Forget green beer. Celebrate Ireland this St. Patrick’s Day with soda farls and fries
Irish pubs will be packed on St. Patrick’s Day as Canadians celebrate the most Irish day of the year.
But those looking for a more low-key, family-friendly way to celebrate the day might want to try something different this year: a traditional Ulster fry, also known as an Irish breakfast.
Eggs, sausage, bacon, black pudding, baked beans, mushrooms and a slice of tomato all grace the plate of an Ulster Fry.
But no traditional Irish breaky is complete without soda farls.
England has a similar full breakfast, but CBC producer Jennifer Wilson, who hails from Northern Ireland, says it’s not quite the same.
“Hers has one fatal flaw – no sodafarls,” she said.
Soda farls are a flatbread cut into four pieces and cooked on a cast iron griddle. It is inexpensive and easy to manufacture.
Farls are eaten across the island of Ireland, but in the north Wilson says they are eaten with “a regularity bordering on obsession”.
“We crave them when we’re abroad,” she said, before describing how they should best be served: “A crispy top layer dripping with melted Irish butter.”
If you want to sample what all the fuss is about, Vancouver’s Bandit Bakery — owned by Irish expat Gart Harte — is a solid choice.
“A lot of people say we don’t have good cooking skills at home,” says Harte, 32.
“But we have a great breakfast.”
Harte started The Bandit Baker as a pop-up shop, successfully selling simple but authentic baked goods – including soda farls, of course – to the local Irish community.
Harte’s partner Aoife Rafferty recalls how he swore he would have nothing to do with Ireland when they moved from Ireland to Canada.
“He said, ‘No way… I came to another country to learn about a new culture,'” Rafferty said.
But soon they started missing the food — including, of course, Soda Farls.
Below is one of Harte’s take on the traditional bread.
Gary Hartes Pesto Cheese Soda Farls
Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.
Make a well in the middle of the flour, add half of the buttermilk, add the pesto to the milk and stir.
Using a fork or your hand, start mixing the batter. Gradually add the rest of the milk until the dough comes together. The mixture will be wet.
Dust flour on a table, tip out the dough, dust the top and gently shape into a ball. Roll out the dough about a centimeter thick. Cut into four quarters.
Place some flour in a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Once the flour begins to color, add the soda farls and cook for four to five minutes per side.
Let them cool on a wire rack before enjoying.