Last year I went on a walking food tour of Ballycastle which was hosted by Caroline Redmond from North Coast Walking Tours.
North Coast Tours runs food tours of towns and villages around the Causeway Coastal Route, including Ballycastle, Rathlin Island and Bushmills.
I was blown away by the quality of the food but also by Caroline, whose passion and enthusiasm for local produce was undeniable. You can read all about my experience here: https://belfasttravels.com/2016/05/26/ballycastle-food-tour/
So when I saw that Caroline was running extra food tours of Rathlin Island during the recent Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival, I jumped at the chance and booked Barry and I on a tour (and of course, Niamh, who was just a small bump during the Ballycastle one!)
We met in Ballycastle and boarded the ferry to make the short journey across to Rathlin Island where we met Caroline and our fellow foodies.
Caroline explained what was in store before we made our first stop at Watershed Café. Our first dish of the day was a mix of the old v the new- a mini fry, yes, but with a difference!
Not just any old bacon and eggs, but goat bacon from Broughgammon Farm (based in Ballycastle) and quail eggs from Ballinteer Farm (based in Macosquin.) This was served with soda bread to make for a great breakfast!
The second course was then a picnic! Normally the picnic is in the old Kelp store but unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side so had to eat inside. But that certainly didn’t take away from the selection of food and drink on offer. Local produce galore!
We tried Glens of Antrim Ales (including Rathlin Red), Dart Mountain cheese, Genesis Crafty wheaten bread and more. All that was missing in this picnic was the sun!
Once we’d finished our local picnic, we made our way to the pub! At McCuaigs bar we had a bowl of vegetable soup.
Tasting homemade and fresh, we all enjoyed the warming broth in the island’s friendly pub.
Finally we headed to the newly re-opened guesthouse, Manor House, overlooking the harbour. There, we tried the kelp we had heard so much about, tasting a kelp pancake with kelp butter. I really loved this dish and the seaweed worked so well in a savoury crepe- something different!
We stayed on the island for another hour or so before catching the ferry back to Ballycastle.
The tour was fantastic because not only did we get to try out Rathlin Island/ NI produce, but we got to see and hear about Rathlin, which I had never visited before.
Once again, Caroline was the perfect host- friendly, knowledgeable and most of all, a real champion of all things local!