Eat And Drink With Chill Insurance – Ad
Last month Chill insurance asked me to write a piece to make you aware of their new e-booklet. It talks about the cultural drives (touristic attractions, things to do and great restaurants) you can take around Ireland. It also gives simples instructions for safe driving in winter.
This commission appealed for two reasons. Firstly, discovering Ireland and its glorious food trails was a major motivation for learning to drive. It’s one of my proudest achievements of the last few years. Even if it took me 6 times to pass my driving test. Secondly, I bought a new car in October and a week later, I had my first car crash. I walked away from it and nobody was hurt but I have been quite shaken and very conscious of how I and others drive since I’ve gotten my car back. So it’s fair to say that a leaflet on safely driving through Ireland from one food adventure to next is very much on point for me.
It was also great timing as in the space of the last month, I travelled to Tipperary and Galway for some delicious food related trips. I visited Old Farm in north Tipp (it’s near Birr in Offaly) to collect a quarter of a pig. Yes. You read that right. My second trip was an overnighter in Galway city as I wanted to eat, drink and be merry in Kai Cafe.
So off I went on my trip to Old farm with my friend Laura Anne Bradley of Day Dreaming Foodie. I checked that my tyres were at the right pressure and I topped up the water and oil. We took to the roads and made our way down to Tipp via Offaly and as it turns out, that was the scenic route. We took a long detour via the picturesque Slieve Bloom mountains and really enjoyed the trip down chatting away and admiring the scenery.
By the time we got to Old Farm, we were absolutely starving and were so pleased to be welcome by the smell of warm, home-made bread. Eating with Margaret and Alfie is a joyful affair. They have a deep love for good food and simple honest ingredients. They rear lambs and pigs for slaughter and they have a big fruit and vegetable so most of their food comes from the farm. It doesn’t get much more sustainable, ethical and satisfying than their way of eating.
Sitting down to a dinner which you know was sourced within a mile radius is a very rare treat for me and I greatly enjoyed it. Alfie prepared a leg of lamb in his Big Green Egg barbecue and served it with creamed leeks straight from his garden. This was followed by a huge chunk of Young Buck (a blue from the North of Ireland) (brought down by Laura Anne) and a bottle of Wicklow Way Blackberry wine which I had bought for them as a gift. The dinner was Irish from start to finish and it reminded me how stunning the local food can be.
A couple of weeks later, I swung by the airport, picked my friend Jacqueline up and hit the long straight road to Galway. I’d been wanting to eat in Kai Cafe for what felt like years and I used my pal’s visit for the best excuse to book in. When I asked her where she wanted to go in Ireland, she’d said she’d like to go to one of those little towns by the sea with the glorious food markets you love so much. Sure where else could we head then? There is the ocean, there is the glorious food market where you will eat the best donuts and the freshest of oysters, although maybe not in that order.
The e-booklet mentions Aniar as “the” Galway destination, and they’re not wrong. JP McMahon is a true ambassador for all that is great about Irish food. But a few doors down, the mighty Jess Murphy and her Bib Gourmand sure gives him a fair bit of competition. Kai is more accessible both in terms of food and funds. You are more likely to recreate something you ate in Kai, like the baked sweetheart cabbage rather than the wonderful roasted fennel custard with a sprinkle of ants I once ate in Aniar. Although Aniar will leave you dreaming of how food can be deconstructed and reconstructed in the most amazing ways, my heart firmly belongs to Kai and its magic female headchef.
All in all, the moral of this couple of weekends away, is that, if you look after your car with the simple steps laid out in the e-booklet I link to below, you can explore eat your way around Ireland, from the heights of a Michelin star restaurant in vibrant Galway city, to the warmest of air bnbs in the heart of north Tipperary.
I would love to hear more about where you love to eat in Ireland so do let me know where I should go next!