At the start of every year, I look back and think about the food people who have impressed me most. Some people appear every year as they are consistently impressing me, other fall off as others take their place. This never means that I am not impressed anymore or think they are getting worst – it just means that I have made space for other upcoming people and products. As a disclaimer, I have not been paid by anyone to mentioned anyone in this article, neither have I been influenced by any other means than my own taste and opinion. Last year, someone took offense on some of the people I mentioned – that is ok as this is not meant as a guide for you but simply me sharing my thoughts. So, here are my Food Stars 2017
Here I have to mention a few who have worked tireless to bring great food to Cork.
- Takashi Miyazaki for his amazing Japanese food (watch out, he is opening a fine dining Japanese restaurant in the premises of Fenn’s Quay in January)
- Bryan McCarthy for not only running Greenes and Cask but also having opened a relaxed take away Bao Boi Cork offering Taiwanese steamed buns (I have not yet been, so can’t comment on the food itself but running three enterprises deserves a mentioning).
- Kate Lawlor who has brought us many great dishes in her restaurant Fenns’ Quay. She had to close recently and has now taken the helm at the newly re-opened Oyster Tavern.
- Michael Fleming for offering Cork Diners excellent food for the last 30 years.
Exciting times for food lovers with new products coming to market every month. Here are just some of the ones who I really loved in 2017.
- Wild Wood Vinegars – try the Wild Thyme Balsamic vinegar. It is awesome
- Beef Biltong by Rosscarbery – developed by the new generation of the Allshire family, Mr T and I fought over the last crumbs of it. Best newcomer award at the Blas na eHreiann was well deserved.
- Wild Red Mead by Kinsale Mead Co. – Properly produced in Kinsale, this is a light mead that is easy to enjoy and not what you expect from a mead. Try also the Orange Blossom Mead.
- Cheese – there are too many I love to single one out but Milleens cheese is still one of the best cheeses around.
- Highbank Orchard Treacle – how can someone get excited about Treacle you may ask?? Try it and you will see.
I don’t go out as often as I would like and it was extremely sad to see that Star Anise had to close their doors at the end of the year. The list below are places I have visited throughout the year.
- Stoneview in Blarney is a lovely place run by husband and wife Patrick Murphy (formerly of El Vino at the Elysian) and Nicola. The place was originally a golf clubhouse, turned into a pub. All locals (including me) were eager to see that the Murphy’s did to the place. It was turned into a cosy place with lovely attention to detail. But it is the food that brings people back again and again.
- Also in Blarney, the Square Table is by sisters Martina and Tricia and attracts people from Blarney and Cork. Mentioned in the Michelin Guide and McKenna bible, this is a restaurant well worth a visit.
- Iyers – how can I not add Iyers to the list. If you love Indian food – this is proper food. Made fresh every day, it is a mix of restaurant and take-away in a tiny place but the food is so worth the squeeze.
- Greenes – fine casual dining, flavour and presentation make you drool over every plate. And why not pop into Cask afterwards for a delicious cocktail.
- Flemings – always on top of my list. Michael Fleming is in business for 30 years and has not once compromised on his suppliers (quality first) or his style (he doesn’t follow fashion).
I needed to have a separate category for cafes as the restaurant list would have been too long otherwise.
- Idaho – in business for the last 16-17 years, it was one of the first cafes I visited when I started going to Cork on my own (transport was an issue) and I have been coming back ever since. Service with a smile is not a slogan here – it’s simply their way. Using local produce before it became ‘hip’. Run by husband and wife Richard (front of house) and wife Mairead (chef), this cafe will be there for another 20-30 years (after which I assume they’ll finally retire). Follow Richard Jacob on Twitter – he is a poet in disguise.
- On the Pigs Back – not only a stall in the English Market but also a lovely cafe in the Douglas Woollen Mills. Pop in for some great Irish and French dishes. The patés are to die for.
- Urru in Bandon is the vision of a community place if there ever was one. Local produce to buy and eat, great coffee and a lovely girl called Nicola will welcome you like an old friend.
Good food can be had in many places….
- L’Atitude 51 Wine Bar – a staple now. Offering tasty country style food paired with some amazing wines.
- Rising Son’s Brewery – in my eyes, the best pizza in town (and again, it’s my very own opinion). Mr T and I have spent many date nights in here. And the beers are awesome too.
The food world doesn’t only exists of chefs and food producers but also people who champion local food and its producers, support local businesses and sing the gospel from the rooftops. Here are just a few:
- Gary Hanrahan – originally a blogger, he has become much more with his interviews of producers. Follow him on Twitter or read his blog Ireland Homegrown
- Sandra Murphy – who doesn’t know Sandra Murphy. She run Rising Tide originally before she had to close but has joined the crew at the International Hotel Cork and has brought us great events since like the Oyster Gourmet Trail and the Baking & Chocolate Festival. I am sure we will see much more of her in 2018.
This list might get updated over January but so far, these are my favourite places, people and products of 2017. Wishing you all a great 2018 and I can’t wait to see what it brings us food lovers.
Love Elke xx