Creative Cooking, Eating in Dingle

The Fishbox/Flannery’s Seafood Bar.

IRELAND HOPPING | Margaret M. Johnson

Great food seems to be the order of the day in Dingle, one of the hottest spots on Ireland’s “Wild Atlantic Way” and a paradise for foodies. In my last column, it was all about breakfast at Castlewood House, acclaimed for great hospitality in general, but awarded a host of awards for their morning meal. For lunch, nothing beats the Fish Box ( on Upper Green Street, a family-owned restaurant where the catch of the day is sourced directly from the Flannery’s own trawler “Cú Na Mara,” Gaelic for “Hound of the Sea.” The menu is simple enough: choose from “In the Box” — fried fish like prawns with tempura batter and sweet chili jam or classic fish ‘n’ chip with homemade tartar sauce — or “On the Plate” — dishes like smoked salmon with cole slaw and salad or Thai red monkfish and prawn curry, to name a few. Be assured the Flannery’s uphold their motto “we believe in local’: fish comes from their father, desserts from their mother, breads from the bakery down the street, and beer from Dick Mack’s micro-brewery next door.

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Chef Caroline Danaher has encouraging words for a student.

For a fabulous cooking (and eating) experience, take a class at Dingle Cookery School, or Scoll Chócaireachta an Daingin (, where demo and hands-on classes range from “Catch and Cook,” part fishing trip/part cooking lesson, to “Seaweed Foraging,” ”Sourdough Bread Making,” and “Traditional Irish Cookery,” the class I took on my recent visit in May. Mark Murphy and Muíreann Nic Giolla Ruaidh operate the school on a year-round basis, attracting locals for hen parties and corporate team-building events to visitors looking for an opportunity to learn more about the bounty of Irish food. With Muíreann as instructor for my class, she traced all the influences that contributed to “traditional” Irish food as we know it — Vikings, Normans, Tudors, Quakers — all the while mixing up a batch of scones and a loaf of traditional brown soda bread for the class to enjoy. When it was time for us to get to work ourselves, we were joined by local chef Caroline Danaher who guided us through the peeling, chopping, sautéeing, whisking, seasoning and, eventually, cooking and eating the fruits of our labor: Dingle Pies, Hake with Seasonal Greens and Beetroot and finally, thanks be to God, delicious Kerry Apple Pie with whipped cream!

Muíreann Nic Giolla Ruaidh making bread.



2 1/2 cups coarse brown flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 ounces oatmeal
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups
Pinch of salt

1.Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or dust with flour.

2.In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Make a well in center and stir in 1 1/4 cups buttermilk until mixture resembles stiff porridge (add additional buttermilk if needed).

3.Transfer dough to prepared pan and shape mixture into a flat loaf about 3 inches thick. With a floured knife, cut a cross in top of dough about 1-inch deep. Bake for about 30 minutes., or until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean. If dough is still wet, return to oven for about 5 minutes longer.

Kerry Apple Cake.


SERVES 8 to 10

4 ounces butter

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups self-rising flour

4 large Bramley or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into thick slices
1 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Whipped, custard, or vanilla ice cream, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a deep 9-inch round pan or line with parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and milk; sift in flour. Mix well; stir in apples. (The mixture will be quite wet, so add more milk if needed).
    3. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; sprinkle with brown sugar, nutmeg and almonds. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is browned and apples are tender. Serve warm with whipped cream, custard or ice cream, if desired.


Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work or to order a signed cookbook, visit