When it comes to food on the island of Ireland, you need to start at the very beginning. The purity of the natural produce here has made the island one of the most talked-about food destinations in Europe, with an emphasis on artisan cheese, exceptional beef and lamb and fresh-off-the-boat seafood.
The green pastures, deep valleys and abundant waters surrounding the island have helped create outstanding natural flavours that you won’t get everywhere else. From sublime smoked salmon to the creamiest butter imaginable, Ireland’s food boasts an impeccable provenance and can be best enjoyed here – in the very place it comes from.
Collage clockwise from top left: Ox; Pilgrim’s; Curran’s; Loam; Stix & Stones; 1826 Adare; fresh oysters, an Irish specialty; Cork; Coppi; Burren Storehouse
Modern cooking, traditional flavours
With such a prestigiously stocked natural larder, it’s no wonder that the island’s most creative chefs make full use of the great produce on their doorstep. Whether you’re dining in an esteemed Michelin-starred restaurant such as the Cliff House in County Waterford or a top gastro pub such as The Poacher’s Pocket in County Down, you’ll find homegrown ingredients dominating the menus.
In fact, all around the island, there are great places to eat where Irish ingredients really sing. A whirlwind of excellent country houses (Ballymaloe House, County Cork), laid-back cafés (The Blackberry Café, County Kilkenny) and slick city spots (The Woollen Mills, Dublin; Walled City Brewery, Derry~Londonderry) serve up casual but delicious Irish favourites.
A taste of tradition
If traditional treats are more your thing, Ireland has a whole host to choose from, taking you from dawn to dusk. There’s simply no better way to set up for a day’s sightseeing than with an Ulster Fry: a feast of black and white pudding, bacon, sausages, tomato and potato farls (potato bread).
From there, all that’s left to do is dream of lunch and dinner: a hearty bowl of creamy chowder, chock-a-block with salmon and smoked haddock and served with floury soda bread will warm you to your toes; while Ireland’s famous, grass-fed beef is the stuff of legend.
Fantastic food experiences
There’s nothing quite like following a food journey from producer to plate – and Ireland is peppered with opportunities to get more involved with your food. Just look at some of the excellent markets such as The English Market in Cork, the Temple Bar Food Market in Dublin and the St George’s Market in Belfast.
For the chance to get your hands on raw ingredients and craft some magic of your own, you can take your pick of working farms, cosy cookery schools, and food festivals.