This Wonderful Little Place … Co Wexford

Farmer and television personality JIMMY DOHERTY stumbled on WORLD-CLASS FOOD in CARNE

Food is the fuel of life; it impacts everything from your health to your mental wellbeing and I believe it’s important that we fuel our bodies carefully. If you put rubbish in, you’re going to feel rubbish. There’s nothing wrong with eating a burger and chips, but you should make sure it’s the best burger and chips you can find. I like to support local producers – it helps keep small businesses and farms going.

My enduring memories of food vary from the lovely feelings associated with having a Sunday roast to eating out on holiday. One meal I remember vividly was a soft-shell crab curry – sitting there in the sun, having a beer. Bliss. My job as a television presenter requires a lot of travelling so I’m lucky to eat in really amazing restaurants, but I rarely have the opportunity to go back. It’s often the smaller places that stick out for me – they don’t muck about. Everything is simple and fresh.

My wife took me on a surprise trip to Ireland for my birthday a couple of years ago. Her late dad used to have a place there and we would go over quite a bit. We rented a car and travelled to Kinsale, where some of her family has a dairy farm, and then ended up in Wexford.

It was a cold, rainy afternoon in May when we happened upon a little seafood bar outside Carne called The Lobster Pot. The walls were covered in that old pub memorobilia and it was warm and cosy inside, with a fire in the corner. There weren’t many people in, about four other tables, and a few guys at the bar. Plenty of chatter in the background.

The menu was small, just a few classics, which is always a good sign for me. When you go out to a pub and there are 150 different dishes available, from an all-day breakfast to a Thai green curry to TexMex, it’s not a good sign. I run a restaurant and I can tell you it would be very hard to have enough fresh ingredients on hand to turn out all those main courses.

I like to look around and see what other people are eating and to gauge what looks good before ordering. In the end, I chose the seafood chowder, which turned out to be delicious, totally unpretentious and one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten. There was some lovely chunks of smoked haddock in there and a crab claw. Not only was it tasty, it represented everything that was good from the region. I definitely believe in eating the landscape. Served with a simple slice of brown soda bread and washed down with a pint of Guinness, it didn’t need anything else.

Later in the week, a Garda pulled me over and told me I’d been speeding. He said, “you’re not driving in England now,” but when he passed me the ticket he added, “if you don’t pay the fine, they’re not going to go over there to get it”. I love Ireland.

The new series of Food Unwrapped with Jimmy Doherty, Kate Quilton, Matt Tebbutt and Dr Helen Lawal is now on Channel 4. For more information on Jimmy Doherty, Jimmy’s Farm and his online shop visit www.jimmysfarm.com.

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