Ireland is rarely celebrated as a foodie destination. This is a real shame, as our cool climate, rainfall and coastline allow us to produce fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy of the highest standard. Irish cuisine has certainly upped its game in the past number of years, with more and more restaurants serving up modern Irish dishes which celebrate local seasonal ingredients.
The Taste the Island series, conceived by Fáilte Ireland, aims to raise the profile of Ireland as key destination for food-lovers. Taste the Island will comprise of a series of events over the autumn months, which focus on local Irish food and drink. We’ve picked out 6 of the best so that you can get a taste of the island of Ireland.
A Taste of Ballymaloe – Garden to Table Experience - September 7th
As part of Taste the Island and the East Cork Food and Drink Festival, Ballymaloe House invite guests to join them for a Taste of Ballymaloe – Garden to Table Experience.
Arrive into the drawing-room at Ballymaloe for a welcoming garden-inspired cocktail. From here guests will be escorted to the walled gardens where Ballymaloe’s gardener will explain how the produce is grown and how it influences the menus and dishes served at Ballymaloe House. Back at the house guests will dine on a special menu prepared using the produce grown in these very gardens.
The event is priced at €55 per person and includes a welcome cocktail, garden tour and 3-course lunch. Call Ballymaloe House directly for more information and bookings on 021 465 2531
Harvest Fayre at Castle Grove Country House - September 28th
As part of their 30th year in business celebrations, on the 28th of September Castle Grove Country House is launching the Castle Grove Harvest Food Festival in association with Taste the Island. This also marks the five-year restoration of the Castle Grove Heritage Walled Garden.
The fun-filled family day will be a celebration of Donegal foods and will include an oyster bar, seafood station, and grills with local beef and chicken. Castle Grove will showcase all the produce from their walled garden using new and old-world techniques, with a selection of baked goods, both sweet and savoury, including chutneys, pickled vegetables, preserves and much more.
They are also serving their very own heritage apple "Original Cider" and have favourites such as their much-loved Castle Grove Strawberry Gin and renowned local Donegal Kinnegar beer.
The event will take place on September 28th, from 12 pm to 6 pm at Castle Grove Country House, and best of all, admission is free. Contact Castle Grove Country House on 074 91 51118 for more information.
Harvest Lunch and Walled Garden Tour at Longueville House - September 29th
To coincide with the annual harvest of their walled garden. Longueville House is hosting a special Harvest Lunch and Walled Garden walk, talk and tasting tour.
Owner William O’Callaghan and Head Gardener Anthony Hartnett will take guests on a tour through the orchards, the cider house and the distillery where guests have the chance to learn, from the experts, about growing and harvesting seasonal fruits and vegetables.
After the tour, guests can enjoy a pick-me-up cider cocktail before a luxurious luncheon, including starter, dessert and cheese buffet and the main event, a sumptuous roast, cooked slowly on an open fire throughout the morning. Fish and vegetarian options will also be available.
The event is priced at €69 per adult and includes the walled garden walk, talk, tour, tastings, cocktail, luncheon, cider and apple brandy. Call Longueville House directly for more information and bookings on 022 47156
Taste of Coopershill Farm and Gardens - October 10th
A celebration of the fantastic produce from Coopershill on Thursday the 10th of October. Coopershill actually rears their own venison on the estate. Their organic kitchen garden also produces a wealth of wonderful, colourful vegetables which are much more than just an accompaniment to the meat, but truly earn their place on the plate. Fish caught just off the coast of Sligo will also be served on the evening.
For those looking to enjoy an overnight stay at Coopershill, Bed, Breakfast and the Taste of Coopershill Farm and Gardens dinner is priced at €338 for two people sharing. Call Coopershill House directly for more information and bookings on 071 916 5108
Taste of our Pastures at Newforge House - October 26th
This October 26th, Newforge House celebrates the riches that the lush pastures of Armagh provide in a fantastic event in association with Taste the Island.
The 6-course tasting menu will showcase the amazing, flavoursome local meats; fresh, creamy dairy and the colourful homegrown and local vegetables.
Make a night of it with an overnight stay at Newforge House. With just 6 bedrooms, Newforge offers a relaxed intimacy and a home-away-from-home feeling.
The “Taste of our Pastures” break includes One Night Bed and Breakfast, tea and cake on arrival and the Taste of our Pastures 6-course dinner. Call Newforge House directly for more information and bookings on +44 (0)28 926 11255
Autumn Game Sunday Lunch at Marlfield House - November 24th
At the wild game season draws to a close, Marlfield House will host a wonderful Autumn Game Sunday Lunch on Sunday, the 24th of November, as part of Taste the Island.
The menu on the day will be entirely dedicated to wild Irish game from the area, showcasing the finest local and seasonal ingredients. An esteemed speaker will lead a discussion on Irish game, how best to cook it and which wines best accompany it.
The event is priced at €85 per person which includes the pre-lunch reception, the lunch and wine pairings. Call Marlfield House directly for more information and bookings on 053 942 1124