August 30, 2012

Dining in Kenmare: Prego, Wharton's, Cupán Tae and Kenmare Icecream

As a general rule myself and the boyfriend tend to holiday in Ireland and as much as I hate the word, we are ‘staycationers’. I crave peace, quiet, good food and lots of walking and holidays in Ireland tick all these boxes. For our summer holidays this year we got to spend a lovely week in Parknasilla Resort down in Sneem, Co. Kerry. This resort would generally be waaaaay out our budget but I recently had a lucky streak where I won a week’s holiday, a cookbook and cinema tickets. Well sure it never rains but pours as the saying goes!! 

Parknasilla is a beautiful resort based in the Ring of Kerry and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is surrounded by acres of land and there are tons of activities to choose from. We stayed in the villas there and used them as our base to explore the surrounding areas of Kerry. Kenmare was half an hour away by car so it was one of the places that we ate out quite a bit in. 

Kenmare has some great restaurants and seems to be cheaper than the more touristy Killarney though maybe it is because Kenmare seems to be filled with families and it has taken that into account. First off the list was Wharton’s Fish & Chips, this is a takeaway/small sit down restaurant that we wandered past, turned around and came back in to read the menu. They had us at hake burger!! We ordered two at four euros each and got some chips as well. 

This has to be without doubt the best fish burger I have ever had. They batter and fry the fish right in front of you, place it in a fresh bap and add some tartar sauce. It is simple but damn it was good! The chips were also fried to perfection, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. They weren’t greasy at all and I could have almost kidded myself into believing it was half healthy. We went back a second time ordered the same thing and got onion rings as well. These were a little disappointing as they were a bit greasy but no worse than anywhere else I have ever eaten them. Be warned though the take away portions are huge, if sitting down they are less so but still substantial. You will not come away hungry!

Hake Burgers and Chips

For lunch we tried Cupán Tae, which after having recently tried out in Galway I was raving about to himself. I did warn him before that everything was fine china cups, very flowery and totally girly but he is well used to that by now! Cupán Tae in Kenmare didn’t disappoint on the crockery but it did disappoint on the food. The menu here is very limited and nothing at all like the Galway Cupán Tae. Himself had a good enough tuna melt while I had a chicken sandwich. I probably should have known better it was literally two pieces of bread with chicken and butter, no relish… nothing. It brought me right back to days spent on the beach as a kid in the 80s!! It was literally what it said on the menu but after being in Galway my expectations had been set very high. For five euros it felt a bit like a tourist rip off! Thankfully though the lime and courgette cake was exactly the same – delicious and moist and always a treat. So if I head there again it would be for just tea and cake. 

During the week we also headed to Prego, an Italian Restaurant, which had enticed us in with the promise of potato pizza. We traipsed up at about 9.30 on a Wednesday evening and were lucky to get a seat as the place was packed. It is a small restaurant and it was cosy but there was a great buzz in the place. We started off the evening with Salmon Crostini and Raviollo Al Gambaretti. The crostini was toasted bread topped with Kenmare Smoked Salmon with a lemon & red onion mayonnaise while the raviollo were small ravioli filled with spinach, cream & garlic.

Both were great starters though the raviollo almost made me wish I had ordered pasta for my main it was that good. Then it was onto the pizza where I ordered the sausage and potato one and he got the Noble Pig. The Noble Pig was topped with slow roasted shredded pork, rocket and apple slices while the sausage and potato pizza came fully loaded with local sausage and baby potatoes. The pizzas were thin, crispy and had great flavor combinations. Having lived in Italy the concept of potato pizza wasn’t new to me but I haven’t seen it outside Italy before and I actually think it was better than what I have had there before.  Having eaten every last scrap it was a struggle whether or not to end with dessert but as the food was so good we got a tiramisu and a tarte au citron. The tiramisu was lovely if a bit heavy for me at that time of night though my lemon tart went down a treat. The whole bill came to just under €50 and that was including a good espresso. 

One other thing to note about Prego is that they do not offer a children’s menu they instead offer smaller portions of all the grown up food so that kids are eating exactly the same food as Mum and Dad. They also offer gluten free pasta and will try to cater to other dietary needs especially if given a bit of notice. We went back the following Friday night starving after a walk up and around Torc Waterfall (it’s a lovely walk try it if you get a chance) but alas they were fully booked. That’s what we get for being too relaxed on holidays!!

One final must try is Kenmare Icecream and with 21 flavours to choose from I used that as justification for the four times we went there during the one week!! It is the good sort of creamy icecream that tastes like the flavour it is meant to be and on the plus side it isn’t that expensive. For two waffle cones with one scoop each cost us €3.85 which is quite a difference to Murphys in Killarney which cost us €7. This place would also be perfect for children that have an intolerance to dairy as they did have sorbets on offer. 

Kenmare is a beautiful part of Kerry and if you are deciding on somewhere to stay for future holidays I would highly recommend it. It would be a great base to explore the Ring of Kerry from and has great food and pubs to come back to after a long day out exploring the countryside, swimming in the sea or just enjoying everything Ireland has to offer. 

 Prego on Urbanspoon

August 15, 2012

August Foodie Festival & Events: 15th - 31st

The Taste of Donegal Food Festival is a festival designed to celebrate and promote great food and drink in Ireland. This year’s festival will be held over a three day period from Friday August 24th until Sunday August 26th 2012. Artisan food froducers will be in attendance along with a large number of exhibitors from all over the Country along with a number of celebrity chef appearances. The festival will be opened with a big fireworks display on the Friday evening. 

This County Cork festival is being held on the 26th of August and will run from roughly 2pm until 6pm. Face painting, hook a duck, lucky dip, gymnasium and taekwondo displays, and pony rides are just some of the events lined up. In addition, a number of the usual favourites will return including tug-o-war, army obstacle course, old time kitchen, vintage cars and steam engine, Irish dancing and the all important pig on the spit.

The Horse Show is a Dublin institution and takes place in the RDS from the 15th – 19th August. It is one of Ireland's largest events in which the best show horses and the best international show jumpers compete for honours. If you aren’t into racing though there will be plenty of food, entertainment and shopping to keep you occupied. Or get your glad rags on and enter ladies day on the Thursday.

As the final host port for the Tall Ships Races 2012, the Dublin Docklands will be the place to be from the 23rd to the 26th of August 2012. Lots will be happening over the four days and there will be something to entertain all the family. There is live music featuring Cathy Davey and Duke Special, Viking Demo, Family Workshops and much much more. Theatre of Food will also be at the festival with a very interesting line up. Themes per day are Thursday 23rd: International Flavas; Friday 24th: Seasonal & Sustainable & Saturday 25th: Indulgence!!

If you can afford it then the Electric Picnic is on in Stradbally, Co. Laois from 31st August – 2nd September. With a lineup that includes music, art, theatre, comedy, pantomime, food and holistic health it truly is an eclectic mix. 

Get down to The Pavilion Quarter, Dun Laoghaire, for fabulous food and fireworks on Saturday 18th August. Tasty treats from the barbecue will be available and it is also the prime viewing area for the second “Summer is a Festival” fireworks display from 8-10pm with the fireworks happening around 9.30.

On Sunday, the 26th of August 2012, Kilcullen in Co. Kildare will be hosting its third annual Kilcullen River Festival. The day will include Farmers Market & Craft Stalls, Family Fun & Games, River Obstacle Course and much more. Keep an eye on their facebook page for updates.

Mitchelstown Food Festival & Awards will take place on Sunday 26 August. Highlights include a food market, cookery demonstrations and food production demonstrations.Other  events include a food trail in a number of Mitchelstown outlets, where festival goers can sample local artisan food and The Food Producers Award 2012. There will also be a dedicated kid's area with bouncy castles and other activities in the green area outside of the Kingston Arms Hotel.

On August 18th and 19th, Milk and Cookies is holding its second annual Secret Garden Festival. The Secret Garden is an outdoor festival and will take place in Martinstown House, with camping facilities provided. There will be sing-a-longs by the campfire, storytelling under the stars, clowning around in the daytime with fun activites and workshops, and of course Cookies!

N.B Even though the events section is updated weekly, dates and times are liable to change so please do check the websites yourself as well.
If you would like to have your foodie event added please contact Kat at thepurplepageireland (at)

August 03, 2012

The Great Taste Awards 2012 - The Foods of Athenry

I love my food - who would ever have guessed! I love going to restaurants, cooking my own, discovering great new Irish products and going to lots of food filled events. I started the Purple Page because I wanted to spread the word about all these discoveries and celebrate all the great restaurants, events and food products that I encounter. Back in June while at Bloom I was introduced to The Foods of Athenry by NenaghGal. This week they were awarded seven Great Taste awards by the UK Guild of Fine Foods.  The Great Taste Awards, often referred to as the ‘Oscars of the Food Industry’, are the acknowledged benchmark for speciality food and drink across the UK and Ireland.  So it's not just me that thinks their range is fantastic! 

The Foods of Athenry Christmas range was the outstanding winner, with their regular and gluten-free Christmas Puddings, SQ Luxury Christmas Puddings produced for Superquinn and Christmas Mince-Meat each winning an award. The Foods of Athenry Very Berry Granola took home an award for the second year running with their Gluten-Free Multi-seed Crackers and their ‘The Works’ Gluten-Free Flapjacks and Granola Bars winning the first gold star award. 

“We are absolutely delighted with the results,” said Siobhan Lawless Director of the Foods of Athenry, “To win seven awards in one year is an amazing achievement, particularly for a small company from the West of Ireland.  It’s great to see our Christmas range being recognised as it really establishes our reputation in both domestic and international markets as a quality producer of Christmas baked goods”. 

It has been a busy year for The Foods of Athenry, having re-built their business after it was destroyed by a fire and only last month launching their extended gluten-free range into Ireland’s leading multiples.  “We have had a tough year, but the hard work has paid off”, said Siobhan, “With the addition of dedicated gluten free bakery, we have been able to extend our range.  The awards are accredited purely by taste, so to have our gluten free products recognised and awarded for their high taste profile is particularly rewarding. Consumers trust the Great Taste labels and know they won’t be disappointed”, concluded Siobhan Lawless. 

The annual Great Taste Accreditation scheme saw over 8,800 food and drinks products entered, blind taste-tested, and whittled down over the course of 45 days. The panel consisted of 350 specialists including fine food retailers, chefs, restaurant critics, food writers, and other industry experts. You can find The Foods of Athenry products nationwide.

Some other great Irish products that won at this year's awards were
If anyone knows of other companies just let me know and I will add them to the list. Congrats to all the companies that received stars they were no doubt very well deserved.

August 02, 2012

Dux & Co

I love Ireland in the summer, whatever the weather, there is always so much happening around the country. One of my favourite events to attend is the Street Performance World Championships as it is just so creative and unusual and always makes for an interesting day out. I mean how can you not be entertained by this!!
By the way those lumps in his chest are surgically placed magnets or so I have been told!!

Anyway this year I wasn't able to go but instead I got to attend La Carnivale, which was basically a variety show of acts that would be attending the championships. This was brilliant and an adults only show so if the championships aren't your thing maybe check this out next year as I'm sure the organisers will run it again. It was absolute comedy gold!! Before we headed to the gig though the usual debate of where would we eat began. Parts of the quays aren't the liveliest place for eateries unless you include the Italian quarter or head into Temple Bar, neither of which we were in the mood for. This is where Dux & Co came to the rescue. Recently opened, it is located on Wellington Quay beside the Ha'Penny Bridge. Dux & Co are better known for providing proper festival food and for being the winners of the Dublin Street Food Awards. Now they have found a place to call home and what a pretty place it is too all flowery wallpaper and swings (yes swings!).

The menu is varied but not too long, yet it still took us a while to decide. While doing so though we were given some Parsnip, Beetroot and Potato Crisps for nibbling. Full of flavour and colour they were gone within seconds.

After reading the menu thoroughly and still being undecided we opted for a sharing platter. For €10 we got a huge plate of food which included Pan Fried Halloumi with Lime & Chilli & Pita Bread, Smoked Chicken Croquettes with Tarragon Aioli and Patata’s Bravas. The patatas bravas had a nice spicy kick which wasn't overpowering, the halloumi was grand it tasted well seasoned but I think it might be more of an acquired taste. The big hit of the dish were the croquettes which were creamy and packed full of chicken. The only problem with these were that two of them had to be evenly divided between three people!                                                            
Large Sharing Platter
For our mains Brighty choose the decidedly posh sounding Lobster Mac and Cheese while Ms B and I went for the Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwich with Homemade BBQ Sauce, Coleslaw & Sweet Potato Fries. Both of these mains cost €12. The Lobster Mac and Three Cheese was a great sounding pasta dish but unfortunately the lobster was a bit lost in all that cheese and Brighty said it was all a bit heavy for her to finish.

Lobster Mac and Cheese
On the other hand the Pulled Pork Sandwich with BBQ sauce was amazing. I have since been told that's because of the whiskey in it. No wonder it tasted so damn good! Along with the fries, coleslaw and bean salad this dish had more than enough in it and neither of us were able to finish it though we gave it our best try!!

  Pulled Pork Sandwich with Homemade BBQ Sauce

Time wasn't on our side that evening so we didn't get to try any desserts though I'm not sure we would have had the room to. We also didn't get to go to the local off licence to get a bottle of wine because as we were informed Dux & Co is a BYOB! Wohoo to that and their very small corkage charge of €3 on a bottle of wine and €5 per table for beer. In the end I didn't get to try out the two swings set up at the top of the restaurant but I will be back, not only to get a go on those swings, but also to make my way through the rest of the menu! Dux & Co is a very welcome addition to the Dublin Quays.

Dux & Co opens for lunch Tuesday to Sunday, Dinner Wednesday to Saturday and a weekend brunch, Sunday lunch and also offers a picnic basket menu which sounds all together very romantic!
Dux & Co on Urbanspoon