Ireland is an incredibly beautiful part of the world to visit, but it is also a foodies’ paradise. The stand out star for me has to be the seafood. Despite Ireland being an island, it is only recently that seafood has started to be featured in Irish cooking. From what I encountered during our holiday you would have thought they had been doing this for centuries.
West Cork with its many small harbours is famous for offering its guests some of the finest fish and seafood in the world. My husband and I ate fresh fish and seafood almost every day of our ten-day holiday, never tiring of it. The best bit is that you do not need to visit a 5-star restaurant either. Small village pubs, tiny cafes and farmer’s markets all serve up amazing seafood in an unpretentious atmosphere.
The most delicious seafood chowder we had during the holiday was in a tiny cafe in Cape Clear, Ireland’s most southerly community. We stopped here on a whale watching tour that we booked with Whale Watch West Cork. During our tour we were lucky enough to see Minke Whales, harbour porpoises, common and grey seals. It is possible to see Risso and Bottlenose Dolphins, Killer whales, Turtles, Blue and Basking sharks in West Cork depending on the conditions and the time of year.
We saw many species of marine bird life from Gannets, Cormorants, Skuas, Shearwaters, Guillemots and Razorbills. The tour began in the picturesque harbour of Baltimore and lasted around 4 hours stopping at North Harbour on Cape Clear for refreshments half way.
The tour was led by Nic Slocum a zoologist whose passion and enthusiasm for marine life and great sense of humour made it an experience we will never forget and would highly recommend to other people.
The scenery on the return journey along the West Cork coastline and around the islands was just breathtaking. With castles, harbours and inlets that have changed little since the days of the old clan chief’s of O’Mahoney and O’Driscoll.
One of the best bits for me about West Cork is it is not overrun with tourists like Devon and Cornwall are. A woman on our what watching tour described West Cork as ‘heaven on earth,’ and I couldn’t agree with her more!
Ireland’s ocean eats rival any coastal nation and in my humble opinion they come out on top!
Time: 40 mins
1 red onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
100g streaky bacon chopped
200g new potatoes, quartered
1 tbsp flour
600ml fish stock
salt and pepper
300 ml milk
150g salmon cut into 2cm cubes
150g cod/haddock cut into 2 cm cubes
250g mixed seafood – prawns, mussels and squid.
3tbsp single cream
fresh parsley chopped
Soda bread to serve
1) Cook garlic, onion and bacon in a large saucepan for 8-10 minutes until bacon is cooked. Stir in flour and cook for a further 2 minutes.
3) Stir in the milk. Add the chopped fish to the pan and simmer for 4 minutes.