Hope you’re hungry.
We all know Cork is the unequivocal food capital of Ireland, but it’s the freshest batch of young Cork foodies (the cooks, chefs and entrepreneurs) who are whipping up the most exciting flavours in town.
To eat like a local foodie, you have to think like one.
That means taking the time to carry out a careful investigation of what’s cooking in the delicious underbelly of the Leeside food scene. The smart money is on the farmer’s markets, a travelling smorgasboard of lovely dishes you can eat in front of the stall you bought it from or take home to enjoy at your leisure.
Here are nine food producers to look out for…
The best thing to hit Cork’s English Market since Queen Elizabeth dropped by with the world’s news cameras, My Goodness started out as a vegan pop-up cafe in The Other Place. Now head chef Virginia O’Gara churns out delicious coeliac, lactose free, dairy free, paleo and diabetic-friendly salads, soups, specials and superfood smoothies to hungry customers just inside the market’s Princes Street entrance.
Look out for their homemade herb infusions, sprouted pâtés, seaweed and vegetable crackers and raw, sugar-free chocolates. Oh, and wash it down with a kombucha. Your belly will thank you.
Good Day Deli
The Good Day Deli manifesto says it all: “we aim to inspire vibrant, healthy + sustainable lifestyles in Ireland by empowering people to make good food choices that boost health and wellbeing; elevate local producers; champion animal welfare; and protect the environment now and for future generations.” Co-owners Kristin Makirere and Claire Condon have lived together in Ireland, New Zealand and the Cook Islands, which helped inspire the subtle flavours served up in their artfully arranged dishes.
Now they’ve opened a permanent base in an architecturally-designed 30 seat eatery nestled inside the new Nano Nagle Place.
O’Herlihy’s Kinsale (OHK)
As if we needed another excuse to chow down in Kinsale, OHK is a lovely little cafe serving select artisanal produce to be enjoyed right there and then or taken home for tea. Run by sisters Sarah and Carol in the house their mother grew up in, the coffee is from The Golden Bean (just the thing to wash down a breakfast of tortilla and granola), the blondies (below) are to die for and you can even get a mug of hot cocoa to warm you up after a big walk on a windswept beach.
Ciarán Meade’s locally grown, preserved and foraged treats have been filling the bellies of well connected cool folk in Cork since 2015 through Glut, his collab with Wayne Dunlea. Now the talented Mr. Meade has opened Bobo Cafe, a pop-up eatery in the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in the grounds of University College Cork. They serve breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch and a mean chai.
A boutique catering company with a knack for sourcing delicious local ingredients, you’ll never find foreign meat or fish in chef Donna O’Driscoll’s Roots Kitchen. Get yourself on the mailing list and you’ll receive a fresh menu between 7:30am and 10am every morning. Come lunchtime, your salad box, frittata, sandwich or soup will be delivered to your desk. What to expect? Well, Harrissa Baked K O’Connells Organic Salmon, Broccoli, Carrot, Dukkah Seed served with Salsa Verde (€7.50) for start. And throw in a brownie for dessert. They also cater larger events, you can enquire here.
Any dessert fan worth their ice cream scoop knows all about Yum Gelato; their dairy free, vegan chocolate hazelnut and banana with chocolate brownie flavours, made with coconut milk, are legendary. Blends such as their charcoal mint and hazelnut and Sicilian pistachio are served up at kitchen dinner parties all over Cork on the regular too. You can get your fix at Mahon Point and Douglas Village Farmers Markets on Thursdays and Saturdays, Bradleys Off Licence on North Main Street, Menloe Stores in Blackrock and at The Pavillion Ballygarvan (by scoop).
Snapchat star James Kavanagh and his partner, Ballymaloe graduate William Murray continue to motor up the food chain with their ‘gastronomical botanical’ catering company Currabinny. In between super successful partnerships with brands such as Teelings Whiskey and stints at food festivals and markets all over the country, the boys still find time to share their recipes on their website. Their first cafe opens in the capital in August and rumour has it that a Cork premises may follow…
Banana Melon Kitchen
The ethos of this plant-based start-up is that fuelling your body with the right food should make you look good and feel great. Banana Melon Kitchen tricks out trendy Cork parties with mouthwateringly gorgeous platters and the creative genius behind the business, Suzanna Melinn, hosts a vegan brunch at SOMA Cafe on Tuckey Street on the last Sunday of every month.
With dishes like cardamom spiked pancakes with DIY Pecan butter, salted date caramel, charred peach, cashew vanilla yoghurt and cacao nibs, we’ll be keeping a close eye on her Instagram feed to find out what she’s cooking up next.
Mama Bear Foods
Kids frikkin’ love ketchup, but the big brands tend to be laden with sugar. That’s why Loretta Kennedy of Mama Bear Foods invented a reduced sugar ketchup – no nasties guaranteed. The nurse counsellor, doula and mum-of-three uses apple cider vinegar to make her zingy condiment, which means it’s tooth-friendly and even contains prebiotics, a super food for the probiotics in your gut. Mama Bear Ketchup comes in original and roasted garlic flavours in a 342g squeezy bottle.
You can find it at SuperValu and Menloe Stores in Blackrock and there’s plans to roll it out across the country in the near future. It’s the only ketchup Cork foodies are squirting on their burgers these days.