THE “BURREN BÉILÍNÍ” CONCEPT
Béi-lín-í (bale-een-ee): n; pl: snack or little meal of Irish origin, derived from Gaelic noun béile meaning ‘meal’.
This concept borrows from the Spanish tapas cultural phenomenon and seeks to apply it to the Burren region. Like tapas, Burren Béilíní would be selections of snacks, canapés or finger food that would be served in bars and restaurants around the Burren region. The exact composition of the Béilíní would be dictated by what is available locally and what is in season. The Béilíní would be a tangible representation of the culture, farming and culinary history of our particular region, of its terroir, and would serve to tell a story about the area in which the diner finds himself/herself.
INNOVATION & CREATIVITY
The Spanish have kind of done the whole tapas thing already so what’s new?? What’s new is that Burren Béilíní would have to be distinctively Irish. They would have to be not only distinctively Irish, but also distinctively local. Each béilín would in some way or another communicate or translate the local terroir for the lucky diner. This concept of terroir is fundamental to the Burren Béilíní proposal.
“Terroir is the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, interacting with the plant’s genetics, express in agricultural products such as wine, coffee, tea and chocolate. Terroir can be loosely translated as a “sense of place”, which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the food or drink product.”
Therefore, Burren Béilíní would taste and look different to Béilíní from anywhere else in Ireland. Those creating the Béilíní would have to be inspired by food and flavours that are distinctively local and that in themselves have a story to tell. Some potential sample ingredients from the Burren Region would be:
- Burren Beef & Lamb.
- Goat meat, kid meat and goat’s cheese:
- Seaweed and Sea Vegetables
- Smoked Fish
- Wild Garlic and Wild Herbs
- Velvet Crabs
- Atlantic Lobster
The skills of local chefs would be enlisted to build emblematic little meals/snacks around these ingredients. The underlying regional story would invest those little meals/snacks with meaning and value. In this way, the concept could help deliver a true sense of place to locals and visitors alike.
SOCIAL & CULTURAL GOOD
- Inspire culinary innovation based on traditional local foods and produce, and based on older customs and traditions
- Leverage skills and creativity of chefs in local area to bring new meaning to traditional ingredients
- Inspire a sense of pride and enthusiasm for the local and the ‘normal.’
- Build connections between small producers and foragers and local restaurants and
Eateries; contribute to a more sustainable food economy in rural areas.
- Revival of foods and food combinations that are gradually disappearing; a modern twist on traditional ingredients could inspire a new sense of pride and confidence.
- Provides a means of expressing our difference in a positive and innovative manner and would contribute to the overall drive for cultural renewal evident at present.
MEDIUM TO LONG-TERM IMPACT
- Béilíní could become a strong food concept across Ireland, with regions throughout the country expressing their identity through food.
- Béilíní could be a strong contributor to creating a sense of place and to enhancing local identities
- Béilíní would be a fun and enjoyable way for locals and visitors ‘taste’ a particular place.
- Béilíní represent a consumer-friendly way of communicating the sustainable tourism ethos
- Béilíní would increase awareness of sustainable food production – inherent emphasis on what’s wild, local, seasonal and sustainable