Food File: Learning French through food, Good Things in Skibbereen and wine appreciation

The weekly food news round-up from Marie-Claire Digby


“We are going to live over the shop and become townies, and we are very excited about it.”

After 13 years in the “wild west”, as she puts it, cook and author Carmel Somers is moving her Good Things Cafe and cookery school from Durrus, Co Cork, into new premises in Skibbereen next month.

“The building runs on the corner of three streets,” she says. “Downstairs will be red and copper with an open fire, and upstairs will be the original Good Things colours of blue, grey, black and white. I want this to be a place where one can come and have a very good glass of wine and a bowl of soup any time of the day, and sit by the open fire in wintertime.”


Downstairs will be open for lunch through to dinner, with a selection of west Cork plates, a fish plate, a Fingal [FERGUSON]plate, a mezze plate and a growers’ plate for vegans, as well as a full dinner menu.

The cookery school will be upstairs, and year-round opening hours will apply. Somers, whose culinary fans include chef Ross Lewis and TV presenter Graham Norton, plans to be open for business at Dillon’s Corner in Skibbereen next month.


A two-course supper in the Fern House Cafe will bring each of the four wine appreciation classes at Avoca, Kilmacanogue, this month and next, to a convivial conclusion. Peter Dunne, of Mitchell and Son wine merchants, will take the classes on Wednesdays in January (20th and 27th) and February (3rd and 10th). The course will cover winemaking, grape varieties, and new world versus old, and will conclude with an Italian wine and food tasting evening.

Tickets to each class cost €45 (€55 for the final night) and can be booked at the Kilmacanogue food hall, by telephone at 01-2746900 or online at


January’s educational good intentions can lead to something fun as well as worthy, and if you have a trip to France to look forward to in 2016, go well prepared, having completed a course in the French language through cooking. Cuisinez-vous le français? is a new e-learning programme that combines a cooking class with grammar, comprehension and pronunciation instruction.

Chefs from the Cercles Culinaires de France and language teachers from the Langue et Nature training course work together to present weekly videos that can be played at three different speeds to suit varying levels of proficiency. The annual subscription is €52 and, as well as the weekly three-minute recipe videos, there are online tools to support the language learning.