During the summer months, my two favourite times of day are polar opposites: the very early morning, when the sun just comes up; and the almost-dark evening, when the sun is about to go down. At our farm in Co Tipperary, the sun comes up over the big field just outside the house – often in a hue of brilliant pinks, reds and yellows. You have to be a very early bird to catch the sunrise, but luckily at this time of year the birds are my alarm clock. When they start to wake, you know the sunrise isn’t too far off.

Similarly, when the sun goes down, it goes down over the Devil’s Bit; offering the perfect vantage point from our front veranda. Unsurprisingly, this has also proven to be the best spot to sit with a glass of wine and an al fresco meal with friends during the warmer months.

For me, Irish cheese – particularly the cheese made when the cows are on summer grass – is one of the best examples of our summer terroir

There so much I love about summer in Ireland, but really, it’s the food, isn’t it? Irish food flourishes during our summer months. The freshest vegetables, the sweetest strawberries and the creamiest milk are all produced during these warmer months when animals are at peak grass and other ingredients come into their own.

We are blessed to live in a country with a long growing season, and every county on the island either has a community supported agriculture scheme, a local veg grower or a farm shop where you can buy the best of the best summer produce. Maybe this is your year to go on a road trip to your closest milk vending machine, or take a longer trip to the coast (if you’re inland) to eat fresh seafood just metres from where it was brought in.

I have had a lifetime of fun food adventures, but these days it always comes back to those early mornings and late evenings. Coffee on the back deck with some creamy Irish yogurt, fresh berries and homemade granola; wine on the veranda with a massive Irish cheese platter and fresh salads. Birdsong, lush surroundings, friends and food. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it?

In this edition of Irish Country Living Food magazine, we delve into the foods we feel scream ‘summer’ to us. For me, Irish cheese – particularly the cheese made when the cows are on summer grass – is one of the best examples of our summer terroir. Exploring Irish cheese means going on a road trip without having to leave your house; Cork, Clare, Northern Ireland, the Midlands and the Boyne Valley are all sitting there in your fridge, waiting to come to room temperature and tempt your palate. The right wine pairing will be made easy with Irish Country Living editor Ciara Leahy’s top summer picks.

If outdoor cooking is more your thing, Sarah McIntosh has a great guide to find the perfect barbecue for you and we share some great beefy recipes for grilling. Nessa Robins has compiled family-friendly picnic recipes to try with the kids and in our travel section, we explore the ‘other’ butter capital of Europe. I hope you get some food inspiration from these pages, but most importantly, I hope you are finding your own favourite time of day this summer to indulge in some local, soul-satisfying foods.

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