Forget Tayto – 10 must have Irish cult products
The last decade has seen an explosion of new products, many proudly made in Ireland
We know and love our quintessential Irish food staples – Barry’s, Kerrygold, Tayto. Everyday foods that fill us with joy and nostalgia. We immortalise them on tea towels and cards, seek them out when we’re abroad, and export them around the world. Great products that just happen to be Irish.
Yet as a growing nation of food entrepreneurs this last decade has seen an explosion of new products filling our shopping baskets, many proudly Irish-made.
Are any of these the new Irish food and drink icons? No doubt opinions will be divided – this is a precious baton to be passing – but here are a few that are certainly making a name for themselves.
Traditionally, open a drinks cabinet in an Irish home and you’re likely to find a bottle of Jameson or Paddy, whiskey drinker or not. But these days I’m definitely seeing more and more gin, and in particular Dingle Gin. It has become a staple in homes, and the standard gin pour in pubs, bars and restaurants nationwide. Somehow amongst the crazy explosion of the Irish gin market (there were 12 new Irish brands in 2018 alone) Dingle Gin continues to soar ahead, even recently being awarded Overall Best Gin in the World at the World Gin Awards Ceremony 2019. Pass the tonic...
Available from Supervalu.ie, Tesco.ie, Celticwhiskeyshop. com, obrienswine.ie and all independent off licences.
We have a unique relationship with crisps in Ireland, holding them dear to our hearts. Who would attempt to enter into such a tight-knit industry? The Keogh family, that’s who. They have been farming for over 200 years, and in 2011 launched a new crisp brand offering a luxury version from field to fryer. Flavours like Irish Atlantic Sea Salt and Mature Irish Cheese and Onion were embraced straight away. Savvy marketing has helped – they have an online “spud nav” where you can check the field your crisps came from. There’s certainly a new crisp in town.
Keoghs crisps are available in most stores
Colin Harmon started 3FE coffee in 2008, and began roasting beans in 2014. 3FE bags appeared in restaurants and cafes all over the country. It has now become a proud symbol you are serving a certain calibre of coffee. Of course, the beans are not Irish, but Colin and his team buy as sustainably as possibly, offering a fair price to farmers. The beans are then roasted in Glasnevin, Dublin, overseen by head roaster Monika Palova, and then sent out to cafes all over the country and shelves all over the world. 3FE has put Dublin on the global coffee map.
3FE coffee is available from independent cafes and shops nationwide, and online at 3fe.com
White Masu peanut rayu
How does a distinctly Asian condiment make it on this list? It’s a good question, but anyone I’ve spoken to who tries this once is a convert. It is a peanut chilli sauce fusing Japanese and Chinese flavours created by Katie Sanderson, a chef who has made a name for herself in the last few years cooking at the Fumbally, festivals and running unique pop-ups. It has become the foodie’s condiment of choice. I hear of combinations with eggs, rice bowls, pasta, steaks – you name it, it seems to work. It’s also highly addictive. You have been warned.
White Masu peanut rayu is available in selected Avocas and in independent shops and cafes. whitemausu.com
Sheridans brown bread crackers
Sheridans are well known for selling us some of the best, stinkiest cheeses in the land, and brothers Kevin and Seamus Sheridan well known for championing brilliant Irish food producers. It was only a matter of time before they created their own iconic product. They worked with baker Richard Graham Leigh in Clonakilty, Co Cork, to create the perfect crackers to accompany the cheeses they were selling. They wanted them to taste as close to brown bread as possible, and so only use four ingredients, including the all-important buttermilk. I know I for one can’t buy cheese without chucking a pack of these in my basket. Crack on.
Available at Sheridans and in selected stores. sheridanscheesemongers.com
Murphys Ice Cream
For a fairly cool and wet country we seem to have a surprising amount of ice cream icons – the 99, Brunch and Freaky Feet to name a few. But they don’t exactly showcase how wonderful our Irish dairy is. Then along came Sean and Kieran Murphy. Their ice cream is made from fresh Kerry cow dairy, and superb Irish flavours include Dingle Rain Water and Brown Bread Ice Cream. The last few years have seen them opening in Dublin and Galway, and they started selling tubs in stores nationwide. Let’s all scream ice cream.
Available from Murphys and in select stores. murphysicecream.ie
Some of my favourite new products are Irish alternatives to food that was traditionally imported. Fingal Ferguson’s chorizo is a wonderful example of this. Growing up in the renowned Gubbeen cheese family, he knew a thing or two about food production. He began with smoking cheese, and then thought why not cure and smoke the pigs they always had? You can now find this spicy sausage all over the country. It has become a firm chef favourite, and a standard topping for the savvy pizza-maker.
Available from independent stores. gubbeen.com
If you haven’t tried kombucha yet I’ve no doubt it’s only a matter of time. It’s the drink du jour, a fermented, slightly effervescent, sweetened drink made with tea, usually some fruit flavours and lauded for its gut-friendly attributes. Laura Murphy set up what she believes was the first kombucha tea microbrewery or “kombrewery” in Ireland in 2012, and has gone on to create this brand which has recently jumped from healthy food aisles to appearing in drinks fridges all over the country. With the health food market booming but flooded with well-marketed imports, it’s refreshing to see an Irish brand fill the shelves. And it tastes great too.
Available from SuperValu, Circle K and shops and cafes. synerchikombucha.ie