The Food & Drink Show Northern Ireland returned to Belfast last weekend for its second year. With the huge rise in the amount of artisan food and drink producers lately, the three day event is the perfect opportunity to discover some of the fantastic produce on the Northern Irish food scene. The King’s Hall pavilion was packed with over 50 stalls, with producers such as Broighter Gold and O Hara’s beer offering samples and information on their products.
Throughout the weekend, there was also a host of celebrity chefs giving demonstrations at the Moy Park theatre, and I was lucky enough to check out Rachel Allen making some delicious pumpkin cake and get some tips on how to make the perfect steak from John Torode. Sharon Hearne Smith was also demonstrating some baked goodies over at the Natural Gas baking stage, and I will definitely be trying her recipe for mini raspberry, white chocolate and pistachio tarts!
There was lots of delicious food to sample at reasonable prices (about £4 per plate), from paella to venison burgers and gourmet hot dogs. After filling myself up with some pulled pork, I managed to fit in some decadent Granny Braids Fudge which came in an abundance of flavours from after eight to chocolate espresso, and it’s all gluten free. I would have loved to try some oysters from the Silverfin Seafood fresh fish stall but at that point I just couldn’t indulge any more! Alcohol stands were also out in force showcasing some refreshing Longmeadow Ciders and a sweet Sloe gin from the Glendalough Distillery stand which I thought would be a perfect Christmas tipple. I can’t even count the amount of great flavour balsamic vinegars I tried at Pukka Estate, and I left with two bottles of it to keep me going until whenever I come across them again. Definitely the best balsamic vinegar I have ever had.
Indian Nights Inn had a great range of spice packs and chutneys, and I thought these products would be a great gift idea for any foodie. I loved the packaging and the flavours were fresh and vibrant! After a little coffee break, I just about managed some room for a couple of Olives and Hummus from Love Olive Co. They also had some delicious sundried tomatoes for sample but I had to refrain myself at that stage!
With so many great producers, the Food and Drink show would be a great opportunity to buy some Christmas presents, and I’m sorry I didn’t buy more while I was there. I think I was too busy eating to think about the “C” word! I had a great day at the Food and Drink Show NI and look forward to visiting again next year. Although there was certainly no shortage of food on the day, I would love to see some more of Northern Ireland fabulous restaurants showcasing their signature dishes at the event next year.
Niamh O’Shaughnessy is a Dublin based food blogger and photographer. Niamh loves to cook, eat and discover new culinary delights on the Dublin food scene which is the focus of her own blog, www.gourmetgrazing.ie. Although not professionally trained, Niamh loves creating new recipes, and believes that everyone has a chef in them somewhere even though they might not know it! Niamh is currently splitting her time between Blogging, Food Photography, studying for an MSc in Digital Marketing and of course, eating!