The Delights of Dungarvan

We arrived in Waterford just in time for dinner…and rain. After quickly checking in to our, how shall we say… quirky hotel, The Portree Guesthouse, we set out on foot for something to eat, rain be damned (our Oregon pedigrees saw to that.) We wandered about the square, and Nic noticed a sign for The Gingerman Pub, beaming with delight as her favorite watering hole in Chicago has the exact same name. We found a cozy spot near the window and, totally famished, we placed our orders. Fish and chips for Sarah, seafood chowder for Nic, and of course…a pint of Guinness. Both meals were perfectly executed and thus, hit the proverbial spot. Nice touch on the Guinness head as well.

We awoke the next morning happy to see the sun shining, and set out for our first Slow Food-sponsored event for the Waterford Harvest Festival; a food tour of Dungarvan. Our smiling driver, Paul Dunne, drove our group of 15 to this quaint little town situated along Dungarvan Bay,  about 30 minutes from Waterford.

Our first stop was at Paul Flynn’s Glanbia Garden. Flynn is an esteemed chef known the world over for his dedication to the local, seasonal bounty. Glanbia translates to “clean food”, and his famed restaurant The Tannery sources ingredients directly from his beautiful gardens, located adjacent to The Tannery Cookery School. We toured the garden, chicken coop and greenhouse, and spied the man himself as he prepped ingredients for a cooking class in session.

Sunshine still smiling upon us, we headed off to our next stop: Dungarvan Brewing Company. Open only 4 months, their sign had yet to be hung, but Paul deftly navigated us to the unmarked location & Jen was out front waving hello. We were ready to taste some beer! Apparently, the craft beers we take for granted in the states are a relatively new venture in Ireland. Historically, the Irish people are more connected to name brands (Murphy’s, Beamish, Guinness, et al). The Irish Craft Brewer’s Association currently has 14 licensed craft brewers in the country, and is growing at a rate of one new license per month. The local foods movement is just now extending further out to locally-brewed craft beers, and Cormac and Jen are at the forefront. Our group was their very first tour and tasting. We tasted four, including the award-winning Helvick Gold Blonde Ale. Our personal favorite was the Copper Coast Red Ale. The couple’s enthusiasm for craft beer was infectious, and we are so thrilled to follow their progress. Feel free to contact them for more details, become a Facebook fan, request a tour. You won’t be disappointed.

Next and final stop was Dungarvan Shellfish, a family-owned oyster farm along Dungarvan Bay, and a 15 minute drive from the brewery. Jim Harty met us and eloquently spoke about his family’s foray into oyster farming, while popping fresh oysters open with the quick flick of a wrist. Sarah grew a bit squeamish while Nic was salivating at the thought of a sample. The company is situated in the Gaeltacht area of Ring, and, with 25 full-time employees and 10 seasonal hires, is the largest employer in the vicinity. Gives you an idea of how small this community is. They’ve produced Gigas Oysters since 1985 with a little help from the French seed (Gigas is not native to Irish seas, but indeed is flourishing). Unfortunately, they currently only produce for the French market because a purification processing facility is not yet in place. Our group was very lucky to sample the goods. Nic gladly took one (actually, two!) for the team. How much closer to the source can you get when the farmer cracks it open and hands it right over to you! The oyster was absolutely delicious, and the natural brine of the bay gave it a perfect, salty goodness. Mmmm!! If you are interested in sampling your own Dungarven Oysters, give them a call to see if you can head over for your own tour.

We piled into the van, and headed back to Waterford. A quick walk through the House of Waterford Crystal, and we scurried back to the hotel for a quick change. Buzzing from the tour of Dungarvan, we were now off to a special dinner for convivium members of Slow Food Ireland. Twas a perfect day, and we were twitching at the thought of what was still to come…

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4 Responses to The Delights of Dungarvan

  1. FanClub says:

    Now that is, indeed, Fish and chips. All coming together nicely. Nice pictures. Nice writing.

  2. Alain&Joanne says:

    Question: How are you managing the language?

    I can see you’ve got no problem in ordering the right food though…

    Keep enjoying yourselves…

    Alain

  3. Lynette says:

    The bounty continues to come forth. Thanks for taking me along on the trip!

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