Last summer I spent a week in Ireland, mostly in and around Cork. What’s happening there food-wise is nothing short of magical. I haven’t seen an artisanal food community with as much diversity and as high a level of quality anywhere in the world. From hyssop- and elderberry-infused juices to handmade sausages, from smoked fish to baked goods, from cheeses to jams—everything I tried was devoid of the pretension and wink that often accompanies this type of fresh local food production, especially in the US.
More importantly, while the whole world can sing a U2 song or recite Yeats, Irish food is a cultural icon that’s harder to define. Ask most folks to name an Irish dish and they will immediately shout out, “Corned beef and cabbage.” I spent a week in that country and never saw it—not once.
What I did find was the best farmhouse cooking on the planet.