The eighth edition of John and Sally McKenna's 'Irish Food Guide' is satisfyingly chunky. Their last edition was in 2004 and this updated version has plenty of new producers and venues to hunt out. Calling itself a "definitive directory of sources for lovers of good food and travel", it is an invaluable resource for anyone travelling in Ireland. With details of delis, B&Bs, food producers, restaurants, cafés and markets everywhere from Kerry's Castlegregory to Castlederg in Co Tyrone, this is a book that should live in every car's glovebox.
Old favourites like the Organic Centre at Rossinver, Donal Creedon's Macroom Oatmeal and Wicklow's Brooklodge Hotel sit comfortably side by side with newcomers like Forbidden Food in Limerick, Elizabeth Bradley's Carlow Cheese and California Market Bakery. Just reading the loving description of espresso and the 16 different flavours of ice cream in Murphy's Ice Cream shops in Kerry is enough to encourage a trip to Dingle or Killarney. Eamon Barrett's quirky review of Café Hans in Cashel ("...by 12.40pm this place is totally full and by 1pm there are about 10 people STANDING in the restaurant waiting for a table. And they are STANDING there quite happily because they know that it will be worth the wait.") fittingly represents the quality of the food there. Discover hidden gems like the fabulous Old Convent in Co Tipperary and La Cucina in Limerick or be inspired to seek out Filligan's Preserves, spice mixtures from Green Saffron or Jack McCarthy's North Cork pancetta.
Although there are seven contributing editors, the McKennas still manage to keep the paragraph-long reviews consistent throughout all 500+ easily navigable pages of the guide. For anyone visiting or living in Ireland, 'The Bridgestone Irish Food Guide' is an essential purchase. Just two quibbles, however: the light blue text which denotes the category of the entries can be difficult to read in a moving car and why on earth is Derry categorised under Londonderry?