This past month I celebrated a 'special' birthday (not saying which one I'm afraid!), and to celebrate, we all went back to Northern Ireland as a family for an extended holiday. And what a time we had! The weather was wonderful (an occurrence that only happens once in every thousand years...) for weeks on end, and we enjoyed immersing ourselves in the rich culture and heritage of our homeland. The rugged beauty of the north Antrim coast (pictured by my husband above), the soft flowing landscape of County Down, the new excitement of Belfast and it's up and coming foodie scene, the serenity of quiet Irish country roads around my parents farm , the warmth of family and of course the delight of tasting some very, very good food.
It's been several years since we've been back, and yet again the sheer quality of the local produce amazed me. The potatoes and vegetables were crisp and tasty, not processed and ripened with gas. The beef was tangy and rich in taste as only comes with grass fed cattle, the butter was yellow (see my previous post..) and the fish were fresh.
Ireland as an agricultural economy puts huge investment into the wholesomeness of it's food chain, and you can tell the difference immediately. The wonderful produce literally drives you into the kitchen to get cooking, and pushes your creativity.
'Farm to table' works over there, and we need to fight for the same level of quality from our food here in the United States. Yet again let me say, consider organic, consider grass-fed, consider farm fresh foods. Yes, you will pay more for them, but in the long run we may change the food culture in America and encourage farmers to grow the kind of food we all deserve!
OK, off my soap box now! Over the next few weeks I'll post some ideas and stories I collected during our trip, along with a lot of cracker recipes!
Check back for some surprises!
Jude, the Irish foodie