01 Oct 2019
Fresh, locally sourced, crafted and seasonal – make space for food and drink on the island of Ireland that always evokes a strong sense of place.
This September, October and November, the island of Ireland is welcoming the world to a celebration of the very best of the country’s food and drink.
Bring a healthy appetite, because Taste the Island is offering the opportunity of a lifetime to tuck into a profusion of flavours that evoke a unique sense of place, culture and hospitality.
From regional food specialities and local traditions to new, complex and varied gastronomy, the island of Ireland excels in elevating its native food and drink produce into top-notch tastes, experiences and memories.
As the rich harvest comes home, savour the magic behind special European PGI status foods and everything from native Irish beef, lamb, venison and seafood to chutneys, yoghurts, ice-creams and chocolates. Not to mention the island’s craft beers, ciders, gins and whiskies.
Recognised the world over for its fantastic oysters, the pristine coastline around Galway is home to some of the best seafood that can be found. Native to these Wild Atlantic Way shores and only in season from September–April, the local Galway Oyster is a revered among seafood gourmands due to its relative rarity, meaty texture and notes of seaweed and grass.
Taste them during the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival (27-29 September), where there will be live music, sensational seafood, mouth-watering dining and the National Oyster Opening Championship kick-starting an amazing weekend of food.
Oysters are often washed down with Irish stout, and while Guinness is most associated with Ireland, there are lots of other brilliant stouts being brewed all around the island evoking a sense of place. Porterhouse Oyster Stout is a dark and aromatic Dublin favourite, Export Stout by Boundary Brewing has a core following around Belfast, and the main geographic hold for Murphy’s is Cork.
The pretty harbour town of Ballycastle on the Causeway Coastal Route is home to the local delicacies of Yellowman (honeycomb) and dulse (a seaweed snack), and also in Northern Ireland the Lough Neagh Eel is regarded as the king of the eel. This creamy flesh has a rich, pure flavour and can be deliciously prepared in many ways. The eels gained PGI status in 2011 in recognition of the heritage, tradition and authenticity of the best quality freshwater eels available in Europe. Taste them in an eel supper around the restaurants and pubs on the shores of Lough Neagh, particularly at Hallowe’en or the River to Lough Festival (29 September).
Ireland has a delicious bread heritage and all around the island you can taste the likes of freshly-baked soda bread, potato bread, wheaten bread and the delicious barmbrack, a sweet yeasted bread dotted with sultanas and raisins.
A range of brilliant cheeses can also be found, with Gubbeen farmhouse cheese from County Cork, Cashel Blue in County Tipperary and the raw milk cheese Young Buck from County Down among the many artisan flavours to be enjoyed.
There is so much to taste around the island of Ireland, but don’t leave without sampling the salmon. Try the oak-smoked salmon of the Burren Smokehouse in County Clare or the beechwood-smoked salmon from the Connemara Smokehouse.
Featuring native and completely unique local flavours in more than 500 events island-wide, Taste the Island will offer an array of festivals, restaurant deals, cooking experiences, food tours and more all through the autumn.
There is no better time to dive into the native food and drink of one of the world’s best-kept gastronomic secrets.
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