West Cork is the driving force behind Ireland’s modern food revolution. The earliest artisans of the region put the place on the culinary map over thirty years ago, and many more have joined in since. Slow food enthusiast and Good Food Ireland member Ruth Healy, of Urru Culinary Store in Bandon, herself a driving force behind the support of local artisans, has put together wonderful itinarary of touring, meeting local producers and enjoying their delicious offerings en route. The Farm to Fork Discovery Days, which take place on two dates in August, include a guided tour of various West Cork producers, sampling of wares, country walks, riverside picnics, cookery demonstration and a summer supper with wine, in fact, a real culinary experience to be learned from and enjoyed.
The day starts with a light breakfast at Urru in Bandon, a brief talk on the days events, and insight into what’s to come. The group will then travel by mini bus to Drimoleague, in the heart of rural West Cork, where dairy farmers Alan and Valerie Kingston at Glenilen will showcase their fabulous selection of cream, country butter, yogurts and desserts made from milk from their own herd. The farm location is idyllic, and after seeing production and sampling, the group can take a short stroll through lovely countryside by the river, and even have a quick dip if desired, before moving on to the next port of call.
In Enniskeane, the Hollies Sustainable Centre is pioneering a ‘no dig’ market garden packed with produce sold at farmer’s markets in Clonakilty and Bandon. John Conway who works the garden with partner Selvi, will give a talk on this unique method of growing, and answer all those difficult questions! The group will also get an insight into achievable sustainable living which takes place in this small community. The peace of the countryside here is beyond compare, and visitors always come away feeling calm and at one with the world.
As lunchtime beckons, it’s time to travel to nearby Ballineen village to enjoy a picnic from Good Food Ireland member Susan Fehily’s River Lane Café, to be enjoyed on the grass by the by the River Bandon just down the road. A short drive from here, Anthony Creswell’s award winning Ummera Smokehouse produces a variety of artisan specialities, including smoked organic Irish salmon, wild eel, smoked chicken and smoked bacon. His environmentally friendly smokehouse uses a vermi-composting unit to dispose of production waste and has a natural wetland for water waste. The smokehouse is by the river Argideen, a few miles outside the seaside village of Timoleague, with its ruined abbey.
The last stop is Barry and Catherine McLoughlin’s Good Food Ireland restaurant, The Poacher’s Inn. Barry is an expert fish chef who uses freshest fish and shellfish from the waters of the Atlantic, to create a vibrant menu full of local flavours. He will demonstrate a tasty summer evening supper, to be enjoyed with a glass of wine, as the group reflect on the day’s activities. The world of West Cork food is just waiting to be discovered!
Bookings at: Urru Culinary Store 023-8854731, [email protected] or Poacher’s Inn 023 8841159 for discovery days on Thursday 13th and 27th August, 9am-7pm. €125 per person Payment secures booking. What to Bring: Wear comfortable outdoor clothing & shoes .A flask of tea or coffee if you feel like it. Car can be parked at The Poacher’s Inn on Clonakilty Road. Picnic lunch served indoors if weather dicates!