While lying in bed early this morning, listening to the sound of thunder and lighting and hailstones pounding the bedroom window I seriously considered staying there ... for the day! Thankfully though I didn't and dragged myself out for an early start for the trip from Meath to Howth for my first ever Fabulous Food Trail. This food trail was extra special as it coincided with the annual Dublin Bay Prawn Festival so there was a great festival atmosphere in the town. Our Fabulous Food Trail started off outside the Old Courthouse with a history of Howth from our lovely tour guide Roisin. She was interrupted by Martin from Nicky's Plaice with a batchload of their famous smoked salmon which they smoke themselves. It was only the start of a morning of sampling! Martin is very passionate about fish and the industry that surrounds it. Apparently Irish people eat only 22 fish meals a year while over 78% of our fish is exported!
Then it was on to Ray Collier Butchers where Ray himself told us the story of Lambay Beef. I have to admit I didn't even know anyone lived on Lambay Island let alone raised cattle on it. The cattle are born and reared without ever seeing a roof in their lives. Another interesting fact is that there is a troop of kangaroos living on the island! Yes you heard that right ... Kangaroos. In the 1950s Dublin Zoo had too many on its hands and four were sent to live on the island. Since these ones are from Tasmania the habitat is not too dissimilar and over the 60 years they have thrived there!!
Then it was off to The House for a lovely sit down of scones and tea. The House advocates a slow food policy which is brought through their food and presentation right down to the china cups we were given to drink our tea from. It was all about sitting down, relaxing and enjoying our time there.
Then we traipsed two doors up to Ella's - the local wine bar. This is a lovely small venue which is famous for its prawn tempura. For our sampling we were given White Crab Meat and Avocado on Brown Bread. It was succulent and moreish so I had two!!
Then came the biggest surprise of the day - a visit to Donal Skehan's house!! Donal & Sophie very kindly welcomed us all into their home where Donal provided us with a demonstration on how to make Wild Garlic Pesto and then fed us all with Wild Garlic Soup. It was very surreal watching him demonstrate in exactly the same kitchen he does for the Kitchen Hero series as everything is exactly the same. I am now very inspired to make my own Wild Garlic Soup!
Next it was on to the County Market or Joe's as the locals call it! This lovely food store stocks a wide range of goods. They also have a tearoom upstairs. We got to sample one of their meringues which was light, and topped with cream and a sweet raspberry coulis.
They offer a fabulous range of wines from small producers around the World that are exclusive to them. The trail finished at the Festival Food Village where it was prawns galore. Paella, prawn curry, BBQ prawns - you name they had it!!
The Howth Food Trail was €40 euros and there are others in Dublin and Cork. I went with two friends and we had a ball. It is a wonderful morning out filled with lots of food and information about a place that you thought you probably knew a lot about. Go on a trail and you will be surprised to find out how much you didn't know!!
The Dublin Bay Prawn Festival runs until tomorrow Sunday 29th April. If you are unsure about going let me leave a little montage of persuasion for you!