A Trip To Cork

Well I am back online after suffering an attack last Thursday and me only discovering it on Friday night and these computer anoraks who only work five days a week not getting into gear until Monday meant I was bereft for five days.  It is like having your legs cut off and the longer I am off air, the more frustrated I become, lashing out at everyone within hearing distance,  Ignorance and bad information allied to complacency sets me up to be a horrible person.  But it is over now, I am back on form and eager to please, albeit with a different set up which is taking time to learn.

Things have certainly been happening on the Bedian front judging by the comments on the blog after Ms West’s essay into blowing me aside but let us just let things take their course.  I have no further news on that scene so let us wait.

In the meantime I will tell you of my trip to Cork last week.  We had been invited down to Rebel Country but Storm Darwin struck Ireland on Wednesday 12th February, arguably the worst recorded storm in Irish history.  Certainly off Kinsale a record wave of 25metres high hit an offshore weather station.  The storm created untold damage to the country south of a line between Dublin and Galway.  This was followed by freezing temperatures creating black ice in all southern counties.  We had a 200 mile drive through Ballaghaderreen, Charlestown, Tuam, Galway, Limerick into Cork via Charleville and Buttevant.  So early Thursday we were having second thoughts but in the end decided to chance it.  We were pleasantly surprised, the early sun soon burnt off the ice and a fine day ensued on our trek south but in the big sky of Ireland on both sides of the road some places were still having it rough,

Evidence of the previous day’s turbulence was easy to see, south of Galway thousands of acres were flooded and around Limerick, tree after tree had been blown over like matchsticks, but the council men had been active and the roads were clear.  Before Charleville, a whole garage and petrol station had been flattened, the canopy blown over onto workshops and showrooms.  Signs, fences and walls all in disarray were an unhappy sight all along the way, with electricity board men round every bend trying to reconnect power to cut off areas.  Even on Sunday night thousands of homes and farms were still cut off causing havoc to milking systems, workshops and general living arrangements.

But then after a four hour drive, God smiled on us, we had booked into Garnish House, a guest house owned by a lovely lady, Joanna Lucey, more by luck than good judgement.  It had been recommended by our son, who is doing a culinary course at Cork Institute of Technology.  What a find was Garnish House, from the moment Joanna opened the door and welcomed us in.  After a 200 mile drive, a cup of tea is very welcome but what Joanna gave us was a full blown afternoon tea.  Scones, fruit bread and pastries and lashings of  Barry’s tea.  We were fully replenished in no time and ready for the high spots of Cork.

A rendez-vous with our son and a visit to the English Market set us up.  The Queen was there last year and was impressed and as Joanna said if it was good enough for the queen it should be good enough for us.  It was six or seven years since last I was there and certainly the place had been tarted up but the quality of the food was as good as ever, especially the meat stalls.  There can be few places as good as it in this world I’m sure.  We bought pates, rilettes and sausage and spent a happy couple of hours just wandering.  We then had a cider in Cork’s oldest pub, lit by candles at 5.30pm, it felt like a lock-in and then sauntered off to a lovely restaurant across the river Lee which was in full flow, after days of rain and storm.  The part of Cork we walked through had been under water for days and even now the river was lapping at the top of the arches of the bridges, all ready to invade again.

The restaurant had been selected again by son, on Bridge Street up from St Patrick’s Bridge.  It was called Star Anise, a clean decent looking bistro with no frippery and obviously popular when at 6.00pm there were already 26 diners.  I had the seafood chowder, big lumps of red and white fish, prawns and mussels in a creamy fish broth which was helped down with  delicious house breads, I then had the fish of the day which happened to be turbot.

You could tell how good the chef was, I read somewhere that when you are cooking white fish, you have a five second window between under done and over done, this chef had it timed to the second, resulting in a firm and tender fish on a bed of al dente vegetables in a saffron sause.  A carafe of house chenin blanc washed the lot down perfectly.

Back to Garnish House and our lovely clean and comfortable room for a glass or two of Malbec before the bed beckoned.  Son cleared off for an early start next day when we would be seeing him again.  We slept for 10 hours before showering and breakfast and here we come to the bit where God really smiled.  I have stayed in some places in my time and ate getting on for 25,000 breakfasts but never once have I seen a breakfast the like of what Joanna and her team put on.  Porridge with honey and cream, 15 different fruits with home-made yoghurt, compotes of caramelised fruits laced with cognac, whiskey or Baileys Irish Cream.  Fish of all sorts including kippers and smoked salmon, assorted meats and cheeses.  Traditional me went for bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs and delight, delight, potato herb cakes.  Joanna could see I was enjoying myself and bought another two of these delicious herb cakes to the table.  It was all washed down with pots of freshly ground coffee and then she said “I’m sorry I cannot offer you more”.  A delightful woman with a lovely, lilting local accent.

All I can say to any reader is that if you ever fetch up in Cork, seek out the Garnish House, opposite the gates of University College Cork on Western Road.  You will be overwhelmed with the welcome and the bill.  For the two of us, with all that was thrown in, 79 euro was for nothing.  An incredible experience and thank you Joanna Lucey and your staff for making our short stay so memorable.  We will go back to Garnish House whenever we are in Cork and if you my dear reader ventures that way, try a meal in the Star Anise.

Well at lunch-time that day we were up at CIT for a meal, Paul was commis chef to his friend, Eileen.  It was not as good as the last time when son was chef de jour.  I had a passable butternut squash and red pepper soup, followed by a pork vindaloo which was horrible, but the ice cream that son had made was very good.  Helen had decent fish cakes stuffed with red and white fish, the seasoning could have been better with a good looking lamb shank to follow with shovel fulls of vegetable and mash.

We could not stay long the weather was threatening, floods were expected with the afternoon tide and we had to cross the river.  We had an uneventful four and half hour drive home in appalling weather.  Once home we snacked on English Market goodies, a sup of wine and an early, but surly night after I discovered my computer had been attacked by some unknown low life.

2 thoughts on “A Trip To Cork

  1. sounds great Paul – Gatley was nearly blown away last Wednesday, but luckily our bungalow was undamaged !!!!! Attacking Dublin next week for 3 days – an early b irthday present for my husband and I !!!!!

  2. Enjoyed reading your blog over the last few days after finding it when looking for reviews of the Endorphin Clinic in Dublin. Really enjoyed it. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *