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Local produce you need to check out

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On Saturday morning we headed over to Galgorm Castle in Ballymena for a wander around the Food Festival that ran alongside the Northern Ireland Open Golf Challenge over the weekend. We blogged about the Competition here last week. It was early when we visited and many of the stalls were still getting organised for the day ahead but, we had some lovely chats with people and picked up a few amazing locally produced items that we think you should check out.

Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil is grown and cold-pressed in Limavady…

Broighter Gold Rapeseed oil, owned by Richard & Leona Kane was discovered by accident one evening in 2006. At the time Richard had been pressing our oilseed to make bio-diesel for our local Council. Leona was preparing the tea and had ran out of olive. Richard brought up some of the unfiltered cold pressed rapeseed oil which Leona used to cook their two fillet steaks, and make a salad dressing.

It was the smell of the rapeseed oil, that first caught Leona’s attention, and the way the steaks didn’t burn in the pan, but the taste wasn’t bitter, with no after taste like olive oil, and we joked that it was our “Broighter Gold”.

It’s amazing! We bought a little gift set so we would have a variety of oils to try out but we cannot believe it took until now for us to try this amazing Northern Ireland produce. Check out the places in Co.Antrim where you can pick some up here.

We bought a few tasty Focaccia’s from Barley Cove Artisan Bakery. You can catch them regularly on the weekends at St Georges Market. Amazing bread, here’s what they are all about…

At Barley Cove Artisan Bakery we make real bread using traditional artisan techniques. We specialise in slow fermented hand crafted breads and we make a great range of traditional breads too – some with an added twist. Everything is made at our bakery in Belfast and we sell it everywhere from street stalls and farmers’ markets to delis and restaurants.

We’re proud to say that we never use processing aids and you’ll never find any hidden ingredients, artificial additives or preservatives in our bread. All our bread starts with just flour and water. Usually we add salt and yeast. Sometimes we add other good things – olive oil, cheese, herbs, seeds… but that’s it. The dough is made by hand and left to slow ferment. When it’s ready, we bake it. Simple.

We also bought some beautiful Sourdough bread from Zac’s Bakehouse who say this about their breads…

At the Bakehouse we use stoneground flours and long fermentation times to produce breads with depth of flavour and a texture only found with naturally leavened bread.

We scale and shape by hand and we bake on the stones of the oven floor.

We love bread and we love that there is a resurgence of folks taking bread seriously right now. Awesome stuff!

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When I spotted this in the craft beer tent I got really excited. The beer tent was due to open at 12 noon and, we were on site too early but James who makes this Moonshine was at his stall and keen to chat. We took the opportunity to ask him about the moonshine and were able to buy some along with a couple of craft beers. Here’s what New Harvest Distillery do…

Our handcrafted liquor is distilled by our American (redneck) distiller in small batches on-site to produce the finest (pretty sure the only) Apple Pie moonshine made in the U.K.

My great grandfather worked for the U.S. Internal Revenue Department in 1918.

His job was to track down Moonshiners that were trafficking alcohol between “Wet” and “Dry” States in a massive 753.056 square mile area that consisted of Oregon, Washington and Alaska (that’s thirsty work!).

My guess is, we’ve been chasing it down, making it or drinking it ever since.

I’d seen some folks mentioning his moonshine on twitter so was eager to check it out. I wasn’t disappointed with the sample taste… amazing stuff.

We also bought some beer from Hillstown Brewery . Hillstown Farm are already making a name for themselves locally and I’m sure this won’t be the first time we mention them at Ballymena Today. At the same time we also picked up a beer from Bru Brewery who are based in Co.Meath. as well so along with the Hillstown beer we look forward to tasting soon.

Flossies Fudge also came home with us so we can’t wait to eat that… the samples were wonderful.

All of the folks we stopped with were friendly, helpful, passionate about their products and keen to support each other. There was a great sense of community evident from the brief conversations we had. It was great to see and hear these folks connected and connecting with each other.

We hope Saturday and Sunday went well for all involved. These kinds of events are great for Ballymena and great for local artisan businesses of various shapes and sizes here in Northern Ireland. We are glad we paid a visit and discovered some new tasty things to enjoy.