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Essence Of Ireland

So, if you could capture Ireland in a single mouthful, what would that mouthful be?

I think that Pádraic Óg Gallagher, he of the Boxty House, may have captured it perfectly when he drizzled Connemara Peated Single Malt Whiskey over smoked Irish salmon.

Connemara whiskey and smoked salmon

Connemara peated single malt whiskey and Irish smoked salmon

It’s like a modern interpretation of a John Hinde postcard. It tastes like you’re sitting close to, or possibly in, a turf fire, an experience that certainly used to go with the territory in rural Ireland.

John Hinde Connemara Postcard

Classic John Hinde Postcard: Collecting Turf from the Bog, Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland
(image from www.johnhindecollection.com)

The marriage of whiskey and salmon was only the beginning, though.

It was the opening dish on the menu for the gala Saturday banquet presented as part of the recent Oxford Symposium On Food And Cookery by Pádraic Óg Gallagher, along with Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire and a host of Irish artisan producers.

Pádraic Óg introduces some of the banquet contributors

The theme for this year’s symposium was Cured, Fermented and Smoked Foods and banquet attendees were treated to the full Irish experience of same. Pádraic Óg is the first Irish chef to have been invited to present a meal at what is a highly prestigious event in the food calendar – I only wish I could have been there.

You can see below just what I missed (or read what Katrina had to say about being there).

Oxford symposium banquet menu

The Oxford Symposium banquet menu

And finally, on the assumption that you may not have been invited to any Irish banquets lately, here’s how you can create a little taste of Ireland at home…

  Print It

Smoked Salmon with Connemara Whiskey

You’ll need:
  • Connemara whiskey (or another peated whiskey)
  • Smoked salmon
The Steps:
  • Drizzle the whiskey over the salmon. Eat.
The Results:
  • A taste of Ireland, in your gob.


  1. Manuel

    Funnily enough I was forcing some Connemara Whiskey on a pair of Dutch guests on Monday night….they were blown away by it….it; is lush if a little too manly for my delicate eco system….pass the gin please….but Irish Coffee is best made with Powers….beautiful menu though…

  2. OysterCulture

    Wow, this just sounds like a heck of an event to attend. I wish you had let me know about it, I’d have made the trip. smoked salmon and whiskey – if there was a definition of a match made in heaven this is it. I know, I looked it up and the picture was right there.

  3. The Beer Nut

    Delighted to see some Irish craft beers getting a look-in. It’s always a little disheartening when imported wine is seen as the only acceptable accompaniment to fine food.

  4. Daily Spud

    Manuel: I would have to admit to reaching much more readily for gin than whiskey in the normal course of events myself – but the Connemara stuff is well worth breaking the gin habit for…

    OysterCulture: If I have been more organised I would have had us both there! At least I have a bottle of the whiskey to be going on with in the meantime :D

    Beer Nut: agreed – proper order that there should be some Irish craft beer on that menu

  5. Sophie

    An easy yet so flavourful salmon dish!

    MMMMMMMMMM,..My husband would love to eat his salmon this way,..he loves all things Whiskey & certainly Irish whiskey!

  6. Lori

    See now, I was going to say Irish whiskey, but then you throw the smoked salmon in there. Well, I think that would be even better! The next time someone tells me that Irish cuisine is boring or only about Shepherd’s Pie I will be directing them to this post and that menu.

  7. Katrina

    Well, I have been to the above-mention symposium and tasted the aforementioned salmon with whisky and can confer that it is sublime:)

    In fact, my blog will soon see a few more words about the event once I feel I can breath again after 2 days of non stop gorging in Oxford.

    Will let you know when it’s up, Spud!

  8. Chef E

    I think Bears have a secret fetish for Salmon and Irish Whiskey! At least when we are not looking, I heard a hunter’s story of how their catch and bottle went missing from a camp one chilly night. I would not be surprised to find some aging down in their caves somewhere! I know I do :) MAN do they go together- Boxty House is definitely on my list!

  9. Tangled Noodle

    Simple is not only good, it’s great – two ingredients and you have the taste of a nation so wonderfully distilled!

    The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery has counted among its attendees and presenters some of the most incredible names in culinary study. It’s my dream to some day attend – heck, it’s my dream to some day present a paper! Dream big . . . 8-)

  10. valentina

    Wow, what a banquet. As I started reading I was going to ask whether you had taken part but you already answered that. What I liked even more was that it made me ask myself about Brazilian food. And I do not have an answer.Yet.; o )

  11. Daily Spud

    Sophie: sounds like your husband should definitely try this :)

    Lori: it’s far from boring, you’ve got that right!

    Katrina: Can’t wait to read the full details – I can only imagine what a feast for the senses it all was…

    Chef E: it’s a good job there are no bears in Ireland, else we would be in big trouble! :D

    Tangled Noodle: of course you should dream big – and if you’re presenting a paper, I definitely want to be there :)

    Valentina: I’m sure you’ll think of an answer, though – would love to know what you come up with

  12. George@CulinaryTravels

    Oddly enough I blogged about this whiskey a couple of days ago. It really is gorgeous stuff. Pairing it with the smoked salmon sounds absolutely divine.


  13. Daily Spud

    Lovely review of the whiskey, George, and I couldn’t agree more with your comment that this isn’t one to use with a mixer

  14. 'neen Nine Bean Row

    I knew I had read about this on your blog Aoife!

    I was down in Kilbeggan the other day with the staff from L. Mulligan. Grocer. and Brian Quinn (the distillery manager) mentioned sharing the very same meal with Pádraic Óg!

    Fabulous combination. Really amazing whiskey.

  15. Daily Spud

    Hey ‘neen, I couldn’t agree more. I am really taken with Connemara whiskey and the combination of that and smoked salmon is indeed a fabulous one!

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