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: