Okay, this is a bit of a long post so grab some more wine! Today was Thursday and the day of the school trip. We had a hectic day planned, beginning with an early start and a trip to the smokehouse at Belvelly. Unfortunately the bus had broken down but eventually it was fixed and we all had time for another cup of coffee while waiting. We went to see Frank Hederman’s smokehouse, he is one of the many local artisans (sorry Henry!) working in the area. It is organic farmed salmon which they salt and then smoke and sell all over including Fortnum and Masons as well as the nearby farmers’ markets. We were lucky, it was a lovely day so I got to see some of the Irish countryside from the bus.
Next up was the farmers’ market at Mahon Point shopping centre near Cork. It is every week and draws a big crowd of people and a huge variety of stalls. There were meat, chicken, fish, baking, apple juice, honey, cheese and a myriad of artisan producers. We had some food to eat as well including pizza, steak sandwiches and curry. People come here every week to meet up and have a coffee and get their shopping as well as going into the big centre and it seems to work well. I bought some goat’s cheese from an enthusiastic young goat farmer and had a pizza with pepperoni, buffalo mozzarella and black olives, yum yum!
Back on the bus and we had a bit of trip over to county Tipperary to visit the place where they make Cashel Blue cheese, the most famous blue cheese from Ireland. We drove down the country lanes till we got to their huge new factory near Cashel and saw how the cheese was made. It was such a sunny day! We also tasted some of the second cheese they have been making, a sheep’s milk, Crosier Blue.
As the afternoon went on we drove over the hills and down to Lismore. It was a spectacular drive and we had a great view of the landscape. In Lismore we went to McGrath’s Butchers, an old family business who still have their own abattoir, lovely! It was all really interesting though and we got to have a look round and they told us all about killing and butchering the meat. We’re welcome to come and see the slaughtering being done on a Monday if we want!
Lastly we went to two food businesses, O’Brien’s Chophouse which has an old wooden bar at the front and sells dishes including tongue and offal and lots of local produce including smoking their own fish. They also have a cute little garden out the back which would be amazing to sit in on a sunny day. Then The Summerhouse which is owned by an ex-Ballymaloe student and he gave us cake and some advice. It was interesting to hear more about the ins and outs of the food business. Lismore was a lovely place in the evening light, with the Castle and lots of little streets and shops. After all this we were absolutely exhausted, the bus was a bit more reserved on the way home!