Weekends are made for exploring and outdoor fun and countryside strolls and delicious lunches. Especially the delicious lunches part.
Let me tell you about the cutest hidden gem I found recently. If you are from Cork or have taste buds, you will know about The Real Olive Company in The English Market. The guys from Toonsbridge Dairy run this stall brimming with tapenades and pestos and olives galore. Their feta, olive and sundried tomato mix is my fav as well as the feta and basil dip. Their salumi and formaggi selection is authentically Italian and if you are a chorizo fan look no further. They also make their own mozzarella in Toonsbridge and you don’t even need to drive all the way out there to sample it. Their produce is for sale every day in the market (Monday to Saturday 8am – 6pm).
This past weekend I decided to head right to the source and try out their produce by visiting the dairy with its quaint, unasuming store front and hidden garden café.
Head towards Macroom from the city and take the left turn signposted Gougane Barra just before you enter Macroom town (by the castle looking structure). Watch out for the micro sign for Toonsbridge Dairy. They really want to keep their exclusivity, don’t they!
The cafe is open Friday and Saturday from 12:30-4 and from 6-9 and on Sunday from 12:30-6. There is a distinct Italian vibe going on with their menu , with antipasto dishes and pizzas and if I am not mistaken the pizzas were made by a very Italian looking lad!
From the road look out for the red painted shop front with the bunches of garlic and bouquets of lavender hanging outside. It is an absolute photography dream.
Parking is a squeeze so make sure not to cause hassle for the residents of the area by parkng like an ass. Walk through the wooden gate to the garden and turn right into the covered dining area where the wonderfully friendly staff will either tell you how long to wait or seat you fairly sharpish. There are comunal style benches as well as smaller indoor tables and for those lazy sunny days there is seating out in the garden too.
Check out their menu here and know that the most difficult decision you have to make is which of the moreish platters to order first. The sharing tapas board of salumi and formaggi is a great starter but you may not way to share it. Don’t be sorry. I wasn’t!
The pizzas are quite large and filling so unless you are starving I think sharing one is fair enough and the salads are generous (you choose three) too so all in all it is a picnic feast for you are your lucky companions.
There is a garden for the sproglets to run about in and a little toy kitchen to keep them occupied on drizzly days, while you sip a vino, or coffee (no judgement) and enjoy one of their homemade desserts.
I loved the fig, date and ricotta slice. Hmm, thinking of it now makes me sad that there is no way to get another one until Friday!
If you are like me and you aren’t quite ready for the lush lunch to be over, fear not. Nip into the shop and buy up some of their olives and cheeses to recreate your own sharing (or not, you choose) plate at home.
Now I am sharing this with you because it would be unfair of me really to keep this little gem a secret but be careful who you share this with. Once you visit you too will fall in love with the rustic setting and warm welcome and want to keep it for yourself too.