Guest Blogger, Eric Cathcart, Washington USA

Winner of the Good Food Ireland Facebook Competition Win a 5 Day trip to Ireland from USA As a self-described ‘foodie’ I should be embarrassed to say “I’m not a breakfast guy”. That became quickly apparent on my recent visit as the ‘Winner’ traveling with my wife and four fascinating food journalists from America and England.  I think one of the reasons why I’ve not really been a breakfast person is that it tends to be a predictable and boring meal. Americans have generally fallen into a rut, approaching breakfast as a necessary bump in the road; an item of “wholesome way to start your day” food pyramid propaganda produced by the pasteurized and homogenized fast food and big agriculture industry. Restaurants fall into this rut as well, with a predictable and boring repertoire at best, accessorized with a tired sprig of curly parsley. Even American producers of breakfast products use un-inspirational packaging. And ‘off the shelf’ breads and breakfast cakes often contain a laundry list of bad-for-you ingredients intended to extend shelf life and not necessarily human life. So is it any wonder I’m not inspired to eat breakfast?  My Good Food Ireland Food trip was, well – amazing. We were treated to some pretty incredible breakfasts at Dublin’s historic 5-Star Shelbourne Hotel and the village of Ardmore’s incredible Cliff House Hotel. My standout breakfast experience was at Co. Wicklow’s Ballyknocken House with TV celebrity chef, author and effervescent Catherine Fulvio, who runs a charming 1850’s Guest House and Cookery. The hens (chickens – not women) that made my breakfast were just a few hundred feet away from the kitchen. I’ve never seen brighter orange yokes or tasted fresher flavor! We also enjoyed the scones and Irish soda bread we made in our cooking class at the Ballyknocken Cookery. Real standouts on anyone’s trip to experience Ireland’s good food will be the preserves and jams. Good Food Ireland has vetted the best of the best providers as members who take blackcurrant or rhubarb jams to a higher level. Good simple wholesome and local ingredients and oh my, to taste dairy and butter (and yes, there’s even a Butter Museum) in Cork, you are experiencing the green grass that truly makes this the Emerald Isle! One of the standout breakfasts was a simple and adorable  glass pot of fresh natural yogurt with seasonal fruit and home-made muesli that was served at Dublin’s beautiful 5-Star Merrion Hotel. As all over the UK and Scotland, Ireland loves its bacon and especially its blood pudding. And so do I, but unfortunately I have never seen back in the States. We had Jack McCarthys blood pudding a few times on our tour, another Good Food Ireland provider who is at a level all by himself. I’m a converted breakfast lover now. My goal is to find beautiful good food such as I found in Ireland to start each day with; good tasty food, beautifully presented. Thank you Good Food Ireland for inspiring me to wake up – To hunt for local eggs, local meats, to make my own scones, breads and jams and to support and promote local farms and providers within my community, those people who make gorgeous good food that just tastes better.  I simply must make a return trip to Ireland, because eating locally is the best way to experience Ireland’s good food at its freshest. And more importantly, I want to return so I can visit with the friends I’ve made – amazing chefs, farmers, chutney makers, cheese makers, bread makers, fish mongers and all the other people who have real passion about everything they produce.