Irish Food & Produce
The Grass Really is Greener
Ireland is famous for being green, indeed in springtime it almost glows... and this all means lots of lush grass for Irish Farmers. Our reliable rainfall and temperate climate make ideal farming conditions. Add in the abundance of seafood produced on our coastlines and it's easy to see why Ireland is a very important Agricultural centre & the exports are a major part of the Irish economy.
(Quick plug - we do provide specialty Agricultural Tours too & have a wealth of contacts. Just get in touch if you'd like more info.)
Ireland's food industry has grown off the back of the high quality ingredients produced here, and there are countless specialist companies producing all sorts of wonderful local foods. Great Taste three-star gold award winner, Ummera Smoked Products, provides just one example of this - a traditional Irish smokehouse now selling high-end produce online to a global market. The video below shows just how passionate Ireland has become about sourcing the very best ingredients and knowing exactly where they come from. This is, of course, just one example, but businesses like these show the extent to which Ireland, as a nation and a food culture, has developed a really quite refined palate.
You might not think of Ireland as a Gourmet Destination, but the food here is world class. Indeed perhaps Gourmet is the wrong word. Ireland is not about Michalin Starred Restaurants (though it does have those). Ireland is about the highest quality local produce. Fresh mussels with a cream sauce served in a Traditional pub that's in harbour the catch was landed in. Quality handmade local cheeses from the cows that surround that very creamery, and craft beers of all types and varieties from local grain grown for that brewery. Ireland excels in it's craft food industry as well as the production of the base quality ingredients.
It's not only what you might think of as traditional irish products, though we do make the best bacon (Rashers as we like to call them) and very fine potatoes too! There are great local chocolate makers for example, and a wealth of Irish coffee roasters too to tempt you to something new.
Eating in Context
One of the wonderful things about Irish cuisine is eating in context. A favourite here is Teddy O'Sullivans Pub in Kilmackillogue, Kerry. Here you can sit on the pier where the catch was landed eating local mussels harvested in the bay in front of you. The setting makes the meal a whole experience, and makes it somehow more delicious.
So when you come to Ireland, we cannot recommend enough that you experiment and indulge in the local produce, you'll find a world of delights here in Ireland.
Looking for some local inspiration?
We are always discovering new local producers, and here's just a few.
- Firstly this page suddenly sprung to mind as I just discovered an new coffee roaster in Galway called Red Rooster, so thought I'd give it a try. Big thumbs up from us here at My Ireland Tour for Red Rooster's Barnyard Boogie Coffee!
- Also a discussion of Irish Produce cannot go without mentioning "The Best Supervalu in Ireland", Scallys in Clonakilty. Sounds strange a first, but any trip to Clonakilty is not complete without popping in. A supermaket that make a huge range of their own products in store, I just can't help myself when I'm in there.....
- Craft beers are abundant in Ireland. You have the world famous drinks such as Guiness, Murphys & Bulmers, but why not branch out and try any of the countless craft breweries. Everything I've tried from 8 degrees brewery has been delicious, and Stonewell Cider based in County Cork is a firm favourite too.
- If you are coming to Cork, then check out the English Market. The building dates back to and you'll find all sorted of delicious local produce here under one roof. It's a very interesting place to visit even just for a look, the hustle and bustle is always present in this busy marketplace.
Add a little Flavour!
As you can probably tell from all of the above, the Irish are pretty passionate about their food. The opening of Roscoff by Paul Rankin in 1989 is often credited as the start of what has been a food revolution throughout the Emerald Isle, in which gourmet food has really come to the fore and Ireland has very much made its mark on the map of global gastronomy.
Typifying this passion for great cuisine in Ireland is Just Cooking, a Killarney-based cookery school and food consultancy business founded by Mark and Bernie Doe. Building on a combined 40 years in the catering industry, and an unslakeable passion for great food, it didn't take Mark and Bernie long to turn a few cookery classes into a fully-fledged cookery school and restaurant consultancy service. To find out more about cooking classes in Ireland, visit www.justcooking.ie.
Mark & Bernie Doe,
Tel: 066 979 3660
Ballymaloe Cookery School, Organic Farm & Gardens
Situated approximately 40 minutes' drive from Cork city, and set within one hundred acres of organic farmland, Ballymaloe Cookery School adorns the rolling landscape of East Cork. Here, a variety of courses are available from noted lecturers including Darina Allen, Rory O'Connell and Rachel Allen.
Students choose from a variety of courses to suit their own needs, whether that means the daily Afternoon Cookery Demonstrations, the half-day, one day, and week- or month-long courses, or the world-renowned 12 Week Certificate course.
Of course, visitors don't only come here to learn, and there is much more to enjoy on the farm. The gardens and farm walk are open to the public throughout the year, including a one-acre glasshouse and a Kids' Trail. Finish up with a visit to the farm shop where you can pick up the very best ingredients for your own culinary creations at home.
Ballymaloe Cookery School
Tel: + 353 21 4646785
Page written by Phil Teare.