St Patrick’s Day. Our gift to the world is a day of celebration, dying the rivers green, drinking green beer and sensational parades the world over. New York and Boston are famous for it, but what about in Ireland?
Image by Koen Blanquart.
As a native of Ireland, I can tell you that St Patrick’s Day is important and present but in a different way. For us, St Patrick’s Day is a religious day. When I was growing up, we went to mass, always wearing green, sporting tufts of shamrock on our jumpers. I was always excited as I knew that we were allowed to break our Lenten fast on this day. We would store our weekly sweet allowance in biscuit tins for weeks and gorge as soon as we got home.
But, what of the other food? You didn’t think of the food, did you? People forget that Ireland is an island of passionate food producers. All that rain gives us the best pasture. As a result we have fantastic meat and dairy to start. There is also the Atlantic Ocean and our many rivers supplying us with salmon, trout, bass, crabs and much more. Soda bread, the fluffy waterford blaa accompany very well.
Image by YasT.
What to do with it all? Don’t worry, I can help you out.
Start your day with soda farls, gorgeous fresh and fluffy slices of soda bread dough, fried gently in butter. Have them with some black pudding, good Irish back bacon and eggs. You must drink tea with this. We Irish drink more tea per head than anyone else in Europe. With milk, sugar if you fancy. Scald the pot first, then let the tea sit over a gentle heat for a minute or two. Your Irish tea is ready.
Image by Ali Elan.
For lunch you have a few options. I will suggest a light but fortifying one of some terrific Irish smoked salmon, homemade cucumber pickle and some soda bread. The salmon smoker has done most of the work for you here leaving you free to bounce off for the festivities. In Ireland, parades are a very local affair. Every town has one. With some shamrock pinned on your coat, or a badge festooned with green white and gold ribbons for a child, now is the time to indulge.
The parade is over, what next? Ireland’s national dish, in my opinion, is everyone’s favourite bacon and cabbage. It is spring now so why not lighten it? Serve boiled ham with an old school parsley sauce but rather than cooking the cabbage into submission, lets just blanch it so it is still firm, and serve it dressed with some melted butter. Delicious.
Image by Emily Barney.
Dinner is done but we are not finished. What about an Irish coffee to wash it all down? Best Irish whiskey (with an e), coffee, sugar and whipped cream. Maybe a Guinness. Finish with some stories and songs gathered around a roaring fire, and you have had the most perfect Irish day that I can imagine.
Image by insidious_plots.
HouseTrip has over 200 properties throughout Ireland available for rent starting from just €29 per night. A couple that I have spotted with great kitchens in which you can cook Irish treats are:
In Dublin: http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/128330
In Kealkill (Good base for explorations of Kerry and Cork): http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/61152
Featured image by smarzinske.