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4 of the best Ireland food experiences

Planning your vacation in Ireland? You’re probably dreaming of the rolling green fields, clean Atlantic air and pristine, rugged coastlines. You’ve most likely been told about the mild, sometimes rainy weather that’s neither too hot nor too cold and to expect up to 16 hours of daylight in the summer months – perfect conditions to experience the dramatic coastal views and scenic routes. When visiting Ireland you’ll soon realise that these climatic conditions, combined with generations of experience and tradition results in the production of some of the best quality food in the world. Cape Clear Island, Cork In most Irish towns you’ll find artisan food shops, butchers and fish mongers with locals eager to explain where their produce has come from and how best to cook it. Weekly markets are also common in the larger towns, where people from the surrounding countryside bring their produce to sell directly. It’s always worth asking a local when and where the nearest markets or farm shops are located as they are often slightly off the beaten track. The variety and quality of dairy, meat and seafood products that Ireland has to offer is possibly one of the best things about visiting this fertile country. Listed here are just some of these must try delicacies. Cheese and butter Irish dairy produce is sensational- fresh milk is a staple in every Irish household and artisan cheese making has become increasingly popular in recent decades with examples such as Cashel Blue and Gubeen Farmhouse cheese sure to impress. Butter has played an important role in Ireland’s history and once you’ve tasted it you’ll understand why. The ancient Irish buried butter in bogs (wet peaty ground) – possibly as sacrificial offerings to the Gods; many of these butter offerings have been discovered in recent decades and put on public display. Ireland exported significant quantities of butter to Europe and America and, in 1770, The Cork Butter Exchange was founded to try to regulate the trade. Today, grass fed, black and white Holstein Friesian cows can be seen grazing in the fields all over Ireland. They produce creamy, high quality milk used in the established butter making industry. Irish butter is yellowish in colour – caused by the high levels of beta carotene in the cow’s butterfat (from eating all that lush green grass) and has a delicious salty flavour. Kerrygold is the best known brand and is now sold all around the world as food connoisseurs discover its unique flavour. Regions throughout the country will also have their own local variety that will differ slightly from one another. To learn more about Ireland’s relationship with this churned delight visit the Cork Butter Museum and of course taste the butter itself – preferably on a thick slice of traditional soda bread. Galway market cheesemonger Seafood Unsurprisingly, being from an island nation, the Irish have been feasting on the ocean’s bounty for centuries with fresh oysters being a particular favourite of the medieval people. Today, oysters are still being enjoyed as well as a wide variety of delicious fish including mackerel, trout and monkfish amongst others. Steamed mussels combined with a crisp glass of white wine is commonly found on casual pub dining menus and for higher end culinary experiences you can expect shared seafood platters with oysters, crab, lobster and prawns. What makes seafood in Ireland so thoroughly enjoyable is not only the variety and expert preparation but its recognisable freshness. In most coastal towns fish are caught, landed and cooked within 24 hours which, as any seafood lover knows, makes all the difference to the taste. To experience the best of Irish seafood visit the annual Galway Oyster and Seafood Festival or have a shared seafood platter in “the Lookout” restaurant overlooking Baltimore Harbour in West Cork. Seafood in Ireland Beef and lamb For meat lovers too there is plenty of choice, again, thanks to the mild climate and long established farming culture. Grass fed cattle produce top quality beef & lamb that, as well as being enjoyed locally, is exported and famous internationally and appreciated for its excellent flavour. Often eaten in a traditional stew or roasted, it can also be eaten as Spiced beef – a uniquely Irish or more specifically a Cork recipe, is a cured and salted joint of rump or silverside beef (traditionally eaten at Christmas) and is well worth a taste. Pork is also a firm favourite in Ireland and is used to create what many consider to be the best sausages in the world. To taste the most intriguing of Irish products you’ll have to sample black and white puddings. These savoury sausage-shaped puddings are made from pork fat or beef suet, pork blood (in the black variety) and oatmeal with various herbs and spices. These are usually eaten as part of a full Irish breakfast but are increasingly being included in menus in the best Irish restaurants as a starter or as an ingredient in a main course. Ireland food Similarly to butter, you will find lots of regional variations of black and white pudding recipes – I would recommend the Clonakilty Black & White Pudding which are available in supermarkets throughout the country. Vegetarian Ireland’s wide variety of culinary delights are sure to please all tastes and vegetarian, vegan and gluten free requirements are catered for in the vast majority of eateries in the country. Vegetarians can enjoy the many species of seaweed that are processed using traditional methods as well as the abundance of Irish vegetable dishes such as Boxty (like potato cakes) and Colcannon (a vegetable casserole). For a fantastic vegetarian meal visit Cornucopia, on Wicklow Street in Dublin – hugely popular with Dublin food lovers. Experiencing local food is one of the most enjoyable aspects of visiting new places and Ireland has it all, fresh and delicious. Naomi Sheehy is CEO of Ireland Luxury Travel. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Naomi Sheehy

Naomi was a lawyer for five years before leaving the law business to follow her love of travel. She founded her boutique travel company, Ireland luxury Travel, with her husband and operates her company from the wild Atlantic coast of Ireland. She explores as much of Ireland as she can at every opportunity and has developed a huge knowledge of her country. Planning unique bespoke trips to Ireland is her specialty.

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  1. I love traditional Irish stew, which I had in Dublin with soda bread. Mmm, absolutely agree, you must try boxty dumplings with bacon and eggs for a delicious Irish breakfast!

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