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Gastronomic Ireland: Part 1 – Ireland’s Culinary Renaissance

Gastronomic Ireland: Part 1 – Ireland’s Culinary Renaissance

20130605_16020520130601_222835Destinations like the French Rivera and Tuscany are well known foodie travel destinations; although, Ireland is quickly earning a reputation as a center for gastronomic travel.  Until recently, my perceptions of Irish cuisine were limited to images of brown beef stew served with a pint of Guinness.  I was wrong.

Over the past 5-10 years, Ireland has been shedding its reputation for having bland food and evolving into a word class gastronomic destination. After traveling the country to discover the heart of Ireland’s food culture, I can say that Ireland is a treasure trove of gastronomic experiences. The word is quickly getting out and Ireland is starting to receive heavy press coverage, including a television show from Anthony Bourdain.

 Other Ireland Articles

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The Irish Culinary Renaissance

20130601_132813The foodie culture is thriving in Ireland. There is a ground swell of culinary communities organically growing in Ireland, from Failte Ireland’s local food champions to a strong community of food bloggers keeping local chefs on their toes. Throughout the country, culinary festivals are popping up like the Galway Oyster Festival and the Cork Food Festival. Chefs and craft food producers have stepped up their game to compete for the attention of the food savvy Irish consumers. In 2013 alone, eight Irish restaurants were awarded Michelin stars. A culinary renaissance has begun in Ireland, and gastronomic tourists are reaping the benefits. What factors are propelling the Irish culinary renaissance?, local Ingredients and global Influence.

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Fresh Local Ingredients

Fresh and high quality ingredients are the true heart of Irish cuisine. Ireland has access to extremely high quality ingredients, such as grass fed beef and wild caught fish.  As Ireland’s culinary scene evolves from rustic peasant cuisine to modern fare, hyper-local ingredients take center stage in their dishes.

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The varied landscapes of Ireland offer regional food specialties. Since you can drive to most parts of Ireland within 4 hours, all parts of Ireland are considered local. Below are the ingredients best in each of Ireland’s four regions.

West – Shellfish, ocean fish, cheese, beef, lamb and smoked meats. Seafood is plentiful along the west coast, especially shellfish. I experienced the best scallop ever in Galway. Connemara Hill lamb is famous for its aromatic meat due to the variety of wild herbs consumed in the pastures.

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South – Mountain lamb, dairy, fruit, poultry, and seafood. The rich grazing lands from Tipperary to Cork provide some of the world’s best beef and dairy. It is cheaper to let cattle eat grass free-range, resulting in the exceptional dairy and meat. I ate so much cheese and butter from this region I thought I gaining weight. Best butter in the world comes from Kerry.

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East –Wicklow  mountain lamb, beef, wild game , organic vegetables, fruit, seafood. Their beef in this region is known for being very well marbled.  Excellent pork can be found all over Ireland, although I tasted the best pork in the east.

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North – Beef, lamb, pork and poultry, bread, and apples.  This region has a strong tradition in baking and apple-growing. The inland waterways also provide ample amounts of fresh water fish.

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Global Influence

 

20130531_211746According to Irish Food Champion Jp Mcmahon, “There are two variations on Irish Cuisine, Traditional and Modern.” The traditional you will see classic peasant dishes like stews, and meats in brown sauces. The modern dishes have a lighter touch.” I personally observed that modern Irish cuisine places the main ingredient as the centerpiece of the flavor profile. Through globalization, modern Irish cuisine is influenced by the culinary techniques of other countries. For example, you might seeing pickling of ingredients coming from the Mediterranean or French plating techniques. This international influence is not only limited to only fine dining restaurants, you will see it down to the local gastropub.

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Ireland Food Guide

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This is the first of a six part series of blog posts highlighting my favorite food experiences in each city from restaurants to craft food artisans. With “The Gathering” occurring right now, many Americans will find themselves searching Yelp.com and Tripadvisor.com for places to eat. Although these sources can be helpful, you can waste hours looking for the perfect restaurant, just to find out they are closed or booked solid for the night. Worst case scenario you might find yourself in a tourist trap, which happened to me a couple times during my trip.  My gastronomic travel guide will help you to find the best restaurants in Ireland to that you can get a taste of the Irish Culinary Renaissance. These future posts will be published within the next two weeks. 

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About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.

42 comments

  1. Explode Your Business ONLINE @Norma Doiron

    First of all Tom, I’m jealous! Tee-hee… You guys have the best trips, you look like you are on top of the world! :) Love your experiences with food, always very well presented – so much so they leave me drooling every time! Great post again…

  2. Alexandra McAllister

    So nice to see that you are back, Tom! Love your report and fabulous pics, as always! Again, after reading your article, I am hungry! :) Have a blessed day!

  3. Oluwaseun Babajide

    Tom,
    God. I am so hungry right now! The attached pictures are just amazing.
    Seun

  4. My family and I were in Ireland in the late 90’s and even back then the pubs were serving up gourmet food. It was quite a surprise for us. My husband had been there as a child and he said the experience was quite different from what he recalled. About the only consistent traditional food we had at almost every meal was the brown soda bread. If it wasn’t there, we asked for it because we quickly became addicted to it, especially when it was warm from the oven. I still haven’t found a good recipe for it.

  5. Tom, another beautiful, mouth watering post! I look forward to reading more of your 6 part series! Thank you!!

  6. Welcome back. What amazing photography. I’m getting hungry just looking at those images. We’re planning a trip to the UK and Ireland next year, the start of our bucket list.

  7. Great to see you promoting the food in my part of the world and dispelling the myth that it is all bacon and cabbage here!

  8. Oh, Tom, wish I could be there!! My husband’s family is from Ireland so we are both enjoying those wonderful pics of yours. I am looking forward to more of your posts about the new Irish cuisine!

  9. What a fabulous trip we had honey:) Great write up! Those goats, sheep and cows are definitely treated fabulousy in that they produce some of the best meat and dairy! <3

  10. Oh my goodness, looks so awesome and so tastee too! So glad you and Daniele had such a wonderful time. I’ve wanted to go to Ireland for years and now am seeing it through your eyes!

  11. What a treat to get to hear from you first hand about your experiences in Ireland! I am impressed with how healthy most of their food must be because they have so many fresh food sources. That means it is real food.. no fake stuff. Looking forward to this series. Thanks.

  12. Thank you for sharing your experience with food from Ireland. Everything looks so good!!

  13. What a great introduction piece for your series Tom.
    Your photographs are fantastic -authentic and real and a true representation of life here and you’ve really captured the essence of what we are trying to accomplish in Ireland- using seasonal, fresh, local ingredients to produce great food. We’re passionate about it and are delighted you’re spreading the word, so thank you most sincerely.

  14. Moira Hutchison

    Welcome back Tom! I love the pictures and am glad to hear of your experience of the food. I grew up in Scotland and I’m happy to hear someone on this side of the pond working to dispel the myths of *bland* food over there :)

  15. Robin Strohmaier

    It is great to have you back, Tom! What a fantastic article! You have me looking forward to planning a trip to Ireland! My husband and I visited Scotland 2 summers ago and never experienced such delicacies like you describe. Everything looks absolutely wonderful! Question: do they have scones in Ireland and if so, what did you think?

  16. Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com

    Oh my gosh – what a fantastic trip and what a fantastic job you did with the descriptions and photos for this post. Thank you for the tour!

  17. I’m thrilled that you found so much evolution in the food in Ireland, Tom. I admit it’s been awhile since I’ve spent much time there … partly because there was little beyond the overcooked, brown foods! But then, we’ve seen the same renaissance in so many countries, most of which took what was best about what they had to offer and combined it with outside influences to create something unique. From your photos, my ancestral home has done the same!

  18. I posted in your wife’s blog asking where you were!! Ireland looks like a great culinary travel destination!!

  19. I’m pretty tiny…got room in your suitcase 😉

  20. I’ve never tasted Irish cuisine! What a fun adventure this was! Are there any Vegans in Ireland?

  21. Oh my.. how lovely. It is certainly on my bucket list to go to Ireland but till now it was not for the food ( pub maybe HA ) .. Glad to have found your blog and look forward to more great pages.

  22. Very beautiful presentation with credible advice. I enjoyed reading about the different regions and what is best where. Thank you!

  23. Looks like you were having a great time, thanks for sharing.

  24. I always think of lamb and potatoes when I think of Irish food. It’s interesting how places you would not think of as “foodie” places are becoming quite the culinary hot spots.

  25. WOW, looks as though a trip to Ireland is in order. My daughter told me it is beautiful there. I was only there once, at night, a very long time ago, at the Shannon Airport.

  26. What a great article and pictures. Mouth watering and can’t wait to read more!

  27. Yummmmm… You sound like Frasier Crane! I can hardly wait to read more!

  28. I have never had Irish cuisine, but it’s looks amazing!!!!

  29. This dish looks amazing. You always showcase amazing trips just as Norma mentioned above. :)

  30. Wow Tom, that looks soooo yummy! I always pictured gruel and day old bread…color me jealous! Thanks for sharing and welcome back!!!

  31. What a great article with great pics. Just ate and I’m hungry again! Can’t wait to read more!

  32. Alikekid Sanrisk

    I do love anything about food.

  33. Amazing culinary delights

  34. Stop that Tom, You’re killing my diet.
    Great post, Yummmmmm

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