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Friday, 10 February 2012

The English Market No Beef at all

Kinda says it all

I rather concentrated on Corned and Spiced Beef last time I wrote about the English Market, but in reality Beef is just a small part of what makes this Market great. So this blog is an imagined shopping trip (based on my actual shopping experiences) for a dinner party.

3 Fishmongers occupy one large corner, the biggest of which is K O’Connell. Their stall must be 50 feet long and groans under the weight of beautiful fresh fish, and is long enough for whole Conger Eels to be laid out. Fancy a whole Turbot? If they have been caught they will be there.

Ballycotton Seafood are also in this stunning piscine display. With another shop in Midleton and landing their catch in Ballycotton itself they certainly met my criteria for Local and Great.
Ballycotton Seafood

Next to this amazing display of fish is a brilliant example of what can be done with great ingredients, Frank Hederman’s smokehouse takes only the best fish and enhances them with his special smoking. Obviously Frank smokes Salmon, but for me it is the Eel that stands out along with the Smoked Mussels that appear in the Ballymaloe House Friday buffet. Frank also does a great range of fish cocktail dishes – superb for starters – the Salmon and Crab Mayonnaise being my personal favourite.

Frank Hederman

Two really good cheesemongers, Iago and On the Pig’s Back supply a wide range of Irish and Continental cheeses, Iago concentrating on the Italian and French marques. On the Pig’s Back do many Irish Cheeses but also have a wide selection of Charcuterie and sausages.



On the Pig's Back

Caherbeg Free Range Pork and sister supplier Rosscarberry Recipes provide much of the excellent meat range at On The Pig's Back.  I met Avril Allshire Howe, from Caherbeg Free Range Pork back in 2000 at a small demonstration of West Cork Products in a Community Hall in Ballydehob and was immediately struck by the taste and texture of her sausages. Bacon and Hams are other products in their truly tasty range. Caherbeg also operate Rosscarberry Recipe more pork product but using pigs sourced from local farmers as opposed to their own farm in Rosscarberry. Either way, check them out and where better than On the Pig’s Back?

So, meats cheeses and fish down and some bread needed to accompany them. The Alternative Bread Company do a full range from the ubiquitous White Pan – but a properly produced loaf not a Chorleywood monstrosity, through various Wholemeal and Grains to Sourdough. With ABC and Declan Ryan’s Arbutus Bakery Cork is well blessed with good artisan bakers.

Alternative Bread Company

Need speciality foods? Mr Bells provides ingredients from around the world whilst the Olive stall does what it says on the tin - or at least in the wooden pail.
Mr Bells

Poultry is provided by several stalls, the largest of which is the Chicken Inn with whole and jointed birds, pre-marinated cuts and some good Turkey as well. For several years my Christmas trip has included a boned out Turkey which has been chilled to 1c and then vacuum packed for me so that it can make the crossing back to Wales without warming up. One of the things that I love about the English Market is the ability to buy things that are just not available in the UK such as Chicken Gizzards, though the Chicken guy at Usk Farmers Market will bring them - if asked in advance.

Chicken Inn

Other Cork specialities include Crubeens, Pigs Trotters, that I often buy to boost a stock, and Drisheen think Black Pudding but Cow and/or Sheep Blood in a natural intestine casing. Having mentioned Black Pudding it is only fair to state that there are several suppliers in the English Market and that the best Irish Black Pudding almost certainly emanates from Clonakilty in West Cork, though just along the road in Rosscarberry Avril Allshire Howe is mounting a serious assault on that reputation. Clonakilty also produces White and Brown Puddings. The White is nothing like the Scottish version which seems to be mainly Lard and Oatmeal but is a type of sausage made from the lesser used cuts of Pork such as cheek and delicately herbed.’


So just vegetables needed and Paradise Gardens supply some amazing organic veg. The range is wide and the veg look to be at their freshest. Sadly the need to travel with my purchases means that I have never actually bought any though it is very tempting and if I lived in Cork Paradise would be a daily achievement!

Paradise Garden

Just the wines to get so off to Bubble Brothers who have a surprisingly wide range in their small unit and will always give advice on the wines and menu pairings!
Bubble Brothers

One of the great eating experiences in Ireland is upstairs in the English Market where the Farmgate Café holds sway. All the produce is local and seasonal most of it making the short trip upstairs from the Market itself, so if you want to try Crubeens or Packet and Tripe (Packet is Drisheen), a real Irish Stew or the freshest of fish the Farmgate is THE venue. There is a second venue in Midleton popular on Saturdays when the Farmers Market stallholders get together to discuss how the morning went but busy all week with locals and destination diners alike.

Photos of Farmgate Restaurant, Cork
This photo of Farmgate Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

So when in Cork the English Market is a Must, the produce is Local and Great.

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