A sad bit of news from the summer was that The Good Things Cafe would be closing in Durrus.
It has been a fixed part of our visits to the Sheep’s Head for the last eleven years.
When we first drove through Durrus back in 1999 the building the Cafe went on to occupy was a butterfly house. We thought we might go that first year but the butterfly house closed and the building stood empty for a couple of years.
It looked unprepossessing when the Cafe first opened and we drove past a few times unsure as to whether we would be going.
So I think that the first time we ate there was in the summer of 2003 and if I remember it right we ate there twice. Once in the early evening with kids, sat outside, with the sun going down and the kids played on the grass. I can’t remember what we ate but I am fairly sure that the Durrus Cheese Pizza and Fish Soup were involved. The two of us went back a few days later, having found a baby sitter, and sat inside.
After that we have eaten there at least two or three times every year.
In 2004 we celebrated two 40th birthdays and one 7th birthday. Another year we walked the back road from Ahakista to Durrus for an Easter Sunday lunch. The walk took about three hours and having finished our lunch we then walked all the way back again.
The only thing that ever let us down was the weather when we chose to eat outside. One summer we had two lunches outside and the sun beat down so fiercely we were fighting over umbrellas for the small amount of shade that they gave. Two years after that we had to eat outside because there was no room inside the cafe. We misjudged the weather and it started to rain but we continued to eat in the damp.
The meals have always been with family and friends.
And the food has always been good.
A large part of that goodness has come from the fact that the food was either grown or caught within a few miles of were we were sat eating. The lobsters and shrimp came from Tommy in Ahakista and the salads and herbs came from Clovis Ferguson and Gubbeen and the potatoes always came from Kilcrohane.
Somewhere upstairs I have a box that contains a fair number of the bills I picked up at the end of the meals we ate there.If I were to go through it and try to work out the most popular dishes we ate I imagine that towards the top would come the fish soup and gazpacho, followed quickly by the crab tart and Durrus Cheese Pizza; but they would be chased by the duck wings with noodles and the Sugar Club steak, the Grower’s Plates and the dish I had one year of potatoes, tomatoes and onions roasted with hake. And there were the Gubbeen Ham open sandwiches and the tarts made with blue cheese and pecans and the small plates of Ahakista prawns and a Nicoise Salad I had one year with the most perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs.
Sometimes we went there swearing blind to bide our pennies and stick to just the one course and no pudding. Those resolutions would be broken as soon as we say down and there would always be puddings, rich and indulgent; vast, fat meringues, banoffee pies and liquorice ice cream. I always had a small pot of St. Emillion chocolate made with a hint of brandy.
They helped me to celebrate my 50th birthday last year by coming to the Cottage and cooking up 30 or so lobsters for us to eat sat on the lawn looking out over the Bay and this last year Kristen and Keiron worked there for the summer.
I am sure that we will cope with the Good Things Cafe not being down the road and that over the course of the next few years we will make it over to Skibbreen where they will be making their new home.
In the meantime it seems right to be saying thank you to Carmel and her cooking and those others that have cooked and served, for the good food that we have eaten over the course of the last eleven years in the old butterfly house on the road out from Durres.