Get your foodie hat on and vote for whatever tickles your fancy!

FOOD and drink lovers across Northern Ireland are being invited to have their say in this year’s Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards which are taking place next month to celebrate the resilience and growth of the sector across the province.

The awards, which are considered the most important awards in Northern Ireland’s business calendar, honour the work of our home grown producers and celebrate the contribution which the agri-food industry plays in our economy.

This year, Food NI, our region’s promotional voice for food and drink producers, are sponsoring two awards - The People’s Choice and Taste of Ulster Restaurant of the Year 2013.

For The People’s Choice award, producers, from across Northern Ireland, have been asked to put forward the product which they feel deserves recognition and are now putting its fate in the hands of the public.

As well as that, independent inspectors for Food NI have been busy anonymously assessing Northern Ireland’s top restaurants to score their food quality, use of local produce and standards of service. The top 20 Taste of Ulster Restaurants, selected from independent assessors scoring, will be nominated for the public vote via social media. The restaurant achieving the highest level of votes will win the Food NI Taste of Ulster Restaurant of the year award for 2013.

Michele Shirlow, chief executive of Food NI, said: “This is the 12th Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards and we are delighted to be sponsoring two categories. It has been great fun getting the nominations in. Food and drink producers play a massive role in our economy. We all love something nice to eat and drink and somewhere nice to dine out. But the public can now have their say on whether it’s bread or butter, yoghurt or ice cream or burgers or steak or, indeed whatever, which tickles their fancy, by nominating online.”

In Northern Ireland, over 100,000 private sector jobs depend on the success and continued growth of the agri-food sector which has an estimated turnover of £4billion.

To vote for your favourite produce and your favourite restaurant visit Voting opened on Monday morning (February 25) and runs through until Friday, March 1 at 5pm.


What The Producers Say.....


BROUGHGAMMON FARM GOAT BURGERS: “Broughgammon Farm is Northern Ireland’s first commercial goat meat enterprise hand rearing male goats from the dairy industry to provide a deliciously mouth watering, sweeter and healthier alternative to lamb. Although new to the scene they have been quick off the mark and their burgers are simply to die for.”

ELEANOR CRAIG’S HOMEMADE BUTTER FUDGE: “Homemade Butter Fudge has been in the family for many generations. It has never been altered from one generation to the next. I hold my family traditions very close to my heart and as a result I have found my crumbly textured fudge is enjoyed by everyone due to its distinct texture and taste.”

CAUSEWAY PRIME BROOKS BISTRO STEAK: “From the nest part of select prime rump of beef, cut and trimmed from the succulent rump heart can be served on its own, as part of a surf n turf dish or as the perfect steak sandwich paired with a nice Ciabatta or baguette”

DROMONA SPREADEASY BUTTER: “Dromona Spreadeasy Butter is made using only the finest, freshest, locally sourced milk at our Dromona Creamery in Cullybackey. Did you know that Dromona Spreadeasy Butter is the Number One local butter brand- so if you choose Dromona as the People’s Choice you’ll be in great company.”

BAILIES COFFEE FAIRTRADE ESPRESSO: “Roasted almonds, cream, butter, cocoa, wine, caramel and vanilla are some of the tastes and aromas to be enjoyed within this espresso. This coffee has good body, mild balanced acidity and a long creamy maple syrup finish. This blend has a small percentage of robusta which produces a rich thick cream, and works especially well in cappuccinos and lattes. Bailies Coffee Company, based in Dargan Road, Belfast have been supplying FT espresso to over 300 Coffee shops across Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland for the last 19 years.”

SUNBLEST VEDA: “Once baked all over the UK, Northern Ireland remains the only place still baking Veda today. Sunblest Veda or the ‘yellow one’ as it has become known, is Northern Ireland’s favourite Veda and is baked using the same highly guarded recipe since 1956. Sunblest receives regular requests from as far as Australia for the iconic little loaf, with many describing the sweet maltiness as the ‘taste of home’. “

SUNBLEST PANCAKES: “We love our pancakes in Northern Ireland but they are often overlooked as a local food hero. However we consume more pancakes than any other part of the UK and Ireland. Baking one million pancakes per week, Sunblest uses flour from our own mills and fresh Dale Farm buttermilk to achieve the fluffy texture that is adored by young and old alike.”

BELLA JO RELISH: The Bella Jo relish is becoming a household favourite across Ireland. All handmade along the Antrim coast with the finest ingredients of vine ripened tomatoes, onions and chillies.


BROIGHTER GOLD RAPESEED OIL: We are an arable farm on the North Coast who farm 700 acres. We are passionate about our variety of rapeseed oil. We have just been awarded ‘Artisan at Work’to open our farm up to the public. We want everyone to know that our rapeseed is actually grown here and not bought in.

Restaurants in the running for Food NI Taste of Ulster Restaurant of the year award for 2013:

The Yellow Door Deli - Portadown; The Cuan - Strangford; The Londonderry Arms - Carnlough; The Mitre Restaurant at The Culloden Estate and Spa - Holywood; Del Toro - Lisburn; Ballyrobin Country House - Crumlin; Browns Restaurant - Derry; Carriages - Larne; Denvirs Hotel - Downpatrick; Dufferin Coaching Inn - Downpatrick; Katch 27 - Kircubbin; La Scala Bistro at The Stormont Hotel - Belfast; Malmaison - Belfast; Nick’s Warehouse - Belfast

Roe Park Resort - Londonderry; The Garden Restaurant at The Ballygally Castle - Ballygally; The Burrendale Hotel - Newcastle; Bushmills Inn Hotel - Bushmills; Groucho’s Café Bar - Richhill; Oyster’s Restaurant - Strabane; The Brewer’s House - Donaghmore; Wildfowler Inn - Greyabbey.