There was only one place I wanted to go for breakfast in Cork and that was the English Market, a roofed food market situated in the heart of the city (just look for one of the many signs that post the way). We had already walked through it the day before but I wanted to go back to sample some of the wares on show.
Although the market has been around since 1788 it only became known as the English Market to distinguish it from St Peter’s Market or the “Irish Market”(which no longer exists) when the local government reformed in 1840. It’s owned by Cork City Council and is one of the oldest municipal market of it’s kind in the world and it’s amazing!
When you walk in the first thing that hits you are the fresh smells. You know you’re in a
food market! I reckon nowadays if you were blindfolded and left in the likes of Asda or Sainsbury you would struggle to find the fruit and veg aisle because the produce no longer holds the same fresh aromas that they used it. This most definitely isn’t the case in the English Market as your senses are assailed around every corner. My eyes widened at the choice of ingredients available. In the butchery area there were things on display I would have no idea how to cook but it didn’t stop me wanting to get my purse out. Every part of the pig, bar the squeak, was available to buy, tiny lamb’s tongues (yes I know, aww and ewww), every kind of offal possible and all the normal butcher’s cuts but covered in diffe
rent herbs or spices or already marinated in some sticky brown substance. The fruit and veg stalls were highly coloured, smelled amazing and again offered produce I had never seen before. The fish stalls boasted fish bigger than me and a fishmonger
had been to the palace to meet the queen and don’t get me started on the bakery section! I was like a Bisto Kid as I walked past admiring all the breads, rolls and pastries. Just mmmmm. There were deli’s, confectioneries and poultry sections as well as stalls dedicated to eggs, tripe, sausages, and olives. If I lived nearby I’d be in the market everyday trying to decide what I could have for dinner that night and supermarket shopping would quickly become a thing of the past.
Upstairs, with a view of the market below, is Farmgate Restaurant. Their menu is dictated by the food stalls and they say the market is their larder. Where else could we have breakfast? I ordered a glass of freshly squeezed orange and a bacon blaa (a square shaped bap/bread roll associated with Waterford). OH had a pot of tea and the Blaa Special – egg, bacon and sausage.
I switched to buying smoked bacon a while ago as I felt I could no longer taste back bacon. This certainly wasn’t the case with the bacon from the market. It was thick, flavoursome and most of all it tasted of pig. It came with a little dish of tomato relish and some pickled cucumber. Everything just worked. My only complaint was that there wasn’t enough orange juice – especially when OH’s teapot seemed never-ending. As I was eating my blaa I watched the waiter, an Irish James McAvoy lookalike, make teabags. He’d bring down a jar of dried green leaves, spoon some of them into a small mesh paper bag and repeat until the jar was almost empty. He’d then replace the jar and bring down another. I was mesmerised.
Breakfast was expensive but I think, considering the view, the bacon and the whole market feel, it was worth it.
Just to make sure I wasn’t being biased I asked OH what he thought of his breakfast blaa. He replied that he enjoyed it but the sausages kept coming back on him. I then told him my opinion on the Farmgate restaurant and he countered that the view in The Sextant the day before had been better.
“What all the old men sitting at the bar?”
“No, the waitress, she was gorgeous.”
I’m starting to sense a pattern here…