At the recent Tourism NI ‘Year of Food and Drink Awards’, Derry /Londonderry was named as ‘Destination Delicious’. (Another name for the area!)
The Award recognises the city’s reputation for excellent local produce and eateries, and last week I was lucky to join fellow bloggers and media in trying out exactly what the area has to offer.
We left Belfast and made our way to Browns in Town (23 Strand Road) where there was a fantastic showcase of Destination Delicious food and drink producers. I chatted with, and tried samples from, the likes of Brendan Gallagher meats, Donnybrewer Butter, Kee Fruits, Northbound Brewery, Quiet Man Whiskey and Dart Mountain Cheese.
I particularly loved the cheese so I had to find out where I could buy it in Belfast- Sawers Deli in College Street, by the way!
It was then time to head to Browns in Town’s sister restaurant, Browns Restaurant & Champagne Lounge (1 Bond’s Hill) where we were first treated to a live cooking demo by chef Ian Orr.
Ian has created a bespoke menu in celebration of ‘Destination Delicious’ and it was this very menu we were about to tuck in to.
For the first course we shared a selection of homemade breads served with the Donnybrewer butter we had just sampled at Browns in Town. The rich and creamy butter is churned in a traditional batch churn at the company’s Eglinton farm. The breads were swiftly followed by a fantastic dish consisting of Loughview Farm Egg with Errigal Bay Scallop and Pomegrante.
Sticking with seafood, it was time for the third course- Donegal Prime Crab with Apple and Cucumber. The crab tasted incredible paired with the apple jelly and was served with Lapostolle Chardonny.
The final course before the dessert was my favourite, Beef Cheek from Brendan Gallagher with Northbound Beer and Kee Fruit Mixed Beetroot. That beef! It just fell apart at the touch- delicious. This was served with Tomero Malbec supplied by R&R Wines and Kolsch style Lager from Northbound Brewery.
The final course was Rhubarb Parfait with Long Meadow Cider, which looked as beautiful as it tasted! Loved the presentation! This was matched with dessert wine, Sichel Sauternes.
We then boarded the bus and made our way to Ardtara Country House in Maghera. This boutique hotel is owned by the Browns Group and has previously been named as one of the best places to stay in Northern Ireland. Here we had a nightcap of tea/coffee and dulce de leche shortbread bites.
We arrived back to Belfast at midnight after what was a fantastic evening celebrating the best of the best food and drink in Destination Delicious!
Browns is a restaurant group which prides itself on using the freshest, local produce. No wonder it was named the ‘Best Restaurant in Co Derry’ for the eighth year running at the Irish Restaurant Awards just days after our visit! Well done guys!