2016 has been named Northern Ireland’s year of food and drink by the NI Tourist board – a “celebration of everything delicious about this place”. In the past few years I think consumers have become more discerning about where their food comes from, we seem to moving away from supermarket specials towards our grocery habits of a foregone era – buy less, buying often… buying local. Today in Northern Ireland we have a vast array of local producers who welcome us to try, taste and learn about what goes into our meals. A vast array of seasonal fruit and veg, artisan bread, natural rapeseed oils, preserves, cheese, beers and ciders… these are all available right on our doorstep. To help celebrate this businesses all over the province will be collaborating with the Tourist Board to bring us events throughout the year all brought together under monthly themes.
There is no better way to start off the year of food and drink than celebrating the meal that starts off our day. In line with Breakfast Month James Street South Cookery School hosted a complimentary cookery demo of the perfect brunch. Chef and owner, Niall McKenna took us through tasty dishes of Columbian Eggs, Smoked Haddock Kedgeree, and a healthy green juice recipe to wash it all down.
First up was how to achieve the perfect poached egg, forget a pinch of salt and a splash of malt vinegar, it’s a handful of salt and a rather large glug of vinegar! This topped off the delicate kedgeree, a rice dish infused with cardamon and turmeric complimenting the salty smoked fish beautifully. A substantial dish suitable for any time of the day.
The Colombian Eggs recipe was my favourite of the evening. A combination of chorizo, plum tomatoes, spinach, avocado and eggs served up on toasted sourdough is a flavoursome twist to the standard breakfast. You can try for yourself at Niall’s Cast and Crew restaurant beside Titanic Belfast, this dish and a brew served up in a souvenir mug are a great way to start your day.
Advocating the use of local produce, Niall’s recipes included rapeseed oil, used for it’s high burn factor, from Broighter Gold in Limavady – check out the chilli oil if you like heat! If chorizo doesn’t appeal check out the meat merchant, Peter Hannan for a quality substitute like smoked bacon.
Niall was a charming host imparting his culinary wisdom on how to vary the dishes to your tastes; I noted his suggestion of adding vodka ice cubes to his kale, spinach, apple & cucumber juice, could be a good alternative to the Bloody Mary! A fantastic evening that will have me nipping to the local grocers for those ingredients for the perfect brunch – and hey, if it ain’t perfect I’ll just pop along to one of the restaurants instead!
James Street South Cookery School will host a series of these demonstrations each month. February’s theme is Love Local so expect some dishes from the collective of restaurants. The demos are free but must be in booked in advance, and they book up fast so to make sure you don’t miss out sign up to their newsletter here. Or why not treat yourself to one of the many scheduled classes throughout the year. I can highly recommend their curry club and sushi with cocktails which you can read about on my past NI Lights blog here.
To read more about Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink click here.