Dublin now has a name for innovative cuisine as well as Guinness
By Aliki Nassoufis Feb 28, 2012, 3:09 GMT
Dublin - Ireland is certainly more famous for its mild whiskeys than haute cuisine but the Emerald Isle has developed a reputation for culinary excellence in recent years, especially in the capital Dublin where innovative chefs are setting new standards.
'When people think of Irish cooking, they often don't consider anything other than Irish stew, bacon, potatoes and cabbage,' said Eveleen Coyle, who offers a 'Fabulous Food Trails' tour around her native Dublin.
Ireland's troubled history, particularly the Great Famine in the mid-nineteenth century which killed one million people and prompted as many others to emigrate, has meant that there is no long history of a restaurant culture.
However, the economic boom of recent decades has seen locals develop an interest in cuisine, although Coyle says Irish people prefer French, Italian or Asian food to traditional Irish dishes.
Ireland is currently struggling through an economic recession, which means many Irish people are reluctant to spend. 'But we've already learned about the joys of good food and that's one thing we Irish don't want to lose now,' says Coyle.
Local cooks and chefs have focused on cooking with locally sourced fresh produce.
'Modern Irish cuisine consists of a smattering of nostalgia, in that we have dishes from our past such as stew and potatoes, fused with countless new ideas, ingredients and cooking styles,' said Mark Matanes, manager of Eden restaurant in Dublin's popular Temple Bar district.
Colin Kelly, chef at One Pico, added: 'Our cuisine today is a mixture of French, Italian and Asian styles using Irish products.'
O'Connells restaurant is a perfect example of an eatery where experimentation with high-quality local produce is the order of the day. Starters include Irish-made chorizo, locally grown beetroot, and thin sliced salmon sourced from Cork in the south of the country.
The Pepper Pot in Dublin is run by a young woman called Dervla who has realised her dream of having her own cafe where she sells homemade cakes, bagels and organic produce.
Blazing Salads near the historic Georges Street Arcade is run by the Fitzmaurice family and offers organic vegetarian fast food while the neighbouring Cocoa Atelier is a new addition, selling the finest chocolates and macaroons.
There has also been a huge increase in the number of traditional cheesemakers in Ireland in recent years and these can be sampled in Sheridans. The variety of choice is immense, including countless soft and hard cheeses, and cheeses made from cow's and goat's milk.
Of course no visit to Dublin would be complete without sampling a pint of Guinness in one of the city's many Victorian-era pubs. One fine establishment is the Swan which still has its original mosaic floor.
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