Visiting a Butter Museum(?)and lunch at Fishy Fish, Kinsale, Ireland
I have seen 1,000 year old butter and it’s not pretty. Nor, I think, is it edible. It was in a glass enclosure so none of us could stick a finger in it but it did make for an interesting introduction to the Butter Museum in Cork, Ireland. It was my last day in Ireland with Tourism Ireland and our first stop was the Butter Musuem. I know, you’re probably wondering, “Butter?” “Museum?” but the history of Cork is inextricably intertwined with the production and exportation of butter. Really fascinating stuff,you can find out more here.
After a fun couple of hours at the Butter Musuem,we piled into the bus for our last excursion while in Ireland to Kinsale, in the western part of Co. Cork. Kinsale has a long history and was the site of a great battle in 1601. More importantly (to me), it has a wine museum (called Desmond Castle, which at one point was a prison for French POW’s in the 17th century). How did Kinsale get a wine museum? It seems that the history of wine in Ireland is long and fraught with tales of smuggling. According to the official website, smuggling was rampant because of the numerous taxes and levies which began with the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. Smuggling was such a problem that in 1569 an Act of Parliament was created designating 16 ports of entry for wine and other luxury goods into Ireland. Kinsale was one of those 16 ports. The museum has quite a collection of wine artifacts but sadly it was closed the day we arrived. Despite the fact that the website claims they are open 7 days a week, it was closed that Sunday. Oh well. I was slightly disappointed but that just meant more time at the pub before lunch!
Besides having the all important wine museum, Kinsale is also known as a gastronomic destination and we were headed to one of the best seafood restaurants in town, Fishy Fish on the waterfront, run by the husband and wife team of Martin and Marie Shanahan. Fishy Fish has not only a restaurant but also a shop where you can take home freshly prepared fish and cook it yourself as well as a chippie for a quick fish & chips takeaway. The restaurant has been open for about 10 years and has won many accolades throughout the years. What sets them apart is their commitment to using only fresh, locally caught fish and seafood. They even have a picture gallery of the local fisherman who catch the fish lining one wall of the restaurant.
So what did we food and wine bloggers have? Everything! Everything on the menu looked amazing, from the gigantic crab claws soaked in a creamy buttery sauce, the tender fried calamari, oysters so fresh they needed to be slapped or the fish pie, how could one choose? We opted to share the starters and each had a fishy main course. Of course I had to have the fish and chips which turned our to be some of the flakiest (in a good way) fish and perfectly fried chips.
As the resident wine chooser I had a quick scan of their wine list and lo and behold, there was a rosé from Lake Garda. What made me sit up and take notice was that I had just returned from the Lake Garda region in northern Italy and had tasted some great Garda Classico from the Chiaretto region of Lake Garda. I was very pleased to see it on the menu. I was happy to share my Italian discovery with my tablemates. The Chiaretto was made especially for the Fishy Fish Cafe and was a refreshing, dry rose, lovely strawberry flavours, perfect with the seafood.
I also chose a chablis because what goes better with raw oysters then a minerally, chalky, lemony white Burgundy? The Joseph Drouhin Domain du Vaudon 2008 was clean, fresh and lean. A dynamic wine, supple from the oak aging (in used barrels) but no dominating oak notes, as a side note, Drouhin’s wines are organic and biodynamic. The perfect palate cleanser for my fish and chips, a fab wine to have by the seaside.
Afterwards, we went for a walk and remarkably, we ended up in a pub. Go figure. Just enough time for another cheeky pint of Murphy’s before hitting the airport and back to London. Fishy Fish, I wish there was one in London….