Irish Stew is the Emerald Isle's most famous traditional dish. Belfast foodie – Dr Vivek Tohani, The Belfast Food Man, and the Belfast Cookery School, share their takes on Ireland's favourite supper and how the nation's tastes are changing.
Dr Tohani tells us that Irish stew was made from what was available at the time, "neck mutton meat, potatoes, onions and water, slow cooked over a fire for two-three hours". But these days people can be a little more creative. His version includes barley, good quality chicken stock and some parsley to serve, with optional brown sauce. Of all the country's traditional foods, he's certain that Irish Stew "trumps them all, as it is truly the national dish".
A taste of Belfast
© Belfast Cookery School
So when visiting Belfast, where do you get a hold of some good quality stew? Dr Tohani says: "I can think of two restaurants that serve Irish Stew: one is Bright's Restaurant, and the other is Robinsons. Though other famous Irish dishes such as Ulster Fry, colcannon, champ, and Guinness and steak pie are available." It's local, fresh produce that now defines Ireland, and Belfast is a "real haven for top quality, locally sourced ingredients."
The Belfast Cookery School points out that the excellence of the ingredients is changing the restaurant scene in the city. "What we have in our country is a lot of very talented chefs producing wonderful food using fantastic local produce. Our black pudding is the finest in the world, all our soda bread products, farls, wheaten and barmbrack, and our shellfish, scallops, prawns and mussels are by far the best."
Dr Tohani agrees. "Belfast has extremely fine chefs and brilliant restaurants, well decked out and professionally run, serving some exciting and reasonably priced food". For him, the "ingredients and the way they are combined and presented is what makes Irish food special."
If you would like to try some of the city's treats from the sea you can head to Mourne Seafood Bar. It is just a 20-minute walk from our Radisson Blu Hotel, Belfast! Owned by Bob McCoubrey, who also established the Belfast Cookery School, this local landmark serves oysters grown by the owner in Carlingford Lough. It is certainly important to dig into stew when in Ireland but you can also find the time to slurp away at shellfish too!
How to make the Belfast Cookery School's Irish Stew at home
Thinking about brushing up your own cooking skills? The Belfast Cookery School has a variety of courses for you to choose from including dinner party classes, knife skills, Irish bread making and seafood master classes. Join up and have a ball learning how to cook interesting meals or give the stew a go at home. The school has shared a delicious recipe for Irish stew with us, should you wish to take a tasty piece of Belfast back home with you after your stay. Follow these steps to make a hearty, warming bowl of traditional fare.