Donegal Harbour Catch

To my regret I have rarely gone to Donegal ; I am told I was there in the late 1960’s but then being <5 years old its not something I recall. I then next went to Donegal last year for a conference, to the Lough Eske Castle hotel, a most excellent spot.

That said, I do have some good friends and colleagues from Donegal, one of whom , Michelle, writes the following.

Situated opposite the bay, you can, if your not careful, literally take a berth in the intimate surroundings of the Harbour Restaurant in historic and picturesque Donegal Town where your senses and palate will be enticed by the ‘Harbour Chowder’. Simmering in a fabulous white wine and seasoned to perfection, you can easily tell why this county is famous for its ‘Donegal Catch’ in this chowder. Brimming with cod, salmon, prawns , mussels , crab meat and hake, it’s obvious from first to last taste that the locally sourced fish from the fishing capital of Europe is so decadent in this chowder.  Served with homemade brown bread and I mean it’s really homemade! The chowder choice when in Donegal.


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creamy in Kilmore

In the 50’s my father and his brothers used to drive (after a full days work) from Caherdaniel where  my grandfather had a lobster farm, to Kilmore Quay and other places, load up shellfish and bring them back to the farm. Then go to work again..a round trip of c700km at least once a week interspersed into the day jobs. Kilmore is of course a lovely place and from Bovis (see blog here ) comes a how-to for what sounds like a lovely kilmore quay chowder

Easy  Chowder or really a kind of Wexford zuppa di pesce.

Full details are here but some highlights include fennel seeds or cumin, spuds, a whole heap of fish and cream.

The fish is up to you. But I think in a ‘traditional chowder’ Irish style there should always be some smoked fish, haddock, cod or coley. Salmon is cheap and works well, Pollock ditto, any firm white fish  cut in good size chunks. When the fish is just about done add a cup of frozen petit pois. Then when the peas are cooked finish with mussels and shrimp/prawns.

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an “Abigail’s party” chowder….

From a fellow twitterer

Used once at least , eons ago – touch of ‘Abigails Party’ for newish ‘love of life’ and his ‘boss n wife’ over for dinner.

To my shame, I’m not a fish eater so it was a real labour of love to make it and eat (a bit of it at least to show willing).

Happy to say all survived ….. the recipe longer than said newish love of life:)

Should I add a warning at this stage: ‘Your relationship may be seriously affected by cooking this dish’.

Hell – live dangerously – cook it !!

Though it says clams, I didn’t have clams (or indeed in those days know where to find them I’m sure).

I’ve got scrawls with bits I’ve changed – these are included below

One is crab used instead of clams – suppose other fish could be used

Adding Brandy is another

Added drizzle of double cream with bacon bits pre serving

Served with hot crusty bread

I might even try it again substituting chicken for fishy bits.

Have changed measures from ounces to grams – hopefully correctly.

Serves 4

Approx an hour to prep, cook and serve


3 rashers streaky bacon

80g chopped onion

1 clove finely chopped garlic

4 medium potatoes, peeled and mashed (with a little milk)

1 tablespoon plain flour

250ml fish stock

250ml single cream

1 1/4 (280g) tins baby clams, chopped and juice reserved

salt and pepper to taste

125ml double cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon brandy


1. In large saucepan over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on kitchen towels, reserving the bacon fat in the pan.

2. Chop/crumble bacon and set aside.

3. In same saucepan with the bacon fat, on a low heat saute the onion, garlic till translucent, add mashed potatoes, sprinkle with flour and mix well to blend ingredients smoothly for 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Pour in fish stock and clam juice, mix well and keep stirring until you bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low simmer for about 10 minutes

5. Add single cream and clams, season with salt and pepper to taste.

6, Allow to heat through (but do not boil), check when fish clams (fish) cooked and finally whisk in the double cream and brandy and serve garnished with chives and crumbled bacon.

Hope you enjoy it.

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homely and fresh in Clarinbridge

From Kenny Baker (who is a very talented web designer, responsible for among other sites) comes this. I have never had the pleasure myself of eating there but if this anything to go by must make an effort.

Some of the best chowder in Ireland, in my opinion can be found at Paddy Burke’s Oyster Inn in Clarinbridge, Co. Galway. A homely tavern, with a lemon color and a thatched roof, Paddy Burkes’s is a well known seafood bar and restaurant serving fresh fish in variety in addition to fine meats and fresh vegetables. Home to the annual Oyster festival, specialities include oysters from the local oyster bed.


Also renowned at Paddy Mac’s is their Homemade seafood chowder (€5.20). A mouth watering dish, the chowder, as with all of the food here, is made with excellent fresh produce.

The pub houses about half a dozen rooms and alcoves and has stone walls, open fireplaces and potbellied stove, all adding to a warm and comfortable atmosphere. The staff are friendly and welcoming and the service is excellent Paddy Burke’s is definitely worth a visit!


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Lobsters in the bar (and on the wall) but none in the chowder alas

Another report from Donna Fitzpatrick, with which I can wholeheartedly agree, is about a bar that is quite literally next door to where I grew up (and which at one stage my uncle owned, in the 1970s). The garlic slice is something to savour, and works very well with the chowder. The bar has a giant plastic (which at one stage was illuminated) lobster on its frontage, and is all one pub/restaurant, with a few rooms, nooks and perhaps even a cranny.

The Lobster Bar, Waterville, Co Kerry.
Technically more of a bisque than a chowder, the SEAFOOD CHOWDER (€5.75) at Lobster Bar has been a family favourite for years. With the perfect balance of fish & shellfish caught by local fisher men, the selection fish changes depending on season. It’s the rich red broth is what makes this a most memorable meal, served with an Irish mammy style garlic toast. In a word YUMMMMY!

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no monkeying around in Howth

From Donna Fitzpatrick comes this chowder report

Bass Monkey, Howth Pier, Dublin 13. With trawlers & seals bobbing in the Harbour only meters away, fish doesn’t get any fresher. With two styles of chowder offered, their regular SEAFOOD CHOWDER (€6.50) is perfectly acceptable, a creamy based broth with plenty of fish & crustaceans served with brown bread. It’s the BRASS MONKEY STYLE CHOWDER (€11.00) that is a truly astounding dish packed full of Scallops, Dublin Bay Prawns, Lobster & Crab Claws, it is simply sublime. More of a main than a starter and great price point for the quantity, quality & freshness of the ingredients. Well worth a quick trip on the DART!

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more stew than soup in Straffan

Towards the end of September some friends came out for Sunday lunch, and we decided to go to Barberstown Castle. We often go there of a Sunday, for a cup of tea and some scones, to enjoy the tea rooms, take in the ambience, listen to the piano player and chill.

This day we ate…and boy did we eat! Colm (the male part of our friendly couple) and I ordered seafood chowder. What we got failed as a chowder but only due to its overwhelming quality, density, chock-full-of-fishiness and general WOW factor. First, it was massive, and I mean small saucepan massive. Second, it was like an illustrated guide to shell and sea fish of Ireland. Clams, mussels, small wee things I cant describe, salmon chunks, cod, a scallop…it was wonderful. Third, it was served with chunks of the most exquisite home made (ok, hotel made) brownbread, enough per to feed a starving army. Finally, the chowder was wonderfully creamy, with a hint of saffron, delicate and robust. Both of us glanced at each other, then at the vat of chowder, then silence.. Best chowder ever? No, but close.

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