If there’s one aspect to an Emerald Isle trip that stands out loud and clear, it is the emphasis on freshness: Fresh caught, fresh picked, or even fresh slaughtered. There’s no doubt that the food on the plate defines freshness. No one ever bothers to explain to a diner or a guest at a B&B: It’s understood, a given. No one uses terms like day boat, it is expected that the cod or the haddock, the soul of a proper lightly breaded fish and chips entree, whether at a pub or a restaurant, resonates fresh out of the water. Hours, not days.
Chips. Now that’s a word used frequently as the exalted Potato has a life of its own. Yes, you can ask for your chips extra crispy, no problem. To go with the chips, you might get a side of new potatoes. No one wants the fresh veggies to be alone in a side plate! Since it seems everyone you meet is some sort of farmer or has a strong tie to the land, getting a new potato is almost a joke of the phrase. Of course, it’s new as in just dug up! If it’s a vegetable you crave, and mushrooms you favor, you’ll be delighted. I may have enjoyed the best side of Portobellos I’ve ever had!
Besides the line caught fish, there are an abundance of seafood choices for those who prefer the popular seafood chowders or want to begin their morning with a few fresh oysters. April normally has a limited supply of the oysters, and often small, but this year’s bizarre cold and snowy winter has chefs delighted with a variety of large-sized bivalves.
Of course, the salmon, the lox, the smoked fish: It’s all there and all fresh-caught or prepared in a nearby smokehouse.
When you inquire about a dish, the person taking your order is apt to wax eloquently about its flavors, almost regardless of the item. Look at the meats. Yes, it’s true that the lamb, prepared any number of ways, speaks volumes about lifestyle. Grass-fed is the norm in the country as animals roam the hills and freely eat without much exposure to a penned life. The taste comes through with every bite. Fat? No. Meat, yes.
As we in the states put up banners shouting “LOCAL”, and take great pride in what our farmers are producing and carrying into the city, we are reminded how far we have come and far we must go. Packaged and processed are not words that should be in our vocabulary.
Let’s celebrate Earth Month with a strong focus on how we can continue to emulate what some countries have been doing as their norm.
Champion the fresh.