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Drinks & Culinary

A Guide to Authentic Irish Food

Ireland has a tradition of delicious food that is part of the unique culture and history of the country. From hearty stews to comforting seafood chowders, Irish food draws on the finest from both land and sea. The focus is on natural, locally- sourced ingredients. Ireland has seen an influx of chefs from the continent, and the cuisine has undergone a renaissance. Along with generously portioned comfort foods, staples on restaurant menus, there is an artisanal influence. Quality and quantity are partners in today’s authentic meals—exceptional food will be a highlight on any Ireland vacation.

Dublin Coddle and The ‘Classic’ Irish Stew

We all know classic Irish stew, but Ireland’s capital city, Dublin, has its own called Coddle. The ingredients are braised, or “coddled,” in the stock produced from bacon, potatoes, onions, and pork sausages. Coddle stew has had a number of famous fans, including the writers Seán O’ Casey and James Joyce. For the best Coddle in Dublin, stop by the Woollen Mills, and grab a bowl of Ha’Penny Bridge Coddle served with brown bread and butter, perfect for mopping up delectable juices.

Colcannon and Boxty

Many Irish dishes revolve around the humble potato. Colcannon is a creamy, comforting mashed potato dish containing cabbage, spring onions, and plenty of butter. Boxty is a potato pancake that’s a mixture of raw potato with mashed potato. To eat traditional boxty in Dublin, head to Gallagher’s Boxty House—there’s an entire menu dedicated to this beloved dish.

Potatoes are also in snack foods and take-outs, just as in the United States. Tayto, an Irish brand of potato chips or “crisps” as they are known in Ireland, are so popular there’s even a theme park in Ashbourne, County Meath, dedicated to Tayto. On a night out in Ireland’s capital, try the Dublin Spice Bag—it’s a deep-fried mix of chicken and chips combined with peppers and spices. Delicious!

Irish Breads and The Waterford Blaa

The Waterford blaa is a soft, floury roll made from yeast, sugar, water, and salt. Once baked, the roll, dating back to the 17th century, is finished with a flour dusting. It’s such a Waterford fixture that in 2013 it was granted the Designation of Origin Protection. This means that only blaas baked in Waterford may use the term “Waterford blaa.” (Head to the Déise for lunch and treat yourself to a freshly baked blaa from Walsh’s Bakehouse, home of the Waterford blaa.) Locals feast on a roll smeared with butter then stuffed with Tayto Cheese & Onion crisps and slices of ham.

From soda bread to barmbrack and breakfast rolls, it’s clear the Irish love bread almost as much as they do potatoes. It’s not surprising that there are several variations of potato bread. The Farl, a triangular potato cake, is often served with soda bread as part of the traditional Ulster Fry, making for quite a hearty breakfast.

Award-Winning Irish Cheeses

Ireland has a lot more than meat, potatoes, and bread. A country of 18,000 dairy farmers, Ireland is renowned for award-winning cheeses and rich, creamy butters. From Durrus Farmhouse Cheese, to Imokilly Regato, and Macroom Mozzarella some of the best cheeses in Ireland come from County Cork.

Located on the edge of picturesque Schull in West Cork, Gubbeen Farmhouse produces a range of products, including a semi-soft cheese that is rich and creamy with a nutty aftertaste. The Gubbeen Farmhouse has won numerous accolades, including the 2016 Gold Medal at the British Cheese Awards. While in the area, stop by Hackett’s Bar, a traditional Irish pub. It’s small but has an impressive artisanal lunch menu, including the famous “Hackett’s toasty,” made with ham and cheese straight from the Gubbeen Farmhouse.

Cork is also home to Glenilen Farm’s award-winners, which includes cheesecakes, yogurts, butters, and creams. They’re so popular that they are stocked throughout Ireland and in certain parts of the United Kingdom.

Seafood Chowder

Ireland, a country with hundreds of coastal towns and offshore islands, has a world of fresh cuisine that comes straight from the sea. From scallops and crabs to Dublin Bay prawns, Ireland is a seafood-lovers dream. The most well-known of Ireland’s dishes is Seafood Chowder. It’s a heady combination of fresh white fish and smoked salmon in a creamy sauce. Try an award-winning chowder at Nancy’s Barn in Ballyliffen, County Donegal—the seafood chowder was given the prestigious title of “Best Chowder in the World.”

SLOW food and locally sourced products are on the menu at small, well-appointed restaurants. Exceptional dining experiences are available in large cities. And you can turn to local pubs for food that is hearty and flavorful. Some of the best seafood chowder in the world is at pubs in the western counties—the town of Doolin is a particular favorite. Wherever you go on your Ireland vacation, delight in the bounty that is Ireland’s traditional food.