Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Celebrating Irish Food

We do love potatoes!

Unless you are Irish, you probably don't come to Ireland for the food.

If you are a foodie you travel to France, Italy, Spain, Greece - countries renowned for food. 

But this is changing.

Ireland is one of the best producers of lamb and beef in Europe, we are an agricultural based country. We are also expertly located for fine fish and our vegetables are some of the most organic, sweetest produce in the world.

So why are we not pulling in the punters for our food? Is it that we can't cook? Of course not. 
We are just too easily influenced.

A recent Lonely Planet guidebook on Ireland said you could order a panini in almost every town in Ireland - it is more accessible here than in Italy!

For too long we looked upon our own traditional foods as poor. It has taken us a long long time to get over the famine, to look past our poor decrepit history, to see the positive in the bare meals our ancestors survived on, but I think we are beginning to understand.

Food Festivals, celebrating our splendid produce, our traditional feasts and our cultural knowledge are springing up all over the place.

Galway Food Festival Brochure
(c) fifiheavey

The inaugural Galway Food Festival, which I attended over Easter attracted an estimated 30,000 visitors to the city, offering more than 70 food-themed events, from cooking demonstrations to foraging trails. And the majority of those visitors were foreign tourists, many quite surprised by what they were seeing, hearing and of course tasting.

More than 50 restaurants and outlets took part in Galway, with some reporting an increase in turnover of over 80% - what a result in a recession. What an inspiration for other towns and cities.Food festivals have “sky rocketed” in the last two years, according to  Fáilte Ireland. In that time the list of Irish food festivals across the country has gone from around 15 to 40. Irish Food Tourism is growing and rightly so.

Demo on how to cook the perfect steak
(c) fifiheavey

We visited a food demo on 'Cooking the perfect steak' at the festival. The cooking part took only a few minutes. First we heard about the history of beef in Ireland and why it is among the best in the world.
Our beef is among the best because of our strategic location and surprisingly our terrible weather. 
(Next time you curse the rain think about a nice juicy steak!)

Happy cow!
The secret ingredient to the perfect steak? 
Nope the secret ingredient is:
A happy Cow!

Of course there were oysters galore, muscles, fish of every size and colour alongside beautiful breads, homemade lemonade, sweets, nuts, deserts and BBQ goodies.

The Food Festival was a delight.
A success. More of these please!

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