As a people, the Irish have typically been forced to just grin and bear it when confronted with well-worn cracks about the quality and sophistication of Irish cooking, and Irish food in general.  But now it seems we are getting the last laugh. New figures show that the food sector accounted for 50% of Ireland’s exports in 2011. That’s over €7 billion in sales. And Ireland is now being marketed as a foodie destination, complete with its own crop of celebrity chefs, internationally renowned food festivals, and gourmet restaurants. Traditional recipes and dishes have been rediscovered and are being served up, not just in Ireland, but in Irish restaurants around the world.

Indeed, Massachusetts has no shortage of great options for those seeking a taste of the Old Country.  And the good news is that you will soon have a chance to indulge in a one-stop shopping, all-you-can-eat comparison of the offerings from roughly a dozen of these establishments. The 15th Annual Taste of Ireland event is coming up on Sunday, February 10, 2012.  For a flat entry fee of $15, attendees will have the opportunity to sample Irish dishes from a wide range of Cape Cod area restaurants. Whether you consider yourself a connoisseur of Irish specialty breads, seafood dishes, comfort food classics, soups, or desserts, you’ll have plenty to choose from.
Taste of Ireland serving food
The event, which starts at 1:00pm, is once again being hosted by the Cape Cod Irish Village in South Yarmouth. Participating restaurants have donated their efforts and all proceeds will benefit the Irish International Immigrant Center. The Center’s Ann Marie Cugno is quick to point out that while the food is the main attraction for most people, the event is really a celebration of Irish culture. “The afternoon will be packed,” she says, and will feature live Irish music, dancing, and a wide range of activities for kids. Raffle prizes include items donated by local businesses and art galleries, and gift certificates to local restaurants. “This is a brilliant occasion for families,” Cugno adds, and a “perfect way to get everyone out of the house on a winter Sunday.”

Once again this year, the event will be preceded by a free, walk-in immigration and citizenship advice workshop. The IIIC’s attorneys, each of whom volunteers his or her time, will be on hand to give confidential advice about immigration issues. The free clinic, also held at the Cape Cod Irish Village, will run from 10:30 to 12:30 that morning.

Parking for both events is plentiful and free and Irish Village owner Jack Hynes is again offering a special accommodation package to those who would like to make a weekend of it. The package includes two nights lodging (with Sunday night free) in addition to two full breakfasts and one choice of menu dinner for each guest. The rate is $115.00 per person, based on double occupancy.

Irish food is in demand all over the world.  Mark your calendar for February 10th and what promises to be a great afternoon of food, music, and craic.

For more information on the immigration clinic or the Taste of Ireland event itself, please contact Ann Marie Cugno at  (617) 542-7654 ext.32 or email amcugno@iiicenter.org

For bookings and information about accommodation, please contact the Cape Cod Irish Village at
 (508) 771-0100 or visit their website at www.capecod-irishvillage.com