colony, complete with a tasting of honey fresh from the hive.

    Check out our Food Tour page on Olly’s, as well as our Spotlight feature.
  • April 22 Friday

    Zwartbles pastures

    Zwartbles sheep
    As we continued south toward Cork City we stopped off for a visit with a new friend, Suzanna, who cares for a flock of Zwartbles sheep, as well as a host of other furry creatures. What a delight!

    Suzanna threw together the most wonderful lunch for us, including an on-the-spot nettle soup with freshly foraged nettles.
  • April 22 Friday

    Highbank Orchard

    Highbank Orchard Display
    Inside Highbank Orchard
    Highbank Brandy
    Highbank Cider — liquid sunshine
    Highbank Orchard gin
    Ballymaloe Elderflower Cordial and Highbank Orchard Crystal Gin

    I had to create my own concoction back at the hotel.

    “From apple to bottle,” Highbank delivers quality. They make their own orchard syrup (Ireland’s answer to maple syrup), liquor, gin, spirit, vodka, cider (and driver’s cider for the designated driver).

    We missed out on meeting the owners, the Calder-Potts. Rod Calder-Potts’ parents left South Africa at the first signs of apartheid in 1958, returning to Ireland and my hat’s off to them for it. They then bought the family farm off of Rod’s Uncle Billy.

    Highbank is situated on the grounds of a 17th century farmyard whose soil is uniquely suited to produce delicious apples. They went organic in 1994 and began the process of returning the farm to a more environmentally inclusive husbandry.

    The Orchard has won a plethora of prestigious — well deserved — awards.

    The Orchard Shop even conveniently stocks Zwartbles blankets for sale.
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    Suzanna advised us to visit Highbank Orchard, an organic orchard and distillery in nearby Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny. It was a farm I had read about and had longed to visit, but it came as a pleasant surprise that it was so close.

    We huffed it over and filled up on gin and cider.

    Click image for more.
  • April 23 Saturday

    Midleton Farmer’s Market

    Desserts at Midleton farmers
    One of the great farmers markets in the south, Midleton Farmers’ Market was conceived by Darina Allen, who runs the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School not far away. She believed that every town in Ireland should have a farmers’ market where local farmers could sell their goods.

    It has since expanded to a couple dozen stalls and has live music for the masses when they arrive (it’s a late start of 10ish thanks to frequent revels often ending just a few hours before).

    Expect a dose of healthy fare — as well as the not so healthy.
  • April 23 Saturday

    Cobh, Co. Cork

    A glass of wine wouldn
    Overlooking the town of Cobh
    Boats in Cobh, Co. Cork
    St. Colman
    St. Colman
    Gazing up at the church
    Looking up a street in Cobh
    The town of Cobh
    A row of houses ascends a hill in Cobh
    Cobh, Co. Cork is such a beautiful town — an overhead view of the colorful town, the imposing St. Colman’s Cathedral and a lively harbor.

    It’s also known as the final sailing point for the Titanic on its doomed voyage. The Titanic Museum, in town, is the official Irish word on the ship and its passengers. It’s a humbling reminder of the fragility of life.

    Of course, the center doesn’t want visitors to leave depressed. It’s meant to be an educational albeit somber tour.

    There are plenty of eateries and pubs ready to accept tourist euros and I was more than happy to oblige. Museum tour visitors wandered out occasionally on the verandah above as I sipped on a nice glass of wine at the dock where the great ship set sail. With a nip in the air, we had the outdoor seats to ourselves.
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    There’s a bit of everything in Cobh, Co. Cork. It was the last port of call for the Titanic and now attracts tourists by the multitude.

    Pubs and eateries abound, but a trip might not be finished without a visit to St. Colman’s Cathedral, which is unquestionably the dominating feature of the town. Afterward, take a stroll by the harbor or grab a bite to eat or a drink at the dock from whence the great ship sailed.

    Click image for more.
  • April 23 Saturday

    English Market

    The Tom Durcan stall
    Shoppers at the English Market
    Big fish at English Market
    The joys of chocolate
    The English Market
    Seafood, including eel
    One of the highlights of Cork City is the bustling English Market on Princes Street in the city centre, which has been in operation since 1788. It’s one of the oldest municipal markets of its kind in the world.

    Located in a roofed-in area, it is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, though individual traders might have slightly different hours.

    Small upstarts sit alongside large-scale or long-established family businesses passed down from one generation to another.

    There’s an excellent selection of meats, fishes (some you’ve no doubt never seen), herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, sauces, oils, chocolates, cakes, cheeses and pastas. But you’ll also find non-food items like t-shirts, novelty items, clothing alterations and art.

    The smell of the market changes from area to area more than the overall feel does, most especially, as you’d expect, along the seafood stalls.

    If you’d like to get a sense of living like a local, it’s hard to beat the English Market.
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    Think of the food court at your local mall. Now replace all of the huge chains with local, food-producing artisans, butchers and fishmongers. The English Market has been in operation since the 1700s and it is the place for Cork residents to purchase fresh quality food.

    Grab a pastry and coffee and take in the sights and smells of one of Ireland’s largest traditional food markets. And with non-food stalls as well, there’s always a surprise waiting for you.

    Click image for more.
  • April 23 Saturday

    Elbow Lane — Cork City

    Steak at Elbow Lane
    Having heard quite the buzz about Elbow Lane, our expectations were as high as our stomachs were empty. Rest assured, the rave reviews were well-deserved.

    From the subdued lighting and snug atmosphere to the attentive, friendly staff and spot-on fare, the restaurant is just what you want for a night on the town — a true dining experience.

    That’s not to say this is one of those posh establishments where you feel embarrassed about ordering the wrong wine pairing. The feel is casual, a low-key clientele and staff with great food on their minds.
  • April 24 Sunday

    Blackrock Village Sunday Market

    Pure Raw Energy Snacks
    Falafel mixings
    Spices at Sultan Street Food
    Sweet and savory crepes

    We stayed at the Carole Ville Bed and Breakfast in Blackrock, Co. Cork, a wonderful place with a lovely host and as luck would have it, our schedule coincided with the Blackrock Village Sunday Market.

    It was early yet, but we figured we’d take a chance and couldn’t have been happier that we did. Despite there being construction all around, only a handful of vendors and a bit of a chill in the air, the food was fabulous . . . and homemade. The rest of it just added atmosphere.

    I enjoyed several delicious energy balls (pictured), while Conor had a chicken falafel from Sultan Street Food (Greek and Lebanese), that he still claims was the best he’s ever had. The main ingredients were boiled up in a large vat bursting with aromatics, spices and vibrant colors.

    Unfortunately, the smallest bills we had at the time were 50 euro notes and the crepe maker didn’t have enough change, so we couldn’t sample the sweet or savory crepes, but the quick jaunt to the market made us realize that sometimes the best things can come on a whim.

    Visit the Sunday Market on Facebook.
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    A quick walk to a local farmer’s market created lasting memories of great food and a reminder that when left with an option, the best answer is generally “yes.”

    Click image for more.
  • April 24 Sunday

    Market Lane — Cork City

    Market Lane salad
    In the works.
  • April 24 Sunday

    Coq Bull — Cork City

    Cog Bull coqtail
    In the works.
  • April 25 Monday

    Cashel, Co. Tipperary

    In the works.
  • April 25 Monday

    The Green Sheep — Thurles, Tipperary

    Green Sheep lunch
    In the works.
  • April 26 Tuesday

    Connemara Mountains

    In the Connemara Mountains
    In the works.
  • April 27 Wednesday


    Oats, yogurt and maple syrup
    In the works.
  • April 27 Wednesday

    Kai Cafe — Galway City

    Kai Cafe
    In the works.
  • April 27 Wednesday

    Cava Bodega — Galway City

    Cava Bodega
    In the works.
  • April 28 Thursday

    Glaslough, Monaghan

    Glaslough field and stream
    In the works.
  • April 30 Saturday

    Ambledown Cottage — Glaslough, Monaghan

    Ambledown Cottage
    In the works.
  • May 1 Sunday

    Cornucopia — Dublin City vegetarian restaurant

    Salad offerings at Cornucopia
    In the works.
  • May 1 Sunday

    Canal Bank Cafe — Dublin City

    Canal Bank steak and fries
    In the works.
  • May 1 Sunday

    Murphy’s Ice Cream — Dublin City

    In the works.
  • May 2 Monday

    Return to the United States

    In the works.