Ireland's Hidden Foodie Bucket List - 11 Experiences You Need To Try In The Heart of Ireland
A staycation to remember
There's just a few short weeks of summer left, and we're not gonna lie... we're *starting* to fantasise about Autumn hibernation a little bit.
But it's not too late to make some more summer memories that will last a lifetime - without booking any flights.
Ireland's Hidden Heartlands (the region surrounding Carrick-on-Shannon, Athlone and Lough Derg) is so much more than just beautiful, unspoilt scenery - it's a foodie dream too.
Here, we've picked out 11 foodie experiences you need to try in the heartlands - all you need is your car, a mate or two, and a big appetite. Here we go.
This foodie festival is now in it's fifth year and is the perfect way to while away a couple of hours with delicious food.
Events take place on the shores of Lough Derg in Tipperary, Clare and Galway, until the end of and the line up includes paddle picnics; a tour of a farm that produces award-winning cheese made from sheep’s milk; taste and make chocolate sessions; a mindful breadmaking session on a farm; guided foraging for edible flowers, herbs and salads; orchard tasting events; and garden visits.
View the September brochure here.
2. Wood & Bell in Killaloe
For fine dining aficionados, Wood & Bell is well worth a stop.
Owned by former Ireland International rugby player Keith Wood, the eatery serves up a French-inspired menu, with fruit, vegetables and herbs primarily sourced from their own gardens.
There’s also a café that does breakfast, brunch and lunch for something a little less haute-cuisine downstairs.
Chocoholics need to make a pitstop in Tuamgraney, Co. Clare where over 80 chocolates are handmade in this small artisan factory.
There’s an open plan production area where you can see the chocolates being made and packed. You can taste what’s in production and make suggestions.
For coffee fans, The Old Barracks in Birdhill, Co. Tipperary is an over-18s coffee bar that does roastery tours, Irish coffee demos, Irish coffee-making classes and Baileys lattes.
The owners import directly from specialty coffee-grade farms and roast in Birdhill.
5. A sambo at Country Choice
These guys were voted Best Food at Electric Picnic and with good reason. It's well worth checking out Country Choice in its home territory in Nenagh while you're touring the midlands
Established by Peter and Mary Ward in 1982, it’s all about celebrating artisan food producers and sourcing the best natural ingredients.
Peter can usually be found on the premises, with lots of friendly chat for customers.
6. Yoga and Honey-Tasting at Brookfield Farm
This farm hosts regular open days and activities including walks through 11 acres of wild flowers with honey tasting and yoga to really get back to nature.
It's all the brainchild of Ailbhe Gerrard, an innovative farmer specialising in artisan food.
Her hiveshare initiative allows you to invest in your own hive in return for a minimum of five jars of your own hive’s honey, plus the candles and balm in a presentation tin, regular updates on your hive, and an invitation to the farm’s “Honey Celebration” ... when you can visit your bees at the farm and collect your honey.
*Pro-tip: ask to taste the apple juice.*
7. Viewmount House in Longford
Viewmount House is a 17th century manor at Dublin Road, Longford, and it’s a must visit when in the county. Ingredients are locally sourced when possible, with seasonally changing menus.
Expect to see dry-aged beef and artisan organic cheese among the delectable dishes on the mouth-watering menus.
It's also a B&B if you fancy a night's kip in a true Irish Country home.
8.The Drumanilra Farm Kitchen in Roscommon
Liam and Justina Gavin of Drumanilra Farm left the UK in 2012 to farm in Boyle, Co. Roscommon and they now run an award-winning day-time restaurant, The Drumanilra Farm Kitchen.
Every single dish contains an ingredient from their organic mixed farm which is just 10 minutes’ drive away.
Yep, all the Dexter beef, pork, lamb and salad leaves are produced on the farm for a truly authentic farm-to-fork experience.
The Thatch restaurant and bar, Crinkill, Birr, Co. Offaly has developed its own Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands menu, using local seasonal produce. One of the oldest pubs in South Offaly, the premises has been in the same family for approximately 200 years. You might even catch a gig, and if not, Birr has plenty to see including Birr Castle gardens and science centre.
10. Neven Maguire's McNean House, Restaurant and Cookery School, Co Cavan.
Enjoy planning ahead for culinary experiences? Then don’t miss award-winning chef Neven Maguire’s McNean House, Restaurant and Cookery School, Blacklion, Cavan.
As one of Ireland’s best-loved chefs, the restaurant books up fast but keep a beady eye on www.nevenmaguire.com for cancellations – as this is a restaurant you won’t want to leave in a hurry!
11. St. George's Terrace, Co Leitrim
Set in a Victorian red-brick building with views of the Shannon, St George's Terrace, Co. Leitrim, has intimate dining rooms, a bar area for cocktails and a cookery school.
The former bank premises is owned by Siobhan Smyth who is restaurant manager and her business partner, chef, Dave Fitzgibbon, a native of Carrick.
The emphasis is on using the finest freshest local and Irish produce to create a modern Irish menu with French influences.
What are you waiting for?