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Ireland`s high-quality produce is imaginatively prepared by today`s chefs to emphasize its freshness, flavor and texture. Ireland`s chefs work closely with artisan food producers, who use traditional methods to smoke fish and make charcuterie and farmhouse cheeses. Besides excellent smoked salmon, you will also encounter smoked trout, mackerel and eel. Many restaurants grow their own salads and herbs, or have an arrangement with a local grower. When people eat out, they have come to expect a high standard of cuisine, whether at an expensive restaurant or at the local café.

Irish chefs are trained in the classic tradition, and most go abroad for a few years and bring back culinary influences from their travels( generally Mediterranean, but sometimes eastern) adapting them to the Irish market. This eclectic approach is also followed by Ireland`s private cookery schools, of which by far the best known is Ballymaloe Cookery School near the famous country-house hotel in County Cork. Darina Allen, its director, has been preaching the doctrine of using fresh local produce, treated with simplicity and respect, since 1983, and has trained many of today`s Irish chefs. Her mother-in-law, Myrtle Allen, who started advocating this philosophy back in the 1960s at her restaurant in Ballymaloe House, is active alongside Darina in the highly successful Irish Slow Food movement. The same holds true for Northern Ireland, where the chefs are if anything even more innovative than in the south. There are minor differences in the two cuisines - for example, at breakfast in Northern Ireland you will probably get a potato farl (fried potato bread) with your Ulster Fry, while down south, there`ll be white pudding with the Full Irish, as it`s known (bacon, eggs, sausages, black pudding, fried tomato and sometimes mushrooms).
The Best Places to Experience Modern Irish Cusine

Thornton`s, Dublin.
Base for superstar chef Kevin Thornton. Creative haute cuisine in an elegant venue.

Cliff Townhouse, Dublin
The House Restaurant, Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co. Waterford
Experimental chef Martijn Kajuiter`s twin ventures are the most exciting places to eat in Ireland.

The Tannery, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.
Flamboyant owner-chef Paul Flynn applies foodie trends to well-sourced Irish produce in an attractive warehouse space.

Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork.
Ireland`s most famous country house hotel pioneered the use of fresh local produce. Book for Sunday buffet lunch.

Gregans Castle, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare.
Discreet, understated Georgian country mansion overlooking Galway Bay with an outstanding chef.

La Fougère, Knockranny House Hotel, Westport, Co. Mayo.
Seamus Commons, probably the best chef in Ireland, presides over this spacious, relaxed hotel restaurant with great views.

McNean House and Restaurant, Blacklion, Co. Cavan.
A successful TV series and cookbook have not distracted young Neven Maguire from his main job as chef in his family`s business. Worth the detour!

Deanes Restaurant, Belfast.
Chef Michael Deane combines sophistication with modernism.