We might be a small island, but when it comes to food, we’ve got big culinary ambitions
Irish food has been rustic and filling – the kind of stuff that would get you through a cold winter; the kind of stuff that warms the cockles. Irish stew, colcannon, beef and Guinness pie – they’re all great dishes, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a new strand of creative Irish cuisine fuelled by artisan producers, innovative chefs, and world-class ingredients that are right on our doorstep.
Fresh & organic produce
From sea to shore, there’s never been a better range of produce to tuck into: super-fresh oysters, mussels and hand-dived scallops; estate venison; grass-fed free-range beef; extraordinary sea vegetables plucked from salty Atlantic waters; homemade fudge and handmade chocolate; award-winning black pudding; the prized Comber potato; rich, deep yellow country butter. All of these ingredients, and basket-loads more, are being used to their best advantage by dynamic chefs all over the island of Ireland.
From fine-dining to gastro-pubs and everything in between
The bold mix of Irish produce and international influences has hit its zenith at critically acclaimed restaurants such as the Michelin Star Cliff House Hotel in County Waterford, one of nine Michelin star restaurants in Ireland, where Head Chef Matrijn Kajuiter invents creative dishes like “Bantry Bay organic salmon with bonbon, mi-cuit, iced marinated garden beetroot, pickled cucumber, herb cream, salmon eggs and whiskey oak smoke”. Others include Aniar in Galway City and Chapter One in Dublin.
It’s not just fine-dining where Ireland’s food offering is coming up trumps; in fact the standard of food across the board is what’s causing quite a stir on the international food scene.
You'll find local restaurants, country houses, small hotels and small pubs all becoming bastions of modern Irish, with a focus on local produce mixed with pure imagination. Keep an eye out for The Long Room at Doonbeg in County Clare, Newforge House in County Armagh, the award-winning Lough Erne Resort in County Fermanagh, James Street South in Belfast,and Dunbrody House in County Wexford.
Colorful stalls, recipe swapping and a cheeky haggle over fresh fruit – the Irish farmers' market isn't just a place to pick up artisan cheese; it's a cultural event in itself. This is where you can try real authentic Irish food with an artisan twist. When you buy something at a farmers' market in Ireland, chances are that the person who's grown it is nearby, if not right in front of you.
The good news is that all around the island, on any given day, there’s a market going on, whether in a big city Victorian space like St George’s Market in Belfast or a small town gathering like the Naas Farmers’ Market in County Kildare. Either way, you can expect a heady buzz of scents, sounds and tastes. Sounds good, right?
Other foodie experiences that are also a treat
A Food Trail
If you really want to delve into the Irish food scene, try a food trail where you’ll not only get to sample local artisanal delights you’ll also get the chance to meet the people behind the produce and learn more about their craft first-hand. Popular trails are available in Dublin, Belfast, Kilkenny, Dingle and Ireland’s food capital Cork.
Ireland is renowned for its festivals and when it comes to food, it’s no different. Food festivals come in many different flavors, but their chief ingredient is a celebration of Irish foods and the local producers, chefs and restaurateurs that champion them. Some of the best-known are the Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival, the world’s longest running Oyster Festival, The Burren Slow Food Festival which advocates sustainable food production and tradition and Waterford Harvest Festival, a 10-day foodie extravaganza in Ireland’s oldest city.
Cookery schools are now more popular than ever and Ireland offers up quite a collection. Set in stunning surrounds Ireland’s Cookery Schools allow you the chance not only to taste great Irish produce, but learn how to cook it too. Check out the Ballymaloe Cookery School located on a 100 acre organic farm in County Cork or the Belle Isle Cookery School set on the stunning Belle Isle Estate complete with 17th century castle on the shores of Lough Erne in County Fermanagh.
Travelling around Ireland is easy to do, and wherever you go, expect to find an abundance of great food and passionate food producers. All that’s left to say is come join us at the table… and bon appétit!