Pro­duce, place and peo­ple. We’re truly spoilt in all three ar­eas, and it’s get­ting more ex­cit­ing by the day. Hot Press takes to the road to sam­ple the very best of what Ire­land has to of­fer; meet some of the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for what ends up on our plat

Hot Press - - Contents -

We take an in-depth look at why Ire­land’s culi­nary scene con­tin­ues to get more ex­cit­ing and eclec­tic by the day.

Some­times it takes a tourist to tell you what’s what. This was de nitely the case when Best Of Ire­land chewed (among other things) the fat with Blur leg­end and award­win­ning cheese maker Alex James. “The food in Ire­land is amaz­ing,” he en­thused. “I’ve just bought six Clon­akilty Pud­dings to take back to my friends. The cheese, oh my God, you guys could teach the French and the Ital­ians a thing or two. The qual­ity of the lamb; it’s off the scale. The seafood, again, wow! I hope you re­alise how good you’ve got it here?”

Yeah, we do, but it’s al­ways good to get con­fir­ma­tion from an out­sider who knows his onions. And his pud­dings. Alex James is spot on; these are great foodie times that we’re liv­ing in.

Along with such iconic Ir­ish brands as Bal­ly­gowan, Ker­ry­gold, Lyon’s Tea, Fla­ha­van’s, Guin­ness, Kilmeaden,

Tul­lam­ore D.E.W., Denny’s, Tayto and the afore­men­tioned Clon­akilty Pud­dings, the last decade has seen a mas­sive ex­plo­sion in craft food and drink busi­nesses here.

A size­able num­ber of them are driven by the new Ir­ish who’ve helped fuel our

love of ev­ery­thing from Brazil­ian Cox­inha, Ja­panese Gy­oza and Filipino Salt Bread to Korean White Matsu, Viet­namese Pho and Venezue­lan Sa­banero Cheese.

Of all the ar­gu­ments we might have had 20 years ago, which Ja­panese Ra­men Bar, Mex­i­can Ta­que­ria or Ar­gen­tinian Steak­house to go to were not among them. Ire­land now boasts a se­lec­tion of restau­rants that would be deemed cos­mopoli­tan in any coun­try.

Also sig­nalling that Ire­land’s meat ‘n’ two veg days are well and truly over is the way in which ve­g­an­ism has come out of the mar­gins and into mainstream. Some of the best meals Best Of Ire­land have had re­cently are in eater­ies where nei­ther sh nor fowl are on the menu. Ir­ish su­per­mar­kets have re­acted ac­cord­ingly, with rapidly ex­pand­ing ve­gan sec­tions in Tesco, Dunne’s, Su­perValu, Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Aldi. With that has come a nu­anced de­bate about food ethics and sus­tain­abil­ity, which will in­creas­ingly in­flu­ence what ends up on our plates and in our glasses.

Barely a week goes by with­out some­one mak­ing culi­nary headlines. There was great ex­cite­ment be­fore Christ­mas when Dy­lan McGrath opened Shelbourne So­cial, which was joined re­cently in the im­pres­sive One Balls­bridge de­vel­op­ment by Avoca. Dy­lan also re­vealed re­cently in Hot Press that he’s look­ing to open a small 30 to 50-seater fine­din­ing es­tab­lish­ment, which will have a Miche­lin star – or two – in its sights. Any day now Niall David­son will be un­veil­ing his as yet un­named open re restau­rant in Dublin’s South Fred­er­ick Street, the cen­tre­piece of which will be a sunken kitchen.

The Der­ry­man has al­ready taken Lon­don by storm with his am­ing cre­ations, and you wouldn’t bet against him do­ing it here too. We’re also counting down the days to the sum­mer launch of St. An­drew’s Food Hall, an old church on D2’s Suf­folk Street, which will be home to 13 food ven­dors, two cof­fee shops and two bars. In ad­di­tion, there will be a “ro­ta­tional kitchen” for guest chefs to come in and cook for three months.

New tourist ini­tia­tives like the Wild At­lantic Way, the Ancient East, the Hid­den Heart­lands, Dublin: A Breath Of Fresh Air and Ire­land’s Lake­lands all have food and drink as one of their cor­ner­stones.

In this Best Of Ire­land spe­cial, we travel to ev­ery cor­ner of the coun­try to sam­ple the very best of what the coun­try has to of­fer. It was, as we think you’ll agree, one heck of a jour­ney!

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