A small island located in the North Atlantic, Ireland has for many years seen an increase in restaurants, cafés, country houses and hotels sourcing their ingredients from local Irish food producers, fishermen and farmers.
The Irish food scene is emerging, with a new initiative – “Taste the Island” recently announced by Fáilte Ireland, and so we have put together a list of 2 Blue Book houses who ‘keep it local’ and source their ingredients onsite and locally
Newforge House in Co. Armagh source all ingredients locally and on-site and this is evident the minute guests arrive at Newforge House. On arrival, guests are invited to enjoy complimentary homemade biscuits and leaf tea sourced from Belfast or ground coffee from Maghera. These are also in each bedroom for guests to enjoy freely throughout their stay.
There’s a small orchard which provides fruits for desserts, chutneys and preserves, and is home to the chickens that lay eggs for breakfast
The breakfast and dinner menus offer the best seasonal produce from the gardens and local artisan suppliers including eggs from the chickens in the orchard, Moyallon Dry Cured Bacon from Moira, Pork Sausages sourced from Lurgan and Clandeboye Yoghurt from Bangor.
The daily changing dinner menu at Newforge House features fruits and vegetables from their beautiful gardens in addition to local artisan produce such as Himalayan Salt dry-aged beef from Moira, Co Armagh, Organic Glenarm Salmon from fishmongers in Belfast and Triple Rose Cheese from Ballylisk, Co.Armagh. Their own orchard provides fruits for desserts, chutneys and preserves.
The all-Irish cheeseboard features no less than seven cheeses from Ballylisk, Co. Armagh, Mike’s Fancy Cheese from Newtonards and Corleggy, Co. Cavan. These are served with homemade crackers and chutney made from homegrown fruits and vegetables.
Newforge House has an extensive drinks list which, in addition to wine, features local ales like McIvors from Co Armagh, and distillations, for example, Ruby Blue Vodka from Moira Co. Down.
The Gin list features local Gins, including Shortcross Gin from Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. All gin and vodka infusions are made using homegrown fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, damsons and sloes.
Castle Grove Country House, a family-run Georgian House, set in its own 250-acre estate in Co. Donegal source a variety of local ingredients for the menu in their Michelin-recommended restaurant. The innovative menu caters for all palates, featuring fresh fish, tender roast meats and seasonal vegetables, many of which are handpicked on site from the fantastic Walled Garden on the grounds of Castle Grove.
The historic Walled Garden dates back to the 19th century, the adjoining garden cottage was originally home to three full-time gardeners who assumed responsibility for developing and maintaining a working garden at Castle Grove.
These days, the Walled Garden provides a sheltered onsite environment, enabling them to grow organic fruits, herbs and seasonal vegetables for use within the restaurant.
Additionally, they also grow their own beautiful cut flowers for decorative use throughout the house.
Two key ingredients come from the Walled Garden for Castle Grove’s signature alcoholic drinks – Castle Grove Strawberry Gin and Original Cider.
The idea for the Strawberry Gin came about when Castle Grove aimed to create a product unique to Castle Grove Walled Garden and the fresh organic produce grown there and most recently a Castle Grove Original Cider was launched to mark the houses 30th year in business.