Cafés in Ireland via Peter Gordon
In the wake of leaving New Zealand and my living-out-of-a-bag-ness in Ireland during November and December, it’s only now that I’ve gotten round to checking out Chris Bell’s Five minutes with Peter Gordon at NZBC. That’s the New Zealand Blogging Corporation, rather than the New Zealand Black Caps, the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation or even the New Zealand Building Code. After I blogged about Peter Gordon’s sublime Tomato and Chilli Jam, Chris contacted to tell me with this link to his Gordon interview. I found it interesting to read what Gordon had to say – in relation to his Marks and Spencer ready-made-meals – about cafés in Britain:
“Better a few good ready-mades a week than baked beans and fish and chips every night. The food culture, and home-life culture, here in the UK is so different to NZ. In NZ you can pop out to a local café and have fairly good inexpensive food – in the UK that’s a lot harder.”
I think that could also apply, in many ways, to Irish cafés, the majority of which simply are not interested in cooking food from scratch. I get sick of the soup of the day coming straight out of a packet, the ubiquitous and badly filled panini, the Irish “side-salad” (tasteless tomato, iceberg lettuce, watery cucumber all served taste bud-numbingly cold) and the ever-present pile of plastic-bagged muffins on the counter. And it’s not cheap food either.
Cafés weren’t always great in New Zealand (I still must get round to posting a name and shame category!) but most of them they sure as hell beat Irish ones. Many places that I frequented used free-range eggs and that went hand-in-hand with a closer attention to and interest in the food that they served. Initially I was amazed to discover that NZ cafés frequently made their own soups, muffins, tray-bakes and cookies on the premises. Then you start to wonder why this can’t be done in Ireland too. Is it the high cost of staff? Extortionate rental for café premises? Or just the fact that Irish people are willing to accept low standards?
Yes! Sadly true. When in Ireland, the meals that were prepared for us in homes were lovely. But I found the food in restaurants to be both abysmal and really expensive. And I spent a lot of time in a certain homewares chain, because at least their cafes were certain to have a selection of great, fresh salads. Even travelling round the country it was the same story. I was really pleased to see your review of the Bridgestone guide because I can buy that next time and find some good places to eat!
Where were you in Ireland, Plum? It can be really difficult to get your hands on decent food when you’re travelling around – my regular trip from near Charleville, down south in Co Cork, to Dublin (about 200km, I think) has no decent tea/lunch stops and it’s pretty difficult to locate nice cafés in the cities and towns too. The Bridgestone Guides are great and there’s also Georgina Campbell’s Best of the Best, another guide to eating/staying/drinking around Ireland. Next time you’re about in Ireland let me know and I’ll point you in the direction of some good food!