Savour the essence of a city that has some­thing for ev­ery­one’s taste

Irish Independent - Farming - - ANALYSIS - ANN FITZGER­ALD

“WHAt are you writ­ing about this week, Mammy,” our 13-year-old daugh­ter Sarah asked last Tues­day. “Don’t know yet,” I an­swered. “Well, maybe you could drum me up a bit of busi­ness,” she urged.

She will be sell­ing (hope­fully!) home-made savoury pret­zels dur­ing the Savour Kilkenny food fes­ti­val over the Oc­to­ber Bank Hol­i­day week­end.

For the past few weeks, we have been guinea pigs.

The event runs over lunchtime and, as oth­ers are do­ing sweet stuff, Sarah de­cided she would do some­thing savoury; hence, the pret­zels.

She has been try­ing out var­i­ous recipes. One was too salty, one too sweet, one too crumbly, one too tough.

Sensing our de­sire to be en­cour­ag­ing, she got great plea­sure from watch­ing us eat them up, long af­ter she had her­self recog­nised their short­com­ings. They are get­ting there.

As for Kilkenny City, it is a lovely place to visit. It ex­udes a time­less sense of class.

Drivers might curse its ir­reg­u­lar lay­out and nar­row wind­ing streets but they are a joy for tourists. There’s some­thing new to be dis­cov­ered around every bend, while its fa­mous al­ley­ways are rem­i­nis­cent of Dick­en­sian times.

There must have been times when peo­ple wanted to raze all this old stuff away and re­place it with some­thing bright and new.

You’ll find an­tiques and ladies bou­tiques, crafts and cathe­drals, mu­se­ums and at­mo­spheric drink­ing em­po­ria, en­ergy, at­ti­tude and colour.

Tourism is big and it’s al­most like there are two sets of vis­i­tors; fam­i­lies and the mid­dleaged by day, younger cou­ples and sin­gles by night.

Kilkenny once had quite a rep­u­ta­tion as a venue for stag and hen par­ties. A lesser place might have floun­dered but some­how Kilkenny has re­tained its essence, com­bin­ing the charm of an old-fash­ioned vil­lage with the lux­u­ries of a mod­ern urban cen­tre.

Un­like other towns, that have be­come ‘donuts’, Kilkenny still has a beat­ing heart, ra­di­at­ing out from The Pa­rade.

Walk a few steps up Pa­trick Street, past the quirky art deco shop Yes­ter­days, there’s the zany restau­rant Zuni and on to But­ler House. Its mod­est street face opens into a mag­nif­i­cent Geor­gian res­i­dence and a renowned walled gar­den.

Back down Rose Inn Street (what a lovely name!), you pass the new Mur­phy’s ice cream shop, the very good Tourist In­for­ma­tion of­fice in Shee Alms House (1582) and on to­wards the (now cleaned-up) Nore.

Step­ping on to High Street quickly brings you to Al­lens’ home­ware shop, Pauls’ de­part­ment store, Goods’ ladieswear and The Book Cen­tre, which is ev­ery­thing a book­shop should be.

Like many of the city’s busi­nesses, its tra­di­tional shopfront has been re­tained. In­side, at­mo­spheric light­ing falls on packed shelves,with the ram­bling lay­out even­tu­ally com­ing to a calm read­ing oa­sis. The books feel alive and loved.

Back on The Pa­rade is Rin­uc­cini, where tuxe­doed waiters serve home­made pasta, the Kilkenny De­sign Cen­tre and Kilkenny Cas­tle (1195), the jewel in the city’s crown, which also has ex­ten­sive gar­dens and rolling park­land. Kilkenny is a gem. Given the re­gion’s bur­geon­ing ar­ti­san food sec­tor and the pres­ence of so many fine eater­ies in the city — in­clud­ing the Miche­lin-starred Cam­pagne on Gas House Lane (which does a very af­ford­able Early Bird) — a food fes­ti­val is a per­fect fit.

Just across the road is the MacDon­agh Junc­tion Shop­ping Cen­tre, lo­ca­tion of Sarah’s en­ter­prise.

Along with a cou­ple of pals from Kilkenny Col­lege, she will be on a stall at the Young Food­ies mar­ket for Sec­ond Level stu­dents next Satur­day (1-4pm) at Work­house Square. She’ll be the shy, pretty, browneyed, girl sell­ing a va­ri­ety of savoury pret­zels.

For more in­for­ma­tion, check out savourk­

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