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.
We would tend to agree: 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.
The bold mix of Irish produce and international influences has hit its zenith at critically acclaimed restaurants such as the one Michelin Star Cliff House Hotel in County Waterford, 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”.
Elsewhere, you’ll find local restaurants, country houses and small hotels becoming bastions of modern Irish, with a focus on local produce mixed with pure imagination. Among those causing a stir are 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.