What can we say about Peter Ward's Country Choice? Its reputation precedes it! The man himself is a food icon - a mover and shaker who makes things happen on the Irish culinary scene. And it all started here, at his own vibrant and packed-to-the-rafters-with-good-things-to-eat shop in the heart of Nenagh, founded back when Irish food was barely heard of, let alone hip. Peter himself chose the location because of its connections with local food - there were butchers and grocers on the same street in those days, and it seemed an ideal place to start. Now his shop is a shrine for gourmets, and the pavement outside is well trodden by locals and visitors alike.
The first thing that catches the attention here is the beautifully presented deli counter just inside the door. It displays home made salads and cooked meats and hams alongside Irish and continental cheeses, homemade pates and quiches, tarts, terrines, you name it. The counter top is laden with freshly baked breads and house specialities, so much so it's almost impossible to see the staff working very hard behind it. Shelves are stocked with home made chutneys, jams, marmalades, preserves and dressings all created by Peter's wife Mary, from family recipes she's been using since the shop opened. Find great European favourites too like olive pastes and Pestos, rare olive oils, and a huge selection of wines sourced by Peter from small producers and imported specially for his shop.
A chill cabinet has traditional bacon joints, sausages, rashers and hams made with pork from the Ward family farm, and cured by a local butcher. Don't miss the unpasteurised farmhouse butter and Irish organic yogurts too. This is a shop where you just don't know what you will find - a fresh delivery of seasonal fresh fruit or vegetables from nearby growers could turn up at any time, and will be displayed in baskets outside. The family farm also supplies Hereford and Angus beef and lamb from Black Suffolk sheep, all of which often feature on the menu of the Country Choice Café, situated to the rear of the shop. Staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, not to mention often young and beautiful! Here is a hip shop that has been doing 'Irish' from day one, and climbs higher to culinary excellence with each passing year.