New Tour Showcases Ireland's Blossoming Food Scene

WHY IT RATES: This first themed offering takes in everything from meat and potato meals to Michelin-starred experiences.—Mia Taylor, TravelPulse Senior Writer

The story of Irish food is a winding road that one travel company in Ireland invites active foodies to explore.

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland opens a window on a brand-new road trip that winds from meat and potatoes to Michelin stars and from the 19th-century famine disaster to 21st-century social gastronomy.

Epic Irish Food Adventure Tour, this company’s first themed experience, is no sleepy food demo, rather a fast-paced, seven-day program that navigates every twist and turn of Ireland’s burgeoning food revolution.

The fun is baked in too on a circular tour out of Dublin that meets up with the Wild Atlantic Way and the Dingle Peninsula before turning east to Dublin.

Foraging and sourcing will be interspersed with cliff and beach walks that introduce historic staples of the Irish diet. Restaurateur and thinker, JP McMahon, summed up this (foraging) approach in an interview with Zurich: “While we can’t go back to a time where people only foraged, we can learn from it and bring that into the future.”

This tour brings food and hospitality to guests who:

—Learn the secrets of the ocean’s superfood on a sea kayaking trip to forage Atlantic seaweed.

—Toast this food odyssey with an Irish coffee like no other – brewed on the beach overlooking crashing waves.

—Crack open fresh shellfish in sight of the pier where it was landed.

—Savor the world’s creamiest milk and best artisan cheeses from grass-fed cows. Ireland has an ancient tradition in dairy. Butter making was first introduced by the Celts in the 2nd century BC.

—Enjoy Gaelic spoken by hosts serving Durrus and Cashel Blue cheeses, smoked and cured Gubbeen bacon, Clonakilty black pudding, fresh fish and grass-fed, organic Dexter beef from farm guests visit.

—Imagine mysterious pagan rituals at a Bronze Age monument with a fulacht fia, where prehistoric celebrity chefs cooked supper and brewed beer. (Think clam bake or luau.)

—Shake hands with innovative food producers and chefs at secret off-the-beaten-path, gourmet destinations.

—Chat up a 4th generation, female craft brewer at a century-old pub.

—Sip mead (the world’s oldest form of alcohol) at Ireland’s only meadery and taste heritage Irish honeys.

—Explore Ireland’s hidden foodie haven, Kinsale, for seafood, pub grub and craic (fun and entertainment).

—Feast and sleep in a genuine Irish castle hotel.

Also planned are stops at a traditional flour mill, a butter-making establishment and at a goat farm producing goat’s milk soap.

Culinary experiences that may be new to guests include:

—Pudding – No, it’s not dessert! Served with a cooked Irish breakfast, it’s a pork, herb and oat sausage with black and white versions (black is made with blood).

—Elderflower – A hedgerow shrub used as a sweet cordial.

—Drisheen – A tripe dish made of sheep’s intestines filled with meal and blood.

—Scones – Did you know that you can tell the religion of an Irishman by the way he pronounces this one little word? skown for Catholic, skon for Protestant.

—Blaa – A fluffy white (blanc) baked roll, intrinsically linked with Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city, and local French Huguenot influence.

—Colcannon – A Halloween mix of mashed potato, cream or milk, kale, and onion.

“The Epic Irish Food Adventure opens a window to Ireland’s recent food renaissance. After years of underappreciation, local Irish produce has come to the fore, mixing with international influences to produce a distinctively Irish modern cuisine,” says Rob Rankin, Vagabond Tours’ Managing Director.

Three 2019 departures are May 19, June 16 and Sept. 8. The per person double rate is about $2263 (single supplement about $278). Guests are free to choose on-own lunches and dinners. Dublin is the gateway city. Guests travel in a rugged Mercedes ‘Vagatron’ 4×4 mini-coach.

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland offers two styles of culturally immersive travel. Vagabond Adventure Tours (the division hosting the Epic Irish Food Adventure Tour) are for active travelers who want to mix up hiking, kayaking and biking and other outdoor adventures with history, culture, dining, and shopping.

Driftwood Journeys of Discovery follow similar itineraries but at an intimate and in-depth looking and lingering pace, sans the physical exertion.

On all of its tours, Vagabond staff curate locally owned accommodations, pubs, and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. In the end, the mission is to have guests “love Ireland as much as we do.” Transport is in a custom Mercedes ‘Vagatron’ or special mini-buses which allow access beyond where regular tour buses go.

For details on all of Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland itineraries, availability and for 2019 reservations, please visit

SOURCE: Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland press release

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