As the food industry is constantly evolving all over the world, we, the Irish, find ourselves trying all kinds of weird and wonderful dishes from a bowl of broccoli and tofu soup to a deconstructed cappuccino……what the hell is that? 🙂
However, among the modern day menus, you can always count on getting an authentic, hearty, Irish food experience as it is part of our DNA. So, if you’re looking for the best Irish food experiences that will warm you up after a day out in the Irish elements, then the luck of the Irish is on your side. Listed below, in no particular order of preference, the top 10 best Irish food experiences that you have to try when you visit Ireland.
1. The Irish Breakfast
Starting your day off on a good note is an important aspect of Irish daily life. So instead of waiting for dinner to arrive that evening, we invite over its cousin, The Irish Breakfast, for number 1 on our Top 10 Best Irish Food Experiences.
Our rationale is that you will need something to keep you going at full capacity all day long! It was created to fill up Irish workers before a long day out on the fields, however, today it is generally a medical cure, in our eyes, following a tough night of socializing against our will!!! Though we eat it less often than in the past, we love it just as much, to the dismay of our happy healthy hearts. The ingredients are extremely important and include the following:
- Rashers (Bacon)
- Black and white pudding
- Scrambled or fried eggs
- Fried tomato
- Baked beans
- Irish soda bread
- Cup of tea or Coffee
However, never add kippers like our English neighbours, as you will be ostracized from society and placed on a remote island. Understandable really!!
2. Porridge with a Twist!
For those of you who can’t stomach the thought of eating that much meat in the morning, how about a little porridge, with a twist of course.
Bear with me on this one. I am a particular fan of porridge but alas I know some of you out there have nightmares about a spoon of it coming your way.
So my solution for you is to add in a dash of Bailey’s Irish Whiskey. Now hold on a minute!! It isn’t sacrilegious at all and in fact I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how scrumptious it makes your breakfast. Throw in a couple bits of fruit or nuts to make it look super healthy and nobody’s the wiser. Healthy and delicious!!
3. Soda Bread & Dollop of Jam
What is sacrilegious in every household in Ireland, is their own recipe for soda bread.
Past down through generations on flour-crusted note paper and hidden among some cookery books waiting to be discovered are our special soda bread ingredients. However, being Irish means we cannot agree on how a soda bread should taste. Some like it sweet with a spoonful of honey, sugar or dried fruits. Others prefer the so-called healthier option with sprinkled-in seeds, bran and oats for an energetic boost. While others push the boundaries too far, allegedly, with treacle and Guinness. Yes you heard it right folks, Guinness, for the opposite effect.
However, in truth the basic ingredients don’t change (bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk form the raising agent, which is mixed in with flour) and to date you eat it the same way e.g. sliced with a mountain of real butter, not the fake kind, and if you like, a dollop of jam. And don’t forget to savour the smell of some good old Irish soda bread. Magic!.
4. Bacon & Cabbage
If you want to get an Irish passport then you will have to eat just one hearty Irish meal experience which is our traditional Bacon & Cabbage dish. Seems reasonable!!
This magical dish consists of sliced back bacon which is boiled to perfection. The water used for boiling the bacon is then used to boil the cabbage giving it a beautiful salty/meaty taste. Generally this meal is accompanied with some delicious mash potato and parsley sauce. Hey, presto!, you are now Irish. Well, might not be legally binding, but we will still consider you one of us!!
5. Beef & Guinness Pie
This traditional dish consists normally of rib/round steak cubed and cooked in Guinness with onions, carrots, salt, pepper, and herbs. Pastry is then made with flour, butter and water and then placed on top. This dish will not only warm your body, but also your soul.
Warning Alert! You may never leave Ireland after eating this gourmet delight.
6. Irish Stew
Irish stew is a lamb or mutton and root vegetable stew native to Ireland. As with all things Irish, the exact recipe is not consistent from time to time, or place to place. The basic ingredients include lamb, or mutton with potatoes, onions, and parsley. Sometimes you might find inside your stew, large chunks of juicy carrots. For some this is a divisive issue but for me simply heaven!!.
Not as renowned as stew but Coddle holds its own. Its origins are as a working-class Dublin dish and its meaning is the slow simmering or ‘coddling’ of ingredients in a one-pot stew.
Generally, the leftovers at the end of the week would congregate in a pot and slowly be stewed in the oven for hours. Imagine slices of pork sausage packed in alongside bacon rashers or boiled bacon and sliced potatoes and onions. That is Coddle and add in something special with a serving of fresh baked soda bread to mop up the juices.My mouth is watering at the thought!!
As a nation, it sounds like we are a bunch of carnivores and nothing else. However, just to pull a surprise out of the bag for you at dinner time, we created the Colcannon.
So what is the main ingredient you ask? Wait for it, amazingly the potato. Yes, potatoes, but what an amazing transformation of the thing we fondly call the spud. The spud, that is the potato, transformed the Irish diet when it was introduced from the New World in the late 16th century. Ireland’s population boomed with this cheap and plentiful food source, but was later decimated when potato harvests were hit by blight in the 19th century.
Potatoes are still a staple at most mealtimes, and Colcannon is a genuine classic. It is a mash of potatoes, cabbage (or kale) and butter (or cream), flavoured with spring onions. Very few words can describe it best but mine is divine.
An unusual name but the Boxty doesn’t falter in unique taste. Sometimes referred to as a potato dumpling, potato pancake or potato bread. Its name originates from the Irish phrase arán bocht tí, meaning ‘poor-house bread’. Shock horror, its main ingredient is potato, but with a slight deviation for us Irish, it is grated.
Hard to believe that a grated raw potato could conjure up so many delightful taste buds but with loving hands that mix flour, salt, boil before being sliced and then delicately fry in butter, you have the perfect creation. Definitely try a Boxty alongside bacon, eggs or smoked salmon and crème fraîche. Delicious!!.
Logically, being an island we are surrounded by water, and Ireland has some of the best seafood offerings you could wish to experience.
My personal favourite is a generous seafood platter. It is a dish of raw and cooked shellfish served cold on a bed of ice. It doesn’t necessarily call for a vast variety of ingredients but trust me on this one, make sure you get a platter with lobster, oysters and prawns.
Smoked salmon is another must-try with a variety of smoked styles from oak to beechwood-smoked salmon are all simply delicious. You can accompany this with a splash of your favourite drink and don’t forget to request the supply of finger bowls and hand towels as it warrants a messy occasion.