The island of Ireland has made a name for itself as a world-class foodie destination and there are lots of great ways to discover its culinary charms.
With award-winning restaurants and gastro-pubs, fabulous food markets and tours, and artisan producers around every corner, the island of Ireland should be on every epicure’s must-visit list.
The North: Northern Ireland’s food scene has recently been included in Lonely Planet’s Gourmet Trails Europe as one of the 40 best in Europe. The guide highlights St. George’s Market in Belfast where local specialities abound and also calls out The Sunflower, one of many pubs serving local craft beers.
A great way to get the flavour of the city is on the multi-award-winning Belfast Food Tour, which visits top food and drink spots.
Beyond Belfast there is much more to savour with amazing artisanal produce including traditional bread, wild Irish seafood and a range of farm fresh produce. A trip to the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle is a chance to sample the legendary yellow man honeycomb and local dulce (seaweed).
The South: County Cork claims to be the culinary capital of Ireland and it has much to boast about including 13 Michelin rated restaurants. The English Market in Cork city is regarded as one of the best in Europe and is a treasure trove of fine food, while Ballymaloe Cookery School is renowned for its excellent courses.
There are food tours to be enjoyed right across the south from the Cork Tasting Trail to Taste Wexford, and Kenmare Foodie Tours in County Kerry. In September, Waterford Harvest Festival showcases the best food from the region including the speciality bread called blaa.
The East: Dublin is a hot spot for great restaurants, one of which was recently voted the number six steakhouse in the world. FX Buckley serves steak from Irish traditional heritage breeds, dry-aged for 28 days in state-of-the-art meat lockers.
A great way to sample a range of top-class Irish food is on a Delicious Dublin tour while elsewhere in Ireland’s Ancient East there are many opportunities to taste local fare including on a Slane Food Circle tour which visits award-winning artisan producers in the Boyne Valley.
The West: The west could be considered the hub of slow food on the island, and this is celebrated in the Burren Slow Food Festival, which advocates sustainable food production and tradition. Other foodie highlights in the region include the famous Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, described as a gourmet extravaganza.
All along the Wild Atlantic Way, the freshest seafood can be enjoyed and there is even the chance to catch and cook your own fish. And for those who enjoy a spot of foraging, an Irish Seaweed Safari along a stunning west coast beach ticks all the boxes.