Not all that long ago, Irish luck didn't include gourmet food. But the times, they are a-changin', and Ireland, now a top travel destination and a happening place, is in the happy throws of gastronomic revolution. The Irish diet, long perceived as not much more than Guinness and stew, has taken on a new sheen and sophistication. Young, inventive chefs have brought in international techniques and approaches to enhance the bounty of the Irish countryside. After all, Ireland has some of the best beef, lamb and pork, wonderful fresh fish, fresh veggies and a growing number of artisan cheese makers. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Margaret M. Johnson celebrates Irish cuisine with The New Irish Table, an elegantly designed paperback with gorgeous full-color, mouth-watering photos throughout. There are 70 recipes divided into five chapters, "Small Bites," "Starters," "Main Courses," "Side Dishes" and "Sweets." Don't worry, time-honored Irish favorites haven't been scrapped. The superb smoked salmon you've always loved is front and center in patŽ and chowder. Basic black pudding is used in several new ways paired with wild mushrooms in a salad, as a topping for crostini, and as the stuffing for breast of pheasant. A cup and a half of Guinness adds its traditional goodness to rich, chewy brownies. Irish eyes are smiling and so will yours and your guests' when you sit down at the new Irish table.

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