Article written by Michele Shirlow for the Farmweek 14/07/2016
The hugely successful 2016 Foyle Maritime Festival in association with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is drawing to a close. And what an impressive event it is proving to be especially for food and drink producers from the North West and from further afield.
The food and drink offerings from local producers and the cookery demonstrations were excellent and proved extremely popular with festival goers. Derry really has got its food and drink act together, and we’ve been delighted to work closely with enthusiastic Mary Blake and the talented council team in harnessing the marketing potential of Year of Food and Drink including the Walled City and Ebrington markets. The Clipper Kitchens hosted the splendid celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.
The festival also saw an innovative collaboration between an artisan food producer, Glastry Farmhouse Ice Cream, and Niche Drinks in Derry, an international distiller of The Quiet Man Irish Whiskey and Irish cream liqueurs, in the launch of the new St Brendan’s Irish Cream Liqueur flavoured ice cream. And it proved tremendously popular with festival goers.
They’ve embraced Year of Food and Drink with real passion and brought great energy to an impressive programme of events in the city and wider region. Our work has included assistance with the culinary demonstrations and the marketing of the event through our various channels.
The festival season is well and truly underway. The Foyle Maritime Festival is now firmly established as among the biggest and most successful. And this weekend will see the start of another popular event, the Dalriada Festival of Sport, Fine Foods and Music.
The Dalriada week-long event promises to be another colourful occasion in the spectacular grounds of the historic Glenarm Castle, also the home to an award winning herd of Glenarm Shorthorn cattle preferred by top London retailer Fortnum and Mason as well as a host of leading chefs in Northern Ireland and further afield.
We’ve also seen the River to Lough Festival prove to be another valuable local initiative that provided an important platform for a host of local producers and an opportunity for a team of top chefs to demonstrate how to enjoy Lough Neagh Eels, an immensely tasty local product, one of three to achieve EU protected name accreditation.
The event, organised the Lough Neagh Partnership with sponsorship from Antrim and Newtownabbey council and held in the superb setting of Antrim Castle Grounds. The festival saw the launch of another new product – smoked eels. Food ambassador Paula MacIntyre also came up with fascinating demonstrations on cooking with eels and Bramley apples and Comber New Season Early Potatoes. Chefs across Northern Ireland have also been cooking with the three foods especially during the imaginative Eat Eel campaign.
August sees the unique Black Pudding Festival in Fermanagh, a month-long event that features a new community fun day with culinary demonstrations on cooking with the product at Castle Archdale on Lower Lough Erne. Once again chefs and restaurants in Fermanagh, including Noel McMeel at Lough Erne Hotel and Resort are backing the event by including black pudding dishes on their menus.
What Year of Food and Drink is achieving very effectively is unprecedented collaboration and dialogue between all those sectors of what is our most important manufacturing industry that’s designed to drive it forward in terms of sales, exports, innovation and the development of Northern Ireland as a global centre of culinary excellence.
Tourism Ireland and Tourism NI are also making a massive contribution by promotional events abroad and in hosting visits by food journalists and writers from across the globe. Year of Food and Drink is an immensely significant example of a joined-up approach between the public and private sectors that’s focused on measures to promote economic wellbeing across Northern Ireland.