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8 of the best things to eat in Ireland

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Irish Stew
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8 of the best things to eat in Ireland

story by: Tom Ricketts

There’s much more to five course Irish meal than four potatoes and a pint of Guinness!

Ireland might not spring to the front of mind when you’re thinking of your next foodie holiday, but with ingredients agreeably similar to our own, unique takes on the old classics, and plenty to wash it all down with, there’s plenty of unassuming delights to be found while travelling Ireland.

1. Irish breakfast
Let’s start with the most important meal of the day. In lieu of full breakfast, you’re more likely to find Irish Breakfast at hotels and cafes throughout the country. It is essentially the same; bacon, hashbrowns, baked beans, tomatoes, sausages… and black pudding. But cringe not, if black pudding is pushing the boundary too far for you, on most Irish Breakfast’s you’ll find a piece of white pudding sat right next to it. The only difference, there’s [thankfully] no blood used in the white version.

2. Breakfast roll
If you’ve hit the roads early, the breakfast roll is for you. Found in dairies and petrol stations throughout the country, the breakfast roll is just a French roll filled with cheese, a meat of your choice, tomatoes, mushrooms, and other veges. This simple meal fell back into fashion during Ireland’s economic boom as construction workers needed something easy to eat while they were on the go.

3. Boxty
‘Boxty on the griddle, boxty on the pan, if you can’t bake boxty, you’ll never get a man’. This traditional favourite is also enjoying a resurgence and is now even found in fine dining restaurants around the country. Put simply, boxty is a potato pancake, but is known as a potato dumpling or potato bread. Recipes vary, but the common version is finely grated raw potato, mixed with mashed potato in a pancake like batter and then usually fried in bucket loads of butter. Easy and delicious!

4. Dublin Lawyer
In contrast to most Irish favourites, a Dublin Lawyer is a meal known to be decadent and something traditionally only enjoyed by rich people… such as lawyers. It’s something much safer tried in a restaurant than at home, as the recipe calls for a fresh lobster to be sautéed in cream and whiskey, which must then be briefly set alight while ingredients such as lemon juice and black pepper are added. But not to be outdone, the ‘poorer’ classes have a version of the recipe with corned beef instead of lobster, and accompanied by cabbage stew and potatoes of course.

5. Barmbrack
Steeped in history, this sweet tasting bread could be described as an Irish style fortune cookie. Sweeter than bread, but not as rich as a cake, the dough is studded with raisins, candied peel and/or cherries, and then soaked overnight in black tea and whiskey! But during Halloween, another individual ingredient is added to each loaf. Find a coin in yours, and your year will bring wealth. But be it a rag, you won’t be so lucky. A ring and you’re predicted to marry within the year, but a pea means you’ll stay single. Best had at high tea from a fancy restaurant for the happiest of fortunes.

6. Colcannon and Champ
A great comfort meal best had at the local pub, colcannon is a simple mix of mashed potatoes, cabbage (or kale) and butter which usually comes as a side with your good ol’ meat and veg. Champ is pretty much the same thing, but with spring onion (called scallions in Ireland) instead of cabbage.

7. Oysters
Like in New Zealand, oysters are a delicacy in Ireland. And like in New Zealand, Ireland has its very own annual festival celebrating these strangest of delicacies, in the western city of Galway every September. But Galway has a native oyster, which is said to be larger and stronger tasting than ours. Of course, all sorts of recipes are featured throughout the festival, but locals swear that a plain oyster is best enjoyed with humble pint of Guinness.

8. Whiskey
We all know Guinness is Ireland’s most famous drink, but there’s also whiskey. Back in the day, Ireland used to supply over 90% of the world’s whiskeys, but this took a huge hit during the Irish Famine and various prohibition eras around the world. Today though, Ireland’s whiskey factories, and the world’s whiskey drinkers, are enjoying a renaissance. Being distilled three times as opposed to two, means that Irish whiskey has a notably smoother finish over the more famed drops from Scotland. The Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland is one of the regions biggest tourist attractions and a must see on any holiday here.

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