A Gastronomic Quest - My Exodus to Ireland
Chef Bryce Collins
“A World of Gastronomication”
Written: 30 May 2011
Hold your Breath... Make A Wish... Count To Three... Come with me, and you’ll be in a World of Gastronomication! Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination...
Greetings folks - Before I begin, I’m going to start this off with a song!
And that’s how it was upon touch down in this marvelous country! My home, My Motherland, my Ireland... I was instantly fascinated not only by the scenery, nor it’s friendly, welcoming, warm and hospitable demeanor. But for me... The food upstaged it all!!
I was simply in awe at the cornucopia of fresh & local ingredients produced here in country! The diversity of Irish products grown, bred and made right in their own back yard! It was most definitely NOT the stereotypical, corned-beef & cabbage, potato & Guiness land we hear about in the states!
I learned quite quickly that the pride of Ireland lies in the growers, farmers, butchers, fish mongers, producers and chefs! My head was spinning at what I would encounter daily in my first week here in Ireland.
When we landed in Ireland, we hit the ground running. We immediately commenced filming on the second day of our arrival. We didn’t have to travel far our first day to find amazing ingredients! They were literally in our own back yard.
Of course, I insisted that my first stop and a must see when it came to fresh & local Irish Cuisine was the infamous Cork English Market!
This was the inspiration for my video parody of “Willy Wonka”, now I knew about the English Market long before planning my move to Ireland, but to see it up close and in person was like a Gastronomic Playground! A Chef’s Dream! A Foodie Utopia of everything under the sun, moon and stars!!
Upon entering this wonderland of food, I stopped short at the gate, and just stood there in utter shock at the sight before me! It was absolutely unbelievable! My head began to fill with ideas, recipes, creativity, and I hadn’t even taken more than five steps in. Cristina (my partner) had to push me along and snap me out of my trance. “Move it Dude!” she said.
The Xylophone Music began to play in my head, and I was immediately inspired. As The English Market’s web site’s home page states: “It is one of the oldest of its kind. Trading as a market since 1788, it pre-dates most of the other markets like it. Indeed, Barcelona's famous Boqueria market did not start until 80 years after “The English Market” first started to serve the people of Cork. It has survived the Famine, revolutions, wars, fire and economic decline.”
"The English Market" in Cork City Centre is in and of itself a superpower shopping destination of various foods! In this grandiose mall you will find a motley crew of independent local food vendors!
Just take a look and you’ll see into your imagination as your senses will be tantalized by the sites and smells of the fresh fruits and vegetables such as the “Super Fruit” stall. You won’t be able to pass up the eye catching Bakeries of Fresh Breads And Confectionaries, like “The Alternative Bread Company” or Butchers like, “Bresnan and Sons” where you see the beef right on the hook with marbling like no other!
Then there’s my good friends at “Kay O’Connell’s” the award winning, and in my humble opinion the best fish mongers in all of Europe! They will always take the time to stop and engage in casual conversation, educate customers on their products and what to look out for in the upcoming fishery seasons! Plus they’re always ready with a witty quip, funny story, and by far one of the most friendliest vendors in the market!
Cristina’s must stop is Toby Simmonds’ “Real Olive Company” where not only will you find an array of assorted exotic dressed olives for the picking, but their dressed sun-dried tomatoes “are to die for”, as Cristina puts as she munches away!
Stop by O’ Sullivan’s Poultry who supply the finest chicken products in all of Cork! They just happen to be one of the largest chicken suppliers in the market too! But their products don’t stop there... They have now expanded into providing exotic meats such as Ostrich fillets, Kangaroo fillets, Wild Rabbit, Poussin, Guinea-Fowl, Duck, Goose, Pigeon... Shall I go on? Well I will!!
If it’s cheese, pastas, and creating your own homemade pizzas a must-stop shop is “Iago”. Aside from the plethora of cheeses available to you. “Iago’s” claim to fame is the pasta made fresh daily right at the stall! But don’t leave yet, there’s homemade sauces and even fresh pizza dough in a variety of flavours! I personally catered a gourmet pizza party gathering 90% of my ingredients right from this stall alone!
Now, when your dogs are barking and your feet need a rest, just go upstairs to the "Farmgate Restaurant" which has an open balcony looking over the whole market! The restaurant has excellent entrees, desserts, and drink.
There’s just so much to see and do and these are only a few of the many vendors at the Cork English Market, but before I close on the subject I must confess my little secret ritual...
Before I leave for home with my culinary treasures in hand, I always stop off at “O'Flynn's Gourmet Sausages”, where they have the finest array of artisan sausages... You can also find their traditional cured bacon, Black & White pudding , Italian meatballs & Gourmet burgers to take home... But what set’s O'Flynn's Gourmet Sausages apart is that they’ll gladly cook you up a sausage sub of your choice for take away on site!
I’m forever stopping by for a sausage sub, with cooked onions and sweet chilli... And one is never enough!! After my initial purchase, you’ll find me hiding in the corner off by the offices of The English Market; I’ll inhale my sub, and 10 minutes later I’m coming right back for another... “for dessert”... Declan O’ Flynn also has a location in Cork City Centre where you can sit and enjoy these award winning delights!
"The Cork English Market" is an exciting event to combine food shopping, dining, and the culinary Irish cultural experience all in one! And the Epitome of why I say, Ireland is indeed the Gastronomic Superpower of the World!!!
Next Time... I’ll take you on another adventure to Kanturk to meet up with my Good friends, Mc Carthy’s Butchers!!
Chef Bryce Collins