Sarah McNally’s parents began running the McNally Family Farm stall at Temple Bar Food Market when she was five years old and she has been immersed in its Saturday morning world ever since. This month, along with friend Liadain Kaminska, Sarah will launch her own food venture, The Market Kitchen, which will serve breakfasts and lunches using only ingredients bought directly from the market producers. As the market turns 18, Sarah chatted to us about the origins of Temple Bar Food Market, the range of producers involved and the vital ingredients that help make it so special.
Temple Bar Food Market celebrates its 18th birthday this month. How did it get started?
When the English Market started up in Cork, a few like-minded people got together and decided that this was something that was needed in Dublin too. They believed that being able to get good quality food directly from producers was paramount, so they set things up and it grew from there. Now we have about 30 stalls with some amazing resident traders making Temple Bar Food Market a fantastic producer’s market.
Tell us about the atmosphere on Saturdays
Saturday is one day of the week I don’t mind having to get up at 6am. It doesn’t feel like work, more like somewhere to meet people and stock up on some amazing food for the week. There’s always a brilliant buzz and once the stalls are set up everyone meets at the coffee queue for a catch up. Then the grocery shoppers arrive and there’s great banter with them throughout the morning before the tourists descend at lunchtime. As people are queuing they’re usually talking and bouncing ideas about food off each other and I’m constantly meeting people who watched me grow up over the years. There’s a big lunchtime trade. We have about six hot food traders who have fantastic food and later on we get people coming through looking for a bag of salad or that, so there’s a good bit of business. I love the atmosphere. It changes Temple Bar completely.
Your parents have been involved since the beginning, haven’t they?
Pretty much. They started about two months in, selling salad and cauliflower and a few eggs. They’ve developed a lot since then, mainly due to customers encouraging them to start growing things that can’t be gotten easily in supermarkets. Customers are constantly asking why you can’t get things like cucamelons, purple basil and chocolate mint and it’s often because supermarkets don’t stock them that so many people have grown up without knowing anything about them.
So there’s a kind of education process going on?
Yeah, definitely! The range of produce available has really grown over the years and the customers have been the main drive behind it. I’ve noticed that people have become very enthusiastic about knowing exactly where their food has come from and who’s making it. The market producers know everything about the items they’re selling and people really appreciate being able to talk to them directly. The selection of food is amazing and you can get stuff here that you can’t pick up easily in the supermarket. Only a couple of months ago I got amazing sheep’s feta with a fantastic texture that I’d never had before in Ireland, and you can pick up beautiful fresh, warm loaves of bread in the market every week.
In addition to the longstanding market stalwarts there have been some new additions recently.
Yeah, Denis Healy’s Organic Farm, Real Olive Company, Mero Mero and Corleggy Cheeses have been involved from the very beginning, while the majority of stalls such as Le Levain, Ariosa, Good Crop Company and David Llewellyn have been there for well over a decade. There’ve also been some fantastic new additions lately, with great traders like Bean and Goose, Wildflour Bakery, Intelligent Tea and Gelato joining us. They fit in really well and they’re all incredibly enthusiastic about what they do. You could go to Freda from Wild Irish Foods and tell her that your kidneys are sore and she’ll brew you up her own blend of tea made from herbs and foraged plants. Wildflour Bakery has an amazing following while Broughgammon Farm do their own range of hand-harvested seaweed as well as goat meat from their family farm.
Tell us about the Market Kitchen
Liadain and I really want to show how you can use the food while supporting some great producers, so our aim is to serve food using only ingredients that can be bought in the market directly from the producers. We’ll have a stall on Curved Street with a kitchen and seating area serving porridge and granola pots made up from the market. We’ll also have market platters and sandwiches made to order with a dessert platter for anyone with a sweet tooth. We’re hoping that people can start by tasting the food from the Market Kitchen and then realise that they can go right into the square and buy their own ingredients and easily recreate these things. The Market Kitchen will run once a month initially then weekly from January next year.
What do you think makes Temple Bar Food Market so special?
Temple Bar Food Market is still the place where you can get some terrific Irish produce. The producers are really into what they’re doing and the customers are incredibly supportive. I think it’s an amazing little food community. We’re really looking forward to having a big celebration on Saturday 16th May when stallholders will have special offers and demonstrations with lots of balloons and bunting. It should be a lot of fun!
Words: Martina Murray
Photos: Kasia Kaminska