Food: From plot to plate, landscape and location plays a crucial role in what we eat and drink

Front: EIPIC Chef Danni Barry with (background l-r) Hercules Brewery's Niall McMullan, Carnbrooke Meats Jason Hamilton, Deanes owner Michael Deane and David Love Cameron.

Front: EIPIC Chef Danni Barry with (background l-r) Hercules Brewery's Niall McMullan, Carnbrooke Meats Jason Hamilton, Deanes owner Michael Deane and David Love Cameron.

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Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink 2016 is a celebration of everything delicious about this place, the epic landscapes, traditions and people that make our food and drink. With a full year’s worth of foodie experiences, there is no better time for visitors to enjoy a true taste of Northern Ireland.

Our locations and landscapes are the foundations of our food and drink heritage. Our lush landscape of scenic lakes and loughs, rich green fields and Atlantic and Irish Sea waters have all contributed to our vast local produce and this rich heritage has become a much loved commodity by the people of NI including chefs, bar tenders and hoteliers.

Tourism NI’s communication & destination PR officer, Rachel Quigg, said: “Plenty of our home-grown creations are classics – think Armagh’s Bramley Apples, Comber’s Early Potatoes and Lough Neagh’s Eels. And with soda, potato and veda bread under our belts (often literally) we’re well accustomed to using our loaf. Our Glenarm Shorthorn Beef is considered the best in the world and Bushmills Whiskey is an icon.

“We’re experiencing a spectacular renaissance of artisan food and drink companies in Northern Ireland and it’s earning us a tasty reputation. Hercules Brewery from Belfast has scooped a Gold Medal for its Yardsman Lager at the 54th Monde Selection International Quality Awards and is loved by many a Michelin starred restaurant,” added Rachel.

Michelin starred restaurateur, Michael Deane, said he adores Northern Ireland and its food and drink culture: “Northern Ireland’s produce is exceptional and I cannot speak highly enough about it. As restaurateurs it is thrilling to know that we have world class food and drink available to us on our doorstep which we use to great effect in Eipic, and our other restaurants.

“Our produce has come on leaps and bounds since my early days as a chef. There used to be limited supply and a lack of confidence on how to best nurture and cook our produce but that has changed dramatically. We are now so enthusiastic about using locally sourced produce as it is top class!

“These days we make a point of visiting the farms, fields and breweries of our producers as we want to know the provenance of our food and drink so we can pass it onto our customers, who are as eager to hear about it as we are,” concluded Michael.

Michael Deane and his team at all seven of his restaurants source produce from many quality suppliers including Carnbrooke Meats, David Love Cameron’s vegetables and Hercules Brewery’s lager.

Carnbrooke Meats is born out of quality, passion and experience. They source traditional breeds directly from small farmers to supply to their customers. Carnbrooke have a purpose built dry-aging chamber on site so all of their beef is aged as required by the individual customer.

Hercules Brewing Company is made out of great local craftsmanship. Their produce is a unique offering in the local craft beer market, Yardsman lager’s brewing process includes filtering locally sourced raw materials including Irish lager malt, home grown yeast and Belfast water through Irish linen and allowing the lager to mature for a six week period.

David Love Cameron is a gardener and former postman from Whiteabbey whose late-blooming love for horticulture has seen him revive an almost lost heritage. David is a man who has literally gone back to his roots to recapture the best from Northern Ireland’s culinary past and provide top rated vegetables to chefs at home and abroad.

Deane’s chef, Danni Barry, has created the Mourne Lamb, Comber potatoes & Walled Garden leaves Lamb dish using the aforementioned produce so budding cooks should give it a go at home!

For more information on Year of Food & Drink 2016 visit www.discovernorthernireland.com/yearoffoodanddrink2016. You can keep up to date with what’s happening on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #EnjoyNI16.

Mourne Lamb, Comber potatoes & Walled Garden leaves

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

1 x 300 - 400g rack of lamb

200ml Chicken stock

1 carrot

1 celery

1 onion

4 tomatoes

1 sprig rosemary

100ml red wine

4 New Season potatoes

1 large bunch of wild garlic

1 bunch of chard leaves or kale

60g Abernethy butter

METHOD:

Remove the lamb loin from the bones (a butcher can do this for you).

Roast the bones in a hot oven 200˚C for 15 mins.

In a saucepan cook the carrot, celery and onion until golden brown add the tomatoes and cook until soft.

Add the red wine, boil and simmer for 5 mins. Pour in the chicken stock and add the roasted bones.Cook for 20 mins, pass through a sieve and reduce to a sauce consistency.

Sprinkle the lamb with sea salt and some chopped rosemary and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 mins.

Scrub the skin of the new potatoes, boil in salted water for 12 mins.

When cooked slice lengthways and colour the exposed side in a hot pan with some rapeseed oil, once it’s a deep golden colour add the butter and allow to foam.

Place in the oven for 5 - 6 mins.

In a hot pan colour the loin of lamb on all sides and place in an oven at 180˚C for 6 - 8 mins.

Allow to rest for 2 mins and carve.

Wilt the greens in some butter and serve with the potatoes and lamb.