Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Food and Drink Show NI 2014

Saturday was an incredibly entertaining day for me. As you all know by now, for sure, last weekend from Friday to Sunday, the Food and Drink Show Northern Ireland was on show at Kings Hall Pavillion.  As a food lover, spending the day in a Food Show is always a great plan. But it is even better to have such a great experience thanks to the guys from Food and Drink NI. 

I missed it last year. But this year I was lucky enough to win two VIP tickets from their Baking Challenge.  So, on Saturday, I invited my friend D. and we spent the day discovering the products from NI, watching cook demos and enjoyining the great shows from Rachel Allen and John Torode at the Moy Park Theatre. 

Below you will see just a sample of the show:


Some of the great fresh fish from Silver Fin.

Great tomatillos from Love Olive, New Olive  Company.  Linda was simply brilliant talking about her products and her company. The Majorcan conection also had something to do, here ;-)

Belfast Craft beer looked great. It was probably a bit too early in the morning and we could only take a photo of it. Willing to try it, though, as I have heard so much good about it!

Granny Braid's handmade fudge

I actually bought some duck eggs from Earl's Abbey Farm. They had also the traditional stuff, and quail eggs. I have used quail eggs before, but I should say I was really surprise by the ducks' ones. I had never tried them. I am looking forward to test them.

The girls from Bite to savour were also brilliant on explaining their  products and their new winter/Christmas boxes. I should say I particularly liked her logo and her packaging. It is simply so cool! Loved it.

2014 has been an absolutely brilliant year for NI at the Great Taste awards. Quite many of the products I had heard of were all in the same place at the same time for us to taste. It was simply great to taste the carchoal matured cheese with its deep black colour and its intense flavour, from The Four Seasons.

Craft cheese maker Julie Hickey, form Dart Mountain Cheese, knows her business so well. I loved her Dart Mt. Dusk , an ash coated semi hard cows milk cheese that she served at perfect room tempearture and I could appreciate in all its flavour. Simply great.

There is room for water in the middle of all of this food and drink. David, from Glacier, though I was kidding when I took his photo. Well, here you are.

Buchanan's Turkey is another of the Great Taste 2014 awarded products (well, and also 2013 for what is worth) that we have at hand. Anyone in need of any suggestions for where to buy your Christmast Turkey? Well, now you know... 

To be honest, I am not a cider girl. I am much more into beer. But, having said so, I should admit that I absolutely loved Long Meadow Cider, and I guess that my friend D. who is more an expert than myself really liked this stuff. Made from Armagh apples, from a family business, you can taste the clean, honest artisan process in every sip. Another must for me, really.

I admit this is one of my regrets of the day. Even on Saturday, it was far too early for us to test this great Gin. The girl in the stand was simply brilliant at explaining all the scents that we could identify in this artisanal gin. I will definitely buy this. And what do you think of the overall look of the bottle, the label and so? Could you get cooler than that? I really, really liked this stuff. 

I should admit this is another of my many limitations. I am quite useless to appreciate a good baklava. I am afraid I do not have a sweet tooth. And for baklava you really need a very sweet one. I tried those ones above from Nuts in Bulk and even for a non-lover as myself, they were really good.

 GreenMount Farm was also awarded  a Great Taste Gold for their game pie. I am really sorry, the photo does not make justice to the pie at all (by the way, the light for the photos was terrible inside, sorry for the poor quality of the photos, in general-). You can find them on Friday and Saturday at ST Geroge's Market if you do not plan to do all the way to Richhill. 

The guys in the stand at Neary Nogs told us the wonders of their artisan chocolates. I really fancied the Espresso chocolate, and we were the last 2 people in trying (at least for the day) their raw chocolate. Being a chocolate lover myself, I should said I was particularly happy to be offered something I have never tried before (which, at certain point in your life, and when you are so obsesed as myself for chocolate, I would say it is a good thing). I was happy to provide my feedback to this product under development. Looking forward to see the final version on sale, guys!


Being Irish products undoubtely attractive, it is clear that the other focal point of the day was in the cooking demos. I would only suggest a bit more of early information from the organizers. In my view, disclosing the program so late, is simply contraproductive. Tomake the most of it, it really makes sense to plan your day ahead. I could attend 2 demos at Safe Food Open Kitchen. First, Asha Chada (above) guided us to a chicken curry with chapatis in 30 minutes. It was really nice to follow her demo, and her worries for the short time for the dish to be properly cooked in so little time. I have kept those heads in the photo as the man on the left is her husband, and at some point in the presentation I really felt as if I were sitting at their kitchen, with them talking to each other as if we were a group of friends they wanted to entertain at their place. So authentic! She really catched me with the chapatis. I am trying them at home sooner than later. 

The other demo at the Safe Food Open Kitchen was conducted by Andy (I guess that's his name, so please, correct me if I am wrong) from Mourne Seafood Bar. He provided a 30 minutes masterclass in oyster preparation. Being that interesting, I have to admit that he simply got me while he was preparing the demo and opened all those oysters so easily.... I guess he had opened one or two before Saturday.

I attended Rachel Allen demo, and we were so lucky to have such good places! (Thanks again for the tickets!!!). 
She cooked in front of us 4 recipes from her last book on baking, "All things Sweet". Of course you need more time for that, but she managed to do a brilliant (and so, so, fast) presentation that we really felt like in a live TV show. As it could not be other way, we went right away after the demo to buy her book and had it signed. She was really kind and professional! 
It felt really strange for me. I moved to Ireland only 1 year ago, but I had been frequently visiting Dublin for the last 8 years or so. I remember perfectly the first time I saw one of her books, and when I bought it. I did not even know who she was back then. And there I was, several years after that, a lot of baking and blogging, and cook book reading after, having my new book signed by her. It felt really, really strange. In a very nice way, but strange.

The last demo we attended (and the last of the day) was the one from John Torode. What can I say? He is a profesional entertainer, he has done this so many times before he could do it sleeping. He was the last of the day, and there were only a few of us in the theatre. I learned that he is also producing his own brand new wine as he higlighted several times. Apart from that, well, I should admit that cooking a steak (as perfect and juicy as it could be) and some pasta did not impressed me much, and probably did not impress most of the audience, either. It is not that you expect that extra mile from these demos (of course not, it is more than anything about the celebrity and the TV character, and we all know that), but do you really need a chef to cook a steak and some pasta? Really?

I could not finish this post without her photo. I am only so sorry to have missed her name. Because this no name lady was as gorgeous as you see in the photo with us. After a long day at the reception she was simply great with us when we asked a couple of things! Thanks a million, really.

I am planning already for next year's show. Will you join me then? 

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