A foodie feast for all – 2016 Speciality Food Fair Moira Launch

Following the success of its inaugural year, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, hosts of Speciality Food Fair, have announced a packed line-up for the Fair’s second appearance in Moira Demesne on Saturday 20th August. Featuring a wide range of primary and artisan producers from the Moira area and across Northern Ireland, this year’s Fair is expected to be a date not to be missed by food enthusiasts and families across the province.

Reflecting on the growth of this year’s Fair, Councillor Uel Mackin, Chairperson of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Development Committee said, “Following the first Speciality Food Fair in Moira last year, we were delighted by the positive feedback we received from both the producers and guests who enjoyed an afternoon of local food, drink and entertainment.”

“In 2016 – Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink – our aim is to grow this event significantly, and we are looking forward to welcoming even more small-batch artisan producers and visitors from not only the locality, but from across Northern Ireland.”

This year’s festival, held in conjunction with Tourism Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink, will include many award-winning food offerings to suit all tastes. Fittingly, August has been designated the month of celebrating NI Meat in the Year of Food and Drink calendar. The Speciality Food Fair in Moira could not be more ideally placed with the celebrated Great Taste Supreme Champions, McCartney’s and Hannan Meats located in the town. Products from both will be featured by the chefs in the Kitchen Sessions, with the range and premium quality of Northern Ireland’s meat sector showcased in the artisan food market marquee. Visitors will have the chance to buy directly from the farmers themselves including lamb from Buchanan’s Farm, dry cured bacon from Kennedy Bacon and Dexter Beef from Castlescreen Farm. Whilst in the picnic area, Forthill Farm and Broughgammon Farm – amongst others – will be serving gourmet street food that epitomises the farm to fork ethos.

Alongside these primary producers guests will find organic vegetables, artisan cheese, bread and cakes, jams, chutneys , chocolates, fudge and many other speciality foods – many from multi-award winning producers.
Commenting on the diversity of local artisan food producers scheduled to set up shop at Moira Demesne event organiser Joanne McErlain, Babble, said, “We are really pleased with the diverse range of food on offer at this year’s Speciality Food Fair Moira. We have expanded the offering and have some fabulous new niche producers coming on board. Food trends and dietary needs will be catered for with sourdough baked goods, fermented, gluten free and vegan foods to be discovered. We are very keen to maintain the festival vibe and ensure that Speciality Food Fair becomes an annual must attend event that is as much a social occasion as anything else.”

One-stop shop under the food tent
The main food marquee at this year’s Speciality Food Fair will offer a one-stop shop for visitors to stock up on fresh food and larder essentials. Shoppers are encouraged to interact with local artisans who have been known to recommend food pairings and share tips on simple ways to prepare and serve. “We’re always keen to show that you don’t have to be a pro in the kitchen to assemble a great meal with quality local ingredients,” said Mike Thomson of Mike’s Fancy Cheese, Newtownards. “For example, pairing my Young Buck cheese with the gorgeous pickled watermelon rind from Passion Preserved can create a perfect snack with minimal preparation required. The artisan food producers in Northern Ireland are a collaborative bunch, so we are all very knowledgeable of neighbouring artisans’ products. This means we are well primed to steer customers in the right direction as they make their way around – so it is always worth stopping for a chat!”

Star-studded Kitchen Sessions
Adding a celebrity element to the event, appearances are scheduled by some of Northern Ireland’s leading chefs including Moira’s own Chris McGowan of Wine & Brine in advance of his third appearance on Great British Menu, Derek Patterson of Moira’s The Tannery, part of the widely-acclaimed Plough Group, and Stevie Higginson of Square Bistro, Lisburn. Acclaimed food critic, Charles Campion, will make an appearance and is also playing host to a group of influential UK food bloggers keen for a unique foodie experience.
Speaking at the launch of the Food Fair Chef Chris McGowan, Wine & Brine, said, “After a long career working in London, my passion for the high calibre of local ingredients available in Northern Ireland was one of the factors that called me home. In our restaurant we work to showcase the quality of NI ingredients – many of which are sourced from the suppliers selling their produce at Speciality Food Fair. I look forward to continuing to spread the word about the outstanding quality of Northern Ireland’s primary produce and artisan products. I feel strongly that events like this will help to build a greater appreciation by local consumers of what’s on offer on their doorstep.”

Unique tipples on a Saturday afternoon
Offering a quirky way to take in a refreshment at this year’s Speciality Food Fair, the Tipi café bar, hosted by The Four Trees, will include local drinks ranging from artisan teas, coffees, lemonade and apple juice, to a showcasing of Northern Ireland’s craft beers, ciders and spirits. Expect to find small-batch whiskeys, gins and vodka from the likes of Echlinville, Shortcross and Hughes Craft Distilleries. Craft beers and ciders couldn’t be more local with Hilden and Farmageddon Breweries and Tempted Cider all in residence. For those that like a little sparkle in their choice of beverage, Ruby Blue Liquer will be hosting a ‘pimp your prosecco’ bar.

Local street food vendors to roll into Moira Demesne
With speciality teas and coffees served from vintage trucks and a gourmet street food village offering premium sausages and burgers (with beef, lamb, goat or indeed a vegan black bean burger on offer) to fresh oysters, seafood chowder, pizza and freshly made crepes, expect to be spoilt for choice. Visitors are encouraged to take advantage of the picnic area with a range of family friendly activities including face painting, storytelling, pop-art and more, while enjoying tunes played by local musicians, all in the spirit of keeping it local this summer.
Entry and parking to the Speciality Food Fair Moira is free. The Fair will run from 10am – 6pm on Saturday 20th August. For more information visit follow the Speciality Food Fair Moira on Twitter and Instagram @FoodFairMoira.