The last Balmoral at Balmoral?

Wow it’s Friday already…where exactly did that week go?
In case you hadn’t already noticed from my Twitter feed, it’s been a bit hectic. On Wednesday I went up to the Balmoral Show for what will probably be its last time at Balmoral and the Kings Hall. I actually think it was bigger and better than it’s ever been, as I spent three hours pottering about this huge exhibition.

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My favourite bits were the food village and the animals. The food village was packed full of local producers, chefs and shops. I met up with the fantastic team at Belfast Cookery School, Punjana Tea, Irwin’s, Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil, Baked in Belfast, Glastry Farm, Clandeboye Estate Yoghurts and many more.
The animals, as always I loved, but I guess that’s the City boy in me, as someone commented that growing up on a livestock farm, the animals were the norm..obviously! I guess they weren’t the main attraction for the thousands of folks who had travelled into Belfast from the rest of NI. I even went a bit crazy tweeting pictures of them and saying Moo, Oink, Baaa….yes…Belfast Times went a bit crazy!
Inside in the main hall I came across a little cake pop stand, tucked away upstairs in a tiny little booth….but they were creating a big stir and crowd around them. They had the most superb cake pops for sale, and appropriately for the event, they were little cows, sheep and pigs, all displayed on straw and looking cute, edible and delicious. I didn’t get to taste one unfortunately, but for crowd pulling power and cuteness, these guys are on a winning streak. They also have a stall at my favourite place of work, St George’s Market on a Saturday.
Back in the food hall, the Belfast Cookery School, convinced me to try fish, so with my eyes closed and through gritted teeth, I had the very pleasant surprise of tasting crab and prawns and they were delicious. So maybe I need to book into one of their cookery classes to make something that tastes that good!

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They then passed me over to Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil stand to try out something which would give me those much needed Omega oils. Broighter are another local producer and the product is fully NI traceable as they produce it all themselves. These guys are working hard to promote the benefits of locally made rapeseed and already have a number of restaurants using their oil to cook with. Local supporting local…love it!
Lastly I visited my chums from Loughview Garden Centre in Lurgan. These guys are celebrating their 25th year in business this year and have a fantastic modern garden centre overlooking Lough Neagh. If you’ve never been to Loughview on the Castor Bay Road in Lurgan, it’s time for a visit, and I’m not just saying that because they are friends, but it is genuinely a gem of a garden centre.
Well, that’s Balmoral for another year for me, but if you haven’t made it this year yet, today is your last chance and quite probably the end of a Balmoral era before the big move out to the country.
Mooo! Oh and the world famous Cow Parade launches there today, but more on that later.

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