Monday, August 6, 2018

Side Trek

Traveling is like life.  You make plans and then life or chance changes your path.  Before we left the beautiful Kildare county, we ran into a lovely lady on the grounds of the K Club.  We struck up a conversation and I mentioned I was a chef in Dallas.  She had visited Dallas the year prior to meet her friends.  So our conversation lasted with so much common ground.  She was absolutely lovely and very friendly.  We talked about why we came to Ireland for a food tour and discover my culinary roots.  We talked about our itinerary and that we were going to Killarney the next day to discover the food on the west coast of Ireland.  She said we must first detour and go to Cork and visit the English Market.  It was a must see for someone like myself that thinks 24/7 about food. I didn't know about it, actually never heard about.  She explained it is situated in the heart of Cork City.  It is a roofed market and has been trading since 1788.  It was developed and is still owned by the Cork City Council. It is the oldest municipal market of it's kind in the world. I was sold.  Family we are off to Cork!

 Cork is located on the southwest coast of Ireland.  It is connected to the sea by Cork Harbor and the lovely River Lee flows through its city center.  It is a university town and also a large sea port brimming with activity.  The drive from Kildare was about three hours.  The roads were never busy and the emerald landscape never tired.  It was the easiest car trip I had ever made and quite possibly the most enjoyable.  Finding the English Market was a bit of a struggle.  Finding street parking in Cork is a task in futility.  You have to park in one of the large parking garages nestled throughout the city.  That ensures a good walk because they are always located far away from where you need to go.  For us, it wasn't much of a problem.  Exploring a new city is always exhilarating.  Using google maps my son led the way.  We hovered down windy streets.  The city was bustling. At this point we had not been to downtown Dublin so this was the busiest place we had visited.  We finally found the English Market.  It was huge arcade of vendors, selling everything from olives, to local breads and cheeses to Irish saddles of lamb and Irish made sausages.

The vendors were so friendly and informative.  They were so proud of their products and it showed.  Eager to give samples and explain anything you might have a questions about. Would give any consumer great confidence in buying there.  I loved the smell there.  Earthy smells from freshly baked bread, the fresh smell of delicious cut meat, the perfume of fresh produce.  It tickled the senses.  I had been to food halls when I was younger.  There was a fish market in Liverpool we would visit with my grandmother and I always loved the smell of the sea in there and of the smoked fishes.  It was always a delightful treat to visit there.  The English Market brought back those type of memories. Though I wanted to buy the whole market up, we still had a journey to to Killarnery so we got a few artisan pastries.  There wasn't a restaurant in the Hall so we asked one of the vendors where we could grab lunch that utilized the markets provisions.  They directed to a cute restaurant, The Spitjack, that was only a five minute walk away.


 The food was really nice, especially the Traditional Irish Porchetta.  So damn good. I am not just saying this to say it, but the food tastes so much better in Ireland, cleaner and healthier tasting.  It doesn't taste like it just cam off a Sysco Food truck.  It taste like it just came from a farm, which in this case it did.  Again the food was simple, but prepared well with not a lot of fuss.  Let the product speak for itself.  

We had one last stroll back and came across of all things The Butter Museum.  We had just missed the beginning of a butter class they were offering but they allowed us back there and we watched the art of butter making.  Again I will emphasize, potatoes and butter.  Ireland does this better than any place else.  I mean who else devotes an entire museum to butter.  Amazing!!!!  We did get to nosh on some of the creamiest and velvety butter one could imagine.  What a perfect way to end our surprise visit to Cork!

Greatest Chef Ever? Passes Away

Joël Robuchon has more Michelin stars than any other chef in history.  He opened his first restaurant, Jasmin, in 1981.  He was the contemporary to many fine chefs, like Gordon Ramsey which he argued was one of his most talented but frustrating chefs.  They often came to verbal blows, but one time Ramsey was just a little to snarky for Robuchon's liking so he threw a plate at him.  (I would have just clobbered him with my fist!)

He is best known in the states for his namesake restaurant in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  I never made it to his restaurants but it was always a dream of mine.  His food was meticulously prepared and he didn't accept anything but excellence.  The food world lost another titan of the industry.  Au revoir mon frere! We will still enjoy the recipes and the legacies you left behind.