Ireland, Travel
Comments 32

A Weekend Exploring the Food & Drink of Ireland (Part 1 of Many)

Kinsale Harbour, Cork

Kinsale Harbour, Cork

Irish Food & Drink, so very under rated and so very, very good. We have some excellent culinary figureheads and ambassadors that you will already know: Darina Allen, Rachel Allen and Richard Corrigan perhaps. What about the produce and the producers though, the integrity of production and passion for good local food? It is  not something that a lot of people outside of Ireland are aware of and I want to change that.

I really want people to know more, to try, explore, maybe even visit, and enjoy it as much as the four food & drink passionistas that I brought to Ireland last weekend. I go home frequently – you will have noticed – but it was fun and delicious to see other food bloggers experience and enjoy it for the first time.

Irish food is interesting, and Ireland in general. It has changed so much in recent generations, sparking from a colony to a republic, a struggling economy to a world leading one and back. A relative and recent affluence inspired a restaurant boom, which quickly suffered in our recent recession. A nation of dairy farmers and soggy with rain, we have great pastures and correspondingly great butter and cheeses.

Crossing the road in Ireland can result in a corresponding change of accent, and also a change in soil and terroir resulting in small local pockets that are like mothers milk for crops like potatoes (which grow brilliantly in seaside areas where seaweed is a fantastic fertiliser) next to areas devoted to other produce. Waters rich with seafood, plenty to forage like mushrooms, and really, the potatoes are so much better at home, you might like them as much as we do if you had them on your doorstep.

Great butchers are everywhere, often butchering their own meat in small local abbatoirs. Most animals are free range out doors reared, resulting in meat that is packed with flavour. Local chickens wandering around, cock-a-doodle-dooing us into the mornings, delivering fresh eggs and flavoursome meat. We have terrific bacon, black and white puddings and beef. What I love most is the sense of individuality combined with commonality. It makes for an interesting cuisine.

Sure, not everything is good, and mostly local places offer standard food of a reasonable quality. But if you are interested in seeking out good local food and interesting , inspiring ingredients and cuisine, we’ve got lots of that to show you.

It was important to me that my relatively unexplored home county and food hidden gem, Waterford, was central to the visit and after that my adopted home and home of my mother, Cork. So, I started there, and will be making many trips back to different parts over the coming months to explore and uncover, and share it with you here.

Photographic highlights of this trip with more details to come are:

The five food muskateers in my hometown of Dungarvan

The five food muskateers in my hometown of Dungarvan

Paul Flynn at The Tannery Cookery School, Dungarvan

Paul Flynn at The Tannery Cookery School, Dungarvan

Sea Trout at Fishy Fishy in Kinsale

Sea Trout at Fishy Fishy in Kinsale Making Pizzas for Saturday Pizza at Ballymaloe

Darina Allen and I at Midleton Farmer's Market, Cork

Darina Allen and I at Midleton Farmer's Market, Cork

Lemon Dessert at Cafe Paradiso, Cork

Lemon Dessert at Cafe Paradiso, Cork

Murphy's Stout & Red Lemonade in Kinsale, Cork

Murphy's Stout & Red Lemonade in Kinsale, Cork

MacGrath's Butchers in Lismore, Waterford

MacGrath's Butchers in Lismore, Waterford

Cork Butter Museum

Cork Butter Museum

1000 year Old Bog Butter

1000 year Old Bog Butter at the Cork Butter Museum

Sea Bass at the Castlemartyr Resport, Cork

Sea Bass at the Castlemartyr Resport, Cork

This entry was posted in: Ireland, Travel

by

I like food. I like to make food. Eat food. Photograph food. Write about food. Mainly in London but when I am lucky or organised further afield.

32 Comments

  1. Love it, Niamh! I did only a fraction of what you managed in the time I was there, but loved every moment. The food IS fantastic, as you rightly say. More, please!

  2. Aw, my place of residence – Kinsale! May I recommend to anyone thinking of going there (1) Max’s Restaurant, and (2) Jola’s Restaurant (as well as Fishy Fishy, of course!).

  3. Beautiful pictures as always Niamh. For a long time I have associated Ireland with high quality fresh produce and have been lucky enough to sample some of the delights in some of the finer London restaurants. I imagine its so much more enjoyable to be right there, seeing the farms and the producers first hand and tasting the food within a few miles of where it was picked or slaughtered. I’ve only ever been to Dublin but hope to venture out to see more of your fine country at some point. I’ll certainly be open to any insider tips on some of the epicurean highlights…

    • Hi Keith. Thank you! You definitely should visit and explore. I will be posting little travel guides for the different parts of Ireland that I know soon – hopefully they should help! :)

  4. Loved the trip. Was my first forage into that region and was sooo impressed by the food heritage and output. Still sorting thru my pics and living off my new stores of fat : ) Lovely pics as always

  5. Hello! Vinoteca in London recommeded your blog to me and it’s great! Please drop in and see us next time you are in Dublin.

  6. Niamh – you’re always making me homesick! Lol – looking forward to reading more by all of you. Lovely pix – good that the sun was shining too.

    Caroline

  7. Well done Niamh, a great post with some of Ireland’s best featured. A great read with fabulous photography. Looks like you all had a super time – expect nothing less of course :) Maeve.

  8. Best weekend I’ve had in ages, Niamh! Thanks so much for inviting me – looking forward to reading everyone’s posts on it all!

  9. Only just recovering from our epic weekend, thank you so much for introducing us to Gourmet Ireland! Taking ages to sift through all the photos and notes taken, you’ve admirably charged ahead and posted about the trip, bravo :)

  10. ginandcrumpets says

    *Sob* I want to go back and stay there forever. Your posts and pictures read like a greatest hits of all the things I loved during my time there. It’s making me all teary and nostalgic!

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