Belfast Telegraph

Co Down food fair to deliver a feast of flavours

By Rachel Martin

A Co Down speciality food fair is set to make a return after a bumper first year.

The Speciality Food Fair Moira made its debut last year at Moira Demesne and host Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has announced another packed line-up for Saturday, August 20.

This year's fair will include more than 40 Northern Ireland small-batch producers as well as demonstrations from some of the area's top chefs.

Wine & Brine's Chris McGowan will feature ahead of his appearance on Great British Menu and the Tannery's Derek Patterson will also show foodies how to make the most of local ingredients.

This year's festival will be held in conjunction with Tourism Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink and coincides with the month celebrating local meat. And products from Great Taste Supreme Champions McCartney's and Hannan Meats will feature in cooking demonstrations.

Among the stalls visitors can also expect to find organic vegetables, small-batch cheeses, bread and cakes, jams, chutneys, chocolates, fudge and many other speciality foods.

Those in search of a craft tipple can expect to find small-batch whiskeys, gins and vodka. Echlinville, Shortcross, Hughes Craft Distilleries, Hilden, Farmageddon Brewery and Tempted? Cider will be among the Northern Ireland drinks firms represented while Ruby Blue Liqueur will be host a 'pimp your prosecco' bar demonstrating how its range of spirits can add some kick to your bubbles.

Event organiser Joanne McErlain said: "We are really pleased with the diverse range of food on offer at this year's Speciality Food Fair Moira.

"We have expanded the offering and have some fabulous new niche producers coming on board.

"Food trends and dietary needs will be catered for with sourdough baked goods, fermented, gluten-free and vegan foods to be discovered.

"We are very keen to maintain the festival vibe and ensure that Speciality Food Fair becomes an annual must-attend event that is as much a social occasion as anything else."

Mike Thomson of Mike's Fancy Cheese said that producers were always keen to offer ideas to those browsing their wares.

"You don't have to be a pro in the kitchen to assemble a great meal with quality local ingredients," he said.

"For example, pairing my Young Buck cheese with the gorgeous pickled watermelon rind from Passion Preserved can create a perfect snack with minimal preparation required.

"The artisan food producers in Northern Ireland are a collaborative bunch, so we are all very knowledgeable of neighbouring artisans' products. This means we are well primed to steer customers in the right direction as they make their way around - so it's always worth stopping for a chat."

Councillor Uel Mackin, chairperson of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council development committee, said the council hoped to make the 2016 event bigger than ever.

"We were delighted by the positive feedback we received from both the producers and guests who enjoyed an afternoon of local food, drink and entertainment last year," he said.

"In 2016 - Northern Ireland's Year of Food and Drink - our aim is to grow this event significantly, and we are looking forward to welcoming even more small-batch artisan producers and visitors from not only the locality, but from across Northern Ireland."

Entry and parking to the Speciality Food Fair Moira is free and it will run from 10am - 6pm.

Belfast Telegraph