Stew, spuds and stout? For those who believe that Ireland’s food scene still revolves around these three staples, it’s time for you to come out from under that rock.
Across the country, a dynamic and vibrant trend is taking hold. From fine dining to gastro-pubs, sea to shore, farm to table, the range of dining options has never been better.
Just look at the first ever Irish Street Food Awards that are opening up new opportunities for passionate chefs, creative entrepreneurs and international gourmands to launch new projects and businesses. Or the trend of food tours in Galway that showcases the harbour city’s offerings from the freshest seafood to Cosmic Cow milk stout.
Even a cursory glance at the Deliveroo blog, which handily provides a litmus test for what’s on offer to Irish diners, shows that our restaurant culture is a hub of traditional Irish cooking and exotic flavours.
There’s Asian fusion like steaming bowls of Japanese ramen and fragrant Thai noodles and authentic Italian (true Neopolitan pizza needs a certificate, you know ). There are cosmopolitan brunches, all-American feasts, steakhouse grills and burgers, Mexican fiestas and craft beer. There are even restaurants that serve nothing but vegetarian or gluten-free fare, and it doesn’t look half bad.
As if to demonstrate just how eclectic and international Irish cuisine has become, Deliveroo recently compiled its data on the most-ordered menu item in the country. Are you ready for this? It’s falafel.
Perhaps the place where local produce, Irish methods and international flavours come together most spectacularly is the Michelin-starred Cliff House Hotel in County Waterford. It might be friendly and family-run but the dishes are far from home cooking, with their intricacy quickly earning the venue the most coveted prize in fine dining. The fresh organic salmon from Bantry Bay is placed with iced marinated garden beetroot, pickled cucumber, herb cream, salmon eggs and whiskey oak smoke. It brings the exotic and local together on one plate.
And you don’t have to splash out on fine dining to enjoy the fusion of traditional Irish flavours and creative new approaches. Just take Irish-inspired pizzas, which are being sliced across the country. Clonakilty black and white pudding and Irish sausage on your pie? Yes please.
With all these options, it’s clear that while our diaspora may have taken Irish pubs around the globe, the world has returned the favour, bringing international cuisine to our homes.
Of course, the traditional favourites are still with us. The likes of beef and Guinness pie, Irish stew, and potatoes be they baked, mashed or boiled, have a place in the Celtic pantheon that is uncontested. But all in all, it looks (and tastes ) like Ireland has the best of both worlds.