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Source: © All images taken by me
I don’t usually do a follow up on a blog but I met so many fantastic NI suppliers showcasing wonderful prodcuts at last weekend’s The Food & Drink Show NI, that I just had to share. That’s what’s great about TFDSNI, in just a single weekend local producers gain exposure to thousands of potential customers & media, in a bid to generate loyalty and sales. I know for sure that many of the brands listed below will become a staple in my home, for many years to come.
What started out as a review has slowly morphed into a bit of a personal ‘Wish List’, but with Christmas just a bit away (8 weeks – ouch) this is no bad thing. So here’s my compendium of products and suppliers definitely worth a mention. Each product or producer warrants a blog of their own, and over the coming weeks and months I hope to expand on their stories. Apologies too if I’ve left someone off, this is not an exhausted list.
Let’s start with the booze - of which there was plenty. Poitín. Yip, you heard correctly. Thought Poitín was something that removed the lining from your mouth and traded via winks and backhanders - Think again. Five friends from The South with a passion for the Irish drinks industry set up Ireland’s first craft distillery -The Glendalough Distillery, before developing a cool and funky brand and somehow managed to make Poitín fashionable again (I kid you not). I tried it at the show – yikes! I’m not a whiskey drinker, but guarantee this’ll put hairs on your chest. You absolutely must check out their website and read their bio, reads like something from J K Rowling. Cool, funky and steeped in history. I might never drink the Poitín, but the contemporary bottle will look great in my kitchen. Available to purchase (for cash not winks) from The Vineyard Ormeau Road.
Williams Chase Sloe Mulberry Gin. OMG this is to die for. Gin infused with Herefordshire hedgerow sloe berries & mulberries. Can’t imagine the 2 bottles I purchased at the show will last to Christmas (I’ve suddenly gained a lot of friends). Again, perfect gift for Christmas, New Year, Birthdays………..Hmmmm....... as this stuff is seasonal I bet it just flies off the shelves – yikes, I’m off to place an order. Available to purchase from The Vineyard Ormeau Road.
Throw a big wooden cheese board on the table, some Jalapeno & Lime Cheese (pictured above) from Chris @ Blackscheese.co.uk, crack open the Sloe Gin, and you got the makings of a great night in.
‘There is no love more sincere than the love of great beer’. For those who like craft beer look no further than Pokertree Brewing Co. Fed up with drinking souless beer, founder Darren Nugent quit his job in marketing to enable him to setup his own microbrewery in his home village of Carrickmore in the foothills of The Sperrins. With a mission in life to banish beer blandless forever, Pokertee was born in 2013 and launched its first brew at the beginning of this year. We got chatting with Darren on his stand, he spoke of his passion for his craft, opened bottles for us to try and enjoyed banter while he relayed his journey so far and talked of plans for the future. Top Bloke, great beer, made us laugh.
Shortcross Gin - the most fashionable gin in town. #Shortcrossrocks
Neary Nogs. Dreamy, dreamy, dreamy artisan chocolate. Dorothy Neary has been making fantastic chocolate delights from her base in South Armagh for the last few years. I bought Orange Basil and Poppyseed (yum) & Lemon and Green Tea (divine) but tasted a host of other flavours including, Armagh Bramley Apple, Cranberry and Orange, Mojito……. Honestly I wish this blog had scratch and sniff technology.
When is Peanut Butter not Peanut Butter? When it’s Keen Nut Butter. Owner Aimee from Bangor has replaced overprocessed, sugar-laden peanut butter and chocolate spreads with something far cleaner and scrummier. I bought a jar of ‘almond and pumpkin spice’ and I don’t even like peanut butter – it’s that good. I’m going to plop it in my porridge.
I was definitely drawn to BITETOSAVOUR because of it’s branding (can’t help it, I just like cool branding and I’m very visual). BITETOSAVOUR is contemporary, colourful and funky and it just draws you in. They source locally produced artisan foods, pack them into really cute boxes (I didn’t want to break the seal), and send them to subscription paying foodies so they can experience and discover new flavours throughout the year. Then, via an on-line feedback forum those mad fanatical foodies discuss their findings – genius (and fun). At the show Jenna kindly gave me a ‘Chef’s Box’ to try, it includes - a set of 5 Harnetts oils, Flavour magic smoked rocksalt, 100g Rock salt thumb grinder, Dragons breath chilli, ginger and star Anise jelly, but I haven’t tried it yet (sorry). I have opened the box (carefully) with a very sharp knife so as not to damage the seal, removed the contents and gazed lovingly before carefully packing them back in their cute wee box. I’ve performed that ritual several times but I can’t bring myself to actually use anything, but I will - Someday. Can’t think of anyone who won’t appreciate these little hampers.
The fact that someone had the foresight to come up with the food box in itself is pretty awesome, but to create the branding, the forum, the pop up shop and there’s more...… For every box purchased they donate a meal to UK & Ireland food banks, through FareShare.org.uk – wow a company with a conscience! It's no wonder owner Jenna Stevenson has been shortlisted for the WIB Young Business Woman of the Year '14 (good luck on 20th November).
The lovely ladies from Thyme & Co Ballycastle. Gluten & wheaten Free cakes - delicious!
Am I the only one who didn't know about Rapeseed Oil? I do now.
Amazing producers AND celebrity chefs! Here’s to next year’s The Food & Drink Show NI – Can’t wait.