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Bristol to Ireland: A Gastronomic Journey of Flavours and Culture

Jun 26, 2023 #Ireland
Irish StewPhoto by <a href="">Laura Ohlman</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>
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**This is a collaborative post**


If you are from Bristol, you’ll be used to traditional English delicacies such as fish and chips, rock cakes and afternoon tea or a good old-fashioned roast dinner. In Bristol specifically, we’re known for the Colston Bun made of sweetened yeast dough, bursting with flavours of dried fruits and spices – plus the city has a rich heritage in chocolate, sherry and more. If you would like to expand your gastronomic horizons and cultural knowledge, why not go out of your comfort zone and book trips to Ireland, just a short hop from Bristol, which can be reached via train and ferry or via aeroplane. If you do pay the country a visit, trying the local cuisine is a must.


Bristol to Ireland 1
Photo by Ting Tian on Unsplash


Top 8 Irish Foods to Try When In Ireland

Irish food is known for its warmth, heartiness, and richness in flavour, which accurately reflects the tenderness, friendliness, and sense of community of the Irish people and their culture. Typical Irish cuisine comprises mostly tender lamb, fresh seafood, and heaps of buttery potatoes. Most of these dishes use classic pairings and slow-cooked techniques to maximise the richness of their flavour. Upon visiting Ireland, don’t miss out on delighting your tastebuds with these Irish dishes that are sweet, savoury, and everything in between.


1. Irish Stew


Irish Stew
Photo by Laura Ohlman on Unsplash


The top of the list is none other than the national dish of Ireland—Irish stew. This native dish that has been served since ancient times is the comfort food that is closest to the Irish people’s hearts, especially during freezing cold Irish winters.

The recipe came about centuries ago when sheep were the dominant livestock kept by farmers in Ireland. The Irish stew uses lamb or mutton as the core meat, mixed with a variety of vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, parsley, barley, and turnips to enhance and balance out the flavours of the dish and extend the servings. This is then slow-cooked in a cauldron or pot of water over an open fire. The result is a stew with a thicker sauce, a juicier lamb that is so soft it melts in your mouth.


2. The Full Irish Breakfast


Irish Breakfast
Photo by Ajeet Panesar on Unsplash


There’s no better way to start your day than by being energised throughout the day with this hearty Full Irish Breakfast. The contents of this filling breakfast vary depending on the region you’re in. Nonetheless, you will surely find crispy fried bacon rashers, fried or scrambled eggs, and tasty pork sausages on every plate, as these components are all beloved staples. Hash browns, baked beans, fried tomatoes, and black or white pudding with a couple of slices of buttery toast are also commonly served. Sometimes, people add liver, fried potatoes, and fried mushrooms.


3. Boxty

Potatoes have always been a staple in Irish cuisine. Boxty is a simple and filling Irish potato pancake. It is made of Irish potato, grated into very thin slices, and then added to a mixture of baking soda, flour, and buttermilk. Then, as you would with a regular pancake, the potato mixture is fried in a pan until crispy and golden brown. The resulting potato pancake has a starchy, somehow sweet flavour that is best paired with different creams, sauces, and cooked meats and vegetables. Simply put, boxty is one of Ireland’s easy-to-prepare yet versatile and tasty dishes.


4. Soda Bread


Soda Bread
Photo by Ken Lawrence on Unsplash


Some generations ago, soda bread was the first risen bread ever to exist. Before the invention of soda bread’s recipe, the Irish baked bread like a flatbread because the kind of native flours they used were not yet formulated to rise when baked with yeast.

The ingredients of soda bread are quite simple: flour, salt, buttermilk, and baking soda. The mixture of buttermilk and baking soda creates a chemical reaction that gives the bread its iconic bubbled, uneven texture. It also comes in various flavours, such as those made with walnuts and Guinness.


5. Shepherd’s Pie


Shepherds Pie
Photo by David Trinks on Unsplash


Pies are a staple in British and Irish cuisine, and perhaps the most popular of all pies is the Shepherd’s Pie. Because Ireland is a predominantly sheep-farming nation, Irish Shepherd’s pie uses lamb or mutton instead of minced beef. The resulting pie has a rich, earthy, and deeply comforting filling of minced lamb, sliced onions, and an assortment of root vegetables bathed in a flavourful onion gravy. The filling is then placed in a large baking dish, then topped with a thick layer of creamy mashed potato.

Once it comes out of the oven, the Irish shepherd’s pie is best paired with vegetables and sauces. Some even add Guinness to the gravy.


6. Irish Coffee


Irish Coffee
Photo by Fábio Alves on Unsplash


Irish coffee is a cocktail made by mixing four parts coffee, two parts Irish whiskey, and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Then, once mixed well, it is topped with whipped cream. This indulgent concoction seamlessly blends the bittersweet, earthy notes of the coffee along with the warmth and smoothness of the whiskey, topped off with hints of vanilla. Each sip of this godly drink will surely energise you.


7. Smoked Salmon


Smoked Salmon
Photo by Vicky Ng on Unsplash


Ireland’s western region is boarded by the majestic Atlantic Ocean, which abounds with a wide assortment of the freshest, oiliest, and most succulent fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, among others. With such gifts from nature, the Irish people developed a palate for salmon—and not just any salmon, the melt-in-you-mouth kind of salmon, and it is often served smoked using techniques passed down through countless generations.

Perfectly smoked salmon is usually paired with buttery potatoes and other filling root vegetables. Some even attest that to truly appreciate its taste and texture, it should be eaten on top of a thick slice of bread, along with a drizzle of lemon juice or even honey.


8. Cabbage and Bacon


Photo by PHÚC LONG on Unsplash


Back when life was simpler, cabbage and bacon was a traditional dish in Ireland deeply rooted in the country’s history and culture. Irish people cook this dish by boiling large slices of bacon with freshly cut cabbage leaves in water. This creates a rich stew with all the flavour of the bacon and the cabbage. This recipe is so easy to make and has since been modified with innovations such as adding spicy sauces to enhance the stew’s flavour. Some even add herbs and root vegetables.

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