North Mayo restaurants showcase artisan ingredients to drive tourism

A group of restaurants in north Mayo has come together to promote the food offering within the region, highlight the use of local ingredients, and showcase their relationships with artisan producers from the west of Ireland.

Over the weekend of November 25, 26, and 27, visitors to a number of restaurants in the area can order a special dish in each restaurant using a local artisan ingredient – black pudding from Brickens-based Andarl Farm. A new ingredient will be selected each month.

The focus on food is part of a wider programme initiated by MayoNorth.ie to promote the region as a tourism destination, alongside Moy Valley Resources and Ballina Chamber, and is being driven from the ground by a number of local chefs and producers. Other projects on the agenda include the development of food trails, festivals, demos, front of house training, and children’s cookery events.

Dillon’s Bar and Restaurant, Luskin’s Bistro and Wine Bar, the Ice House Hotel, the Library Restaurant at Belleek Castle, Heffernan’s Heifer and Hen Restaurant, No 45 @ Brennan’s Lane, the Kitchen Restaurant at Mount Falcon, the Twin Trees Hotel, the Loft Bar, The Post House, and Crockets on the Quay are all taking part in initiative, with more to follow.

“We know from recent research conducted on behalf of Failte Ireland that food experiences are incredibly important to tourists both before and after their visit," said Anne-Marie Flynn, marketing manager at MayoNorth.ie "This initiative aims to give our visitors a great food experience and a real sense of 'place on a plate' when they visit Mayo by showcasing our many great local ingredients.”

The variety of dishes on offer will showcase the versatility of local ingredients. Chef Jonathan Reeves of No. 45 @ Brennan’s Lane will offer quail stuffed with Andarl Farm black pudding, served with sauté wild mushrooms and a berry jus, while Rory Culkin at the Twin Trees plans to offer slow roasted pork belly with Andarl Farm Black Pudding, served with champ potato, wilted greens, and shallot gravy.

Jason Horkan, deputy manager at the Ice House Hotel, commented: “We at the Ice House are delighted to participate in the monthly local food and beverage themed events in the region, which will help create awareness and generate additional support for our many local suppliers as well as educating our customers on what is on offer locally.’’

The black pudding is produced by Dave and Diana Milestone of Andarl Farm, who spent three years seeking out the right breed of pig in order to get the fat-lean ratio they wanted in their meat. Starting with Doris, a great white sow, they eventually purchased Harry, a hyroc boar, a cross between a duroc and a pietrain, to breed with their Andarl Farm sows. The result is something they call Velvet Pork. Tender, sweet and subtle, it cooks perfectly regardless of methodology.

“We’re delighted to be part of this initiative," Dave Milestone said. "Working with local producers means the food on your plate is of a higher quality, isn’t compromised by travelling long distances, and most importantly you can always tell where your food comes from. It also creates and supports employment locally which is so important in the west of Ireland.”

Restaurants or suppliers in the region interested in becoming involved in the development of this food tourism initiative can contact [email protected] for further information.

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