Cork famous English Market is so far managing to remain unfazed as it gets ready for the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Phillip – it’s had over 200 years to prepare.
The historical food market first opened in 1788, some 80 years ahead of the likes of Barcelona’s La Boqueria, and has survived famine, war and fire to become a modern Irish gastronomic temple for locals and visitors alike.
Famed as one of the best covered market attractions in Europe, the English Market is a cultural gem, a preserver of Irish food traditions, and one of the standard-bearers in Cork’s reputation as the culinary capital of Ireland.
British TV chef Rick Stein has described its fish section as the best on the islands of Ireland and Britain.
On their tour of the colourful and atmospheric market the royals will be bumping into some of Cork’s best artisan and independent food producers and a host of Irish characters who use their stalls as stages to ply their trade. Gourmet and organic stalls trade side by side with family businesses that have been in the market for generations.
The Queen and her husband will see a vast and diverse range of unique tastes and flavours – everything from hand made Irish sausages, rich farmhouse cheeses, just picked organic vegetables and just caught Atlantic seafood, complemented by exotic foods from all over the world.
They might even drop in to the renowned Farmgate Café – a meal in its gallery restaurant overlooking the market, a Corkonian institution, is a must for any visitor, royal and otherwise.
The Farmgate menu embraces fresh, uncomplicated strongly regional Irish dishes that play an important role in the vibrant Cork food culture.
The market’s traders are planning to present Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip with a hamper of Cork’s finest produce.
Traders’ Committee chairman Tom Durcan says: “Cork has a long and proud history of food production.
“We are looking forward to showing the royals and the world why that proud reputation and indeed the English Market itself, have survived through the centuries.”
Cork’s appeal as a food destination is by no means centred in the market or the city, which is a former European Capital of Culture.
There is a huge array of world-class and inexpensive eateries scattered around the picturesque coastline towns and villages of County Cork, bolstering the region’s reputation as the Gourmet Riviera of Ireland.
These restaurants have played a large part in shaping the Irish dining experience, which earlier this year was called as ‘as good, if not better, than anywhere else in the world’ by influential chief editor, TV presenter and author Pierre Josse, of the French tourism guide Le Guide du Routard.
Josse singles out Kinsale in County Cork for particular praise, and recommends the pubs, scenery, the increasingly affordable accommodation and, most of all, the Irish people.
Courtesy of Discover Ireland.