Food news - Georgina Campbell: The best of the best
Apps and online guides are all very well, but when you're on the road in rural Ireland and the 4G isn't really delivering in the way it does on those ads on the telly (I do always wonder about the father and son in the tent in the rain), and your battery's depleting rapidly, it's good to have a physical guidebook in the glove compartment.
That's where Georgina Campbell's Ireland comes in.
The new edition of the guide - the first in more than a decade - is a distillation of the more extensive recommendations on Campbell's website, ireland-guide.com, and is made up of independent assessments directing readers to the very best of Irish food and hospitality. It's a handy reference covering a wide range of categories from hotels, restaurants, cafés and pubs, to country houses, B&Bs and guest houses, and useful for travellers on any budget.
Campbell says that the emphasis in the collection of recommendations in the book is on the all-round experience, especially for the 'culturally curious', and hosts who will engage enthusiastically with guests regarding places of local interest and artisan foods in the area that they are visiting.
Campbell says that enormous changes for the better have taken place in Irish food and tourism over the past decade.
"I have no recollection of it being especially difficult to make our selections for the last 'Best' guide - there were far less outstanding establishments to choose from and the best choices seemed relatively obvious. 'Best' was generally seen as high-end and the majority of our (much smaller) selection tended to be well-established, and often famous, places in the upper price bracket.
"But now all that has changed. Disappointing experiences are still a real possibility, of course (in all price ranges), but in general, standards have been raised throughout the country and across the board. There's now a special brand of excellence that covers a much broader spectrum and includes many very casual places to eat, drink and stay, so this selection reflects this changing perception, and the fact that 'best' experiences are accessible to all, regardless of taste or budget. A casual meal in a beach shack might be the highlight of a holiday or business visit that also includes plenty of fine dining."
The Guide is available from bookshops and online from ireland-guide.com/shop/, priced at €20 (p&p free in Ireland).
COCOA HUSK TEA
Allison Roberts of Clonakilty Chocolate has set up Exploding Tree and launched its first product - cocoa husk tea, a Fairtrade loose-leaf caffeine-free tea with flavours of roasted chocolate, honey and spice, that's loaded with Vitamin E and antioxidants. explodingtree.com
AIRFIELD GOES COASTAL
Robin Gill and Luke Matthews' next dinner at Overends Kitchen at Airfield will take place on Saturday, March 3. This time the theme is 'Coast', and tickets are €85. The next day there's a Fire & Grill demonstration lunch outdoors in the Airfield Food Gardens priced at €60. airfield.ie
AVOCA'S NEW MENU
Avoca's new range of healthy food to go includes Chipotle Spiced Turkey & Quinoa Chilli (above), Spiced Black Bean, Kale & Squash Laksa, Persian Roasted Cauliflower Salad, and Silken Tofu, Mushroom & White Miso Soup. All dishes are available at Avoca Food Markets.