With the Burren’s verdant valleys providing a bounty of local produce, the land is home to a community that’s passionate about the food grown and produced on the land. Now, with the introduction of the Burren Food Trail, it’s easier than ever to navigate this wild landscape while seeking out the most celebrated local producers. Combined with a stay at Ashford Castle or The Lodge at Ashford Castle, this culinary trail makes for a fully immersive gastronomic escape.
The Burren’s rugged coast offers a veritable feast of fresh seafood that comes both fresh and hot or cold-smoked, along with seaweed and an abundance of wild plants, which local food champions sustainably forage from the shores. Elsewhere in the Burren, polytunnels have been set up to provide an even greater diversity of fresh produce, and naturally, farming remains as important as ever to the region.
This can all be experienced by following The Burren Food Trail, which in fact incorporates five different routes: The Garden Market Trail, Farm to Fork, Taste of the Ocean, the Burren Cheese Trail, and the Nature Child Trail. Each of these opens up plentiful opportunities for visitors to meet the producers themselves, while gaining an insight into how the produce is made and tasting each of the local artisanal ingredients at its source.
The Market Garden Trail leads visitors to the Burren’s flourishing gardens and farms, as well as the local beekeepers, with the chance to take part in cookery classes and pick seasonal fruit along the way. The Farm to Fork Trail, meanwhile, introduces visitors to the local farmers who rear this region’s celebrated lamb and beef, before continuing on to the restaurants that cook it to perfection.
Taste of the Ocean naturally focuses on the seafood that’s been caught off this region’s rugged shores, with coastal foraging walks, cooking demonstrations and tastings all a part of the experience. The one that’s best suited to families with children is the Nature Child Trail, in which visitors have the chance to meet the farm animals and try locally made ice cream, while exploring the Burren’s wild landscape. Finally, there’s the enticing Burren Cheese Trail, which with visits to farms where the traditional cheese-making methods are still used, offers more of an insight into one of the world’s favourite artisanal ingredients.
Each one on these routes has unexpected culinary finds along the way, too, from the bean to bar chocolatier Hazel Mountain Chocolate, and foraging hub Wild Kitchen, where visitors can find out about wild plants and discover plant folklore.
With sustainability in mind, restaurants along the route strive to source local ingredients when they can, and proving this commitment, each member champions this fare by sharing their knowledge of the regional food story, by providing menus that state the source of the local produce, and by promoting the region’s food events and markets. While taking all of this into account, each restaurant also offers its own Burren Food Trail signature dish.
On returning to the Ashford Estate, the culinary journey doesn’t come to a close. Here, guests can dine on fine cuisine utilising produce from the surrounding land at George V Dining Room, or sample contemporary Irish cuisine at Wilde’s at The Lodge. After this day of indulgence following the Burren Food Trail, just make sure you leave room for dessert.
Image credits: Cover photo of the food at Ashford Castle © Red Carnation Hotels. The Cliffs of Moher © iStock / Voyagerix. An oyster in Ireland © iStock / Helen L100. Soda bread in Ireland © iStock / Rrrainbow. A desert at Ashford Castle © Red Carnation Hotels.