When it comes to food, there is currently no better time to be living in the north of Ireland. From unique artisan producers, to ingredients bursting with flavour and not forgetting thriving new restaurants making waves on beachside locations – we are definitely making our mark on the culinary map.
It’s not just me that’s saying it – some of the best known and well respected food critics in the business have been raving about us lately and they recently made the trip over to enjoy the best of what the province has to offer.
Hosted by Taste of Ulster, the body which represents hundreds of food producers across the county, the celebration of food and drink took place in The Mac earlier this week. More than 150 people were treated to a cacophony of mouth-watering meats, mini desserts, local cheeses and chutneys and vegetables straight from the field to our forks.
It was hard to select a favourite dish but some of my top picks from the night were Spiced Armagh Chicken with Roasted Red Onion, Lemons and Jilly’s Herbs, Tynedale Goat with Braised Pearl Barley and Walters Smoked Scallops and Gracehill Black Pudding. The celebration of ‘wee buns’ was a special treat as it included my favourite, Mini Lemon Meringue Pies and of course the very decorative and delicious cheeseboard and accompaniments from the talented Joery at Bangor’s Boathouse restaurant.
The event also previewed Taste of Ulster TV, which is now available on YouTube and demos a range of tasty recipes cooked in real time by some very accomplished local chefs.
Always one with my ear to the ground for Belfast Times, I did hear about some exciting new foodie news planned for later, so be sure to start following @Food_NI to learn more. I also heard about two smaller artisan markets in Belfast-the Farmers at the Inns on the last Saturday of every month (@InnsMarket) and the Honesty Market in the Titanic Quarter every other Saturday (next one is Saturday 14 March). Although I love St George’s, these two markets definitely have the real earthy produce that will appeal to hardcore foodies.
Hope this will give you some inspiration to sample what’s on offer right on our doorstep-if you’re out and about and on Twitter remember the hashtag #tryni. Many of the artisan producers started with a love of food, so fingers crossed I will be covering one of you with a new foodie idea in GSpots! in the not too distant future!
By Grainne McGarvey
Spotting local hidden gems from the world of beauty, health, fashion, tourism and hospitality. I have my ear to the ground (quite literally) to keep you up to date about the new or interesting products and services from our neck of the woods. If you know one – get in touch on twitter @grainnemcgarvey or at www.pulseprni.com