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 peated single malt whiskey and Irish smoked salmon
Sometimes it takes a foreigner to capture the truth about a nation:
Ireland … isn’t exactly the sexiest country in the world … constant gray skies, cool temperatures and an obsession with one of nature’s homeliest vegetables….
Ouch. Harsh but true.
By tradition, we, like our food, are more hearty and plain than delicate and fancy. We are bacon and cabbage and boiled potatoes. We are soda bread, apple tart and the ubiquitous cup of tea. We are the food that you go to your Mammy’s house for. But when we eat out, we generally look to foreign cuisines for something a little outside of our Irish selves.
Perhaps, to my shame, that’s the reason why, in all my years of living in Dublin, I had managed, until now, to avoid darkening the door of Gallagher’s Boxty House. With its traditional Irish menu and diddly-eye music, it sat firmly in my “just for tourists” category.
Gallagher's Boxty House, Temple Bar
As overheard at the food market at this weekend’s Bloom In The Park festival:
“I wouldn’t fancy that, now, jaysus!”
The speaker was maintaining a suitably safe distance from the Caribbean-style saucery on offer from Bad Boy Sauces, apparently not at all enticed by the lure of “Carribbean Cooking for Culchies“. Clear evidence that you can give an Irishman curry, but you can’t make him eat it.
Fortunately there was plenty of traditional fare at Bloom to satisfy the spice-averse – soda breads, jams, sausages, smoked fish, cheeses, apple tarts and boxty – while those with more international tastes could treat themselves to everything from locally produced madras curry sauce from Govenders and smoked almonds from The Good Snack Company to the eternally moreish sprouted chickpea hummus from Natasha’s Living Foods.
Artisan Food Market At Bloom:
Soda bread from The Foods of Athenry in Galway; Ardrahan cheese from Cork; Burren Smokehouse salmon from Clare; Boxty from the Boxty Bakers of Leitrim