In the words of Lloyd Grossman, they've ruminated, cogitated and digested and now some of the biggest experts in food and drink have crowned Northern Ireland producers top of the tree as part of a UK-wide awards scheme.
Forty-six food and drink companies from the region picked up a record 195 gold stars for products in this year's UK Great Taste Awards last week.
Established in 1994, the scheme, organised by the UK Guild of Fine Food, is the largest and most trusted accreditation method for speciality and fine food and drink and over 60,000 products have been evaluated in the last 13 years.
This year alone, over 8,800 entries from companies throughout the UK and Ireland and further afield were blind-tasted by panels of top chefs, cookery writers, food critics, restaurateurs and fine food retailers, including MasterChef winner and restaurateur Matt Follas, restaurant critic Charles Campion and food writers Lucas Hollweg and Xanthe Clay as well as more than 300 food buyers.
Working in small teams, the experts taste 25 foods in each sitting, discussing each product as a food writer transcribes their comments directly onto the Great Taste website which producers access after judging is completed.
Any food that a judging team believes is worthy of gold is judged by at least two further teams.
Only when there is a consensus will gold be awarded - that means at least 16 judges will have tasted every gold accredited product.
For three-star gold, every single judge attending the session, which can be as many as 30 experts must unanimously agree the food delivers that indescribable 'wow' factor.
In total, 2,793 UK food and drink products have been awarded one, two, or three-star gold, with just 123 entries winning three stars.
In Northern Ireland, Hannan Meats in Moira also set an all-time record in the awards by winning 26 gold stars - the highest ever won by a single producer.
Among the most successful companies were McCartney's Butchers, also based in Moira, with 14 gold stars and Punjana, Belfast, with nine gold stars for its teabags and loose-leaf teas.
Five companies - Cloughbane Farm Shop, Pomeroy, Hannan Meats, Moira, Kettyle Irish Foods, Lisnaskea, McCartney's Butchers, also Moira, and Punjana Tea, Belfast - achieved the top award of three stars and will be in the running to be named as Northern Ireland Regional Champion, an award sponsored by Invest NI, and overall Supreme Champion, a title secured last year by McCartney's Butchers in Moira for its corned beef - a reworking of a traditional British favourite food.
The annual programme culminates in next month's Golden Fork Awards in London and the naming of the Great Taste Supreme Champion.
With the food and drink industry in Northern Ireland currently worth over £3bn a year in sales and exports from the region worth £1.5bn, firms here are riding high on a new reputation for producing top goods - a world away from the traditional 'stew and spuds' image of years gone by.
Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI, which supports many of the local food and drink firms who took part in the Great Taste Awards, said that Northern Ireland can claim to have some of the very best food and drink products available anywhere in the United Kingdom and Ireland. "The awards show that our companies have original and richly flavoured products that often exceed what competitors in Britain and Ireland have to offer grocery retailers and, of course, their discerning customers," he said.
He added: "The immensely impressive achievements in this highly regarded annual competition should inspire the award-winning companies to grasp the extensive opportunities that Invest NI provides to help them grow their business by increasing sales outside Northern Ireland."
Gold standard food and drink companies from Northern Ireland
A Slice of Heaven, Newtownards
Abernethy Butter Company, Dromara
Alfie Murray Butchers, Killyleagh
Ann's Pantry, Larne
Blackthorn Foods, Belfast
Broighter Gold, Limavady
Bailies Handroasted Coffee, Belfast
Bruce's Hill Farm Shop, Ballymena
Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt, Bangor
Cloughbane Farm Shop, Pomeroy
Crossgar Foodservice, Seaforde
Dale Farm, Ballymena and Cookstown
The Deli Bistro and Patisserie, Bangor
Donegal Rapeseed Oil, Castlederg
John R Dowey & Son, Lurgan
East Coast Seafoods, Downpatrick
En-Place Foods UK, Cookstown
Fivemiletown Creamery, Fivemiletown
Gracehill Fine Foods, Ballymena
Greenmount Farm Shop, Antrim
Grounded Espresso Bars, Belfast
Genesis Crafty, Magherafelt
Glastry Farmhouse Ice Cream, Kircubbin
Hannan Meats, Moira
Heatherlea Bakery, Bangor
Hungry House, Craigavon
Johnson Brothers, Lisburn
Kestrel Foods/Forest Feast, Craigavon
Kettyle Irish Foods, Lisnaskea
Mash Direct, Comber
McCartney's of Moira
McKee's Butchers, Holywood
Orchard Organics, Craigavon
Premier Bakeries, Belfast
Quail's Deli, Banbridge
Suki Tea, Belfast
White's Speedicook, Tandragee
Whitewater Brewing Company, Kilkeel
Yellow Door, Portadown
Chapmans Farm Fresh
Keeping it in the family on the dessert side of the menu are Chapmans Farm Fresh, which won five awards.
The firm is run by three brothers, Brian, Graham and Gregg, who have been trading successfully for over 30 years.
The company evolved from the family fruit and vegetable business that was founded in the early 1980s and operating initially from mobile accommodation at Dobbin Road in Portadown. The business now trades from a purpose-built hall erected on the site in 2002.
The brothers picked up awards for their banana cake, rocky roads, meringue fingers, sticky toffee pudding and chicken and leek pie.
Commenting on Chapmans award-winning products individually, the judges described the banana cake as "a lovely moist light sponge which cuts well" - in fact a "delightful cake".
As for the sticky toffee pudding, the judges said it was "a nice moist sponge, a correct sticky toffee pudding with marked notes of vanilla and butter scotch".
Commenting on the meringue fingers, the judges said quite simply they were "perfect, excellent flavour, not too sweet and very moreish". They also said that the rocky roads and the chicken and leek pie are "as good as it gets".
McCartney's of Moira are no strangers to success in the competition, having secured the Great Taste Awards Supreme Champion title for 2011 defeating nearly 7,500 others to the top spot with their handmade corned beef.
Last year the company was also crowned Neighbourhood Retailer Butcher of the Year for the third time and scooped National Winner & Housewife's Choice at the Ulster Pork & Bacon Forum annual sausage competition. Other accolades include the UK Champion Sausage Makers and high-profile clients include top London department store Fortnum & Mason.
The 140-year-old family firm is managed by brothers George and Gordon and daughters Judith and Sarah, who are the sixth generation to be involved in the business.
Based in Belfast, Suki Tea clinched seven stars across five of their teas - their Tanzanian-grown Triple Certified Chamomile, awarded two stars, was highly praised for its "gorgeous colour .. and well-balanced flavour with a good, almost fennel-like sweetness and lingering flavours on the finish".
The Triple Certified Earl Grey Blue Flower, hand blended in Belfast and also awarded two stars, was commended for its "beautiful colour ... great leaf and vibrant yet creamy taste".
Spiced Citrus Pyramids, Indian Chai, and Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls each received one star with comments including "good flavours", "gently warming" and "beautifully-rolled leaf".
Both the Chamomile and Earl Grey Blue Flower are also triple certified with Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance.
The firm started at a small farmers market in Belfast in March 2005 and the range comprises of more than 45 teas served up at cafes, restaurants, and hotels around the UK and across the world.
Oscar Woolley, co-director of Suki Tea, said: "Since first entering the awards in 2006, we are delighted the judges have awarded our product year on year, and are thrilled with the awards we have obtained for 2012."
Bailies Hand Roasted Coffee
Northern Ireland is fast gaining an unlikely reputation as a high-profile producer of quality coffees and teas - no longer the land of the builder's brew.
Belfast-based Bailies Hand Roasted Coffee won a total of six gold stars for its Puccini espresso, Sweet Wonders espresso and Fairtrade House Blend filter coffee as well as its Jasmine loose leaf tea and hot chocolate blend, bringing the firm's total to 18 gold stars for its locally-blended drinks.
Bailies is the brain child of owner and founder, Russell Bailie, who set up the company in 1993. The company recently launched an online store and is now selling its specially blended coffees across the UK and Ireland.
The company roasts coffee for Grounded Espresso Bars in Newry, which also scooped several Great Taste Awards and is supplying coffee to this year's Irish Latte Art Champion, Ruslan Mocharskyy, who owns Art of Coffee Dublin and who will compete at the World Finals in Korea this November.
Ross Kane, business development manager for Bailies, said that the firm is focused on selling primarily to independent coffee shops and restaurants.
"This is only the second year Bailies has entered these awards, so to have amassed 18 stars in a relatively short period is a great achievement for us, especially for our loose leaf tea and hot chocolate products," he said.