Ireland – its not just bacon and cabbage!!
…but if that’s your thing we have it and do it well but it’s just not my cup of tea!
My name is Liz and I’m a manager in an incoming tour operator in Ireland called Tour Ireland and when I’m not working I’m a bit of a foodie – I stress the word BIT!!But, I have an interest in food; an almost obsession with cookbooks and I love telling people about Irish food. So, I’ve decided I’m going to bring you a little taste of Ireland – a little something to get the taste buds going! I’ll be looking at all things food related, trends, recipes, places you can visit and things you can do when you come to Ireland and maybe even bring a few new ideas to people who already live here!! I’m not a cook, a critic or employed by anyone to do this so its purely for the interest factor for me!
A recent question we asked people was what was their favourite typical Irish Food. The answers were interesting I have to say. I saw lots of people said seafood and meat, I expected to see these. Interesting to see quite a few people mentioning soup and brown bread, funny I never thought of that as a particularly Irish dish but maybe it is!!
My answer would definitely have included the seafood, lamb, beef and also dairy produce. We have some of the most amazing cheeses. Our produce is renowned world over, I was only just this recently watching a UK TV programme and the presenter chef was making a comment to an Irish guest Chef what amazing produce we have here.
Chefs here have the best ingredients to work with, that goes for chefs of all nationalities too. Irish produce is used and appreciated in restaurants of all cuisines. Speaking about this with my friend Marco Giannantonio one of the owners of a true Italian restaurant in Dublin called Pinocchio said
“over the years we have discovered that Ireland hides a great treasure in its fields and seas; free range beef and lamb, oysters and scallops from County Down, Monkfish from County Louth or Mussels from County Sligo to name but a few. Our meat is 100% Irish for the simple reason that it is the best in the world. We always prefer to use everything that is available from Irish farms and markets”.
Lately there has been an explosion of popularity of Irish Chefs, Cookbooks were the new in thing, cookery schools were popping up all over the place and week practically there were and are still Irish chefs with programmes on TV. Clodagh McKenna is one of these chefs and has been on TV here in Ireland, the UK and most recently in the USA in Clodagh’s Irish Food Trails. In this programme Clodagh featured the Irish Farmers Markets. These are still great places to find amazing organic, fresh and artisan produce. Clodagh and I designed a tour so visitors can follow in Clodaghs footsteps, taste some beautiful food and also take in some of the best scenery and maybe have a pint or two of the black stuff!!
An additional tour to add on to any trip to Ireland or something for our locals to do could be a Fabulous Food Trail.. They’ve been running now for 4 and a half years and I had the pleasure of participating in the Dublin city tour last Saturday. I have to say as a Dubliner it was great fun and I saw parts of Dublin that I never even seen before! Starting at the Mansion House – the residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the tour takes you on a 2 and a half hour walking tour of the foodie havens of the city. Expertly guided by Eveleen Coyle we were a group of 6 in total, I was the only Irish person; the others were German and American. Next stop was Sheridan’s Cheesemongers on South Anne Street. Sheridan’s is a family business – they started selling farmhouse cheeses at Galway markets in 1995 and opened their Dublin shop in 1997 selling cheeses and other artisan food products. We were met by Astrid there who gave us a brief history of Sheridans and Irish cheese in general. We had a tasting there of Ardrahan semi soft cheese and a hard Coolea Gouda style cheese.
We then continued our walk around visiting other shops, a lovely Victorian pub called The Swan which I’d never been in before , Georges Street Arcade stopping at Lolly and Cooks where Anthony Bourdain also stopped on one of his Dublin visits.
Then on to Cocoa Atelier, possibly the poshest Chocolate shops I have ever been to! This place is beautiful, there is a tasting of some of their chocolate on the tour but seeing as I gave up chocolate for Lent I resisted but I did buy some to enjoy on Easter Sunday! The tour ended in Fallon and Byrne which can only be described I think as a mecca for foodies in Dublin. This is one of my favourite places in Dublin and you will have to visit when you come. On four levels, they have a wine bar, shop, restaurant and private function rooms. They have a large selection of Irish and European artisan produce, a cheese counter, fish counter and meat counter. You can buy fantastic patisserie and have a coffee, go downstairs and have a glass of wine and a platter of some cheeses or enjoy a lovely meal in their European style restaurant on the first floor. I would highly recommend the tour to any of you.
So I hope you’ll join me next time for second helpings! Still to come, more ideas recipes and anecdotes about Irish food, farmers markets, details of Food festivals this year and lots lots more! Also watch out for more on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LizsRealTastesOfIreland?ref=hl