Tracey’s Paddle and Pizza a popular attraction on Strangford for visitors

Fancy learning to paddle board on picturesque Strangford Lough and then enjoying a home crafted pizza?

By Sam Butler
Saturday, 30th July 2022, 4:00 pm

Well, hospitality entrepreneur Tracey Jeffrey is combining her passion for great food from local ingredients with a longstanding interest in outdoor pursuits around the lough, a designated Special Area of Conservation and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in the launch of the novel Paddle and Pizza visitor attraction.

Former teacher Tracey, who owns the popular Farmhouse Kitchen in Killinchy that specialises in showing visitors and locals how to cook traditional foods such as potato cakes, soda farls and wheaten bread, launched Paddle and Pizza around beautiful Ballymorran Bay from her historic cottage home on the lough.

The attraction, the latest smart hospitality scheme by entrepreneur Tracey, features expert tuition on paddle boarding with a tour around some of the lough’s islands. This is followed by a fresh pizza marking session for outdoor dining. There are also opportunities for wild swimming in the lough.

Heading back to enjoy a freshly made pizza after a stint paddle boarding on Strangford Lough

“Our mission is to welcome, to invite people to ‘come on in’ and try something they’ve never done before. Maybe that’s wild swimming in Ballymorran Bay, or paddle boarding to one of the islands,” explains Tracey. “Or maybe that’s baking soda or potato bread the same way great grandmothers did. Maybe it’s just having a bite to eat by the fire or staying a night or two in our Horseshoe Cottage.

“Paddle and Pizza is already proving immensely popular in the few months that I’ve been running it. It’s an extension of my successful farmhouse kitchen baking classes that enables participants to enjoy what the wonderful lough has to offer in terms of outdoor pursuits.

“Strangford offers a marvellous environment which has encouraged many Farmhouse Kitchen participants to explore the area. Paddle and Pizza gives them a chance to enjoy the lough and also to learn a new paddle boarding skill and then to experience a fresh pizza. It’s a logical business development for me.”

Participants have space indoors to change into a wetsuit and life vest before linking up with an experienced tutor on the lough for an hour-long instruction on how to manage a paddle board around the lough’s islands.

Tracey Jeffrey of Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen in Killinchy has expanded her business to combine local food with outdoor pursuits for visitors such as paddle boarding on Strangford Lough

“There’s a choice of outdoor seating in our garden or inside the cottage in the cosy garden room in front of the wood burning stove. They can enjoy a homemade pizza prepared by us in our alfresco pizza oven, along with fresh salads using produce grown in our garden and dessert of course,” continues Tracey, who developed an initial artisan food business making a tasty range of French macarons she loved during a stint

teaching in France.

Visitors are returning steadily to the farmhouse kitchen cookery experience after the lifting of the pandemic lockdowns. Tracey has a successful track record in hospitality through her hugely popular cookery classes and subsequent launch of online courses and You Tube tuition in hand crafting soda bread focaccia bread, traditional fruit soda bannock, potato cakes and classic tray bakes such those most popular sweets fifteens

and fruit squares.

Heading back to enjoy a freshly made pizza after a stint paddle boarding on Strangford Lough

Based in a converted 18th century barn that’s been creatively transformed into an attractive thatched farmhouse on the lough’s picturesque shore, Tracey is a longstanding champion of the best local artisan food and drink.

“I love promoting the many tremendous artisan food enterprises here to international tourists as well as local visitors who need to know more about the quality an outstanding taste of local food. We’ve some marvellous food and drink being produced by smaller companies here,” she continues.

Her cookery classes are local and authentic…and she’s dedicated to sourcing largely local ingredients.

“My potato bread, for instance, uses real potatoes from a farm just down the road in Comber,” she explains.

She’s welcomed thousands of tourists from many parts of the world to her farmhouse on cookery courses. Many of her online viewers have also ordered bespoke hampers that include handy mixes for them to make the breads at home. The hampers also feature a wide range of local food and drink.

Tracey, furthermore, works closely with Tourism Ireland and Tourism NI in promoting the best local breads and other food products. Her Farmhouse Kitchen is now a Tourism NI Embrace the Giant Spirit approved experience. 

“We are also proud to be an Ards and North Down Sustainable Giant, meaning that we demonstrate our care for the land around us by minimising our impact upon it,” she adds. “This is especially important given Strangford Lough’s global standing as a conservation area. We are totally dedicated to preserving this precious local environment.”