Ditty's Irish Oatcakes
Ditty's Irish Oatcakes are somewhere between cracker and cookie, and they're one of my favorite vehicles for eating cheese or jam. A man by the name of Robert Ditty makes them in the north of Ireland, both the plain version and these, sprinkled with celery salt and spicy black pepper. More info here.
Ballymaloe Tomato Sauce
Ballymaloe is not only one of the funnest words to say, it's also a lovely cookery school in the east part of County Cork, originally founded by Darina Allen ("the Alice Waters of Ireland"). This tomato relish is made with super ripe tomatoes so it's sweet, savory, sea salty, and tangy from the vinegar. I like it slathered on Ditty's oatcakes, but it also makes a more exciting ketchup alternative for sandwiches or fries (ahem, chips). More info here.
Cold-Smoked Irish Salmon from Burren Smokehouse
Salmon caught off the coast of Donegal, an area also known for its excellent surfing (who knew Ireland had surfing beaches?), gets cured and smoked at the Burren Smokehouse in Co. Clare. Husband-and-wife team Peter and Burgitta have been salmon-smoking since 1989 and have a bunch of varieties. This one is cold-smoked to produce a buttery texture and delicate smokiness. More info here.
Cheese from Cooleeney Farm
Cooleeney is a fourth-generation cheese farmhouse in Tipperary. Picture the cows munching away on the quaint grassy hills...this Darú cheese is made from that creamy, luscious cow's milk to produce a buttery, semi-hard cheese that's encased in a dusty rind. More info here.
McCann's Irish oats have been available in the States for years, but if you want to broaden your oat world, look for Flahavan's, either the regular steel-cut or quick-cooking variety. Flahavan's is not at all new; the oats have been milled by the same family for over six generations. These are some plump, healthy oats that cook up into a hearty, creamy bowl of porridge. More info here.
Go to any market or gas station in Ireland and you'll find the pervasive brand of 'tato crisps, Tayto, which are indeed finger-lickingly awesome, but more interesting are the lesser known Keogh's crisps. Not only do they tell you on the back of the bag the specific spud variety used, they also list which field in Ireland (!) the potatoes were grown. They make three classic crisp flavors, but with high-quality ingredients: Atlantic Sea Salt & Irish Cider Vinegar, Dubliner Irish Cheese & Onion, and Shamrock & Sour Cream. (Ever eaten a shamrock that wasn't in a Lucky Charms box before?) Read more here.
Shortbread is a very butter-centric cookie, so when that butter is the rich, creamy, wonderful stuff from a small creamery in Ireland, of course this shortbread is going to be awesome. These "bite-sized biccies" are mini rounds for snacking with afternoon tea. More info here.
Chocolate and Hazelnut Spread
This is Ireland's answer to Nutella. But it might actually be better than Nutella because it's made with that rich Irish milk from the rain-doused-grass-fed cows. The chocolate-hazelnut spread is smooth with enough nutty character to keep it from being too sweet. I don't think I have to tell you how to eat this—by the spoonful is just fine. More info here.