Taste The Burren Food Trail – Episode 2: Burren Smokehouse
Have you heard of the Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna? It produces what I believe to be the best smoked salmon in Ireland.
Following on from my visit to Saint Tola Farm, I stopped at the Burren Smokehouse. You will find it on your way out of Lisdoonvarna if you’re heading towards the ocean. It is just a few doors down from the award winning Roadside Tavern. This is just as well as the respective owners of both establishments are husband and wife. And what a powerful team they make.
I don’t know about you, but more and more as I explore the Irish food industry, I want to see the people behind the product. For years, when I wanted to showcase Irish food to my family, I would buy some Burren Smokehouse smoked salmon and it always went down a storm. This is why I was so keen to meet the Curtins.
Peter’s family have owned the Roadside Tavern since 1893 and this family business is certainly worth a stop in Lisdoonvarna. Peter has a twinkle in his eye and he loves telling stories and having the chats. You will be richer for having stopped and talked to him. Worth knowing that the pub is also home to the smallest (and most charming) brewery in Ireland.
When I met Birgitta, she was was just coming home from Dublin where the Burren Smokehouse had won the Green Seafood Business award at the Green Awards. As the love of the environment is at the heart of everything she does, she was delighted with the win. I instantly recognised a kindred spirit, she foreign as well and clearly fell in love with Ireland and talks about it with much passion and knowledge. And I get that.
The Burren Smokehouse employs 18 people and produces 50 tonnes of smoked salmon per annum. This means that 10,000 salmons come through the door. Birgitta is uses the best of Irish ingredients to make fantastic products and she uses Irish organic salmon only. For her smoked trout she uses Goatsbridge trout from Kilkenny. I love the thought of those Mag Kirwan and Birgitta Hedin Curtin, two irish food heros, collaborating to feed us with the best of what the country has to offer.
To this day the Burren Smokehouse still uses a smoking method put in place by Peter Curtin in the early days of the business. Peter and Birgitta produce a few variations of the cold smoked salmon and they also do a bit of hot smoking. Since 1995, you can visit the smokehouse and learn how the fish is smoked. If you’re lucky you might even get to meet and chat with Peadar Reilly, the master smoker, who has been with the company for 20 years now.
In addition to the Burren Smokehouse, Birgitta is a Failte Ireland Food Champion and she is the chairperson for Slow Food Clare. She is wildly passionate about good, organic and artisan food produced in Ireland and she promotes our food and producers both at national and International levels. I was very excited to get to meet her as I admire her greatly.
So if you find yourself in the Burren wondering what to do, I strongly recommend that you do the Burren Food Trail and stop in Lisdoonvarna. A tour of the area must include a visit of the Burren Smokehouse followed by a plate of smoked salmon and a bowl of soup with one of Peter’s stouts (brewed onsite) at the Roadside Tavern.
Even better, if you find yourself in the area between the 11th and the 13th of May, I strongly recommend you go to the Burren Slow Food Festival and taste all the delicious food produced in the region. This year’s theme is “Taste The Atlantic – A Seafood Journey“.