Darren Henaghan, managing director of Borough Market, believes St Patrick’s Day at the popular shopping venue for locals and tourists will “show just how much more Northern Ireland has to offer in terms of its range of premium produce with real provenance”.
“St Patrick’s Day has always been celebrated across London, and we want to play our part by again hosting a unique ‘Taste the Greatness’ showcase with Food NI,” he continues.
“Borough Market is a world class food market offering a diverse range of high quality national and international produce – and we’re delighted to welcome guest traders from Northern Ireland to offer our visitors the chance to buy the best food and drink from this award-winning destination,” he adds.
The ‘award-winning destination’, of course, is a reference to Food NI’s success in winning the endorsement as the World’s Best Food Destination in the prestigious World Travel Trade Awards.
Mr Henaghan adds: “Borough Market is a microcosm of what makes me so proud to be part of London. It brings together the best produce from around the world and, like London itself, is the very essence of creativity, pride and diversity.”
Around 25 smaller food companies from Northern Ireland began sampling and selling hundreds of products, including beers and spirits, on Wednesday.
It is the biggest presentation of food and drink from Northern Ireland’s smaller producers in London and follows last year’s first ever show in the popular market.
They are manning stalls from March 13-23, including St Patrick’s Day, declared a free family fun day. Tourism NI will also be there..
“The showcase will bring to life a fantastic array of award-winning produce sourced from this small, yet mighty, part of the world with a long-standing heritage in authentic, quality food and drink with outstanding flavours,” he adds.
Food NI is organising the Northern Ireland presentation with support from Invest NI, the second year in a row that local companies have featured at the market.
Michele Shirlow, Food NI chief executive, adds: “We are thrilled to be back again at what is one of the most renowned markets in the UK. I hope that this will become a regular feature in our promotional calendar. We appreciate greatly Invest NI’s support.”
A host of local producers will be taking part, selling a wide range of products from meat and seafood, to traditional breads, snacks, sauces and spirits.
On St Patrick’s Day there will also be a story telling corner and face painting to keep the children happy, with displays of traditional Irish dancing and cookery demos from Northern Ireland’s celebrity chef Paula McIntyre, with plenty of recipes to take home for visitors to rustle up a St Patrick’s Day feast.
First timers at the historic market include Mervyn Kennedy of Kennedy Bacon in Omagh, a specialist in dry-cured bacon and gluten-free pork sausages. “It’s going to be a marvellous opportunity to sample our bacon in particular to shoppers in London,” he says. “We’re really looking forward to talking to shoppers about our products,” he adds.
Another newcomer, Alanagh Van Staden of award winning Ke Nako Biltong from Ballylagan Farm in Ballyclare, is also anticipating success at the event. “We’ve had a quite a bit of business from Britain from our success in a television show last year. It will help raise our profile further in Britain.”
Shoppers will be able to enjoy fresh griddle-baked breads such as potato cakes, soda and treacle farls and potato apple from Mark Douglas, Northern Ireland’s Krazi Baker. The Dromore-based baker was a hit with shoppers last year keen to taste his freshly baked breads and attracted by the distinctive aromas from his hot griddle plates.
Shoppers will also be able to buy unique products from Naked Bacon from Finnebrogue in Downpatrick, the first mass produced rasher to be made without nitrites; three star Great Taste award-winning Millbay Oysters – one of the Top 50 Foods in the UK – from Rooney Fish in Carlingford; Cavanagh Free Range Eggs; Irish Black Butter, a fruit and spice conserve made from Armagh Bramley apples and cider from Portrush – delicious on toast, with cold meats and cheese or on ice-cream; oats and cereals from Whites in Tandragee, one of Northern Ireland’s oldest brands which has been milling oats from Armagh farmers since 1841; fruit and herb vinegars from Burren Balsamics in Richhill; ready prepared heritage potato and vegetable side dishes from Comber’s Mash Direct; and rapeseed and hemp oils from Harnett’s Oils, Waringstown.
There’s also Shortcross Gin, Northern Ireland’s first premium craft gin, made from fresh water drawn from the Rademon Estate’s well and botanicals such as wild clover and elderberries foraged from the surrounding countryside; Boatyard Gin from Enniskillen which features botanicals such as Fermanagh gael; Woodlab spirits from Armagh; and a range of craft beers from Hillstown Brewery from Randalstown; and Portrush’s Lacada brewing co-operative.