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I'm going to be doing a quick trip 'round the country in a few weeks: Cork, Galway, Sligo and on to Dublin.

Will have a car.

Any not-to-be-missed artisanal and/or traditional bakeries hidden away in these parts of the country?

Thanks!

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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Agree with postcode about the Bridgestone series - they are written in a style that is hard to take but unfortunately there is not much else around.

In Galway, Goya is dependable. There is also a good small bakery/coffee shop in Oughterard (on rhs as you travel westwards). Its really a bit typical of the kind of place to look out for - small, locally focused and based essentially on the kind of home baking that is still prevalent in Ireland, perhaps because larger commercial bakeries are uniformly dismal.

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I've been meaning to start this thread for ages as I'm just across the water from Dublin.

In Sandycove, just South of Dublin there is Cavistons which, as well as the wonderful fish restaurant and deli, has its own bakery.

The only other Dublin bakery I know (and haven't managed to get to yet) is Bretzel Bakery. Newspaper article here.

I'd be interested to hear from someone more knowledgable about other good bakers.

Mick

Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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Agree with postcode about the Bridgestone series - they are written in a style that is hard to take but unfortunately there is not much else around

That too, but it's the way the guide is put together, the contributors and the underhand way the entries are decided upon. It's not how good, but how much you wish to contribute to your inclusion that makes a mockery of it and why it's far from classed as a credible guide in Ireland by its peers.

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The Farmers Market in Temple Bar, Dublin (Saturdays) is worth adding to the list. You’ll find traditional baked goods as well as other wonderful artisan produce there. The Gallic Kitchen in Francis St might be worth a visit, but I haven’t been in a long time, and personally I found the pastries a little heavy. La Maison des Gourmets in Castle Market (near the back of the Powerscourt Townhouse) is a wonderful little bakery, although very French in style. Check also if the Farmers Market in the grounds of Farmleigh (the former home of Lord Iveagh of the Guinness family), in the Phoenix Park is on when you’re in Dublin (Sundays).

Heading down Cork direction, you’ll find Ballymaloe House, where the doyenne of Irish cooking, Darina Allen, runs a small (but expensive) country house hotel and cookery school. If your budget could extend to lunch or dinner there, I think you’d enjoy its unfussy approach to traditional cooking using the finest ingredients around. It would be worth booking in advance, mentioning that you are particularly interested in artisan/traditional baking and picking her brains on where to go.

I know that the Bridgestone Guide has its detractors, but I do think you would find it useful. The one you need is their Irish Food Guide; it lists Farmers Markets, bakeries, cheese makers etc. Some of the places it includes are:

Lettercollum Kitchen Project Shop, Clonakilty, Co Cork

The Baking Emporium, Dunmanway, Co Cork

Adele’s, Schull, Co Cork

Also listed is The Yew Tree in Oughterard, Co Galway, which is probably the bakery that Kerrier suggested up-thread.

Please post your discoveries and comments. I think a lot of people would be very interested... and have a wonderful time.

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Oh, thank you all for posting, although I'm truly amazed at the low number of places to recommend. Shocked, is more like it! Why do you suppose, with the way artisanal foods and great seasonal produce have become so important within the food scene around Ireland**, baked goods seem to be a bit far behind? Are there good (or just decent), mass-produced breads and pastries available in supermarkets? With all the small cheese-makers, sausage-makers, and other specialty foods makers, why not great bakers? Would the general public say that good bakeries are lacking, or is it only those of you here on egullet and others like you?

And what is the name of the Irish company who bought La Brea Bakery from Nancy Silverton? I know some La Brea products are showing up in London...are they in Dublin as well? I'll be curious to compare them with the La Brea products here in southern California.

**I say this as in this month's issue of SAVEUR magazine, Ireland is the focus, with some terrific articles on some of these small producers of fabulous foods. Correct me if the food scene is not of such interest to the general public. Or perhaps the magazine is just anticipating St Patrick's Day!

Thanks for all the great suggestions, bakeries or otherwise. Keep them coming! And, yes, I'll definitely post my findings. Can't wait to get there!

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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And what is the name of the Irish company who bought La Brea Bakery from Nancy Silverton?  I know some La Brea products are showing up in London...are they in Dublin as well?  I'll be curious to compare them with the La Brea products here in southern California.

They bought La Brea.

Edited by postcode (log)
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Traditional baking is actually a very simple art in Ireland. The cake shops that have disappeared over the years were really quite simple too… selling soda bread and scones, yes… but also pretty pedestrian “Vienna” roll, yeast buns, coffee slices, cream éclairs and meringues.

It’s not that long ago, maybe 30 years, when brown and white soda bread was made daily in a farmhouse kitchen, and served spread with wonderfully sour and salty, homemade butter. Scones were made frequently too, and there was always a “cut and come again” fruit cake on the go. On Sundays, a whisked (fatless) sponge would often be made with the many eggs from the farm and filled with homemade jam and thick, whipped cream; a Madeira cake was quite common and so too were apple tarts. The Barm brack, as you know, was traditional for Hallowe’en, and contained a ring (predicting marriage), a stick (predicting something bad, I cannot remember specifically) and we also had the tradition of putting coins into ours. A rich fruit cake was traditional for Christmas; and at Easter, a lighter simnel cake was made which had a layer of marzipan running through the middle, although I think both of these cakes are English in origin. Some houses continue with a baking tradition, but as most farms have now specialised in dairy, beef etc and are not mixed any more, there are fewer hens pecking around the place and it’s not as common. However, there is quite a move to return to this way of life, but dare I say, it is very middle class and not mainstream.

I’m not sure if we have any tradition of making bread with leavening other than the combination of bread soda and buttermilk, although I do remember a lovely little bakery near the Guinness brewery, using the very locally sourced yeast. In terms of what’s available now, French and Italian breads have become increasingly popular, and sourdough is moving onto the radar, but these are not “traditional”. There is a dearth of good bakers and patisseries, which is a pity, and if I want anything special, I go to La Maison de Gourmets, which is wonderful. Some of the larger multiples have in-house bakeries, and the bread is fine... better than sliced "plastic" bread, but nothing spectacular. Very often the good quality sourdough bread is available in delis and upmarket speciality shops which also sell cheese, charcuterie etc, but its generally delivered and not made on the premises. These of course, tend to be in some of the better suburbs. I don't know the names of the bakeries that deliver, but I suspect that they don't have their own dedicated retail outlets. As for La Brea, I haven't seen it for sale, but it could well be.

I’m not an expert on Irish artisan baking, and as I mentioned up-thread, I think you would find a conversation with Darina Allen very interesting indeed. There are some truly great artisan producers in Ireland, so maybe it would be worth casting your net a little bit wider and taking in some of these as well as the bakers.

Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)
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You'll find some pretty good breads at the Avoca Handweavers cafes/shops (at Enniskerry near Dublin, Kilmacanague, Avoca, maybe others?). They're quite touristy, and you'll probably be surrounded by fellow Americans, but I'm fond of their cheese bread and pistachio bread.

Si

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When you are travelling in Cork, try Middleton Farmers Market, Sat mornings. Arbutus breads are there, quite good. Also in Dublin, there is Soul Bakery, they are based in Clonee, though do attend most farmers markets in the Dublin area.

As well as Farmers Markets in Ireland (local, organic produce) there are also County markets, my local town has one on a Friday morning. It's fantastic for traditional breads, cakes, scones, savoury and sweet tarts, home-made jams, the sort of things everyone in Ireland used to make years ago, but don't have the time.

It's in Portumna, Co Galway which is on the River Shannon, though there are plenty of these dotted around Ireland which might be what you are looking for.

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I have always found Ireland to be very homogenized. County Cork is probably the one large exception to that, or at least the fastest to change. There's very little regionalisation; for example Westmeath beef (from around Athlone) is fantastic because of the huge shannon flood plains around there, but try asking a butcher in Dublin for some of it. They'll look at you like you have 2 heads. Things are getting a lot better though; one example is irish cheeses and cheese shops have improved hugely in the 9 years since I left Ireland.

Why is Ireland so homogenized and why is there so little regional variation? I'd say it's because of 8 centuries of being under foreign rule followed by decades of relative poverty followed by EU agricultural policy handouts. Now that disposal incomes have risen and EU handouts are decreasing the pace of change should keep speeding up.

'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.'

- Frank Zappa

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Have you picked up the latest Saveur? The cover article is about artisinal foods available in Ireland, highlighting Cork as the California of the Irish country...

Yes, I couldn't have been happier when I saw that!

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

Weebl

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Annmarie, welcome to the Forum. It's great to have input from around the country. Kit, you have inspired me to start a thread on Farmers' Markets which should make it easier for us all to access this information in the future. Hopefully we will have plenty of posters.

And adding to Simon's suggestion of Avoca, if you don't get out to Wicklow, there is one on Soffulk St in Dublin city centre, which is also a good spot to have a light lunch.

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I know some La Brea products are showing up in London...are they in Dublin as well?  I'll be curious to compare them with the La Brea products here in southern California.

I just found some La Brea bread in Dunnes Stores (Rathmines branch, Dublin), which is one of the leading supermarket chains, but certainly not the most up-market.

I notice from the packaging that there is a bakery in Dublin as well as in Middlesex, UK, so I'd imagine that it has a reasonable distribution over here. I bought the Olive Oval which has a lovely crust and texture, but I wasn't mad about the olive flavour, which was a bit sharp and tasted like disinfectant. But maybe that's just me! I'll give the others a go.

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