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Binenvenagh, Northern Ireland

Get to know Northern Ireland’s world-class gastronomy

Northern Ireland’s richly varied landscape produces incredible food and drink, giving you the perfect excuse to take a trip and taste the greatness for yourself

By Time Out in association with Tourism Ireland

Northern Ireland is full of striking landscapes and rich farmland. Its people are no less unique: hospitable, laid-back, the perfect hosts. What’s more, Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route were voted Best in Travel 2018 by Lonely Planet.

But Northern Ireland is more than just stunning scenery and friendly faces: its gastronomy ranges from whiskey to balsamic vinegar, seafood to gin, and its producers have a passion for the tradition which creates it, while adding a twenty-first-century twist. Londoners have encountered this first-hand with chef Niall Ferguson’s celebrated Nuala restaurant and bar, which showcases Northern Ireland’s reimagining of its culinary heritage.

However, to experience these delicacies, you can’t beat a visit in person – here are some of the outstanding areas, and a taste of the food and drink they produce.

Northern Ireland
Arthur Ward

Causeway Coastal Route

The epic Causeway Coastal Route clings to the dramatic coastline for 120 miles, with spectacular sea views, wildlife-spotting opportunities and the famous Giant’s Causeway. Nearby you’ll find Hillstown Brewery, which originally began when two friends attempted to create a specially tender meat by feeding beer to cows to create an affordable delicacy. Then it started its own brewery, where you can take an economusée tour and learn how it now applies the same attention to detail to its craft ale as it did to its beef. Antrim beer: fit for giants!

Oxford island, Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland
Tony Pleavin

Lough Neagh

Sitting right at the heart of Northern Ireland, Lough Neagh is a huge freshwater lake that produces amazing wild fish. It’s famous for its pollan, a white fish unique to the island of Ireland, as well as eels, which are used in local dishes such as smoked eel with apple glaze, and are even exported to London’s Billingsgate Fish Market. Cruising by boat on the gorgeous calm waters of Lough Neagh might make you see them in a whole new light.

Northern Ireland

Armagh’s Orchards

South of Lough Neagh, County Armagh is not only where St Patrick established his original church, it’s also known as the ‘Orchard County’, and it really comes alive with colour every May with its Apple Blossom Festival. As well as being used in delicious ciders and crisp apple juices, the famous Armagh Bramley apple stars in Alastair Bell’s innovative Irish Black Butter, a versatile conserve that you can use as a jam – as well as with cold meats and cheese. Black Butter typifies the way Northern Irish food producers marry tradition and innovation, with some delicious results.

Fermanagh Landscape
Brian Morrison

Fermanagh’s Lakelands

Famous for its beautiful lakes and rivers, Fermanagh is both a water wonderland and a foodie paradise. Here, you can visit an island inhabited solely by organic pigs and sample their fantastic Fermanagh black bacon, or whip up your own gourmet meal at Belle Isle Cookery School. You’ll also find Cavanagh Free Range Eggs, whose high-welfare hens get to spend their days outdoors among mature trees. Its eggs have graced many top tables, including the G8 summit, which tells you they must be among the best around.

Northern Ireland
Morgan Hill-Murphy

A food-lover’s paradise

Northern Ireland has cemented itself as a leading foodie destination: in Belfast, experience Michelin-starred cooking at restaurants such as Ox and Deanes Eipic, or discover hidden culinary gems such as Salt and Edo. Then head out of the city to rolling green pastures, freshwater lakes and fragrant orchards and see where the food really comes to life. Come and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, warm welcome and outstanding food of Northern Ireland, and make it your next gastronomic adventure.

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