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Posts tagged ‘County Waterford’

Mahon Falls, The Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford

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A few weeks ago on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Patrick, Maeve and I set off down the N25 for a leisurely drive through the Comeragh Mountains.

Like many places in County Waterford, before moving here I wasn’t aware that these mountains existed. Now that I know, I’m saddened thinking about how many other Canadians come to Ireland and never make it to the Sunny Southeast.

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Although it seems to be a stop on many bus tours, Waterford doesn’t feature in as many travel articles or commercials. I’m not sure why that is – the weather is lovely, the beaches are gorgeous and relatively secluded, and the Comeraghs – well, the Comeraghs have some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever experienced.

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In the far reaches of the mountains, there is a short hike to a place called Mahon Falls. This walk is highly recommended. Small children and seniors will have no problem walking to the falls and back – it took about 20 minutes of brisk walking for me to reach the end. The backdrop of mountains on one side and rest of County Waterford on the other is breathtaking, to say the least.

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When we arrived, we looked back at Maeve and discovered she was sound asleep. Patrick and I looked at each other, each trying to think of a way around the situation. In the end, I walked to the falls by myself and Patrick said he and the baby would follow if and when she woke (she didn’t; she was still snoring when I got back about an hour later).

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The path is well marked and maintained and when you reach the falls there are numerous spots for picnics. Just beware of the wind – it can be really harsh and cold, even on a sunny day. Higher up on the hills, if you squint, you can see sheep grazing on the stumpy grass and heather. It’s amazing to see how high they can climb.

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Mahon Falls is about 40 minutes from Waterford City. You’ll see a sign for the waterfall about ten minutes before reaching Dungarvan on the N25 roadway. The hike will take at least another 40 minutes depending on how long you stay to admire the view.

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My Favourite Places #4: Butlerstown Farmer’s Market

Caolan Harrington, market founder and vendor at Crough Farms Venison

Caolan Harrington, market founder and vendor at Crough Farms Venison

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love farmer’s markets.

I’m sure I’ve talked about the Brickworks in Toronto or the Wolfville Farmer’s Market in Nova Scotia, where I went to university. These are the two best markets I’ve ever been to – as far as what’s sold, the level of community support and how much of my weekly shopping I can get done, these two win out for me every time.

It took me awhile to find a market in Waterford. Not that there’s any shortage of markets; just the contrary: there are so many on different days of the week and with different vendors, it’s hard to find a market where I can consistently get a lot of my weekly shopping done.

Also, I need a weekend market in my life. I don’t drive, so midweek marketing in another town is not an option. I’ve heard good things about the Thursday market in Dungarvan, but since Pat works during the week I can’t get there.

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This all leads to the Butlerstown Farmer’s Market, which is this month’s favourite place!

It takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am outside the Harvey Norman on Waterford’s ring road. A consistently great bunch of vendors gather here every weekend. There’s great banter – always music playing and picnic tables set up. There’s hot food, baked goods, venison and a really talented espresso slinger on hand. Really, it’s what I was looking for in a market.

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Caolan Harrington, one of the founders of the market and also a vendor, strives to make Butlerstown Farmer’s Market a one-stop shopping destination and is always on the lookout for new vendors.

I personally love the baked goods and specialty products that are on offer here. I like the fact that I can grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat before getting my veggies and meat.

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Vendors include (but are not limited to):

There are always fresh, seasonal vegetables on offer, too. A great way to do your weekend shop!

You can find The Butlerstown Farmer’s Market on Facebook and Twitter – they update regularly!

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West Waterford Festival of Food

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Most non-Irish don’t realize this, but Ireland truly is the land of festivals come spring and summertime. When you’re planning a trip to Ireland, you’re thinking you’ll spend your days drinking in quiet pubs and seeing the Cliffs of Moher. You should definitely still do those things, but also, take a minute and check out festivals.ie. More than likely, there will be some kind of food, music or art festival happening during your visit.

Posing with Mr. Blaa!

Posing with Mr. Blaa!

With that in mind, this past Sunday Pat and I packed up our baby and headed to Dungarvan for the West Waterford Festival of Food. The festival began last Thursday and ended yesterday, featuring demos from some of Ireland’s most iconic chefs, a massive farmer’s market with hundreds of vendors and lots of great discussion events about food and food culture.

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It’s safe to say the weekend was successful. When we arrived yesterday afternoon we were extremely lucky to find a convenient place to park. Grattan Square, in the centre of town, was absolutely chock-full of people, vendors, dogs, babies and stuff.

What kind of stuff? Well, some people were selling plants. Others were selling their baked goods and confections (my favourite were the homemade marshmallows from Cloud Confectionery – Pat tried their lime and ginger crumble while I stuck with vanilla bean). There were entire pigs being roasted on spits, two trucks churning out Butler’s Ice Cream on different ends of the square, a Belgian frites truck (only my favourite all-time kind of frite) and lots of hand-made crafts and art pieces.

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Some familiar artisanal products being sold included Badger & Dodo Coffee, Corleggy Cheese, Ballyhoura Mushrooms (I spent all my money on shrooms; I don’t see these guys enough!), Tastefully Yours Chutneys and Wild About Foods (their nettle syrup is one of my most favourite things). We had a great time eating and buying things at the market; it was crowded but still relatively easy to navigate (I was so glad we had Maeve in her sling instead of the buggy).

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There were a few events this weekend I really wish I’d been able to attend. There were seaweed foraging walks on Clonea Beach and hikes out into the Comeragh Mountains. There were so many great kid’s programs that we’ll be taking advantage of when Maeve is older. There was a Middle Eastern Feast hosted by Eunice Power. And there was a Sunday Demo with Rachel Allen featuring the new generation of Irish chefs – all fabulous women (Jessica Murphy, Aoife Noonan & Grainne O’Keefe, to name a few). Next year I’ll have my priorities straight and arrange for some childcare!

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As we drove back toward Waterford City, Patrick and I agreed that there couldn’t have been a better host town for a festival featuring County Waterford cuisine. Dungarvan is a hotbed of great restaurants, pubs and people and the festival was all the more special for that reason.

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I’ve said this a few times, but I can’t believe more tourists aren’t coming to Waterford during trips to Ireland – we’ve got the beaches, the scenery, the history and the food. Although if you come to Waterford from Newfoundland you may feel like you haven’t left home.

My Favourite Places #2: No. 9 Barronstrand Café

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That No. 9 is a favourite place of mine may not come as a surprise to some of you. I mean, I practically live there.

Whether I’m running errands downtown and need a quick break with the baby or need to get out of the house to work on the many, many (many) pieces I need to get written right now, I like to come here for the food and relaxed ambiance.

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You’re probably thinking “It’s a café, duh, of course its relaxed”, but unless you’ve been out in public with a baby who’s prone to screaming fits you wouldn’t really understand. No. 9 is seriously baby and toddler-friendly.

I meet my mom-friends here about once a week – they have a playroom with toys that would appeal to any baby/toddler/child, including a mounted television playing “Peppa Pig” on a loop. They also have coffee, which most moms need to get through their day. The staff put up with our screaming children and are helpful and kind.

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Even though nearly every mom, grandma and baby in Waterford is at No. 9 on any given day, don’t worry – there’s always, somehow, just the right number of highchairs for everyone. They have a smaller infant swing with dangling toys if your baby is too small for a highchair, but you have to ask for it specifically.

They also encourage breastfeeding on their premises. This is great – you don’t get stares that seem to ask “Why aren’t you feeding your child in the toilet?” or “What makes you think you can partially expose your breast to the patrons of this establishment?” Not that I get those stares a lot. It’s just nice to know you’re welcome to feed your baby, however you choose to do it.

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They have an extensive menu at No. 9, along with freshly baked cakes, scones and puddings. The food is good. They have excellent American-style hot wings, a different roast dinner on special every day and (my personal favourite) they serve an all-day breakfast menu. I love their full Irish & Spanish Eggs (sunny side-up with chorizo, tomato, potato rostii & caramelized onion) and Patrick always orders their Eggs Benedict.

There aren’t too many places in town where you can have a proper brunch, so this is just another reason why No. 9 is packed on weekends.

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They also have free wi-fi for their customers – just ask for the password when you order. I have spent entire afternoons at No. 9, just writing and eating (which is my idea of heaven, really).

You’ll find No. 9 on the upper level of George’s Court Shopping Centre, just across from the upper level of Mothercare. If you park on the quay (Clock Tower lot is easiest) and spend 20 Euro at George’s Court you get one hour of free parking – just get your ticket validated at the Chocolate Café on the lower level of George’s Court.

You can follow No. 9 on Twitter or like them on Facebook for more info.

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My Favourite Places are written on an entirely voluntary basis. The aim is to promote local small businesses I visit regularly and who are doing amazing work in our community. I receive no incentive to write these posts and visit each place a minimum of three times before writing.

Walking through Waterford

I was just going through some of the older pictures on my camera and came across these shots I took in early January. Pat, Maeve and I took a walk downtown and it was such a beautiful day. Winterval was over at this point but the massive Winterval carousel was still up and running, making things look, if not Christmas-ey, then at least a bit more festive than usual.

Just thought I’d share these shots of Waterford with you all; it is, after all, a beautifully old city (the oldest in Ireland, I hear!).

The People's Park, where there's Buggyfit on Mondays, two awesome playgrounds, a gazebo and even a skate park.

The People’s Park, where there’s Buggyfit on Mondays, two awesome playgrounds, a gazebo and even a skate park.

Dunmore Rd.

Dunmore Rd.

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This was our first home in Waterford...

This was our first home in Waterford…

Along the quays

Along the quays

Reginald's Tower and our viking protector, Valgard.

Reginald’s Tower and our viking protector, Valgard.

Not really a Waterford pic, but Maeve will. not. keep the blanket on her legs when we take her in the buggy.

Not really a Waterford pic, but Maeve will. not. keep the blanket on her legs when we take her in the buggy.

The pedestrian shopping area, near George's Court shopping centre.

The pedestrian shopping area, near George’s Court shopping centre.

One of my favourite Waterford shops. You can find ANY exotic/ethnic ingredient here, seriously.

One of my favourite Waterford shops. You can find ANY exotic/ethnic ingredient here, seriously.

The carousel...

The carousel…

My Favourite Places #1: Portico Coffee, Waterford

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Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know this place existed. When I came across it after a visit to the City Square Shopping Centre, I knew I had discovered a good thing.

You see, I love coffee. I LOVE IT.

I was a barista for three years while in university. The café where I worked was owned by Canada’s first fair trade coffee company. We had the best beans (roasted just kilometres from the café), the best organic baked goods and the best barista training. The café itself was in a restored cinema which only played independent and foreign films & put on community events.

And I had so. much. fun. working there.

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I got to know lots of other students, and nearly all of my professors were regulars (score: brownie points). I was on the student council and would bring coffee to each meeting. And the regular customers who weren’t affiliated with the university became good pals. Being a barista requires some skill with an espresso machine, but even more skill in talking. If you’re a talker, it’s a great job.

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Enter Portico Coffee in downtown Waterford:

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the tiny (minuscule, even) space was that the two individuals already there were speaking with American accents. As it turns out, the café is affiliated with a church in Waterford and the entire staff work there on a voluntary basis – many coming from America.

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The proceeds go towards their ministries, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be preached to while waiting for your coffee. In fact, if I hadn’t asked I don’t think I would have known there was any religious affiliation (although I’m sure they’re very proud of their church and faith) with the café.

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And can we talk about the coffee for a minute? It’s all Badger & Dodo, a local coffee roastery in County Cork. In my opinion, Badger & Dodo make the best beans in the country. Many, I know, agree with me. But unless you have some mad barista skills, the beans you use don’t mean anything, and these guys have mad skills when it comes to pulling the perfect shot.

I am so picky when it comes to coffee. I really hate asking for a cup of coffee in a restaurant and receiving a watery americano instead. At Portico, if you want a straight up cuppa joe, they will make you an individually ground, pour-over cup with the beans of your choice. If you want an espresso they’ll hand-tamp the freshly ground espresso beans.

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For this sleep-deprived mama, Portico Coffee has been a godsend (no pun intended) which makes it the first of my new Favourite Places series (I’ll be posting a new favourite place every month).

You can like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter – they give a small discount to anyone who gives them a shout-out using their hashtag (#porticocoffeewaterford).

* My Favourite Places are written on an entirely voluntary basis. The aim is to promote local small businesses I visit regularly and who are doing amazing work in our community. I receive no incentive to write these posts and visit each place a minimum of three times before writing.

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