Cork is Ireland’s second city, in the south-west of the country, is home to an abundance of excellent fresh food. Here’s a guide to some of the best on offer in the city.
The Irish love to eat well and drink plenty. Local produce from the many farms in County Cork and the fruits of the sea nearby means everything here is fresh and tasty.
Start with a hearty breakfast
A full Irish breakfast is certainly a hearty way to start the day. While the British and north Americans are accustomed to such huge meals in the morning, visitors from continental Europe are sometimes taken aback when presented with eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pudding, white pudding and bread (all fried, of course).
If you can’t stomach all that first thing in the morning, it’s worth remembering that it’s perfectly acceptable not to eat it all, as long as you ask for just a few of the items from the menu.
Black pudding is made from blood and fat and is quite an accustomed taste. White pudding is only made from bread and oats though – it’s an Irish speciality and certainly worth trying.
You can grab a good breakfast in most hotels or bed and breakfasts, or in any of the cafés in the city centre.
The English Market in the centre of town sells fresh fish, meat, vegetables, cheeses and gourmet food and is the perfect place to start any gastronomic experience in Cork.
It’s an experience to wander amongst the beautifully displayed stalls and sample the delights on offer – a feast for the taste buds and for the eyes. Either collect your fresh ingredients here if you’re going to be cooking, or grab a bite to eat on the run. The freshly prepared sandwiches make a tasty picnic for eating by the river or in one of the city’s many parks.
Open Mon-Sat from 8am.
Brave second course
If you’re an experimental food lover who enjoys sampling new and interesting delicacies, you might want to try Drisheen, a local speciality. It’s a sort of sausage or pudding made from sheep’s blood, breadcrumbs and spices and traditionally served with tripe in a thickened milk sauce. You can buy it raw at the English Market, or ask for it with your cooked Irish breakfast.
A food museum?
The lush green fields surrounding Cork are prefect for cattle grazing, and as such the milk is thick and creamy. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than at Cork Butter Museum – Cork’s butter was once famous around Ireland and indeed the world, slightly saltier than most so that it could be preserved while being transported long distances.
Open: Daily, 10-5 in the summer. Entry, 3,50 Euro.
Fine dining for lunch or dinner
Cork has so many great places to eat out it’s almost impossible to recommend where to go. If you want to take a wander and see what grabs your eye, head just south of the river and look down the back streets on either side of St Patrick’s Street.
One favourite of mine is Isaac’s Restaurant that offers contemporary Irish food in a classic setting.
The building was originally a warehouse in the 18th century and retains much of its charm today. It’s the kind of place you walk into and instantly feel relaxed. It’s always busy and even has a waterfall out the back. The French Onion Soup and fresh seafood dishes are highly recommended.
Rough guide to prices: Starters 10 Euro; main courses 15-20 Euro; wine 20-25 Euro (75cl bottle)
Address: 48 Mc Curtain Street
As well as good Irish cuisine you can find food from all around the world in Cork. There’s a guide to what’s available on the city website (http://www.cork-guide.ie/cc_rest.htm) or pick up one of the free listings magazines for more local restaurant reviews.
The Irish love a drink. A trip to Ireland isn’t complete without at least a few pints of Guinness – world famous as the favourite drink of the Irish. You can find this tasty black drink in any bar, pub or restaurant.
But a trip to Cork also demands a pint of Murphy’s, the stout local to the city and the county of Cork. It’s been brewed there for over 150 years. If you find Guinness somewhat overpowering, Murphy’s has a smoother and more delicate taste.
Cork’s nightlife is enthusiastic to say the least. You’ve never far from a bar or pub, be it a traditional Irish drinking house or a modern vibrant venue. The area to the north of St Patrick’s Street is known as the Hugenot Quarter and has the highest concentration of bars, restaurants and charming, quirky shops but be wary of pickpockets on the back alleyways.
Photo of traditional Irish breakfast originally posted by JWynia