There is something special about food in the North West that makes people passionate.
From debates about cream horns and cream fingers, to the side order struggles of onion rings or tobacco onions, and even the recent conflicts over what constitutes a crisp sandwich, there is something in the air when it comes to cuisine.
Local man and founder of Wild Atlantic Travel Co Feargal Doherty has developed an innovative food tour, ‘Taste the North West’, that aims to showcase Derry’s unique taste and attract visitors to one of Ireland’s most idyllic locations.
The focus of the food tour is very much concentrated on the ‘local’ aspect.
From studying the journey and backstory of the chefs, delving into the local producers to understanding the local food used, everything is brought back to the northwest.
Feargal believes it’s all about making a connection: “In the likes of London and Dublin, food and location go hand-in-hand, we want to develop that same experience here.
“We connect good food to good memories, with ‘Taste the North West’ we want visitors to experience the wonderful welcome that we are well known for as well as authentic tastes of the Walled City.
“Hopefully we can create some lasting memories for our guests along the way.”
A man with a strong passion for food, Feargal previously lived abroad for over a decade in places such as Hungary, Spain, Australia, and the United States.
Feargal also travelled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, and he cites these times as piquing his culinary interest.
He explained: “I learned a lot from being abroad, especially from meeting different people and experiencing other cultures.
“There is so much to learn about different countries through food, and it comes down to meeting the locals and seeing how they create their dishes.
“Everybody has different ways of cooking, and collectively it is this that connects us and food through time, place, culture and history.”
It’s not just food that interests Feargal. As a member of the famous Doherty’s Home Bakery family, he knows you only have one chance to make a first impression.
“We are right in the middle of the cream horn versus cream finger debate where families are divided, tensions are high! It’s all a bit of craic locally and as Doherty’s Home Bakery produces fresh cream horns, we won’t be whipping up too much of a fuss about it all.
“Thanks to the huge success of Derry Girls, there’s now a bit of history and heritage added to the cream horn – it’s become a part of pop culture, so much so that on our ‘Taste the Derry Girls Food Tour’ we’re offering people the chance to make their own cream horn!
“We want fans of the famous show to taste the food memories from Derry Girls and enjoy the craic of creating their very own concoction.”
Feargal says he has returned to his roots with the ‘Taste the North West’ tour: “This is a fully immersive experience. We want to showcase local chefs and ingredients, from seed to spoon, and we want people to hear the story of the craftsmanship behind the plate.
“We have an intense focus on thought, no dish will be served without careful consideration of the preparation process, and have included vegetarian, vegan, coeliac and gluten-free options.
“Every restaurant from the better-known eateries such as Browns in Town or Walled City Brewery to the smaller cafés and outlets will cater to various dietary needs.
“This tour must be a strong experience for all and needs to make a connection with everybody involved.
“The tour will explore six diverse foodie locations on both sides of the river. It is all about the taste experience, so there is not too much walking involved, just enough to build up an appetite!
“There will be a mixture of savoury and sweet options, as well as a few local beverages to wet the whistle.
“The chefs are also keen to showcase local producers, so visitors will enjoy everything from local cheese and meats to beer brewed in the city.”
Unique dishes are prepared with local produce from the region: rich rapeseed oil, delicious sauces and honey are just some of the delights on offer.
Feargal is confident ‘Taste the North West’ will aim to deliver Derry’s very best food experience.
He concluded: “There is a focus on an immersive experience developed in collaboration with our partners in the LegenDerry Food Network.
“Visitors will hear from chefs, enjoy the food and learn more about the vibrant cityscape and rich food landscape.
“The eyes of the world are on Derry at the moment and we can’t wait to showcase what we have to offer!”
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