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10 fantastic food & drink buys from Northern Ireland

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day on 17 March, we’ve rounded up some of the best food and drink buys from Northern Ireland, a place long admired by those in the know as a fount of quality produce. Our list of top goodies includes a fabulously creamy cheese, chorizo worthy of a special occasion and salsa verde with a magic secret ingredient…

10 fantastic food & drink buys from Northern Ireland

1. Islander Rathlin Kelp Salsa Verde

Pretty Rathlin Island, off the coast of Ballycastle, is a spot for discerning tourists – and also a haven for organic kelp farming. Craic Foods, a brilliantly innovative producer we’ve featured in delicious. before, uses the kelp to craft this palate-awakening salsa verde. Made with capers, herbs, red wine vinegar and the not-so-secret ingredient, it’s fantastic with roast meat, egg dishes, on steamed new potatoes, grilled veg and more. £4.20 for 100g, available from Craic Foods

An open jar on Islander Kelp Salsa Verde

2. Thompson’s Signature Blend tea

Thompson’s has been blending award-winning tea in Belfast for over 120 years, so it’s fair to say the company knows a thing or two about what makes a good brew. Created in tribute to founder Robert S Thompson, the Signature Blend combines the finest leaves from Africa and India for a simply great cuppa: rich and tannic, full of body.

On a mission to create the ‘perfect everyday cuppa’ for this classic blend, the buyers chose leaves picked when sunshine and rainfall are in harmony, slowing growth to produce a richer taste. £2.50 for 80 teabags, available from Ocado

A box of Thompson's signature tea blend

3. Ballylisk Triple Rose cheese

Five generations of the Wright family farming the lush fields of Ballylisk, Armagh, have led to the creation of their first cheese: the decadent Triple Rose, a single-herd triple cream cheese. The food chain starts and ends in Ballylisk, with the morning’s milk in the moulds by lunchtime. Taste-wise, it’s like a brie on steroids – it has an immense melted texture with sweet and salty undertones, but it’s the sharp streak of lemony notes that sets it apart. £6 for approx 110-130g, available from Mike’s Fancy Cheese

Ballylisk Triple Rose cheese cut open on a board, with a packaged cheese and apples in the background

4. Shindigs Irish Sea Salt & Vinegar Crisps

Shindigs, in the beautiful Glens of Antrim, creates next-level crisps with bold flavours. With a liberal dusting of Port Oriel sea salt and white wine vinegar, these crisps taste like a seaside chip shop. Smartly boxed for sharing (or not). £2.49 for 90g, coming soon to artisanmarket.online

A box of Shindigs Irish Sea Salt & Vinegar Crisps, with blue illustration

5. Corndale Farm chorizo

Free-range Saddleback pigs roam the fields of Corndale Farm in Limavady, where Alastair Crown has been making superlative charcuterie for 12 years, piling up awards along the way. We tried the classic chorizo, which is judiciously spiced and beautifully textured – not a cooking chorizo but a special occasion nibble. £6.50 for 110g, available from Corndale Farm

Two chorizo from Corndale Farm in brown paper packaging, with a dish of spices and sliced chorizo in the foreground

6. Whitewater Brewery X Hinch Distillery Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout

When you clock that a stout is 9% ABV you may fear something winey and un-beer-like, but this disarmingly smooth creation is dangerously drinkable. It’s the fruit of a collaboration between Whitewater Brewing Co, on a family farm in the Morne Mountains, and Hinch Distillery in Ballynahinch. Ageing in Irish whiskey barrels lends the drink a roasted malt whiskey tang, underlaid with creamy coffee and maple syrup. One to savour as a St Paddy’s Day treat. £3.99 for 330ml, available from KWM Wines & Spirits

A can of Whitewater Brewery X Hinch Distillery Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout

7. Burren Balsamics Blackberry & Thyme Pearl Bursts

Sometimes a product comes along that you love but might not quite know what to do with. Burren Balsamics, on the outskirts of Armagh, mainly produces fruit-infused balsamic vinegars, not only in bottles but also in the form of these intriguing little flavour bursts. Try them on roast meat or griddled veg, or adorn a bramble cocktail with a few floating provocatively on top. £7.50 for 50g, available from Burren Balsamics

A bowl of Burren Balsamics pearls with packaging in the background

8. Forest Feast Salted Dark Chocolate Almonds

All chocolate nuts are not the same, as you’ll discover if you try these hand- crafted treats from Forest Feast, a small, sustainably minded snack company in Co Armagh. The blonde chocolate caramelised hazelnuts are right up there, but these salted dark chocolate almonds stole our hearts. £3.40 for 120g, available from Sainsbury’s

A blue packet of Forest Feast Salted Dark Chocolate Almonds

9. Melting Pot Classic Chocolate Fudge

Some say you shouldn’t mess with a classic – but the three sisters behind this fudge from Belfast have got it right. They make it the trad way, using local milk and butter. The chocolate orange version has a silky ganache texture that would make Wonka jealous. £3 for 90g, available from Melting Pot Fudge

Melting Pot Classic Chocolate Fudge in wrapper

10. Crawford’s Rock Seaweed, Salt ’N Chilli Dark Chocolate

Crawford’s Rock is a small family company harvesting wild seaweed. They also make wonderful things with it, like this chocolate. The ingredients might make you raise an eyebrow (garlic granules?!) but it works. A thing of genius – plus it’s vegan. Seaweed, Salt ’N Chilli Dark Chocolate, £4 for 80g, available from Crawford’s Rock

Crawford’s Rock Seaweed, Salt ’N Chilli Dark Chocolate, unwrapped sitting on its packaging

Discover the rest of our food and drink shopping guides – all tested and approved by the delicious. team.

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