The good gourmet: The Gourmet Store
56 High Street, Kilkenny. Tel: 056-771 1727
It was the small crowd of people gathered outside The Gourmet Store that first caught my eye. It was lunchtime and the queue was right back to the door; in fact, you could barely get in the door. But the girl ahead of me convinced me to hang on, as she said that they served the best sandwiches in Kilkenny.
I listened as people ordered to see if I could get the low-down on what was best, but all the requests were different, from a chicken tikka masala wrap (chicken, lettuce, tomato and a tikka masala sauce) to Greek feta cheese (feta, peppers, olives and basil pesto) or a French Brie roll with red onion and Ballymaloe relish. All sandwiches are €3.40.
As I waited my turn, I realised that the panini were made earlier in the day, which meant that all they had to do was heat them up. The choice of panini (€3.60) was again vast, from a Cajun style to a tour of Italy: Milano The good gourmet: The Gourmet Store The good gourmet: The Gourmet Store (mortadella salami, crispy bacon, tomato, mozzarella, basil pesto); Parma (Parma ham, mozzarella, tomato, basil pesto); Sicily (goat's cheese, semi-sundried tomato, basil pesto); and -- what I finally settled on -- Tuscany (mozzarella, semi-sundried tomato, basil pesto).
Although the place was packed, I did not have to wait long to be served. At the counter I was also tempted by some of their pastries, including lemon curd tartlets at €1 each. I bought two, which I enjoyed with a cup of tea at home. The pastry was delicious and the lemon filling had a really nice bite. I ate the first one cold, but heated the second one slightly and boy, was it delicious.
In addition to the deli and sandwiches, The Gourmet Store's shelves are packed with various pastas, olive oils, chutneys, preserves, chocolates and sauces, some of them Irish-made.
Another plus to my wait in line was that a girl told me about a great sweet shop just around the corner. The Slip Sweet Shop opened its doors last June and is a traditional sweet shop. The premises are small, yet offer floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with jars of goodies -- my heaven!
All the sweets are sold by the quarter-pound at around €2, so if you are a fan of bull's eyes, apple drops, clove rocks or kola cubes, you can either buy a mixture or separate bags. My only disappointment was that they had run out of pear drops, but fear not as they have an online service, so you don't have to go to Kilkenny for some treats.
I did, however, get a quarter-pound of rhubarb and custard boiled sweets -- remember those? -- and a small bag of chewy refreshers and fruit salads. In fact, my kids are laughing at the fact that we had fruit salad of the chewy kind for dessert.
The sweets brought back many memories, so I have since returned to the store and bought some 40th birthday presents. You'd be amazed at how excited one gets receiving a bag of liquorice wheels, chewy teeth, Sherbet Fountains (80c each) or Double Dips (50c each).