Whenever St. Paddy's time rolls around, corned beef and potatoes seem to be the only "Irish food" people can jabber on about. Well, as many Irish people will tell you, they hardly even eat corned beef (potatoes, on the other hand, they can't get enough). As the resident Irish-American editor on staff here, I felt it was my duty to share some of the many lesser-known Irish food gems.
Many grocery stores in the States stock Kerrygold's butter and cheddar. Both are fantastic, and definitely the most widely distributed Irish dairy products outside of Ireland, but try to seek out the smaller farmhouse cheeses, like Cooleeney, a fourth-generation creamery in County Tipperary. The reason Irish dairy is so rich, creamy, nutty, buttery, earthy, and wonderful is because of all that rain. Though it can mean many dreary and gray days—and many visits to the pub straightaway—it's the rain that keeps the country so darn green and those grass-fattened cows so jolly. Anything that contains Irish dairy—be it shortbread or milk chocolate—is bound to taste great because it starts with those Irish cows.
Of course potatoes are another biggie when you picture Irish food. At any market or gas station in Ireland, there you'll find the pervasive brand of 'tato crisps, Tayto, which are indeed finger-lickingly addictive, 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 in which field in Ireland (!) the potatoes were grown. Keogh's makes 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?)
Ireland also supplies us with salmon from the chilly Atlantic waters, plump oats (again, we can thank the rain for such plumpness), and of course whiskey. Jameson, sure, but also Powers and Redbreast are worth sipping.
Even if you don't have a trip booked to Ireland, many of these items are available online at goodfoodireland.ie.