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The Fine Food Festival

don't miss it!

NI Year of Food and Drink 2016

Fine Food Festivals are now a well-established and hugely popular attractions at the Irish Game & Country Fairs at both Shanes Castle and Birr Castle, and so the new Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival at Montalto Estate would not be complete without a great selection of fine food to sample and buy.

At Montalto, the Fine Food exhibitors will be located in the historic and very beautiful stable block and also in a special Fine Food area in the main exhibition hall. In keeping with the overall theme of the event, they are being asked to come in period attire. As ladies did not work in retail until the late 1800s we think Victorian or Edwardian costume would be perfect!

Stylish food accompanied by stylish dress!
Stylish food accompanied by stylish dress!

While the costumes may add a little fun and theatre to the event, it's the food (and, of course, the odd drink or two) in the NI Year of Food & Drink it is entirely appropriate that the fine Food and cookery should take centre stage.


Each stable in the Courtyard will also be a treasure to investigate, featuring one, two or even three exhibitors offering an eclectic selection of some of the finest food being produced here in Ireland - plus, of course, Peter Gott from Sillfield Farm in Cumbria. There's 'no show without Punch' and Peter has been attending the Great Game Fairs of Ireland for many years with his wonderful wild boar products, so if you've already eaten all your supplies from Shanes and Birr, you can stock up again at Montalto.

Wild Boar & Game Pies from Peter Gott
Wild Boar & Game Pies from Peter Gott

Two other stalwarts of the Game Fairs are James O'Doherty from Old Irish Creamery in Limerick and Victor Kitson and Linda Gourley of Springwell Sheep's Cheese. Again, both will be exhibiting at Montalto, James with his delicious plain and flavoured cheddar cheeses and Victor and Linda with their hand made sheep's milk cheeses.

Great cheese from Old Irish Creamery and Springwell Sheep's Cheese
Great cheese from Old Irish Creamery and Springwell Sheep's Cheese

You might like to try one of the craft ciders from Long Meadow or Kilmegan or a beer from Lacada- perhaps with a Sillfield Farm wild boar pork pie and a chunk of Springwell Sheep's Cheese. We're sure you will also find Barry Crowe with the aroma of his award winning sausage (including Cabbage & Bacon) and some interesting and flavoursome chutneys difficult to resist.


That's just a little 'taster' for what you can expect to find in the Fine Food Courtyard at Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival, but we can guarantee there will be many more treats in store, from traditional artisan baked goods, through preserves and relishes, oils and vinegars, herbs and spices to rare breed meats and maybe even the odd olive or two!


Once again Emmett Mc Court Chef to the Great Game Fairs of Ireland will be showcasing his considerable culinary expertise in the Flogas Kitchen. We are delighted that Emmett an World Award Winning Chef & Author of the globally acclaimed book: Feast or Famine, A Cultural Food Journey of the North West of Ireland, continues to entertain and educate audiences at our fairs

Emmett  Feast or Famine

Food for Emmett McCourt has been a constant journey of love and passion for over two decades. His culinary career began 26 years ago at the NI Hotel and Catering College, Portrush. Since then he has travelled the world working in the kitchens of some of the world's finest restaurants, luxury cruise liners and hotels alongside some of the world's greatest chefs, including international names such as the legendary Georges Paineau and Yves Thuries of France. His skillset is based in the deep-rooted Irish customs of food foraging and the use of traditional methods of food preparation and presentation. Emmett is an experienced lecturer and educationalist and a prominent campaigner for, and contributor to, the Agri-Food sector across the North West of Ireland and beyond.

Emmett McCourt initiated the award-winning and multi-disciplinary Irish Food Heritage Project (IFHP) in 2011 to capture and preserve the food history of the North West of Ireland. In 2013, after several years of intensive research, he produced the lavishly illustrated publication - Feast or Famine, A Cultural Food Journey of the North West of Ireland, Published by Guildhall Press. This fascinating story of Irish food promotes and celebrates the region's unique culinary appeal and the dedicated local artisans who present it to the world.

Feast or Famine won The Best Culinary Travel Book in the World in June 2015 at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Yantai China.

He currently lectures at The North West Regional College & can be found cooking in The Colleges State of the Art Restaurants "The Flying Clipper" and Erin Room

Emmett recently featured on UTV in Paul & Nicks Big Food Trip and on RTE Our Friends in the North and Irish TV. A regular on BBC radio Foyle , Radio Ulster and Downtown Radio Emmett's Food conveys the depth of Irish Food Heritage with Modern Interpretations. He demonstrates on a Traditional "Hearth Crane Crook", the great Cookery skills of a bygone era. His Food is further enhanced by echoes of a forgotten culture and People, Presented on Irish Bog Oak plates. The Use of Bog Oak for food presentation also reflects the rich heritage of Emmett's Home town -Doire (City of the Oak Trees)


Emmett Mc Court will be joined by local chef and restauranteur Kelan Mc Michael, proprietor of the recently opened Bull & Ram Restaurant in Ballynahinch.

Bull & Ram

Situated in a beautiful Grade 1 listed butcher's shop, the Bull & Ram serves the best in local award-winning meat and fresh County Down produce. Lovingly restored back to its former glory with the original tiles, meat-hanging rail and herringbone oak ceiling, the restaurant offers a unique dining experience. The modern annex at the back of the restaurant boasts an open kitchen where diners can watch the chefs at work. The Bull & Ram's imaginative, modern yet informal menu celebrates the best of local produce. From 66-day beef, dry-aged in a Himalayan salt chamber, to fresh fish landed in Portavogie, diners can enjoy the best that County Down has to offer. Signature dishes already include bone marrow on toast, sugar-pit cured pork ribs and Strangford lobster and crayfish cocktail.

Kelan will be demonstrating some dishes from his menu and of course while you are in Ballynahinch the restaurant is well worth a visit.

Bull & Ram
Chef Kelan McMichael joins local Councillors and Battle of Antrim Re-enactors in toasting the success of the Ballynahinch Game Fair


The Yellow Door's Simon Dougan, one of Northern Ireland's top chefs will be cooking up culinary delights with a distinctly Medieval flavour at the inaugural Ballynahinch Harvest and Country Living Festival, 24th and 25th September at the beautiful Montalto Estate.

The Yellow Door have popular deli's and restaurants in Belfast, Lisburn and Portadown and it's the Yellow Door's professional outside catering team that will be managing the food offering for the entire two-day event but the undoubted highlight will be the Medieval Buffet Banquet to be held in the Carriage Rooms fine dining hall.

"I'm really excited about the concept of the Medieval Banquet and I've got great plans in store," said Simon. "The room will be set out in period style with long tables and bench seating, featuring reindeer hide covers for a bit of comfort with a difference. This will be totally open to all visitors to the festival and at a realistic price.

Simon Dougan from Yellow Door preview of some of the ingredients of his medieval buffet
Simon Dougan from Yellow Door gives some of the knights a preview of some of the ingredients of his medieval buffet

A keen shot himself, Simon is particularly excited about the chance to cook up game recipes with a Medieval flavour and a modern twist. "I can't reveal all just yet but expect the food to be gutsy and really flavoursome, with game dishes like pigeon pie, lots of meaty flavours and wholesome soups served in freshly baked bread bowls," he said.

"There will be a hedgerow harvest too with elderflower drinks and dishes and I'll also be putting a strong focus on desserts, like lemon posset and traditional puddings in a mouth watering display."

Adding to the Medieval theme, the Carriage Room Banquet will feature a falconer with an owl flying up the aisle, a harpist, knights in armour and servers in Medieval costume.

The Yellow Door will also be providing food on site around the Festival. Among other things, look out for a burger food station with a difference, providing food theatre with chefs demonstrating the art of burger making while you wait for your freshly made, truly delicious burger.

Find out more about Simon Dougan at or visit the Yellow Door Deli on Lisburn Road, Belfast or Woodhouse Street, Portadown. Simon's book 'The Yellow Door, our stories, our recipes' is available to buy in store.

If you have a fine food or drinks product to promote to a discerning 'foodie' audience and to add to the fine food extravaganza please contact us - to see if we can fit you in!

The Fine Food Festival at Montalto is supported by the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016

NI Year of Food and Drink 2016

Ireland's Real Game Fairs © Ballynahinch Harvest & County Living Festival