Good Things Cafe should be called Awesome Things Cafe

Two days of fantastic fish recipes by a wonderful teacher in a perfect setting. Not much more to say than that. But I will.

Three years ago I did a cookery course down in Good Things Cafe with Carmel Somers. It was honestly two of the best food days I’ve ever had. The relentless pressure of start-up business life meant I didn’t get to return until this month. Now I can’t wait to go again.

Durrus is a gorgeous little village just at the start of the Sheep’s Head Peninsula. Good Things is just out a bit on the Ahakista Road looking out over the bay and the mussel farms. It is a cafe during the summer and a cookery school for the rest of the year.

A collection of maybe 10 of us there on the first day. A mixture of individuals, friends and mother/daughter. Only two of us were blokes. What is it with men? It’s 2009, not 1959.

Click on the image for the full album of pictures that I took:


There is always a worry that demo-only courses can be tiring to concentrate on for two days. I have the attention span of a gnat and generally have to be doing things to stop my mind wandering. I needn’t have had any concern. Carmel kept us engaged and entertained for the entire thing. Each day was over in the blink of an eye and I wanted more each time!

The recipes are all simple, tasty and doable by anyone who can wield a knife. OK maybe not by those two nutters on the opening episode of The Restaurant this week who tried to open a coconut with a knife and rolling pin :-)

The recipes included:

  • Alioli
  • Brown Rice with garlic
  • Fish Stock
  • Omelette Arnold Bennett
  • Fish Ceviche
  • Kedgeree
  • Fish Cakes with Salsa
  • Chowder
  • St Emilion au Chocolat
  • Brown Soda Scones
  • Crab Tart
  • Short Crust Pastry
  • Garlic Croutons
  • Fish Soup
  • Braised Fennel with Cumin and Ginger

As each thing was cooked, we all got to taste it and sip on a glass of wine. They were all winners. I only saw one person react negatively to one dish in two days and that was the squid which I know some people just have a problem with.

Carmel’s assistant Joy also deserves a special mention for all her hard work and friendly attentiveness on both days.

Those on the course were all lovely and extremely friendly. This wasn’t a bunch of foodies trying to out-do each other in their knowledge of single-estate extra-virgin olive oils. Just normal folks who like food and wanted an interesting weekend away. There was even someone living in Ratoath where my mother is from who knows my Aunt’s shop really well.

Carmel was a big meanie and wouldn’t let me record video like the last time. I had hoped to post a bunch of stuff to Qik and YouTube. Hopefully her daughter will get her doing video now that they are on Twitter too.

Just like the last time, all I can say is, just do it. They have a wide range of courses and it’s a wonderful part of the country. It’s not expensive and you’ll come away excited by food again. I described myself as a lapsed cook that weekend and it looks like Carmel has brought me back into the flock :-)

She has also just launched her first cookbook called “Eat Good Things Every Day”. It looks brilliant and I’ll definitely be buying a copy.

Learn how to eat good things everyday. This book will get your kitchen sorted and to make the task of cooking less daunting and more enjoyable. From a ‘once a week’ shopping list there’s something to cook every night for eight weeks plus a list of what you need in your store-cupboard is provided and a surprisingly short list of kitchen utensils. By planning our meals in advance we can eat better, tastier food that will give us more enjoyment and doesn’t cost the earth!

You can buy it on the Cork University Press web-site.

Now which of her courses will I do next?

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland