Compared with the white soda bread strewn with raisins and caraway seeds that makes its annual appearance in the United States around St. Patrick's Day, Ireland's rustic brown soda bread might seem austere. It's traditionally made with just four ingredients: wholemeal flour (more about that later), baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. But those minimal ingredients make a crusty bread with a savory, nutty flavor that pairs well with a wide variety of foods. Soups, cheese, cured fish, beer, and hard cider all make excellent accompaniments, and it's equally good with a smear of salted butter. Considering its versatility, it's little wonder that brown soda bread is the preferred version in Ireland.