The good gourmet: A feast for the eyes and tastebuds
Milk Market, Limerick City, Saturdays 8am-2pm
One of my favourite markets in Ireland has to be the Milk Market in Limerick city. It reminds me of markets in France, where you find everything from cheesemongers, butchers and fishmongers to clothes, plants, carpets and kitchen utensils, with plenty of stuff to browse and sample.
It helps enormously that there is parking available nearby, so just follow the signs for the Milk Market or try the multi-storey Dunnes car park.
My nose immediately led me to the Green Saffron stall. Anyone who watches The Afternoon Show will be familiar with Arun Kapil; he also runs Green Saffron with his family. Arun travels to India and hand selects the finest spices, which he then uses to create the key ingredients for delicious Indian dishes.
You can buy a small pack of pre-mixed spices that come with a recipe. They also have some ready-made Indian dishes for sale. I was really impressed with the vadagam curry and bought three packets for €10. I brought the packets with me to France and made an excellent, beautifully aromatic and flavoursome curry for the French -- they are hard to please as they generally don't like spicy food.
I noticed on the bag of rice I bought that it is hand selected by Arun's cousin, too. If you can't get to the Milk Market, Green Saffron products are available at other shops, or from www.greensaffron. com. Bring along an airtight container for your spices, otherwise the rest of your purchases will be flavoured by the aromas. My curried Camembert was, well, unique.
I also bought a delicious mango and date chutney and a lemon and ginger cordial, which, when chilled and mixed with sparkling water, made an excellent drink.
I found excellent jam at The Green Apron. I bought a jar of apple jelly with cinnamon and a jar of blackcurrant jam, both homemade in Ballingarry by an Irish-American.
We also came across a mother-and-son operation selling delicious mini cupcakes filled with lemon curd. Mum Viv is responsible for the cupcakes, but Jamie's biscuit cake was good too.
Milk Market is the first place in Ireland where I found someone selling galettes. These are traditional buckwheat crêpes from Brittany, made with a variety of fillings. We shared a Normandy (€5.50), with ham, cheese and spicy mushrooms, and a vegetarian (€5.50) galette, filled with feta, olives, tomato and baby spinach.
I also enjoyed a little flirtation with a cute French man, Oliver, selling homemade chorizo, Toulouse sausages, pâté, terrines and tapenades.
He now lives in Kerry, where he makes all his own produce. His chorizo is excellent, as is his seaweed tapenade -- and he is so cute it's worth a visit to his stand. It seems I do have a thing for French men after all.