OMAGH FOOD FESTIVAL: A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Whether we travel to far-flung reaches of the earth, or indeed stay local, we always try to embrace the culture as well as trying out the local cuisine. Recently we were invited by the event organiser, Ulster Herald, along with other local bloggers, to attend and write about our own experience of the Omagh Food Festival being held on Main Street, Omagh. The Omagh Food Festival is a showcasing event of food and drink, somewhat eclectic in its array of delicacies, which gives the good folks of Omagh and the surrounding areas, the chance to sample delights from local, some well established and others new; producers of foods, preserves, and drinks.
FIRST COME FIRST SERVED
In our official capacity as family travel bloggers, we were invited to attend a Bloggers Tasting Event, being held in Rue, and sample some of the fantastic food that would be on offer at the various stalls. Initially we were hesitant to accept, not because we couldn’t do the event any justice, or that we don’t love food, but for the fact that we were given an arrival time of 12:45! For those who already know us or have read any of our previous posts, you’ll know that ‘arriving on time’ is something we rarely achieve. Nevertheless, we accepted, arrived at Rue early, yes…early, and eagerly awaited the arrival of the goodies for sampling.
The tasting session took place upstairs in a private area of Rue, very tasteful decor and a fantastic wrought iron balcony which overlooked Main Street, great for watching the comings and goings of people perusing the stalls. Main Street itself is adorned with beautiful bunting and fragrant hanging baskets in a dazzling array of vibrant colours, they really give the street a sense that summer is still with us, especially as summer normally lasts for less than a week on the beautiful island of Ireland.
As well as allowing us to taste great food, the Bloggers Tasting Event gave us the opportunity to meet other bloggers who share the same passion about writing, travel and food. Who knew there was so many bloggers within the local county of Tyrone, not us that’s for sure!
AGAINST ALL ODDS
After the tasting session, which gave a great insight as to what was awaiting us on the stalls, we made our way on to Main Street and began meandering through the crowd. Our first port of call was Baz & Ed’s, selling ‘artisan handcrafted fresh street food’, but before we go into detail about the fine cuisine, allow us to briefly tell you of the story behind the birth of Baz & Ed’s…and if we do say so ourselves, a touching story.
In May 2017, Barry was diagnosed with throat cancer and became seriously ill, a devastating blow for anyone, and on the 31st July 2017, Barry’s treatment began. As the co-owner of a very successful bathroom renovation business, after undergoing extensive treatment, Barry decided to leave the bathrooms behind and joined forces with his sister Edelle on setting up a new business, Baz & Ed’s. We are pleased to say that Barry was given the all clear just before Christmas 2017, fantastic news for all involved.
Baz & Ed’s specialise in handmade breads and bakes, but Saturday was their first big day with their new venture, a hot food stall. The food is served out of a lovingly converted horsebox painted in beautiful pastel colours. What did we try? Scrumptious Steak Fajita and the mouth-watering Chicken Tikka Naanwich served on their own signature flatbread, food that’s fresh, colourful and packed full of flavour. You will find Baz & Ed’s at Omagh Market every Monday. Keep an eye on Baz & Ed’s Facebook page to see where their horsebox will be travelling to next! Exciting times and we wish both Barry and Edelle every success and good health for the future.
GETTING MESSY ON MAIN STREET
The Omagh Food Festival on Main Street had such a lively buzz and the vibe continued out on to the actual main street in the town centre. Music, from the fantastic Root16, could be heard the length and breadth of the street and entertainment, in the form of a skilled circus stilt walker, a chef unicyclist and balloon modelling; came from the magnificent Premiere Circus.
Lily-Belle and Matilda had one single mission at the Omagh Food Festival, and that was to make slime at the Glitterbug marquee. Eurgh…not Daddy’s cup of tea at all, I absolutely loathe things that create stickiness or mess…nightmare. Mummy and the girls have tried on numerous occasions to make slime at home, unsuccessfully I hasten to add! With a mix of ingredients, PVA glue, shaving foam, food colouring and a very secret activator; the girls got stuck in, mixing, stretching and folding until the slime came together, much to the delight of Lily-Belle and Matilda…success!
Next stop, face painting by Georgina from Party On In. It was great seeing all the little un’s walking around with their faces painted, lots of great designs including dogs, unicorns and rainbows, brilliant. Now, as a Daddy, I am often the guinea pig when the girls get new face paints, but for today, I’ll leave the doggy noses to the girls, Lily-Belle opted not to have her face done on this occasion and I quote “Daddy, face painting is for babies”, but Matilda chose to have a dalmation doggy face….looks great doesn’t it!
WORKING UP A THIRST
It’s thirsty work taking photographs and sampling goodies so it was a delight to come across Baronscourt Brewing Company Ltd at the Omagh Food festival. The first thing you see is a fantastically constructed wooden bar complete with a branded company logo, jars of hops, wheat, and other ale ingredients on the counter, and as you’d expect, bottles of beer, open, ready for sampling…let me (Mummy only drinks West Coast Cooler) at ’em! To date, the beers available from Baronscourt Brewing Co. include Huntsman Wheat Beer, The Last Stag Red Ale, Black Sheep Stout (Daddy’s favourite) and Pheasant’s Hop IPA. Each beer is as individual as the next, the flavours are unique, and each is lovingly crafted to absolute perfection.
The Baronscourt Brewing Company came about after a chance meeting on a stag do, a conversation about IPA’s and real ale and voila…the birth of the BBC, and we don’t mean the broadcasting company either! Just standing talking to the founders, John Wauchob and Adam Colhoun (IBD qualified brewer), it’s clear to see they are extremely passionate about their ales and for the future of their growing business, and rightly so, what they have created is four great premium ales worthy of being sold in any bar or shop. We are really looking forward to seeing what this great company will offer in the future. Good luck chaps.
LITTLE ITALY IN TYRONE
Italy has long been one of our favourite holiday destinations, and as well as the culture, we absolutely love the food…especially pizza. Our girls were starting to get peckish, as were we, so we followed our noses and made our way to Il Carro Della Pizza and watched Cathal work his magic with the sourdough, used for his pizza base. Cathal takes a real pride in his work, and uses only the freshest and best ingredients he can find to create an authentic taste of Italy in Ireland. We watched as the sourdough was skillfully flattened and loaded with buffalo mozzarella and buffalo burger which had been taken straight from the neighbouring stall of Ballyriff Buffalo, who were themselves grilling their own Magherafelt farm bred buffalo burgers. It’s great to see local companies working together to promote each others produce.
Once made, the pizza was fed into the gaping mouth of a large wood fired oven. The burning wood embers flickered on the left as the pizza cooked on the right, the cheese and tomato bubbling, it reminded us of being in Italy and dining al fresco…and the smells, divine!
It’ll come as no surprise to hear that Il Carro Della Pizza was very popular with the punters, especially when the baking hot samples were served up as offerings. The pizza’s taste as good, nay, better than they look (as if that’s even possible as they look that good), and mouth-wateringly delicious. It’s times like this that we wish someone would create a scratch and sniff app!
COOKING ON GAS, FLOGAS TO BE PRECISE
Buffalo Pizza in hand, we took the weight off our feet and settled to watch Paula McIntyre, a leading chef in Northern Ireland, and host of Radio Ulster’s Saturday Magazine, show her expertise of food with a live cooking demonstration. An engaging commentary throughout, the audience was captured and hung on every word, eagerly waiting to sample the freshly made gnocchi that simmered scrumptiously in the pan. The Flogas cooking demonstrations continued throughout the day with chefs from Rue, Silverbirch Hotel, Mellon Country Inn, An Creagán, Erne Larder Preserves and Cathal, from Il Carro Della Pizza, joining Paula behind the hob. I’m convinced that Mummy picked up a few tips…yet to be put into practice though!
THERE’S NO GRAZING IN THIS MEADOW
Think of Summer and the sun…we know, it’s the island of Ireland and there isn’t much of it; and a refreshing drink of cider, glass filled with ice, always goes down a treat. We love hearing about success stories and there’s no better story than the one told by Pat McKeever, owner of Long Meadow Cider who are located in Portadown, County Armagh.
The McKeever Family have been in the apple industry for 50 years and began producing their Award Winning cider just 5 years ago. Using mainly Bramley apples (other varieties are also used) grown in their own orchard, Pat has developed four very distinct and unique flavours of cider; Oak-Aged, Blossom Burst, Medium and our favourite, Rhubarb and Honey. We had the opportunity to sample each impressive flavour, and we recommend that you do the same. Long Meadow Cider has recently made its debut in UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, so do give this delicious, not overly sweet, cider a try.
We are really looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings for Long Meadow Cider with the proposed opening of a Tea Room and Farm Shop. You can purchase Long Meadow Cider direct from their own website. Now, we have a rhubarb patch on our own farm, and a single plum tree, if only we knew how to make cider (only joking).
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE NEWCOMERS
The majority of the stall holders were smaller businesses, newly formed (within 5 years or so) and looking to put their own stamp on the market, but it was also nice to see some of the local long established hotels and restaurants supporting the Omagh Food Festival. Silverbirch Hotel had a stall offering delicious homemade scones, and to coincide with the festival, had daily specials at the hotel on both days of the festival. An Creagán was showcasing their infamous ‘bog burger’ in mini form, and it is quite possibly one of the best burgers we’ve ever tasted, succulent, juicy and moreish, very moreish!
Just on the outskirts of Omagh, the Mellon Country Inn has recently changed hands and had a full interior up-style, they were at the Omagh Food Festival showcasing their superb Afternoon Tea. The tasty treats, all hand baked on site, were so delicious, but with 10 hungry bloggers and 2 mini-bloggers in the form of Lily-Belle and Matilda, the goodies disappeared quicker than a magician’s assistant. We chatted with Hannah (Marketing Manager) and offered up the idea of a Children’s Afternoon Tea, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive a personal invite, just 24 hours later, asking us to drop in to the Mellon Country Inn and try out the new Children’s Afternoon Tea Menu, of course, we were more than happy to accept.
Read our post on Children’s Afternoon Tea at the Mellon Country Inn.
As one of the main sponsors of the Omagh Food Festival, Main Street’s Rue of course had a few of their own signature dishes available at the Bloggers Tasting Session; Napoli Pesto Pasta, a Thai Prawn Curry and Pan Fried Killybeg’s Hake served on a bed of crushed baby potatoes. The 3 dishes, although very different, were faultless, each redolent but not overpowering. As a fish fan, I (Daddy) wouldn’t hesitate on recommending any of the dishes, in particular the Thai Prawn Curry, although, I (Daddy) love spice and the addition of a few more chillies wouldn’t go amiss for my palette.
FIRM FOOD FAVOURITES
Not new to the Callaghan Household, The Erne Larder Preserves, with their array of chutney, jam and preserves; are staple larder regulars in our home. We often lay on a cheese board when friends come to visit and the extensive range of products are always a perfect accompaniment on such nights. A new addition to their already extensive range is something quite special, something quite different, something tantalisingly tasty…Irish Bacon Jam, yes, you read that correctly, Irish Bacon Jam! It really is surprisingly good and will no doubt become a firm favourite in our larder. The Irish Bacon Jam is soon to be stocked in Lidl (UK)…can’t wait!
Another firm favourite in our kitchen is Omagh based Kennedy Bacon, and their award-winning Dry Cured Bacon is perfect for a Saturday fry. As much as we love a good fry, or a scrumptious bacon sarnie (with brown sauce, never red), we always use this high quality savoury bacon when we make breakfast pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup….a match made in heaven. If you like bacon, convert to Kennedy and you’ll go from liking to loving in the sizzle of a frying pan!
LAST BUT BY NO MEANS LEAST
Time was getting on and our visit to The Green Palate, serving authentic vegetarian Indian cuisine, was very brief, and I have to admit, I (Daddy) was more than a tad disappointed as I never managed to sample any of their amazing looking goodies, especially as Indian food is my absolute favourite above all others, and that includes Italian.
Katie K’s Cakes & Bakes proved to be very popular and was very busy, but fortunately for us, we had already tasted Katie’s deliciously moist cakes at the Bloggers Tasting Event at the beginning of the day.
We also had the privilege of tasting the juicy chocolate covered strawberries, fluffy marshmallows and soft fudge provided by Chocolate Fountain WPM. The girls would have spent the whole day at the chocolate fountain had we let them, but they settled for a few tasters and then smiley face lollies before we set off for home.
All in all the Omagh Food Festival was a hugely successful event and, for it to only be in its second year, is testament to the organisers and local businesses at how well this event sits with the local community…Main Street was packed solid on both days, just enough space to breathe and no more.
EVENT ORGANISER, SPONSORS AND STALL HOLDERS
Around The World In 18 Years would like to ‘doth our caps’ and thank the following companies for putting on a splendid event celebrating the great produce that the island of Ireland has to offer:
- Ulster Herald
- Main Street
- Silverbirch Hotel
- Flogas (Ireland)
- Fermanagh & Omagh District Council
Stall Holders (alphabetical)
- An Creagán
- Baronscourt Brewing Company Ltd
- Ballyriff Buffalo
- Baz & Ed’s
- Chocolate Fountain WPM
- Erne Larder Preserves
- Il Carro Della Pizza
- Katie K’s Cakes & Bakes
- Kennedy Bacon
- Long Meadow Cider
- Mellon Country Inn
- Rue / Main Street
- Silverbirch Hotel
- The Green Palate
MUCH MORE THAN FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The Omagh Food Festival isn’t just about food and beverages, it’s about bringing a community together in celebration of all things local, but mainly it’s about food! If, for whatever reason, you didn’t have the chance to visit in 2018, we recommend you book the Omagh Food Festival into your diary for 2019, the dates aren’t set so please keep an eye in the local press and on the Ulster Herald website. As a family we had a great day at a very well organised festival, we will definitely be back in 2019 that’s for sure.
LILY-BELLE (age 9) SAYS
I really liked being involved with the tasters and trying the different foods, I liked the chocolate strawberries and the brownies from Mellon Country Inn. Once on the street I liked sampling the olives from Tom & Ollie’s. I thought it was cool smelling the different beer ingredients at the Baronscourt stall, and my absolutely favourite part of the day, making slime.
MATILDA (age 4) SAYS
Ermmm, I liked the olives, but the man (Tom & Ollie’s) only let me have two. I liked the big tall man (stiltwalker) but I couldn’t give him a high five, but I didn’t like the man on the bike, I think he was drunk. Yaaaaaay, the slime was brilliant, I got to make real slime not like we do at home, because it never works, Daddy, you’re rubbish at making slime (that’s me told).
Omagh Food Festival is annual and event dates vary
Location: Main Street, Omagh
Date of our visit: 11th & 12th August 2018
Entry Fee: free
Car park: public parking and pay and display nearby
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All information, currency and prices are correct at the time of publishing.
All views, opinions and experiences are that of The Callaghan Posse and are correct at the time of publication.
All photos, unless credited below, are taken by The Callaghan Posse for use and distribution by Around The World In 18 Years.
Main Header image credit: Omagh Food Festival
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