Cookery & Food Tourism Feature - Taste the Causeway Coast

Celebrating the seriously good things in food and hospitality that North Antrim and nearby areas have to offer was the theme at a ‘Giant Taste of Causeway Coast and Glens’ event that I was fortunate enough to attend recently. And, with its heartening - and meaningful - ’Celebrate, collaborate and inspire’ theme, and a terrific range of businesses and supportive entities involved, including Slow Food (of which local heroine Paula McIntyre is a board member), it was a real eye-opener. The changes that the region has seen over the last few years are remarkable by any standards, and it’s now providing a template for the development of sustainable food and hospitality that other regions should find very helpful. The enthusiasm and drive of the (growing) Taste Causeway group is infectious and it's interesting to see neighbouring areas keen to participate, including Donegal with their Food Coast Donegal initiative.

Paula McIntyre’s fascinating cookbook, Taste Causeway - Recipes and Stories is a great introduction to Taste Causeway, and well worth seeking out - not just for its great recipes (of which there are plenty, from producers and hospitality destinations along the way) but also to get a flavour of what's going on up there. Reasons to visit, in fact. Paula is one of the driving forces behind Taste Causeway and a great example of ‘ask a busy person’ when it comes to getting things done – amongst many other things she’s the incoming Chair of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild and, with her popular ‘media chef’ hat on, also happens to be heading Stateside in the coming weeks, to make a new TV series. As you do.

One or two of the forty or so businesses featured in the cookbook have sadly fallen by the wayside due to the pandemic and other recent challenges, but happily almost all are thriving – and, excitingly, there are plenty more coming on stream. Most recently, for example, the much-missed French Rooms in Bushmills is starting a new chapter as the latest addition to Derry’s famous Browns Bonds Hill Collection, Bushmills Townhouse - joining established businesses including The Bushmills Inn, Tartine at the Distillers Arms and indeed the Old Bushmills Distillery itself, to make this small town one of the most rewarding destinations in Ireland.

A few recipes to try from Taste Causeway – Recipes and Stories:

Small but mighty, Dara and Ciara O'hArtghaile’s Ursa Minor (‘little bear’ star constellation) Slow Food bakery and café is one of the most interesting food destinations anywhere in Ireland and, like several other businesses in the area, also home to an Economusée where you can see artisans at work (Bakehouse Tours). Baking workshops are available too, and a Baking School is in the making across the road. While most famous for their ever-evolving sourdough breads, they do all kinds of seasonal bakes and a delicious savoury tartlet such as this is sure to be on the menu.
Pastry - makes 12
200g plain flour
50g whole meal or spelt flour
Pinch salt
125g unsalted butter
l egg
2-3tbsp ice cold water
225g double cream
75g Greek style yoghurt
3 eggs
Salt and pepper
Handful of chopped three cornered leek or scallions
12 roasted Jerusalem artichoke
St.Tola feta style goat's cheese
Fresh parsley, chopped

Pastry: Pop water into the freezer to ensure it's cold while you get the rest ready. Mix the dry ingredients.
Place the butter between two pieces of greaseproof paper and bash quickly with a rolling pin, so that it remains cold but becomes pliable.
Cover with the flour then tear into chunks and start flicking it together with the flour until the largest chunks you have are about the size of cornflakes -the larger the butter chunks, the flakier the pastry.
Make a well then add the egg and water and bring together quickly on your worktop, shape into a rectangle.
Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for at least one hour in fridge.
Grease a 12-hole muffin tin, roll pastry out to 3mm thick then use a pastry cutter to cut out and gently shape into the tin. Pop in freezer while you prepare the filling.
Filling: Whisk together until thoroughly mixed.
Tartlets: Take the tin out of the freezer and place a few pieces of chopped artichoke, cheese and a large pinch each of chopped parsley and three cornered leek (or wild garlic, which is similar).
Pour over the cream mixture to fill about two thirds of the tartlet.
Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes - they will puff up and be jiggly when they come out but will set.
Top with more chopped parsley. Enjoy with some chutney and green salad, or as part of a picnic.

Sixth generation farmer Richard Kane and his enterprising wife Leona established Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil 
at their farm near Limavady in 2011. Now one of Ireland and the UK's most innovative and highly respected rapeseed oil producers, they are members of the Économusée network and have been welcoming visitors to their Economusée & Food Trail since 2012. In 2020 they ‘added growing carrots to the mix of craziness on the farm’. It’s a fascinating story and they’re getting a name for their heritage varieties - ask about it when you visit.
3 purple carrots
3 orange carrots
3 golden carrots
50 ml Broighter Gold rapeseed oil
1teaspoon seasalt
Few sprigs thyme and rosemary
2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
150ml Broighter Gold lemon oil
Salt to taste
Carrot Furikake
1 large orange carrot
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds & 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons North Coast Smokehouse smoked dulse

Set oven to 180°C. Scrub carrots and cut in half lengthwise.
Place in a bowl and add the oil, salt, thyme and rosemary. Toss well to coat, then place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Cover with more parchment paper and crimp the edges to seal.
Place in oven for about 45 minutes or until cooked through.
Blend the egg yolks, garlic and vinegar for a minuti then slowly add the oil, blending all the time.
Season with salt to taste.
Carrot Furikake
Peel the carrot into ribbons and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Set oven to 100°C and put tray in oven. Cook until crisp - could take an hour.
Cool and then place in a bag and bash with a rolling pin.
Mix in the toasted sesame, dulse and paprika.

Geri Martin, owner and Chief Chocolatier at The Chocolate Manor in Castlerock is a founding member of Taste Causeway group and – having started in her own kitchen - now operates from a modern premises which includes a Chocolate Shop and Artisan Food Emporium, selling their own and other Taste Causeway products. Their Taste Causeway Chocolate Experience (an interactive workshop, where visitors create luxury chocolate truffles filled with local produce) was awarded Tourism NI Food and Drink Experience of the Year in 2022.

100g butter softened
200g milk chocolate — we love our brownies made with milk chocolate!
250g golden caster sugar
l00g plain flour
30g cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs
Optional: 50g caramel chocolate buttons
Jar of Chocolate Manor Whiskey Boozy Pot

Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4
Line a brownie tin/tray with baking parchment.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a microwave - do this slowly to avoid burning the chocolate. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Take the chocolate mixture and fold gently into the egg mixture.
Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa.
Fold the mixture gently until it creates a gooey and fudgy batter.
Pour into the baking tray and smooth out to even the mixture.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is cracked but the middle is just set.
Cool completely, then lift out of the tin and cut.
Spoon some of the Chocolate Manor Boozy Pot into a microwaveable dish and heat for 20 second bursts until it becomes a delicious runny sauce. Pour over your brownies and enjoy!

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