However, Masterchef maestros should consider our island as a serious foodie destination. With its abundance of artisan food producers and suppliers, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge for them to create something delicious here.
In our video, Corkman Frank Hederman tells us exactly what goes into making Irish ingredients so tasty. Frank owns the Belvelly Smokehouse in Cobh, County Cork where he smokes fish such as salmon, eel and mackerel.
Smoked salmon is an Irish dining staple and it’s very important it’s done right. Fear not. Frank’s final product is so impressive that The New York Times said, “Mr Hederman smokes fish, which is a little like saying Steinway makes pianos.”
Frank believes farmers’ markets are at the heart and soul of the artisan food industry in Ireland. Drop by any one of them and a stallholder will happily chat away about their jam/bread/cheese, offer you a sample and convince you there is no better jam/bread/cheese anywhere else. And they’re probably right.
Cork city’s culinary treats
The English Market in Cork city appears in the video and is an important part of Cork’s history. Built in 1788, it’s a joy to wander around, meet some local producers and, of course sample the food. Including Frank's.
In fact the English Market is so renowned, Queen Elizabeth II visited it in 2011 during her tour of Ireland. The stallholders have warmly remembered her visit with a plaque – one stall even has several photographs of her on display.
Cooking with the best
At the other end of the food production line are the chefs who create memorable meals for their diners using raw Irish ingredients.
Stephen McAllister, chef and patron at The Pig’s Ear Restaurant in Dublin city, knows only too well about the importance of using Irish ingredients: “We only use the best local, Irish produce where and when possible. We’re relentless in our approach in finding top quality Irish guaranteed producers for our restaurant, and we proudly display their names on our menus.”
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At The Moody Boar in Armagh city, owner Ramunė Farnan says: “Six years ago, I found it a challenge to find local and artisan producers. But in such a short time that's changed and it's great to use local and artisan producers. It has raised standards in the restaurant industry in Northern Ireland.”
She adds, “local people and tourists are now expecting to see better quality produce and value for what they are buying. And I’m very confident to say that anyone who comes to The Moody Boar will see and taste what we're talking about.”
There you have it. If you want to eat well on our island, make like a Masterchef and come dine with us...