Here’s the thing. Send me abroad – to Australia, say – and, on top of the thousands of miles it’ll take me to get there, I’ll travel hundreds, or perhaps thousands more in order to explore the country’s furthest reaches.
Certainly, if I were in almost any other part of the world, I’d be first in the queue for any kind of food-led tour. Here at home, while I’d known about the Dublin Tasting Trail for quite some time, it wasn’t until I happened to talk to Eveleen Coyle, one of the founders of Fabulous Food Trails, that I took up an invitation to join one of their city-based walking and tasting tours. When it came down to it, it was an easy sell, requiring only that I swap my normal Saturday morning routine for a two and a half hour food-focused jaunt around the city centre. Done and deal were the words that sprang to mind.
Though Eveleen says that they get a mix of locals and tourists on their tours (with the Dublin Tasting Trail running run once a week at present), when I rocked up to the city centre meeting point on a dull and damp February morning, almost all of the people in the group were Irish. Despite the economic doom and gloom that abounds these days, I took that as a rather healthy sign for the potential of home-grown food-based tourism (not to mention the fact that the Fab Food Trails folks must be doing something right). They also appear to have the weather gods on their side, as our guide Róisín told us that in three and a half years, she has only twice had to lead the tour in the rain. She did qualify that by saying she meant “proper rain” – drizzle or the occasional spit from the sky didn’t count (and this is Ireland after all, home of the “soft day, thank God”).
After an initial chat about Ireland and our food culture through the years, Róisín brought us to places that (for me) were a mix of the familiar – like Sheridan’s Cheesemongers and Liston’s Food Store – and the unexpected, some places I had heard of and others whose doors I had never before darkened; talk of food was sprinkled with snippets of Dublin history and punctuated by purveyors offering samples of their finest edible wares.
It turned out to be an entirely pleasant (and filling) way to spend a morning (and, true to form, the proper rain held off until after we were done). It also made clear the fact that, really, you don’t have to travel far to be a tourist (though I’m still open to offers on the Australia front, mind). It was also a reminder (and this is no bad thing) that I should visit The Pepper Pot more often and that everyone needs a lemon slice from The Cake Café in their lives.
For information, pricing and to book the Dublin Tasting Trail or any of their other tours, visit the Fabulous Food Trails site.
If the tasting trail above has whet your appetite for food touring, then you might also be interested in the recently announced West Cork Food St. Patrick’s weekend holiday break, which will take place from Friday to Monday 16th-19th March.
Sessions with food producers will include, among others, fish smoking with Sally Barnes and a visit to Gubbeen to see the Ferguson’s dairy, smokehouse and gardens. The trip also includes a chance to see Jean and Peter Perry’s wonderful Glebe Gardens and a visit with Madeline McKeever at Brown Envelope Seeds. Guests will also enjoy a special West Cork Food dinner on St. Patrick’s night, featuring the best of locally-sourced produce.
Cost is €455 per head, which includes visits to producers, accommodation at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen, breakfast and evening meals, plus transport, with pick-up and drop-off in Cork city. Full details can be found here.