Georgina Campbell shines a light on some of Waterford's gastronomic delights
Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and, although recent years have been challenging, it has not forgotten the spirit of its founders and is fighting back in style. Waterford has become somewhat of a destination for foodies of late, with a well-known farmers market on Jenkins Lane and gourmet restaurants dotting the streets.
We cannot mention food in Waterford, without giving full and deserved recognition to the unique blaa bread, a rightful point of pride to locals. Dating back to the arrival of the Huguenots in Ireland, the Waterford blaa is a floury square yeast roll unique to Waterford and made to a seventeenth century recipe. In 2013, the Waterford blaa achieved PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) designation and, being one of only half a dozen Irish products with EU accreditation, the news soon spread. It’s still made in the traditional way by Hickeys Bakery, who have run a bakery in Waterford city centre for over half a century. And also by Walsh's Bakehouse, named after two brothers and third generation bakers, Michael and Dermot Walsh – they produce the traditional blaa in three sizes and also use the same dough to make an innovative ‘blaa-guette’.
Nearby fishing ports and the richly productive hinterland supply other exceptional products to the city’s fishmongers, butchers, speciality food shops, hotels and restaurants. A good example of this is the Comeragh Mountain lamb, a prized speciality.
As for where to go for a bit when visiting the city, check out our favourite pubs:
The City Wall (a national monument) runs through the main bar of this landmark property beside Reginald's Tower, which re-opened to acclaim in 2013 following a long closure. It’s well restored, with a range of bars and food experiences to explore – craft beers, whiskeys, 'gastro-bar' food and seafood menus – and a first floor terrace overlooking the twelfth century tower and replica viking ship.
In a pedestrianised lane in the main shopping area, this hospitable pub can be very busy but, at quieter times, is a pleasant spot, with welcoming open fires, a good-humoured hands-on owner and commitment to serving wholesome food.
Established in 1759, and in the same (eccentric) family for six generations, John de Bromhead's unusual pub ‘Downeses’ achieves with natural grace what so-called Irish theme pubs would dearly love to capture. Friendly, humorous bar staff who enjoy filling customers in on the pub's proud history and will gladly sell you a bottle of their own whiskey blend, Henry Downes No.9, to take away. And yes, the rumours are true - there really is a squash court on the ore