Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Love Food, Will Travel

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well -Virginia Woolf

GOOD  food, a fine restaurant, reliable pub grub, impressive hotel feasts make all the difference don't 
Many travel the length and breath of Ireland but can only recall a specific location by the restaurant there, the great fry up or nice cup of coffee. A superb restaurant can transform ordinary, non special places into tourist hot spots by just getting one thing right – good food.
Recently I was honoured to be part of the Connaught Judging Panel for the Irish Restaurant Awards. I had never done anything like this before, I didn't quite know what to expect but I do like food and in the end that was all that really mattered.
The choice of locations was phenomenal and although the top five were quite quickly whittled down by the industry experts within minutes, it was the small detail sometimes more than the obvious stand out opinions that distinguished the true winners.
Many of the winning venues come from small villages, rural areas and places that are bypassed or are just not worth going to ... except for that small venue creating delicious dinners. Many of the food experts said they will travel long distances to experience fine food and while there they will of course take a look around the area, sure why not build up an apatite!
I know friends who travel the world based on food, select their holiday destinations based on fine wines, beer festivals or to try out exotic food.
Although internationally Ireland certainly doesn't top the list for food experiences, within the country we know that home grown and cooked products are some of the best in the world.
So we should promote that – fine food destinations. There are plenty of food festivals, event events around the country but they don't get the same publicity as music festivals or art and culture events achieve.

Neven Maguire's Cook Book
Neven Cooks
Has anybody ever heard or been to Blacklion in Co Cavan? If you have, you probably only know the place for one reason (unless you are from there, have friends or relations there ...) because Celebrity Chef Neven Maguire runs MacNean Guest house and restaurant there.
I was speaking to him last year and he said his restaurant was booked out for every weekend for the next year – what an achievement in the middle of Ireland's toughest recession, what a boost to the Blacklion area. He has plans to open a cookery school there, Ballymaloe style.
Will people travel to that small irrelevant village in West Cavan ... yes you will, as you would travel to any part of the country to experience something special.
Have you traveled just for food?

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