GLANDORE pulled out all the stops for a visit from a delegation from China, which was hosted by Cork County Council, earlier this week.
It was the chef who was best able to explain why the visit was such a success.
Conor Sheridan of The Glandore Bistro was speaking on behalf of everyone working at the restaurant, a local kayaking business, and Glandore Sailing Club, as well as small and big business interests, and the producers who supplied the ingredients for a bijou banquet, when he said: ‘A huge amount of work went into arranging this evening as an adventure, not just a meal.’
Jim and Maria Kennedy, owners of Atlantic Sea Kayaking, who have become ambassadors for the great outdoors in West Cork, led the four women and one man on the delegation – people who have the power through their tourism companies and media connections to put West Cork on the map in China – to a mist-shrouded Drombeg Stone Circle near Glandore.
The stone circle was built in Neolithic times, but it still has the power to fascinate. Even through the soft rain and all pervasive grey it was a powerfully Celtic introduction for these visitors to the delights of West Cork.
A short mini-bus trip to the pier – surely the most impossibly pretty pier in all of West Cork – showed in a very interactive way how small businesses can turn big.
Local fisherman have for centuries landed their catch and lined it along the pier wall, but local businessman, Mel Bendon, the managing director of Glenmar Shellfish Ltd, was there to explain how vast Glenmar has become and how it is exporting huge quantities of live shellfish to China.
With the light fading to an opaque, velvety black, the pier was illuminated by raised canisters that crackled and blazed and set up into the sky a smell of wood and turf that mingled with the tang of salt on the air. It was all very atmospheric.
Conor and Christine Sheridan even thought to bring trays of hot whiskey to the pier, while some of the delegation grappled – in a gentle way – with the live lobsters and giant crabs.
The CEO of Spearline Labs, Kevin Buckley, was there too, plus other West Cork companies that the Local Enterprise Office have helped to develop over the years. Helen Collins and Fiona Field of the Taste of West Cork Food Festival were there to showcase what the area has to offer.
When everyone came in from the cold and the clinging damp, they passed a table in the restaurant’s antechamber that was laden with locally-produced food, and walked into the intimate restaurant made cheery by a huge roaring fire.
Above the fire, on a blackboard, 21-year old Amy Kiely from Baltimore – who has worked at The Glandore Bistro all summer – wrote ‘welcome’ in Chinese. She is in her final year studying Chinese at UCC and spent her previous academic year in China.
Conor and Christine had laid on a spread with three stunning appetisers, including crispy tempura calamari, followed by crab bisque, pan roasted fillet of salmon, and a second fish course of steamed plaice, and then ... a chocolate sphere and Irish Coffee to finish.