Just off the coast of Great Britain, separated by the Irish Sea, Ireland is known for its distinctive culture, breathtaking landscapes including the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. And a rich larder with a growing reputation as a truly special destination for culinary travelers.
Briny oysters, delicate mussels, arguably the world best smoked salmon, tender lamb, its signature blood pudding, specialty breads, sweet Irish butter and farmhouse cheeses are just a sample of what’s in store for those who come to see and taste.
Ireland - Culinary Travel Overview
The Emerald Isle’s compact capital, Dublin is ideal for culinary walking tours and pub crawls. Boasting a revolutionized restaurant scene, young chefs turn out new Irish cooking that genuflects to the old. The cobbled streets of its Temple Bar district are lined with watering holes for craic agus ceol (fun & music) and 19th century pubs are tucked away throughout the city where the thirsty can quietly savor a pint of Guinesss or appraise the whiskeys and enjoy traditional pub fare.
County Cork’s Kinsale is considered to be Ireland’s culinary capital. Originally a medieval fishing port, picturesque Kinsale leverages its position on the southern coast and many of its acclaimed restaurants showcase the local seafood. Every autumn Kinsale hosts a week-long Gourmet Festival that draws foodies from all over the world.
Cheeses have been made in the lush green pastures of West Cork since the 8th century using the same methods and materials that served the country’s ancient cheese-makers so well and now additionally, there is a diverse array of new cheese from local, fresh, raw milk.
Cork City has a special culinary destination in its English Market. Established in 1786, this covered market hall is a food emporium and Ireland’s answer to the Turkish bazaars. Upstairs, the Farmgate Café overlooks the bustling scene and offers daily chalkboard specials made from the ingredients below. Patrons sit at wooden tables and enjoy traditional dishes like Irish Lamb Stew, Tripe and Onions, Shepherd's Pie and bread pudding served up with heavy cream.
Ballymaloe Cookery School
Epicureans from across the globe are drawn to Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork’s Shanagary. Set amidst a 100 acre organic farm the school’s genesis was a restaurant opened in 1964, by culinary icon Myrtle Allen in her dining room (later she added guest rooms to accommodate those who would come to eat-and-stay.) Myrtle raised farmhouse cooking to heady heights garnering a Michelin star along the way. Her daughter-in-law Darina Allen, a celebrity chef and one of the founders of Ireland’s Slow Food movement, has expanded the operation with the cooking school which offers a bounty of courses from 12-week certificate programs to an afternoon learning how to make Irish soda bread. Intriguing are the food foraging classes led by Darina, spring and fall. Accommodations can be arranged at the elegant country house hotel, Ballymaloe House which is also home to a wonderful restaurant serving local foods.
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