It has been said that in the early 1980s Irish cuisine started to change for the better. Always blessed with naturally wonderful ingredients, chefs started a revolution incorporating nouvelle cuisine, flavors and techniques of the world, and then all roads leading to a new level of ever evolving spectacular Irish fare.
Féile Bia is an Irish food organization with a commitment to quality. Their program emphasizes the importance of where food comes from before it reaches the hotels, restaurants, pubs and workplaces throughout Ireland.
Féile Bia organized with the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation and the support of the farming community in response to growing consumer concerns about the quality and origin of food offered when dining out. An issue we should all be concerned about wherever we live.
Members provide details confirming the quality and origin of the food used in their kitchens. Féile Bia participants are committed to sourcing meat, chicken and eggs from recognized Quality Assurance Schemes and gladly supply any customer requests for country of origin information.
The Burren Smokehouse is located in the legendary
We made our stop first at their Visitor Centre to watch the video showing how salmon is smoked, starting from filleting to finished product. The program is available in English, German, French, and Italian; the centre has space for about 50 people. We were able to test a little wine and several varieties of smoked products with additional explanations by Birgitta. Actually we loved it all except for those of us too “chicken” to try the eel. The smoked cheese was also wonderful.
According to Irish mythology (of which there is no end) only one creature was wiser than man. This was the fabled "Salmon of Knowledge" which had fed upon the acorns of the Tree of Knowledge. It was said that whoever tasted of the salmon would inherit its wisdom and foresight.
An old man had devoted his life to capturing the prized fish. Having finally achieved his goal, he entrusted the preparation and cooking to his young apprentice, with a warning that he must not taste its flesh. But, while cooking the salmon it got very hot and blistery. The boy touched those blisters and burnt his finger. To relieve the pain, he placed his finger in his mouth thus becoming the first to taste the fish and to benefit from its magical powers.
The boy was Fionn MacCool, who later became the great warrior prince of ancient Ireland. Fionn devoted his life to the spreading of wisdom.
The Curtin’s carefully source local raw materials for the Burren smoked salmon, trout, mackerel, eel, and cheese with control quality standards and regular testing from independent laboratories and inspections by certification organizations.
After checking out the samples we walked perhaps 200 feet to the Curtin’s Roadside Tavern for a little “shake off the chill” libation and to mix with the locals.
Burren Smokehouse ships within
Drimcong House Restaurant
8 slices smoked salmon
Mixed lettuce leaves, shredded
For the dressing:
50g (2 oz) fresh spinach leaves
100ml (4 oz) sunflower oil
1½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
Warm each plate of smoked salmon in the hot oven for a minute. Pour dressing over and around the salmon mounds and serve.
Another purveyor we didn’t have time to visit but follows the natural traditions so popular throughout
Ardrahan is a semi-soft cheese with a pungent aroma, a buttery textured honey-colored centre with a complex delicate flavor. Its washed rind grows into a golden colour, while its size and weight tend to vary slightly due to the fact that it is a hand-made product.
Made from pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, and vegetarian rennet, the 1 kg wheels are wrapped in white paper and boxed individually. Baby Ardrahans are wrapped in white paper with six per box.
Ardrahan is eaten in cubes while sipping Irish whiskey or a glass of red wine or for toasted cheese sandwiches. A well blending cheese, it is excellent for cooking.
A new milk product that I thought was particularly interesting is Ardrahan Lullaby, and it may even help you get a good night's sleep.
Kanturk, Co. Cork,
Tel. : +353 (29) 78099
Fax. : +353 (29) 78136
In all the bookstores and
She has always encouraged the development of contemporary cooking based on traditional Irish themes and using the best of local produce.
Educated at Queen's University,
A few titles you may want to check out are:
Good Food From Ireland (Grafton paperback) is a traditional Irish food book. Although the
Meals For All Seasons looks at contemporary Irish cooking through the four, very different, seasons of the culinary year. (Merlin Publishing, hardback).
Irish Country House Cooking - The Best of Irish Breads & Baking, Traditional, Contemporary & Festive Baking has proved particularly popular and is available in the
And she has a new book coming out in early Spring, 2005.
In addition to some recipes having metric measurements you may find occasionally ingredients that are unfamiliar. One that threw me for a bit was cream flour. I finally found an explanation at www.foodireland.com
and apparently Cream flour is plain flour without added yeast or other products. We can use it the same as any
Below are the websites for Bord Bia and others promoting Irish food and drink under the banner,
- Feature by Mary Gallagher, Washington, D.C. Correspondent.