I grew up in Belfast and was lucky enough to have a Mum that enjoyed cooking and baking, which had the knock on effect of planting a small seed in me, at a very young age. My earliest food memories are of Mum baking biscuits, using an old Kenwood mixer, allowing me to lick the spoon clean, whilst the smell of freshly baked oat biscuits wafted through the house. My parents did a lot of entertaining when I was younger and some of my favourite memories would be of drifting off to sleep to the comforting lull of laughing and conversation, coming up from the dining room below. In the morning, I’d be up early and sneak down to the dining room, the cigarette smoke would still be lingering in the air and the table would be strewn with empty wine glasses, but what really interested me was the half eaten cheese board in the middle of the table. For a seven year old, this was the breakfast of champions, some ripe Brie, followed by really strong cheddar and then finishing off with a bit of blue, munching on copious amounts of oat crackers as I went. I have no doubt that it was these early morning cheese raids that have given me the serious cheese habit I have today.
A stint as a cheesemonger in Sheridan’s in Galway only served to increase my passion for cheese and exposed me to the best farmhouse produce in Europe. I got to meet some of Ireland’s food superstars and it took my love of food to another level, something which was very easy due to the fact that I was constantly surrounded by other people who were as obsessed about good food as I was. My time in Galway taught me about real food and the passion and eccentricity that goes into making it. I started to dabble in food writing, which allowed me to explore food issues and think more about the social, political and economical impacts on the food we eat.
I want to explore all Ireland has to offer in terms of real food, and of course I want to find the producers, and shout their praise from the roof tops. I believe Ireland has some of the best farmhouse, artisan produce in the world, so part of this blog is to promote that and get other people excited about regional food from the north of Ireland.
Another big role of this blog is about me rediscovering Belfast and Northern Ireland, to hunt out the best restaurants, pubs, delis, butchers, markets, fishmongers, producers and chefs. I want to share these experiences and in doing so, hopefully show the rich spread that the north has to offer.
Dig in and enjoy.