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Food porn, foodie, culinary tourist...these are the latest buzz words on the street. Every second person you meet these days is a self-confessed foodie in search of the latest great place to eat with not only delicious food but photograph worthy food being in hot demand. Following on from our recent success of Greenes Restaurant being listed in the McKenna’s top 100 Restaurants in Ireland and last week’s win of Best Restaurant at the Cork Business Awards, I decided it was time to jump on the culinary bandwagon and see what else Cork has to offer the culinary curious. I find myself feeling desperately unfashionable being a plain eater- for me, having gravy with my roast dinner is considered exotic. With this in mind, I decided to push out of my comfort zone with a trip down to Kinsale to participate in their renowned Food Tour with the bubbly and knowledgeable tour-founder Suzanne.

The Kinsale Food Tour

What can I say? I was apprehensive! Correction: I was terrified! What if I ended up not being able to stomach the unusual concoction of foods that would no doubt be on offer? What if I looked like an idiot on the tour with all these other more culinary sophisticated people? How wrong could I have been! Known as Ireland’s gourmet capital boasting 60 eateries, 25 restaurants and 26 pubs for a population of approximately 5000, Kinsale is a colourful, harbour town with a long maritime history, a 40 minute leisurely drive from our city-centre boutique hotel (or take the hourly 226 bus from the nearby bus station). Elements of this history are briefly touched upon during this tour with reference to the old town halls dating back to 1380, a stop at the former meat factory (now the Kinsale Museum) where the inquest into the sinking of the doomed Luisitania cruise-liner was held in 1915 and of course, Kinsale’s success in the Tidy Towns Competition established in the 1980s. If history isn’t your thing though, don’t fear!

Food is very much the focus here with only the briefest of historical facts thrown in between the stops to whet the appetite for investigation later.
Divided into four main stops, each representing a different food course, Suzanne tailors her tours to meet the needs of the group. As such, each tour will involve different stops with different foods and lots of surprises with the group having no clue what to expect until the food is placed in front of them! My tour involved starters at Max’s Restaurant where we were treated to steamed mussels, nettle soup, wrasse ceviche (the traditional fish eaten by the lighthouse keepers) and pickled sapphire (a plant that grew on the nearby marsh).Next, it was off for a light tasting platter at the Gourmet Pantry of chicken liver pate, truffle cheese, seaweed cheese and pork sausage rolls with relish. The main course took place in the White House Restaurant with some traditional beef and Guinness stew along with a small fillet of fish with beetroot relish and cheese. Finally, it was off for some chocolatier magic at Koko tasting some unusual flavours like sea weed chocolates.

Would I do it again?

Alas, I survived it all. Dare I say it I actually quite enjoyed it. I managed to taste all the foods on offer with the exception of the oysters (yes, I’m clearly too cowardly). I discovered I like nettle soup- certainly not something I ever thought I would taste. I learned plenty of random facts, for example, did you know carrots were not originally orange? This will no doubt come in useful at a pub quiz sometime soon! In the end, was it scary? Not at all! There is something oddly relaxing about sitting at a table with random strangers eating food one would usually never even consider. It is quite other worldly- almost liberating- far from the worst way to pass a Saturday morning!

Would I recommend it? Yes! Would I be tempted to do another food tour? Absolutely! Foodie or not, give this tour a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

About The Author

Colette is a hotel receptionist working at Hotel Isaacs Cork. Her favourite part of the job is meeting the many guests coming from all corners of the globe and sharing with them all the wonders that Cork City and County has to offer. One of her great passions is travelling and exploring new places especially museums, galleries and castles. "One of the things I feel very strongly about is how so many people in Ireland are completely unaware of some of the hidden treasures right on their door-steps. When people go abroad, they push themselves to see all the cultural delights on offer but too often, they have no idea how great what is right in front of them, readily available every day is. I came to Cork as a student in 2008 and I too limited myself and didn't push myself to explore. It took a friend to take me off and show me how truly amazing this city and county is and this is what I want to share with my guests and readers.

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