Between work, projects, theatre, music and all the rest, it’s been hard to get a few days away in bulk this year so I’ll take the night’s away when they come. With herself on holidays until today, we managed to nip off to Cork for the night on Friday, wound up staying Saturday and as a result got to make the most of the Cork Christmas Market on Grand Parade.
It’s been ages since I’ve been to Cork, years since I’ve gotten to spend a day walking around the City and longer still since I’ve been able to string two days together there. I’ve already mentioned the two trips to Wagamama (not satisfied with just one trip, though in fairness, I could actually live in the place) but the Christmas market was a real foodie thrill.
We walked up Grand Parade in the morning on the hunt for breakfast, taking a stroll from the car park end to the park, passing the likes of Dee’s Whole Food’s burger van, a kebab stall, Mexican stall, sweets, spices, chocolates, sausages, hats, bags, coffees and more than enough to get me excited for the proper trip later.
Stocking up with a breakfast at Zak’s on one of the side streets (same trick before going to the Food & Wine Christmas Show last week), strolling through Marks & Spencer in search of jam and a hairbrush (not for combining), we wound up getting to the market around 1:30pm or so, starting with a fresh coffee from Cork Coffee Roasters, a grand brew to keep in the hands to fend off the cold.
The market is / was laid out very well and buzzing from when it opened in the morning, through the afternoon, right through our third trip around (doing 2-3 laps a time) later Saturday evening. I had been planning a trip to the Hungry Wines festival in Mitchelstown but the few hours spent milling around Grand Parade more than quenched the thirst for a food market.
Coffee it one hand, I found lunch soon enough for the other. We’d gone up to Dee’s van for one of her gluten free burgers but a shortage on gluten free pittas put us in the direction of the noodles and rice from Wok ‘n’ Roll Noodles. Thanks to Dee though for getting back on Twitter about the restocking of pittas for the following day (and while I’m at it, thanks to everyone for the breakfast tips and Liberty Grill and Cafe Gusto for coming back to me on the food queries). The chicken noodles (pour moi) and rice (for the lady) were most tasty and would have done four people, whatever about the two of us. Additional choice of toppings with spring onion, chopped nuts, coriander and or lime were a nice surprise and good value too at around a fiver a head for the portions.
Roast Chestnuts followed, more out of curiosity than anything. Neither of us had tried chestnuts before and unless they were somehow spiced or flavoured or mixed with a dip, I don’t think I’d go back for more. The idea is great and the quick intro in how to eat them / open them was handy but they’re just too bland for my liking. €3 for a large bag of them struck me as good value though, a nice winter treat.
The chestnuts saw us through the walk back into town and flash forward through a blur (to me) of Oasis, Coast, Wallis and anywhere else that sold clothes, we were back through the market for the evening and a hot dog was very much on the agenda. For €4, O’Flynn’s Gourmet Sausages delivered just that (with the option of going for a sausage on a stick for €2). A spicy sausage in a bun, straight off the grill, complete with onion, ketchup, mayo – in a mistake I said mayonnaise instead of mustard but I needn’t have worried – divine, and just what I needed with the potential of a vegetarian dinner on the cards.
Of course, no day of eating would be complete without a dessert of some kind and the canapes provided by Bite Size did just the trick. If I’d been heading to a party or dinner elsewhere, I would have grabbed one of their gift boxes but in walking the market, you could get a single dessert for 90c or three on a plate for €2.50. At €2.50 I had to go for the three with a delicious lemon curd cup, chocolate mousse and a baileys cheesecake.
If the hotel was any further than the three minutes walk I’d have been in right trouble, or may have required a taxi, bus, forklift or some other kind of transport to get me back to the Imperial.
It was definitely more (for me) about consuming straight away than buying up foods for later. Of the crafts, there were plenty to be seen and had from Nepalese hats to pashminas, scarves, furniture based around hurls, handcrafted pencils and much more besides. If you’re in Cork or planning a trip there, the market kicks off at 10am, running until 8pm this coming weekend (Friday to Sunday) and the weekend after. You can find more info here.
Next up it will be the Kilkenny Christmas Market kicking off this weekend, really looking forward to that one.