Last Saturday I got the chance to explore a place I hadn’t been to for a very long time- Ballycastle.
I was invited to take part in a unique foodie walking tour to sample the delights and flavours of the coastal town in the Causeway Coast and Glens.
Now, I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect; as a seaside town, was it going to be fish and chips, followed by a ‘poke’ from the ice-cream van?
The foodie walking tour of Ballycastle was organised to coincide with the start of the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, delivered by local food guide, Caroline Redmond.
We arrived at 10am at the Marina Visitor Centre where immediately we could tell this was going to impress- Caroline’s obvious enthusiasm and passion for the town, its inhabitants and, of course, its food meant we were in for a treat.
So, off we went and just a short distance down the road, arrived at the Bay Café. And what a better way to start a food tour than with a spot of breakfast- an all-local mini ulster fry. The fry came complete with soda bread, potato bread, black pudding, sausage, tomatoes and egg. As well as the food being very tasty (I can’t wait to go back and get a full fry!), the views from the café over the water were stunning.
We then hit the road and walked up to Thyme & Co, just in time for tempting elevenses. There, we tried Pear and Almond Scones, Parmesan and Kelp scones, wheaten bread, Strawberry and Prosecco jam (to die for!), Islander Kelp pesto and Pistachio cake. Everything was delicious and I think we were all sorry to go, as we could have stayed and eaten more!
But it wasn’t long before we were eating again. Our third course was in Central Wine Bar were we tried a heart-warming seafood chowder made from locally caught fish from Morton’s. The bar is renowned for its chowder so it didn’t disappoint (nor did the Guinness wheaten bread it was served with!)
Sticking with seafood, we then crossed just over the road to O’Connor’s traditional Irish bar for our daily special- hake. The deliciously flaky hake was served with two locally brewed Glens of Antrim Ale, Rathlin Red and Lizzie’s blonde.
Then it was time for the sweet stuff! We walked up to Castle Street to the independent bakehouse, Ursa Minor where we sampled an unbelievable array of patisserie. The story of the little bakery is so interesting- it got up and running through crowdfunding website, Kickstarter so everyone who helped contribute small amounts of money has their name on the wall! Lovely idea! The owner Ciara came to talk to us about how she only uses fresh, seasonal ingredients, with many of them sourced from foraging and sometimes even the local community (i.e. rhubarb!)
It was a spectacular morning exploring the foodie goodness around Ballycastle; I have to say, I was so impressed! It really wasn’t what I expected.
Caroline was the perfect host and she really has shown me that little ol’ Ballycastle has restaurants, bars, bakeries and cafes to rival the best of the best in Northern Ireland!