CARA Magazine February/March 2012
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Where to eat, sleep and shop
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Wild and Green
From foraging for fungi to the bliss of the blaa â€“ thereâ€™s plenty to keep foodies happy in Waterford and its environs. Food critic and Deise girl Aingeala Flannery goes back to her roots to sample the best of the region. Photographs by Anthony Woods. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2012
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he word is out: Waterford is the hottest place to eat in Ireland. After so many years in the ha’penny place, the so-called Deise has made the meteoric leap from frumpy to fashionable – seemingly overnight, when nobody was looking. These days every second person I meet quizzes me about the best places to eat in Waterford. Why wouldn’t they? I am, after all, a food critic – and, more importantly, a Deise girl. What I try to impress upon them is that Waterford has always had a distinct food culture that strongly supported local producers, long before it was fashionable to do so. When I was a child there in the 1970s, if your father didn’t work for Waterford Crystal (or “the glass factory”, as it was known locally), 44 |
The Cliﬀ House Hotel – For a splurge to be remembered. Gorgeous location, the luxurious rooms with Irish artwork have ﬂoor to ceiling glass windows overlooking Ardmore Bay, private balconies, terraces and verandas. Midweek overnight stays with Michelin-starred dinner from €350 per couple. Ardmore, Co Waterford. From €100 pps inc B&B; 024 87800; thecliﬀhousehotel.com Hanora’s Cottage – A favourite among walkers and bird spotters in the Nire Valley, with comfortable, well-furnished rooms, pretty views and a Eurotoques chef in the kitchen. Great for relaxation. Ballymacarbry, Co Waterford. Two nights’ accommodation from €150 inc From top, mist B&B, packed lunch and dinners; rising on the 052 6136134; hanorascottage.com Blackwater river, Richmond House – A lovingly restored chef Martijn Kajuiter of the 18th-century country house and now Michelin-starred a boutique hotel and a favourite with Cliﬀ House Hotel; Irish gourmets who want a break from gourmet and city life. Rooms have views of beautiful Deise girl Aingeala grounds. Cappoquin, Co Waterford. Flannery. From €50 pp B&B; 058 54278; richmondhouse.net The Tannery Townhouse – Contemporary boutique GLASS ACT accommodation from Is Waterford Crystal the €55pps – perfect for country’s most popular wedding couples on a weekend break. Have a lie-in present? See for yourself how the and freshly baked molten crystal is blown and shaped pastries and coﬀee on the factory tour in Waterford city. will be brought to your Fascinating stuﬀ. House of Waterford room. Dungarvan, Co Crystal, The Mall, 051 317 000; Waterford. From €100 waterfordvisitorcentre.com pps, incl dinner, B&B; 058 45420; tannery.ie Waterford Castle – Romantic and grand accommodation in large antique-ﬁlled rooms, but with all modern conveniences. The island location adds to the magic. Perfect he worked for Clover Meats or the for golfers, or for families – with 3 to 4 creamery. Most of the men in our bedroom castle lodges also available family fished for salmon on the for rent. Rates start from €69pps for River Suir, but their catch wasn’t a standard room – pay a little more for eating – it was for selling, to and you’ll be swept oﬀ your feet. The restaurants and the local well-to-do. Island, Ballinakill, Waterford, 051 878 Offal was big in Waterford: 203; waterfordcastle.com liver, tongue and tripe. Cheap, SELF-CATERING Beautiful country nutritious cuts that were in plentiful house accommodation in a dramatic supply because of the meat industry. location. Keenly priced at €305-€750 a Corned beef was popular too – as week. Dromana House, Villierstown, was bacon, which was often “hairy”. Co Waterford, 024 96144; But you wouldn’t complain for fear dromanahouse.com of being sent to eat in your auntie’s
house, where there could be half a
Guided Factory Tour, Opulent Retail Store featuring the largest collection of the worldâ€™s most coveted name in crystal.
House of Waterford Crystal The Mall, Waterford City, Ireland Call: +353 (0)51 317 000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.waterfordvisitorcentre.com
GOURMET WATERFORD Right, foodie heroes – Paul Flynn of The Tannery, and below, from top, Tom Dalton and Cormac O’Dwyer of Dungarvan Ale; Agnes and Wolfgang Schleibitz of Knockalara Cheese; Crinnaghtaun’s Julie Keane; Conor Lannen of the Country Store; and for the perfect plate to serve it on – Mary Lincoln of Ardmore Pottery.
Paul Flynn’s Little Black Book Anna Leveque Cheese – This young Frenchwoman, who is based at Killowen Orchards in Portlaw, is a rising star among artisan food producers. Her Triskel goat’s cheese is a must-buy. 086 074 4534 The Country Store – A great little shop that stocks not just fruit and veg, but a wide range of artisan foods including the locally produced Baldwin’s Farmhouse Ice-cream from a dairy herd in nearby Knockanore. Also check out Eunice Power’s baked goods, chutneys and fresh readystuﬀ.. meals. Brilliant stuﬀ Dungarvan, 058 43061; thecountrystore.ie Crinnaghtaun Apple Juice – Look out for the pretty label. This juice, made from Julia Keane’s own apple orchards, is traditionally pressed, golden in colour and cloudy. Crinnaghtaun is used by top chefs and sold in the best delicatessens throughout Ireland. Cappoquin, Co Waterford, 058 54258; irishapplejuice.com
Dungarvan Brewing – A fantastic operation, its beers are stocked in pubs across Waterford and beyond. In the Tannery, Black Rock stout is used for braised ox cheeks and mussels are cooked with Copper Coast red ale. 058 24000; dungarvan brewingcompany.com Knockalara Cheese – Wolfgang and Agnes Schliebitz in Cappoquin are world-class cheesemakers. Their award-winning ewe’s milk cheese – handmade from their own Friesland ﬂock – is simply unbeatable. 024 96326 M&D Bakery – Bakes brilliant traditional blaas; ones made with seaweed (sourced from Nicholas Paul in Waterford’s Ring Gaeltacht) were served during last summer’s Tall Ships festival. Mount Sion Avenue, Waterford City, 051 378 080 Mary Lincoln Pottery – For gourmet visitors who want to bring home a piece of Waterford. Mary Lincoln’s cool blue and green pottery will beautify any dinner table. The Cliﬀ, Ardmore, 024 94152; ardmorepottery.com
pig’s head or a pot of crubeens (pigs’ feet) bubbling on the range. It was said in Waterford that the only part of the pig you didn’t eat was the squeal. And that was true. Potatoes – Kerr’s Pinks and Golden Wonders – were bought in four-stone bags, from a farm gate in Mooncoin. It wouldn’t have occurred to us to buy mushrooms, when you could pick them for nothing in a field. Likewise, a bought apple never tasted as good as one stolen from a tree. These are just some of the things you take for granted when you grow up around cows and orchards. And then there was Bubble-Up – a fizzy lemon and lime soda sold everywhere in Waterford, but unheard of anywhere else in Ireland. Yet nothing – not even a chilled bottle of Bubble-Up – came close to a blaa. The native bread roll with a name that only locals knew how to spell. For hundreds of years, the people of Waterford have eaten blaas. Depending on the baker, they can be soft or crusty, but are always floury with a stretchy, chewy texture. Among the locals, there is
Left, artisan breads at Dungarvan farmers’ market and, above, Barbara Grubb and Emily Villiers Stuart of Dromona House, near Cappoquin, a stunning self-catering option set high above the Blackwater River.
great debate about the provenance and quality of blaas. Everybody has a favourite – be they “townie” blaas from Hickeys, Kilmacow blaas from Harneys, or Cappoquin blaas from Barron’s. What is unanimous though is: blaas are best eaten straight from the oven – and a blaa should never travel outside Waterford, because it contains no preservatives and will spoil and turn stale within hours. I did not know that only Waterford people ate blaas until we moved to Dublin when I was ten years old. The mere utterance of the word “blaa” seemed provincial and ridiculous, so I didn’t talk about them – or about Bubble Up. Years later, when I began writing about food, my sense of country gaucheness was replaced with a sense of pride about where we came from. It was pure pleasure to rediscover my childhood home, to see how much it had changed and how much of value it had held on to. Forever playing second fiddle to the neighbouring counties of Cork and Kilkenny when it came to sport and culture, Waterford had
quietly, but solidly, become a wellkept secret among foodies with an appetite for artisan, local produce. It began in Dungarvan, when Paul Flynn, now a well-known name among Irish gourmands, set up The Tannery Restaurant in 1997. “Some people thought we were mad,” he recalls. “Imagine opening a restaurant in an old leather factory opposite a derelict house in a stinky part of town, but word of mouth got around and people were willing to travel to eat our food.” Dungarvan today is a magnet for visiting foodies. The Tannery has been recognised with a Michelin Bib Gourmand and now houses a cookery school. Modest to the end, Flynn believes the town’s biggest gourmet draw is its weekly farmers’ market, because, he says, it has created a community for local
eat. Another big hit is Nude Food, where Louise Clark serves the best lamb burgers you’re likely to eat. Quality is surely contagious because even the pubs in Dungarvan serve topnotch grub. Check out Queally’s, and Merry’s, both of which stock beers from the local Dungarvan Brewery: Copper Coast red ale, Black Rock stout and Helvick Gold blonde ale. Heading southwest from Dungarvan, you will come to the pretty fishing village of Ardmore, where the White Horses restaurant serves the finest pastries and homemade desserts around. As you ascend the cliff towards the ancient ruins of St Declan’s Cell and Holy Well, you encounter the wonderfully located Cliff House Hotel, whose restaurant holds the country’s only Michelin star outside Dublin. Intrepid Irish foodies travel to chef Martijn Kajuiter’s table for his tasting menu. Expect monkfish and crab from Helvick Head, Ballynatray pigeon, and Black Angus beef, from Lismore butcher Michael McGrath. North of Ardmore, you’ll cross the beautiful River Blackwater into historic Lismore, dominated by the spectacular Lismore Castle, erstwhile home of the greatest potato peddler of them all – Sir Walter Raleigh. Tucked away on the Main Street you’ll find O’Brien Chophouse, a gorgeously informal restaurant that does all it can to
rford Festival of Food runs Don’t miss – the southeast’s foodie festivals! the Wate Festival of Food April 12-15; waterfordfestivaloffood.com and the Wexford runs may 20-22; wexfordfoodfestival.ie. producers such as Barnawee Foods and Knockalara cheesemakers Wolfgang and Agnes Schliebitz. For artisan producers, there’s strength in numbers. There seems to be a gourmet shop or café at every turn in Dungarvan. Tara Breen’s bakery keeps the townsfolk sweet with her legendary passion cake, while the Country Store is a cornucopia for locals who care about what they
promote local producers. If you like their style, the owners of the Chophouse, Justin and Jenny Green, also own Ballyvolane House just over the Cork border – it has quite the loveliest bathrooms you’ll find in an Irish country house. Here’s a well-kept secret for visitors who like to self-cater: from Lismore, head for nearby Cappoquin and Villierstown, where you can rent a wing of FEBRUARY/MARCH 2012
GOURMET WATERFORD John de Bromhead of Downes pub in Waterford city, which even bottles its own whiskey.
Dromana House, perched high above the meandering Blackwater and surrounded by forest. Dromana has everything you need for gourmet self-sufficiency. Down in Cappoquin village, you can buy blaas from the much loved Barron’s bakery, while the town’s Supervalu is inclined to support cottage industries by stocking, among other things, apple tarts and jams that are locally made. Heading east towards Waterford city, you’ll pass verdant pasture. Creamery trucks and cows have the right of way here, but keep an eye out also for orchards, and for
Kilmacthomas, which is home to Flahavan’s porridge – a staple on the Irish breakfast table for generations. Before you hit the city, check out the under-appreciated (some would say shabby) Victorian resort town of Tramore; buy fish and chips from Dooley’s on the Prom, and eat them on the slip that leads onto the town’s famed golden strand. At the far end of the beach, there’s the T-Bay Surf Café, which is popular with locals for good coffee and cake. Vinophiles will appreciate Florrie’s fine wine shop on the Newtown Road as you head for the Gillameen Cove. And if you happen to be in Tramore after 9pm,
DON’T MISS ...
Esther and Joe Barron of Barron’s Bakery
Justin Green of O’Brien Chophouse
SHOP AT ... Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Dunmore Road, Waterford, 051 874 620; ardkeen.com Barron’s Bakery & Coﬀee House, Cappoquin, Co Waterford, 058 54045; barronsbakery.ie The Country Store, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, 058 43061; thecountrystore.ie Florrie’s Fine Wines, Newtown Road, Tramore, Co Waterford, 051 393 582 M&D Bakery, Mount Sion Avenue, Waterford, 051 378 080 Michael McGrath, Butcher, Lismore, Co Waterford, 058 54350 FARMERS’ MARKETS Ardkeen Producers’ Market,
second and fourth Sunday of every month; ardkeen.com Dungarvan Farmers’ Market, every Thursday; dungarvanfarmersmarket.com EAT AT ... L’Atmosphere – A warm and welcoming restaurant with faultless service and authentic French cooking that doesn’t miss a beat (Henrietta Street, Waterford, 051 858 426; restaurant-latmosphere.com). The Cliﬀ House – Michelinstarred restaurant with a tasting menu that attracts gourmet guests from across Ireland (€85 – add €40 for wine pairing). Beautiful location overlooking Ardmore Bay (Ardmore, Co Waterford, 024 87800;
thecliﬀhousehotel.com). O’Brien Chophouse – Expect a nicely decorated, mid-priced restaurant with top-shelf cooking. Local producers are strongly supported, while fruit, veg and eggs all come from the owners’ country house, Ballyvolane (Lismore, Co Waterford, 058 53810; obrienchophouse.ie). The Tannery – For exceptional cooking from Paul Flynn, alongside keenly priced locally sourced food. Stylish accommodation in the Tannery Townhouse is also a draw (Dungarvan, Co Waterford, 058 45420; tannery.ie). GOOD FOR LUNCH Harlequin Café & Wine Bar – Small and basic looking, but keen prices and authentic Italian food. (Stephen Street, Waterford, 051 877 552; harlequin-cafe.com). The Lemon Tree does good home-cooked ready meals (Dunmore East, Co Waterford; lemontreecatering.ie).
Nude Food – A quirky café, excellent aﬀordable food. Loved by locals (O’Connell Street, Dungarvan, 058 24594; nudefood.ie). White Horses – A busy restaurant with a great line in desserts (Ardmore, Co Waterford, 024 94040). PUB GRUB McAlpin’s Suir Inn – Another good spot for lunch. Seafood pie and huge traditional desserts (Cheekpoint, Co Waterford, 051 382 220; mcalpins.com). Merry’s Gastropub – Top notch pub grub. Try the local brew – Copper Coast Ale (Dungarvan, Co Waterford, 058 24488; merrys.ie). Rocketts of the Metal Man – Traditional local food – corned beef and cabbage is good (Tramore, Co Waterford, 051 381 496) The Spinnaker – For great seafood (Dunmore East, Co Waterford, 051 383 133; thespinnakerbar.com). BEST PINT Henry Downes Pub, 8-10 Thomas Street, Waterford, 051 874 118 Geoff’s Café Bar, 8-9 St John Street, Waterford, 051 874 787 Power’s Public House, Queen Street, Tramore, Co Waterford, 051 381 617
ILLuStRAtIon by DeRmot FLynn
the best place for a pint is the tiny Power’s pub; you’ll not find a truer character than the landlady Martha. Another popular seaside town is Dunmore East, where regular visitors like to sun themselves outside the Spinnaker Bar, while tucking into a bowl of Ballyhack mussels – although the seafood chowder is pretty unbeatable. Worth a visit too is The Lemon Tree, a café that extends its opening hours in tourist season and does a brisk trade in homemade ready-meals. They also run the upstairs café at The Theatre Royal on The Mall in Waterford City. Due north from Dunmore East, you’ll find the village of Passage
Left, Cora Donnelly of Ardkeen Stores where small local producers get pride of place. Right, the rich pasturelands of Cappoquin.
East from where you can take a 15-minute car ferry across the Suir Estuary to Ballyhack in Co Wexford. Aside from the beautiful scenery, the big draw here for gourmet visitors is Kevin Dundon’s awardwinning Dunbrody House in Arthurstown. Just up the road in Duncannon is the lesser-known and immensely stylish Aldridge Lodge, whose chef Billy Whitty is revered by Irish food critics for his modern, imaginative cooking and
strong support of local producers. And finally to Waterford city, which is home to the best independent supermarket in the country – Ardkeen Quality Food Store. Small, quality brands that struggle to get a look in at larger supermarket chains are given pride of place on Ardkeen’s shelves. A fishmonger, a butcher, a Sheridan’s cheese counter, wine, flowers, delicious, fresh-made ready meals and desserts – Ardkeen has it all. But what makes it so special is an ethos that celebrates and promotes the best local producers. If you’re looking to eat out in Waterford city there is no shortage of restaurants, but the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest is L’Atmosphere – a dreary name for an outstanding restaurant that serves authentic French country cooking. Speaking of authenticity – proper oldstyle Irish pubs are something of an endangered species but Waterford city is home to one of the finest: Henry Downes Bar, which is run by the well-known horse-breeding family, the de Bromheads. As well as bottling its own whiskey (Downes No.9), this venerable establishment has its own squash court and holy well. It has been around for more than 250 years – and looks its age. But Downes – like a floury blaa stuffed with Ballybeg ham – makes no apologies for being what it is: Waterford to the core.
Published on Feb 6, 2012
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