Your shopping cart is empty.

Joe McNamee samples the practical and philosophical DNA of Irish food in an exceptional year.

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

We eyeballed the hog at the ever-wonderful West Waterford Festival of Food, in Dungarvan, when legendary chef Fergus Henderson joined homegrown hero Paul Flynn in presenting a splendid night of food and frolics, as Flynn cooked a ‘cover version’ of fare from Henderson’s seminal Nose to Tail Eating.

In Cork, Filter, a dedicated temple to the Way of the Bean, served some of the best coffee in the country (including Marc Kingston’s Golden Bean) in a delightful and funky little nook just off the main drag; we enjoyed some seriously good cooking with a commendably casual style from the crew at House Café at Cork Opera House; South Indian chef Gautham Iyer continued to bring his singular culinary vision to bear on fine native Irish produce in Café Iyer, and Kevin Aherne, of Sage Restaurant, Midleton, still lead the posse with his 12-Mile-Menu of superb produce, superbly well cooked.

In Dublin, the potential of the scarily-young, Peter Clifford, just 22 and heading up the kitchen at the brand new Pepper Brasserie in Clontarf, grew ever more apparent as the son of the late great Michael Clifford appears to possess all the culinary chops to emulate his extraordinary father.

Chapter One: An Irish Food Story, by Ross Lewis (Gill & MacMillan) In future days, when we can eventually acknowledge the existence of a truly modern native cuisine, Lewis’ DNA will be visible throughout, this magnificent book, the source code.

Rory O’Connell’s Master It: How to Cook Today (4th Estate) Set to become a classic, a teaching tome that should be the bedrock of any decent kitchen, recalling a time when cookbooks were purchased solely for the culinary information within.

Woodside Farm Salami - A combination of young Matthew Conroy’s knowledge, gleaned from a summer in Italy with renowned Italian Michelin-starred chef/farmer, Massimo Spigaroli, being applied to the finest Rare Breed Pedigree Pork and ham to be found in this country and reared by his parents, Noreen and Martin Conroy, results in this truly stunning world-class salami.

Ballyhoura Mushrooms, growers of the finest native exotic mushrooms and foragers sans pareil, continued to spread their gospel as the capital’s top restaurants joined the growing clamour for their produce, and they joined the roll call of honour, featuring in Ross Lewis’ Chapter One: An Irish Food Story.

The frantic, fevered modern Irish food world temporarily shelved its neurotic anxiety to stay abreast of latest trends, to be the first to carve slices off the Next Big Thing and took time to savour some unsurpassable vintage flavours, all labelled ‘Ballymaloe’: the once-obscure little cookery school in East Cork celebrated its 30th anniversary as one of the world’s most renowned culinary institutions, where the philosophy imparted is even more important than the recipes taught; the inaugural Ballymaloe Literary Festival saw the greatest single gathering of food writers the world has known whooping it up in the Big Shed and Claudia Roden kissed me on an ever-since unwashed cheek; and in pausing to look back and celebrate her life’s work, we acknowledged the incomparable Myrtle Allen’s food philosophy remains the truest road map for the future of Irish food.

Read our Editors' Awards for the year

Thank you for sharing

Megabites Sign Up Here!

Sign up for our Megabites Newsletter, a blog which brings you all the latest contemporary news of the best food and food people in Ireland, including all that’s new on the Wild Atlantic Way.

This question is to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.