Welcome to Belfast in Northern Ireland
There are just under half a million people living in Belfast today, and one of the city’s principal landmarks can be seen upon arrival –the two Harland & Wolfe Cranes –nicknamed Samson and Goliath. It was here that many great ships were built –most notably for White Star Line, whose ships included the Olympic, Britannic and –perhaps the most famous ship of all –RMS Titanic. At its peak in the early 20th century, Harland & Wolfe boasted a workforce of 35,000 and reflected the industrial nature of Ulster –Ireland’s Northern Province.
Meet Tracey, your local Tour Guide for Northern Ireland Food Tours, who has an in depth knowledge of where to find great local Producers, where you will hear their story and taste their produce. As you travel south of Belfast through County Down, you will learn about and sample foods as varied as single estate whiskey to artisan dulse wheaten bread and everything in between! Continue on to Ballymorran Bay, on the shores of Strangford Lough, the largest sea loch or inlet in the British Isles, covering 150 km2 (58 sq mi). Strangford Lough was designated as Northern Ireland's first Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) under the introduction of the Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013. It has also been designated a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive, and its abundant wildlife is recognised internationally for its importance.
Tracey will bring you to her home in Ballymorran Bay, a delightful thatched barn on the shores of Strangford Lough, where you will meet Chef Fred and learn about the history of the different types of bread and cakes Northern Ireland is famous for before donning your aprons and baking yourself! Start with a traditional Irish Fruit Soda Cake and then we will make some potato bread or fadge as we call it. We will add fillings of your choice to the potato mix – scallions or cheese. The baking session will end with making Soda Bread. You will take home a bag filled with your handmade products and all of the recipes used.
Leaving Tracey’s home, we travel further south through Downpatrick – the resting place of Saints Patrick, Brigid and Columba. The story of Ireland starts here! Time permitting, we stop at the Saint Patrick’s Centre and Down Cathedral, before travelling the short distance to the beautiful leafy little village of Killough where we meet Patrice our Oyster Farmer.
Patrice will meet us at the harbour and we will travel in style on board his tractor and trailer to his Oyster beds. You will be amazed to hear how Patrice grows and harvests his oysters and mussels – he may even allow you to harvest some of your own!
We’re back on the tractor and trailer to Patrice’s Shac in a beautiful secluded Bay off the beaten track. Here a feast of local shellfish awaits – langoustines, oysters, crab claws and a big pot of steaming mussels cooked in garlic, cream and shallots and all washed down with local Porter or white wine.
There will be other local foods to accompany the shellfish – soda bread and potato bread, local award winning hand churned butter and dulse butter. All of the shellfish is harvested in the local area – you can’t get fresher than that!
We leave Patrice and his Oyster beds and travel to the picturesque village of Killyleagh with privately owned French Loire Valley style Castle. The most famous resident of this County Down village was Sir Hans Sloane, celebrated in his home town as the man who brought the recipe for drinking chocolate to Europe from the Caribbean in the 17th century and whose recipe was adopted by Messrs. Cadbury in the 19th Century,
You will meet local historian Clive Scoular, who dressed in his bespoke velvet period costume and wig that would have been worn by Sir Hans Sloane, will invite you to have a “chocolate filled experience” in Killyleagh. This will be unique and authentic – we hope that you like lots of chocolate!