Monday, January 13, 2014

Christmas in Cork: English Market

Shortly after our arrival in Cork on Christmas Eve, we dropped off our bags and saw the city in our favorite way: pounding the pavement.  The main center of Cork is compact and was decorated beautifully for the holiday.  The streets and shops were busy with last-minute shoppers, carolers, and early Christmas Eve revelers.

We were out on a mission to pick up some food and drink supplies for Christmas Day at the B&B, because we (correctly) assumed that very little would be open on the holiday.  Our first intention was to explore the city first, then visit a grocery store for our supplies on the way back to the room.  That was our intention, until we saw the Cork English Market.

Cork English Market Entrance Cork, Ireland
Cork English Market Entrance
The English Market is a huge indoor food/craft market/mall thingy in the center of the big shopping district (The Island) of Cork.  The market fills most of a city block, with entrances on four sides, forming a cross-shaped food bonanza inside.

Christmas Light Fountain at English Market, Cork, Ireland
Christmas Light Fountain
Food Bonanza at English Market, Cork, Ireland
Food Bonanza
Inside, quality artisanal vendors of all kinds sold food and goods to the packed halls.  Each stall gave off a powerful and intriguing smell.  Craft butchers sold (and sold out!) cured spiced beef- a traditional Christmas dish here.  Artisan bakers sold (and sold out!) varieties of breads, fishmongers sold fresh and smoked fish, produce stands were piled high with holiday specials, and mysterious briny aromas drifted from the olive and pickle vendors at one busy corner.

Before we bought any food, we spied a yarn shop down one of the arms of the cross.  Of course we had to visit and pick out some special yarn for Sara to whip into a memento of our trip.  A bit of a Christmas gift for both of us, if you will (and I think you will.)

Cork Wools at English Market Cork, Ireland
Cork Wools
Going by a fish shop, I couldn't resist snapping a photo of the smoked fish on offer.  We had to resist getting anything that would be messy or require preparation, but we sorely lamented our kitchen-less situation when surrounded with all the wonderful and local foods on offer here at the English Market.

Smoked Fish at English Market Cork, Ireland

Our biggest score came from a meat/cheese/bread stall called Off the Pig's Back.  This large (and very busy) stall had a display case crammed with a variety of cheeses on one side and stacks of exotic cured meats on the other.  Eureka!  We always used to have summer sausage, cheese, and crackers on Christmas Eve in the afternoon before dinner (homemade Nachos Navidad with red and green tortilla chips, taco meat, guacamole, and salsa- difficult to come by here) and we were just thinking how nice it would be to duplicate that snack on Christmas as an easy, tasty, and prep-free meal.  We split up, Sara took the cheese counter and I jumped to the meat line.

All of the cured meats were in their whole state.  That is, big tubes completely covered with the special white mold that is vital to the process of producing real pepperoni, salami, and other cured sausages.  After being aggressive and getting to the counter, I asked for 200 grams (about 1/2 pound) of a Rosetta De Lyon sausage from France.  The attendant took the big (moldy, remember!) hunk of meat to the slicer and cut me thin slices of pink marbled goodness.  Sara had a bigger and pushier line at the cheese counter, but she made it through after looking at all the varieties of cheese and got a hunk of gouda to go with our fresh sausage.

Meat and cheese in hand, we still hit the supermarket for a few supplemental goods.  Our plan was to buy some cheaper salami or pepperoni at the market along with some extra cheese, bread or crackers, wine, and mustard for our meal.  We were picking out our extras in the aisles when we saw (to our utter horror) that the sliced packaged salami was more expensive (by weight) than the high quality meat we got from the English Market!  After some indecision, we decided to go back and get more great meats from the market if we needed more.  Serves us right for choosing the big chain supermarket.

On return to the English Market and Off the Pig's Back, we purchased 100 grams each of Salami Piccante of Italy and Spanish Chorizo.  All told, between the English Market and our supplemental supermarket trip, we had a prep-free feast on our hands as we finished our exploration and made our way back to the B&B for our quiet Christmas Eve.

Gouda, Cheddar, Wensleydale cheese with Rosetta De Lyon, Salami Piccante,  Spanish Chorizo, bread, wine, mustard, mince pies, potato chips, orzo, and couscous
Gouda, Cheddar, Wensleydale cheese with Rosetta De Lyon, Salami Piccante,
Spanish Chorizo, bread, wine, mustard, mince pies, potato chips, orzo, and couscous


  1. My favourite place in the whole of Ireland.. Glad you found it

    1. We are glad we stumbled upon it, too. We hadn't heard of it before we got there, but we thought it was great. We'll make a point to visit whenever we are anywhere near Cork city.


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