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Ireland: He Tastes Dublin

Canadian Gav Martell is fortunate to call travelling the globe in search of good eats, 'work'. When he isn't busy cooking on TV and publishing recipes and articles - on and - he uses his three kids as an extra set of hands in the kitchen, and as the very best taste-testers. We asked Gav about some of the favorite food stops he made on a recent visit to Dublin. He writes:

For culinary tourists wishing to explore the history of her food, Ireland is somewhat of a conundrum. Two historic occurrences washed away a lot of Ireland's culinary past. The first was when the vikings sacked many of the towns in Ireland in ~800AD. Traditionally many of the recipes for wine, beer and cheeses were closely protected by monks in Europe. In Ireland, when the Vikings stormed in, Ireland lost much of that tradition. Secondly, the introduction of the potato in the 1600s while an economic success, meant many of Ireland's food tradition were replaced with that of the wildly successful potato.

The blessing in disguise is that today Irish cuisine is not weighed down by its legacy. Food purveyors can take the best of what they know from anywhere in the world to create a new, modern Irish food experience.

So, enough history... Where in Dublin should a Journeywoman stop to sample modern Irish culinary delights today? Here's six I tried and pass on to you.


The Guinness Storehouse (St. James Gate) -- Take a look behind the scenes at one of Ireland's most popular brands. An interactive walking tour that includes a tasting in the Gravity Bar with a 360 panoramic view of Dublin. They also have some wonderful restaurants where Chef Justin O'Connor has worked closely with Good Food Ireland to ensure all produce is local. Be sure to try the Guinness bread with vegetable soup at the Brewers' Dining Hall.

Cornocopia (19-20 Wicklow St) -- A delicious restaurant that serves mains, salad, and soups cafeteria style. This vegetarian restaurant makes no excuses and does not hide behind lentil dishes. The focus is on using fresh ingredients and knowing everything going into your body. Dishes are all marked with dietary symbols such as allergens, raw vs living etc. Conveniently located off of popular Grafton Street. To try: spiced sriram sausage, with pepper, aubergine, and kidney bean ragout on brown rice.

Sheridan's Cheesemongers (11 South Anne Street) - walking into this wonderful shop is like stepping into a different century altogether. It started as a stall in the food market sourcing continental cheeses but has grown into a full-fledged cheese-lover's paradise. As mentioned, most cheese tradition was lost when the monasteries were sacked. So artisan cheese production in Ireland is fairly young - a generation or two at most. Allow owner John Leverrier to walk you through a mouth-watering tour of his shop filled with cheeses and cured meats.

Listons Food Store(25/26 Lower Camden St) - lined wall-to-wall with locally sourced Irish foods. All of the prepared foods are made fresh onsite. If you have a kitchenette in your hotel room stop here for wonderful salads, bulgar, and pastas to go. To try: grated potato pancake with corsettes and ementhal.

The Cake Cafe (62 Pleasants Place) - A little difficult to find, this cafe is tucked away in Dublin's award winning Daintree Building - a mixed-use, sustainable urban building. Definitely worth seeking out for the wonderful breads and cakes. They also offer baking classes on a regular basis. To try: EVERYTHING (it's ok, they are all bite-sized

Cafe Joly at the National Library (Kildare Street) - If you're walking around taking in the city, there is no better place to stop and rest your feet than this charming cafe. A menu boasting fresh soups, and sandwiches prepared proudly by Bronwyn Bailey and Michael O'Malley. They take great care to highlight local Irish produce and make all their own soups, and use local meats, cheeses and scones. To try: Gurney sandwich: fresh baked rye, field greens, goat's cheese, cherry tomato, apricot and honey.


Women's words on good taste and bad ...

A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika.
We all need a splash of bad taste -
it's hearty, it's healthy, it's physical.
I think we could use more of it. No taste at all is what I'm against.
(Diana Vreeland, 1984)

Taste tends to develop very unevenly.
It's rare that the same person has good visual taste
And good taste in people
And good taste in ideas.
(Susan Sontag, 1966)

No argument can persuade me to like oysters if I do not like them.
In other words, the disturbing thing about matters of taste
is that they are not communicable.
(Hannah Arendt, 1978)

Acquired tastes are the mark of a woman of leisure.
(Margaret Kennedy, 1925)

Taste does not exist. There is no bad food in times of starvation.
(Proverb from the Philippines)




Back to Girl Talk Ireland

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