Food for thought!
We might be a small island, but when it comes to food, we’ve got big culinary ambitions.
Irish food has been rustic and filling – the kind of stuff that would get you through a cold winter; the kind of stuff that warms the cockles. Irish stew, colcannon, beef and Guinness pie – they’re all great dishes, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a new strand of creative Irish cuisine fueled by artisan producers, innovative chefs, and world-class ingredients that are right on our doorstep.
We've got all the right geography, grass, animals, breeding and farming, so there are no excuses for not having incredible, incredible stuff.
In the last quarter of the 20th century saw the emergence of a new Irish cuisine based on traditional ingredients handled in new ways. This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish (especially salmon and trout), oysters, mussels and other shellfish, traditional soda bread, the wide range of cheeses that are now being made across the country, and, of course, the potato. Traditional dishes, such as Irish stew, coddle, the Irish breakfast, and potato bread have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. Schools like the Ballymaloe Cookery School have emerged to cater for the associated increased interest in cooking.
Fish and chips take-away is popular. The first fish and chips were sold in Dublin in the 1880s by an Italian immigrant from San Donato Val di Comino, Giuseppe Cervi. His wife Palma would ask customers 'Uno di questa, uno di quella?' This phrase (meaning 'one of this, one of the other') entered the vernacular in Dublin as 'one and one', which is still a common way of referring to fish and chips in the city.
In much of Ulster (especially Northern Ireland and County Donegal), fish and chips are usually known as a 'fish supper'.
We're starting to cotton on to the fact that we have some of the best raw ingredients in the world. There are lots of pristine Irish fish available to us here, and in terms of meat and dairy, it's down to the green, green grass that visitors find so remarkable, but which we take for granted. It's no surprise that it was the farmhouse cheese-makers who were the pioneers of the new wave of artisan food producers: they were working with such fantastic raw material in the form of local milk. Twenty-five years later, there are now over 50 of them producing some world-class cheese of every style.
If it’s fresh innovative cooking you’re after, you've come to the right place.
Meet the new addition to the culinary cool list: Irish food. Expect the very finest ingredients, innovative techniques with old-school flavours. Here are 10 of the best places to taste it.