Summer holiday season is upon us. It's time to shake off our regular routines and make the most of long days of freedom. There really is no better time to enjoy my favourite habit (eating!!) and to help you enjoy a summer of good food, I've rounded up some cheap(ish) and cheerful ways to indulge your love of food during the summer months. From outdoor dining ideas to foodie days out, scroll on for some summer food inspiration
Start at home and make yourself a little outdoor dining area in the garden. It doesn't have to be posh, you don't need a deck and you definitely don't need expensive outdoor furniture. Just a few chairs and a make shift table will do. Now that you've done that make sure to use it. Keep a few cushions and throws near the door, so you can wrap yourself up when the sun goes down and enjoy the outdoors long into the evening. There really is nothing better than food good enjoyed when you are at your most relaxed.
Visit a local food producer and find out more about how food is made. Getting a behind the scenes look at how our food is made is fascintating and is sure to give us a better appreciation of the importance of supporting local food producers. Many producers now have shops or cafes on site and give tours if you ring up in advance. Here in Kilkenny, a visit to Highbank Organic Orchard & Distillery is a must. While there, stock up on their delicious Organic Apple Syrup or their Organic Kilkenny Apple Crystal Gin or any one of the other amazing products they make from their own organic apples.
Enjoy a food festival and come home laden down with Irish made produce. I dare you to visit a food festival around the country and not spend a small fortune on delicious Irish made chutneys, cakes and all sorts of other yummy foods. We have to wait until October for our food festival here in Kilkenny, but in the meantime, if you love seafood, try the Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival which takes place in beaufiful Kilmore Quay from 12th to the 15th July. Or visit Taste of Cavan taking place on the 10th and 11th August. Festivals bring cookery demos, our favourite chefs and local food producers together all in one place. What more could you want.
Do a food tour and see a new town or city from a different persceptive. Food tours are the perfect way to meet local producers and get to enjoy visiting a town or city while enjoying delicious food. They take you from local delis and shops to bakeries and cafes, taking in local markets and food producers along the way. You get to meet the people who make and sell local food and see their passion first hand. There are well established food tours in Clonakilty, Galway and Dublin and a new food tour just starting our in Kenmare, all of which I have on my list to check out.
Photo Credit: Fab Food Trails
Take a cookery class with friends. There are so many cookery schools to choose from and I could do an entire separate post if I was to start listing all of them. So instead, I'll just give a shoutout to two classes with a bit of a difference. Onc is a juicing class and the other a fermentation class, both taking place in July in the Kilkenny School of Food in Thomastown. All the details here.
Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and especially locally grown ones. Summer is the perfect time to eat more vegetables. Tomatoes, courgette, lettuce and so many other delicious vegetables are in abundance. And is it even Summer if you haven't stopped the car on the way home from town to buy Wexford strawberries and potatoes off the side of the road.
Get into a picnic habit and enjoy outdoor dining all summer long. Picnics do not have be posh. I think we have instagram to blame for making us think that to have a proper picnic we need an expensive wicker basket and food to match. But all we really need is a blanket and some cushions (comfort is key) and a few tuberware containers filled with your favourite foods and off you go.
Grow your own herb garden and enjoy delicious homemade food all summer long. It's not too late to start and your food and drinks will be so glad you did. Even if you lack green fingers, don't dispair. Herbs are unbelievabley easy to grown. I grow them in individual pots so that I can move them around easily depending on whether they need shelter or sunshine. All you need are the pots, some compost and your favourite herb plants. A visit to the local garden centre will sort this out for you. This year I’ve gone for chives, lemon balm, mint, parsley, oregano, coriander and basil.
Enjoy some history with your food in Kells, County Kilkenny. Kells Priory is one of my favourite places to go all year round, but especially in the summer. It’s close to home and dogs are welcome. Now that Jen’s Café has opened in the nearby Water Mill, there is an all year round food offering and the food is delicious. Enjoy lunch or treat yourself to coffee and cake and then take a stroll along the Kings River and wander among the ruins of the priory. PS, I don't have kids, but if I did, I think an afternoon here would be an afternoon well spent.
Take your breakfast outside to set you up for the day. Get yourself a little breakfast spot right in the sunshine to enjoy breakfast outside all summer long. Even if it’s only for ten minutes before you head out the door to work, a little bit of morning vitamin D and fresh air has to be the best way to start your day.