Food and tourism

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - KINSALE - Joe McNamee FOOD & TOURISM

Joe McNamee looks at how in­no­va­tions like the Kin­sale Good Food Cir­cle, out­door mar­kets and a com­mit­ment to qual­ity have stood the test of time.

If you’ve de­cided to park the sun/sea/san­gria op­tion and opt for a food-friendly stay­ca­tion in Ire­land or are even just con­sid­er­ing a night or two away, you’d be hard pressed to find a more at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion, so why not join us for a quick flit around Kin­sale, one with an espe­cial fo­cus on the belly.

Whether on land or on the sur­round­ing seas, Kin­sale is a fine place to work up an ap­petite with myr­iad ac­tiv­i­ties and ameni­ties for all in­ter­ests and tastes, in­clud­ing ad­ven­ture sports, wa­ter sports, and a whole host of cul­tural, his­tor­i­cal, and her­itage sites and ac­tiv­i­ties. (I’ll leave the in-depth ex­plo­ration to oth­ers though an ex­cep­tion should be made for the re­cently opened Me­mo­rial Gardens at the mag­nif­i­cently scenic Old Head of Kin­sale, a won­der­ful ad­di­tion fea­tur­ing The Wave, a 20m-long sculp­ture by Liam Lav­ery and Eithne Ring, com­mem­o­rat­ing the sink­ing of RMS Lusi­ta­nia a mere hand­ful of miles off­shore.)

The only prob­lem with ac­com­mo­da­tion in Kin­sale is wad­ing through the huge choice on of­fer, from cosy lit­tle B&Bs right up to full­blown ho­tels, such as el­e­gant Ac­ton’s or the sleek and serene Tri­dent.

The Blue Haven has iconic sta­tus in Kin­sale, and de­servedly so, these days, pre­sent­ing as a smart and ship­shape bou­tique ho­tel, most ap­peal­ing to the 21st cen­tury tourist, yet through all the mod­ernising of re­cent years it has re­tained its orig­i­nal soul and erst­while sta­tus as one of the com­mu­nity’s prime so­cial hubs.

There is also the op­tion of self-cater­ing. Kin­sale Hol­i­day Vil­lage is one, a group­ing of 16 pur­pose- built three- bed­roomed hol­i­day homes sleep­ing six, all within walk­ing dis­tance of the town cen­tre.

Should you choose to act as your own chef for the week­end, you might want to be­gin with a self-as­sem­bled pic­nic or you’ll be want­ing to stock up on pro­vi­sions and Su­per­Valu cov­ers far more than just the ba­sics, of­fer­ing ster­ling sup­port to many lo­cal pro­duc­ers as well, in­clud­ing the dy­namic Kin­sale Bay Food Com­pany, which does a fine range of fresh seafood prod­ucts, and lo­cal mi­cro- roast­ers, Kin­sale Cof­fee Roast­ers, cur­rently in­tro­duc­ing their new brand.

The lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket, held ev­ery Wed­nes­day, may be a rel­a­tively small lit­tle gath­er­ing but is very well worth check­ing out es­pe­cially when fine lo­cal pro- duce comes into sea­son and if you’re seek­ing a good bot­tle to wash all this fine fare down, then the 1601 in­de­pen­dent off- li­cence, on Pearse St, is one of the very best in Mun­ster.

But i f morn­ing has dawned and you’ve un­der­stand­ably de­cided to down tools en­tirely for your week­end away, with no in­ten­tion of even fill­ing a ket­tle, the town’s many lit­tle cafes and cof­fee houses are splen­did for a bit of im­promptu break­ing of the fast.

Salvis Café is a good, old-fash­ioned caff of­fer­ing a ter­rific old school toasted spe­cial and, com­mend­ably, does a tra­di­tional Ir­ish break­fast un­til long af­ter the usual cut-off point, very handy for late ris­ers.

If you’re more of a brunch per­son, the bright and cheerful Cosy Café is an­other good ca­sual din­ing op­tion, of­fer­ing an ex­ten­sive range of bagels (fillings in­clude Jamie’s smoked sal­mon or Ard­sal­lagh Cheese, all served with home­made potato crisps) and some very tasty lunch op­tions ( try monk­fish burger with skinny fries). Bi­b­lio­philes will adore the book- lined Poet’s Corner while Una Cros­bie’s FoodU, the lo­cal fish­er­men’s favourite cof­fee spot, is ex­cel­lent for a plate of fresh crab claws. Vista of­fers a con­tem­po­rary ‘ Euro- menu’ with splen­did views from the sec­ond-floor bal­cony while The Lemon Leaf Café, an­other in­sti­tu­tion, of­fers al­ways imag­i­na­tive and wellex­e­cuted takes on break­fast, lunch, din­ner, and a whole load more be­sides, in­clud­ing some ex­cel­lent deli op­tions to take away, mak­ing it one of the most essen­tial spots in town to while away an hour or two over a cuppa or some­thing more sub­stan­tial.

Come evening time, glad rags and glam­our all in place, and pre­sum­ing you haven’t ‘dined on the hoof’, traips­ing and nib­bling as you go around the town on one of the newly in­sti­tuted Kin­sale Food Tours, led by zo­ol­o­gist Su­sanne Burns, then it is time to com­mence think­ing of a drink in one of the many ex­cel­lent pubs around town and the se­ri­ous busi­ness of strap­ping on the nose­bag — and when it comes to choos­ing a restau­rant for the evening, you’d be hard-pressed to find such a range of choice in any town of com­pa­ra­ble size through­out the rest of Ire­land.

We cover the Good Food Cir­cle restau­rants else­where — the orig­i­nal group­ing of hos­pi­tal­ity es­tab­lish­ments re­spon­si­ble for turn­ing Kin­sale into a gourmet des­ti­na­tion — but some of the town’s newer ar­rivals are also well worth check­ing out.

The won­der­fully ap­pointed Black Pig is a wine bar with a su­perb list, in­clud­ing a com­mend­able se­lec­tion of su­perb sher­ries, but also of­fers top taster plates.

Twisted is an­other of the funky newer ar­rivals, which has re­cently tight­ened up its menu but re­tains the Span­ish in­flec­tions.

The Sup­per Club is an al­ways in­trigu­ing of­fer­ing of good food based on fine lo­cal pro­duce and a fine line in cock­tails while Bruno’s Ital­ian-themed of­fer­ing in a splen­did old me­dieval build­ing is es­pe­cially dis­tin­guished by a su­perb and gen­uine com­mit­ment to us­ing the very best of lo­cal pro­duce.

Nine Mar­ket St’s el­e­gant and sim­ple dishes are ex­e­cuted with aplomb and it is a very pop­u­lar spot with lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike. Bas­tion oc­cu­pies a de­cep­tively sim­ple premises con­sid­er­ing the fine and ac­com­plished food on of­fer and the wine list is equally ap­peal­ing and as wor­thy hold­ers of a Miche­lin Bib Gour­mand, Paul McDon­ald and He­len Noo­nan’s bi­jou lit­tle es­tab­lish­ment is a sure sign that Kin­sale is con­tin­u­ally evolv­ing, never con­tent to rest on lau­rels.

Bon ap­petit!

Pic­ture: Dan Line­han

Se­bastien Perey out­side the Cosy Café in Kin­sale, highly rec­om­mended by Joe MacNamee be­low.

Pic­ture: Dan Line­han

Si­mon Coveney pic­tured dur­ing his Fine Gael lead­er­ship elec­tion cam­paign visit to Salvis Restau­rant in Kin­sale. He is pic­tured with Jack Mus­grave and Marie O’Sul­li­van.

At­lantic Off­shore Ad­ven­tures, a pop­u­lar ser­vice provider with peo­ple who like to get ac­tive in the Kin­sale har­bour area.

Pic­tures: John Allen

Food pro­duc­ers en­joy a busy day serv­ing the crowds at the Kin­sale Street Food Fes­ti­val, above and be­low.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.