Food and Drink

Ulster Fry

The best known traditional dish in Northern Ireland is the Ulster fry.

An Ulster fry, although not originally particularly associated with breakfast time, has in recent decades been marketed as Northern Ireland's version of a cooked breakfast.

It is distinguishable from a full breakfast by its griddle breads – soda bread and potato bread, fried (or occasionally grilled) until crisp and golden.

Sometimes also including small pancakes. Bacon, sausages, an egg, and (as a modern development) tomato and sometimes mushrooms complete the dish.

It is usually served with tea and toast.

We realise this might be a very controversial comment to make but here goes.

Baked beans are part of a Full English Breakfast and not part of the traditional Ulster Fry.

Armagh Cider Company

Armagh Cider Company is owned by Philip and Helen Troughton of Ballinteggart House, outside Portadown. The Troughton family have been growing apples there for four generations since 1898, though the family farm has also been home to a hugely successful sport horse breeding and stud business for over 20 years.

Philip’s father, ‘TG’ Troughton, had often talked about starting up his own cider business, but never got around to it, concentrating instead on the then healthy market for fresh cooking apples to the retail trade and his contract to supply apples to a large commercial cider maker.

There is a history of cider making in Northern Ireland. In 1682, the Rev W Brooke wrote from Portadown that cider was being sold at 30 shillings a barrel and that some people were making 20 to 30 barrels per season. In fact King William sent his cider maker to Portadown to make cider for his army!

In recent years, the market for apples has changed beyond all recognition, becoming much more commodity driven, with the inherent loss of margin that entails. Given these factors, Philip and Helen revisited the long-held idea of making their own top quality, hand-crafted cider that would outshine in terms of taste and quality its mass-produced rivals and appeal to discerning drinkers looking for something more authentic and naturally flavoursome.

While we knew we had a great raw ingredient – our own apples – we initially didn’t know much about cider making, so enlisted the services of master cider maker Keith Knight in England, who used Ballinteggart apples and worked closely with us to produce our own bespoke cider.

The first cider from Armagh Cider Company was introduced to the market in January 2006 as ‘Carsons Cider’, but the company has evolved over the past four years and its product range has been substantially enhanced in response to consumer demand.

Cider, of course, has enjoyed a massive revival in recent years, but the market for traditional hand-crafted ciders in Northern Ireland is still in its infancy and Armagh Cider Company has been leading the way with its development.

Such was the immediate popularity of Carsons Cider that Armagh Cider Company was inundated with requests to introduce a non-alcoholic pure Armagh Apple Juice, which the company duly did in 2007.

Helen and Philip have now brought production of their cider and apple juice home to Ballinteggart. This was always the intention but we wanted to learn the skills and techniques first, as producing a consistent product is not a simple matter of following a strict recipe. Instead it's all based on taste - a skill that takes time to develop!

We always felt it was a great shame that County Armagh, the home of the apple business in Northern Ireland, was the only apple growing area in the UK without its own cider producers and we are pleased to have led the way. With our ciders, apple juice and cider vinegars, we can offer consumers authentic, hand crafted, completely natural apple products with genuine provenance and heritage behind them and that deliver on quality and taste.

We look forward to introducing the new look and extended range of products to consumers and hope that you enjoy them as much as we do!

Comber Earlies

Comber Earlies

Comber Earlies, also called new season Comber potatoes, are potatoes grown around the town of Comber, County Down. They enjoy the status of protected geographical indication (PGI) since 2012 and are grown by the Comber Earlies Growers Co-Operative Society Limited.

The term applies to immature potatoes harvested between early May and late July in the area surrounding Comber. This area, sheltered by the Mourne Mountains and Ards Peninsula and protected from frost by the saltwater of Strangford Lough, has a distinctive microclimate, allowing an early potato harvest and a distinctive sweet, nutty flavour. Comber Earlies are not a variety of potato, they can be of many varieties, but are named solely after the location at which they are grown.

Comber potatoes have long been linked with the Ulster Scots planters the Hamiltons and Montgomerys. The first written mention of potatoes being grown on the island of Ireland, in 1606, mentions Comber.

There is one thing for sure. Northern Ireland loves their spuds!!!

Bushmills Whiskey

The Old Bushmills Distillery is a distillery in Bushmills, County Antrim. Bushmills Distillery uses water drawn from Saint Columb's Rill, which is a tributary of the River Bush.

The area has a long tradition with distillation. According to one story, as far back as 1276, an early settler called Sir Robert Savage of Ards, before defeating the Irish in battle, fortified his troops with "a mighty drop of acqua vitae". In 1608, a licence was granted to Sir Thomas Phillips by King James I to distil whiskey.

"For the next seven years, within the countie of Colrane, otherwise called O Cahanes countrey, or within the territorie called Rowte, in Co. Antrim, by himselfe or his servauntes, to make, drawe, and distil such and soe great quantities of aquavite, usquabagh and aqua composita, as he or his assignes shall thinke fitt; and the same to sell, vent, and dispose of to any persons, yeeldinge yerelie the somme 13s 4d."

In 1890, a steamship owned and operated by the distillery, SS Bushmills, made its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to deliver Bushmills whiskey to America. It called at Philadelphia and New York City before heading on to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Yokohama.

After various periods of closure in its subsequent history, the distillery has been in continuous operation since it was rebuilt after a fire in 1885.

In the early 20th century, the U.S. was a very important market for Bushmills (and other Irish Whiskey producers). American Prohibition in 1920 came as a large blow to the Irish Whiskey industry, but Bushmills managed to survive. Wilson Boyd, Bushmills' director at the time, predicted the end of prohibition and had large stores of whiskey ready to export.

After the Second World War, the distillery was bought by Isaac Wolfson, and, in 1972, it was taken over by Irish Distillers, meaning that Irish Distillers controlled the production of all Irish whiskey at the time. In June 1988, Irish Distillers was bought by French liquor group Pernod Ricard.

In May 2008, the Bank of Ireland issued a new series of sterling banknotes in Northern Ireland which all feature an illustration of the Old Bushmills Distillery on the obverse side, replacing the previous notes series which depicted Queen's University of Belfast.

In November 2014 it was announced that Diageo had traded the Bushmills brand with Jose Cuervo.

The distillery is a popular tourist attraction, with around 120,000 visitors per year.


Yellowman or yellaman is a chewy, toffee-textured honeycomb produced in Northern Ireland.

Yellowman is sold in non-standard blocks and chips and is associated with the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle, County Antrim, where it is sold along with other confectionery and often dulse.

Yellowman is similar to honeycomb toffee, except that the more solid 'rind' usually consists of at least half the quantity. The rind is hard, having a similar consistency to rock.

Yellowman needs to be heated to high temperatures to get the golden syrup and sugar mixture to reach the ‘hard-crack’ (149 °C/300 °F) – the temperature at which boiled sugar becomes brittle when cooled. It will also only acquire its unique bubbly and crunchy consistency when a reaction occurs between the vinegar and the baking soda, which vigorously adds carbon dioxide gas throughout the mixture.

Ingredients of yellowman are commonly quoted as including brown sugar, golden syrup, butter, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda but there are many local variations in ingredients and recipes.

Jennifer Ann Bristow BEM

Jennifer Ann Bristow BEM

Jenny Bristow BEM is a cook and cookery writer from Northern Ireland. She is best known for her cookery television series produced by UTV.

Jenny was brought up on her family's dairy farm near Coleraine. Before her broadcasting career, Bristow worked as a home economics teacher. She has three children.

Jenny made her first television appearance on Ulster Television's Farming Ulster in 1989 demonstrating how to cook with potatoes, which led a producer at the station to offer Bristow her own series.

Jenny's seven series were produced by UTV, and were filmed in a converted barn at Bristow's farm near Cullybackey. Her series have been transmitted on various ITV regions and on television stations in the United States and Australia.

Jenny has so far published twelve cookery books. Books accompanying her most recent series have been published by Belfast-based publisher Blackstaff Press. Recipes from her books have appeared in the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life newspapers.

As well as her television and writing work, Jenny takes part in cookery demonstrations and corporate and charitable events. Jenny has taken part in corporate events such as the Balmoral Show and Women on the Move, as well as fundraising events for UNICEF, Macmillan Cancer, the British Heart Foundation and Northern Ireland Hospice Care.

Jenny was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting and the food industry in Northern Ireland.

Maine Soft Drinks

Maine Soft Drinks

The Harkness family established a soft drinks business, Braid Mineral Water Co., in Ballymena in 1919. The founder’s son, John Harkness, decided to branch out on his own in 1949 and formed Maine Soft Drinks. In 1959 the business relocated to its current premises in Ballymoney.

The company is still owned by the Harkness family and is now into its 4th generation.

For many years the business focussed on household deliveries and ‘The Maine Man’ and his delivery van has been well known throughout Northern Ireland. Favourite flavours in glass bottles include Raspberryade, Sarsaparilla, Brown Lemonade and Cloudy Lime.

The company has expanded and branched out in different ways including supplying to supermarkets and contact bottling. They are also exporting to various companies on the UK Mainland. Regardless of expansion the doorstep delivery side of the business is still very important, with over 40,000 homes supplied on a weekly / fortnightly basis.

Maine Soft Drinks employs over 100 people, half of which are based in Ballymoney and the other half spread throughout the province in depots located in Lurgan, Belfast and Londonderry.

Michael Deane

Michael Deane


Michael Deane is an award winning chef from Lisburn, Northern Ireland.

Deane started his career at Claridge's in London. In 1993 he moved back to Northern Ireland and opened Deane's on the Square with his cousin, Haydn Deane in Helen's Bay, County Down. It was there he won his first Michelin Star.

In 1997 he opened a two-storey establishment in Belfast's city centre on Howard Street. It included Deane's Brasserie on the ground floor and Restaurant Michael Deane on the first floor. In the same year the restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star. In 2007 the name of the restaurant was changed to the simpler Deanes. It held this for 13 years, making it the longest running and only Michelin Star holder in Northern Ireland however lost this accolade in 2011, because of a 4-month closure due to frost damage and severe flooding. Deanes has also been awarded four Automobile Association Rosettes. The Brasserie held a Bib Gourmand from Michelin. Deane now owns Deanes Meatlocker, Deanes Love Fish and Deanes Eipic, all of which are located on the ground floor of the Howard Street building with a private function room on the first floor. He also owns Deanes Deli on Bedford Street, located close to the BBC NI headquarters, Deanes at Queens in the Queens University area and Deane and Decano on the Lisburn Road, both in the South of the city.

In 2010 Deane joined the University of Ulster as a visiting professor. At the 2017 Catey Awards in London's Grosvenor House Hotel, Deane was shortlisted for Restaurateur of the Year.

In 1997 Deane married UTV Live presenter Kate Smith in a private ceremony in Scotland. They have one son, Marco.

Irwin's Bakery

Irwin's Bakery

W.D. Irwin and his wife Ruth opened for business in a small bakery in Portadown, Co Armagh.

The exact date of opening of Irwin’s Bakery is unknown. However, the year 1912 was chosen due to the discovery of a paper trail in the oldest original building before the bakery moved site.

W. D. Irwin’s wife, Ruth Irwin (nee Palmer) and her sister baked fresh bread for the people of Portadown and the demand for freshly baked bread soon increased.

With an increase of trade from 1912, Irwin’s bakery grew and grew over the next 20 years. Sales of bread and cake products meant that the town of Portadown were provided with freshly baked bread on a daily basis.

Christmas time saw Irwin’s print price lists for Christmas cake. One of the first price lists to be professionally printed in Portadown, Irwin’s Bakery saw an increase in sales on cake and confectionary products in and around the Christmas period.

With the horse and cart being a staple vehicle in the 1930’s, 5 were used by the company to go further a field with the fresh bread on a daily basis. As the years progressed, the Irwin’s vehicles have changed with the times and now the Irwin’s fleet of vehicles can be seen right across Northern Ireland every morning, delivering freshly baked bread products to the shops.

June 1951, a memorable day and week for our Town, Portadown welcomed HM Queen Elizabeth and The Princess Margaret at the start of Festival of Britain week celebrations.

The original plan was that Her Majesty would have accompanied King George VI, unfortunately he was ill and unable to travel and in the circumstances The Princess Margaret accompanied her mother.

W.D. Irwin, founder of the bakery, was invited to attend the Royal visit –Meeting the figurehead of the Royal family was a huge compliment not only to Portadown but also to W.D. Irwin.

W.D. Irwin soon became the Mayor of Portadown.

The 60’s were to become an important era in the history of W. D. Irwin & Sons Ltd. A new product was launched that would revolutionise the bread market within Northern Ireland, Nutty Krust was introduced to the market.

All sales men were to receive the brief sent from head office to inform of the individual properties of the plain bread that would make its mark in Northern Ireland. All sales men were to sign the document to show they received the brief.

With its distinctive hard crust – Nutty Crust was changed to Nutty Krust to allow people to know that the crust was crunchy.

Over the years, Nutty Krust would grow from strength to strength, winning awards for most iconic Northern Ireland product as well as Northern Ireland’s favourite product. Nutty Krust would certainly be taken to the hearts of the people of Northern Ireland.

W. D. Irwin & Sons Ltd moves to an all–purpose new bakery on the outskirts of Portadown.

Success saw W. D. Irwin & Sons Ltd outgrow the initial set–up in the centre of Portadown. If the company was to grow, new premises were needed as demand for Irwin’s products rapidly increased.

Premises were secured on the outskirts of Portadown, in Carne, for the building of a new plant bakery. Construction started in 1993 and in 1995, the new location of W. D. Irwin and Sons Ltd opened for business by Barnoness Denton of Wakefield, Minister for Economy and Agriculture on 13th February, 1995.

Home of Northern Ireland’s favourite product – Nutty Krust; Irwin’s is still a family run business with grandson’s Brian and Niall Irwin playing an integral role at the bakery.

With a history of 100 years baking in the community of Portadown, Irwin’s look forward to many years of serving their local communities in Northern Ireland.

Tayto (Northern Ireland) Limited

Tayto (Northern Ireland) Limited

Tayto is a manufacturer of crisps and corn snacks based in Tandragee, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. They describe themselves as the third largest snack manufacturer in the UK.

It employs 300 people at its plant beside Tandragee Castle (called "Tayto Castle" as part of the advertising for the snacks) and remains the largest selling brand of crisps in Northern Ireland and the third biggest crisp and snack business in the United Kingdom. It owns the Golden Wonder, Ringos, Mr. Porky, Real Crisps, and Jonathan Crisp brands. The Northern Irish Tayto are also sold in many outlets in East Donegal and Inishowen.

Tayto (Northern Ireland) was formed in 1956 by the Hutchinson family and licensed the name and recipes of Tayto Crisps in the Republic of Ireland. The two companies operate entirely separately but have a similar range of products.

On 13 January 2006 it was announced that Tayto (NI) was to acquire the Corby and Scunthorpe sites of the former Golden Wonder business and the contract to produce Mini Pringles for Procter & Gamble. This secured some 195 jobs out of 350 that were under threat following Golden Wonder's entry into administration on 9 January 2006.

In December 2007, Tayto acquired Sirhowy Valley Foods Ltd, makers of the Real Crisps range.

On the 14 March 2008 it was announced that Tayto would acquire Red Mill Snack foods, making it the 3rd largest crisp manufacturer in the UK. Most of the Red Mill brands were transferred under the Golden Wonder umbrella but Mr. Porky's pork scratchings continue to be produced under Tayto, from the plant in Westhoughton, Bolton.

On the 21 January 2009 it was announced that Tayto has acquired Jonathan Crisp, the trading name of Natural Crisps Ltd, based in Staffordshire, England.

The headquarters of the Tayto group, which is privately owned by the Hutchinson family, are in County Armagh, it now has a turnover of £150 million per annum and employs more than 1,400 people.

One in every 5 packets of crisps eaten in Northern Ireland is Tayto Cheese & Onion.



The White’s mill founded by Thomas Henry White in 1841 in Tandragee, Co. Armagh grew from humble beginnings as a corn and flour mill along the banks of the river cusher.

Thomas Henry White originally from Co. Waterford established the mill under T.H. White Miller, principally a corn and flour miller. The mill was powered by a vertical water wheel.

Flour milling was moved from Tandragee to Clarendon Mills, Henry Street Belfast where they also produced animal feed and flaked rice leaving Tandragee operation to focus on corn (oat) milling. The company began trading as T.H. White & Co.

The installation of new modern machinery created an opportunity for White’s to produce and patent a very thin rolled flake (first of its kind) which, as it was reported ‘holds the field, and stands unrivalled- conspicuous alike for purity, size of flake and flavour'.

White’s merged with Tomkins & Courage to become a huge modern enterprise trading as White’s, Tomkins & Courage. This charge was led by Thomas Henry White junior until his son Alwyn Henry White took over in 1930.

White’s wafer oatmeal was extended to launch a Speedicook variant, a kibbled oat which was a quicker cooking flake which cooked in the same time as your kettle boiled. Launched in 1lb box, 2lb and 3.5lb bag.

A fictional character Willie Wafer was created for White’s by local Belfast Artist William Connor and was used to market to children. His motto was ‘When you have tasted a dish of this delicious appetising porridge you will smack your lips with satisfaction’.

The ‘white line’ portfolio expanded to include Pickwick Brand, Jelly Crystals, White’s wafer oats, Speedicook, Pibroch Oats, Briskies Breakfast Flakes, Red Star Flour, Flavourings & essences, Clarendon Cattle Feed, Bakonal and Speedi Start for Pigs, Poulendo for chickens.

White’s begins trading as White’s Speedicook Ltd under helm of four local businessmen - Sam Cunningham, Jo Cunningham, Walter Smith and Maurice Taylor. During this time the speedicook brand prospered up and down the country.

Fane Valley, a local farmer’s co-operative contracted the business in 1990 and is still under their ownership today. Investment of £2.5m to rebuild the mill at Tandragee into a state of the art milling facility. Significant investment in NPD bolstered White’s portfolio of products.

Significant investment in NPD bolstered White’s portfolio of products, seeing them leading the charge once again as oat pioneers with an innovative and consumer focused product portfolio.

Today a market leading and multi award winning porridge and oat cereal brand. From traditional and organic oats, to instant oats and ready to eat oat clusters and granolas, there really is an oat for everyone to enjoy.

Punjana Tea

Punjana Tea

Punjana is a brand of tea produced by the Belfast-based tea company Thompson's Tea. Thompson's Tea was founded in 1896 when Robert S Thompson was made partner of McArthur and Willis.

Thompson's Punjana has since become the best-selling tea in Northern Ireland and one of the most popular brands in Scotland. Thompson's source the leaves for their tea from Assam, North India and from the slopes of Mount Kenya.

In the late 19th century, Robert S Thompson trained in the art of tea tasting. Soon after joining the tea industry in 1887, he was made a partner at McArthus and Willis in 1896.

Thompson subsequently led the company for 51 years, and the association of the company with the Thompson family was only strengthened when, in the post-war years, James and Tony Thompson also became partners.

It was the introduction of the second generation of the Thompson family to the tea industry that brought with it the birth of the Punjana brand in the early 1950s.

The name Punjana, was dreamed up by second generation James Thompson and his wife, Lillias, the inspiration coming from an inscription etched on the famous Gillespie statue in Comber.

Belfast Bap

A Belfast Bap is a large crusty white bread roll that originates from Belfast,  Northern Ireland. It is best known today eaten as part of an Ulster fry as the bread in a breakfast sandwich, but can be eaten as a regular sandwich bap.

The bread is noted for its size being around half a small pan loaf (150-200g), airy, chewy soft white interior and a distinctive hard crust that is almost burnt on the top.

It originate from master baker, Bernard Hughes, who created this bread to feed the poor of Belfast during the Great Famine.

The bread can be found from bakeries and supermarkets in and around the city of Belfast, but is fairly unknown outside Northern Ireland.


Palmaria Palmata (commonly known as Dulse, or Dillisk) has been harvested for generations here in Northern Ireland. Dulse was originally harvested by fishermen to supplement their income when fishing was slack.

The earliest record of dulse is of St Columba’s monks harvesting the sea vegetable some 1,400 years ago in Ireland, and it is there that has shown the greatest eagerness towards the consumption of dulse. In fact, the common name ‘dulse’ originates from the Irish, and has come to be in widespread use even in countries where English is not used. Dulse is frequently used in Northern Ireland, Iceland and North East America as both a food and a medicine.

Dulse is a red seaweed that possesses a mildly spicy, salted flavour, and is traditionally bought in a dehydrated form. It can be eaten in this form or soaked in water and added to soups and salads, stir fries, and other dishes. When rehydrated, it is slightly chewy.

Other culinary uses for dulse involve grinding the dried seaweed into a powder to be utilized as a garnish, or fried into crispy, tasty chips, is also used to compliment seafood, vegetables, grain dishes, and can even be baked in breads and muffins. Because the sea vegetable is so versatile, it is an excellent way to ensure you get a good source of many essential vitamins and nutrients in your daily meals, and it is especially good for vegetarians as a way to receive a good dose of non-animal protein.

As for its nutritional content, dulse is extremely high in vitamins B6 and B12, as well as iron, potassium and fluoride. Unlike other seaweeds, it is relatively low in sodium.

Dulse also contains a large shopping list of other vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins C, E, and A, magnesium, calcium, dietary fibre and protein. Additionally, dulse is a natural source of iodine, essential for thyroid gland health and thyroid hormone secretion.

Rich with trace minerals from sea elements, dulse can quickly become a welcome accompaniment or garnish to many meals, or can simply be enjoyed as healthy snack.

Paula McIntyre MBE

Paula McIntyre MBE


Having trained in Culinary Arts at the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, USA, Paula McIntyre returned to the UK in 1993 to open her own restaurant in Manchester. A busy and thriving eatery, The Undrie picked up several awards for fine dining including Manchester Evening News newcomer of the year and was featured in several guidebooks and magazines including City Life and Caterer and Hotelkeeper.

Returning to Northern Ireland in 1998, Paula worked as Head Chef in several establishments including Ghan House in Carlingford and Fontana in Holywood.

In 2000 Paula appeared as a guest chef on “Ready, Steady, Cook” beating Paul Rankin in her second appearance. She has been a guest chef on BBC Northern Ireland’s television coverage of the Balmoral Show and featured as a chef on the fly on the wall documentary on the catering industry in Northern Ireland, “A La Carte”. In Autumn 2001 Paula was given her own TV series on BBC 2 NI called “Taste for Adventure”. She appeared as a guest chef with Eamonn Holmes on BBC 1 NI’s “Summer Season” programme and was a reporter on food issues for BBC 1 NI’s “Inside Out” programme. She has also been a guest chef twice on RTE 1’s “Afternoon Show”.

A regular contributor to Radio Ulster, Paula was asked to develop her own series. The result “McIntyre Magic” was broadcast on Saturday Mornings and commissioned 3 times. Since 2004 has been hosting the cooking slot on Radio Ulster’s weekly “Saturday Magazine” show with John Toal. She has also presented the whole 2 hour show in John’s absence. She also contributes regularly to BBC NI news, “Talkback”, “ The Book Programme”, “On your Behalf”, and the “Nolan Show”. She also did live cooking into “Carton and Boomer’s” live breakfast show on New York radio from the Bushmills distillery. She appeared on BBC Radio 4’s “Kitchen Cabinet” Programme, hosted by Jay Rayner, as a local expert. She featured on a special Radio 4 Food Programme broadcast from Northern Ireland and also as part of a special “Terra Madre” programme. She has also guested on William Caulfield’s comedy show for Radio Ulster and has appeared in his panto!

Paula lectures in catering on the Professional Cookery programme in Northern Regional College.

Additionally she specialises in fine dining and catering for a variety of events and was chef for singer Brian Kennedy’s TV series “Kennedy on Song”. Guests on the programme included Lulu, Barry McGuigan, Michael Ball and Maire Brennan. She guest chefs at special events in Montalto House, both hosting lifestyle days and cooking for special guests like the President of Ireland and Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

She has worked as chef demonstrator and live cookery theatre host for the past few years with FoodNI at events like Balmoral Show, Glenarm Castle Festival, Flavours of Foyle Seafood Festival and Clogher Valley Show. She attended the House of Commons this year to cook food for members of both houses to showcase food from Northern Ireland.

As part of the Slow Food Terra Madre Festival, Paula represented the United Kingdom Chef Alliance and cooked a dish representative of Northern Irish produce ( consisting eels, apples, traditional bread and salt ling) in the Terra Madre Kitchen at the event.

She has presented a cooking demo for the Seamus Heaney festival and was asked to replicate it at the European Parliament in December 2014 for a group of ambassadors and representatives from different countries.

She works for different food companies ( including White’s Oats, Kerry Foods, Allied Bakeries, Spar, Kerry Foods, Cloughbane Farm and Dromona) developing recipes, food styling and hosting events. She recently cooked breakfast, using local produce, for the launch of the Balmoral Show.

She is a judge for the Hotel and Catering Review’s Gold Medal Awards, the Restaurant Association of Ireland and judged at the 2014 Great Taste Awards.

She is judge in the 2015 BBC Radio Four Food and Farming Awards, judging the streetfood and takeaway category with Giorgio Locatelli.

She had a regular cooking column in Sunday Life newspaper for 2 years. Paula contributes to various papers in Northern Ireland including the Irish News, Newsletter and Belfast Telegraph. She currently writes a weekly column in Farming Life.

Paula’s first book “ A Kitchen Year” was published in 2008 by Gill and Macmillan. Her new book “Paula McIntyre’s Down to Earth Cookbook” is available now.

She has recently been appointed Director Northern Ireland to the Slow Food UK board. She is a member of the Craft Guild of Chefs, and the Irish Food Writers Guild.

She won the 2015 Farming Life Farming Champion award.

The Rinkha

In 1921, Mr and Mrs WJ Hawkins (Snr) owned a small general store in Islandmagee - The Gobbins Stores.

It was here that the soon-to-be famous Rinkha home-made ice cream recipe was conceived. In those days wooden churns were used and turned by hand - and it was very hard work!

WJ Snr was a progressive man and in 1935 he also decided to build a dancehall - an ambitious project in an area as sparsely populated as Islandmagee! He even provided a substantial car park, despite the fact there were very few cars around back then. Quite a few eyebrows were raised among the local population - some people even questioned his sanity!

Undeterred WJ Snr asked the local community to help name this new Islandmagee landmark and the choice was made when historian Dixon Donaldson suggested...

'The Rinkha' - an Irish interpretation meaning place of dance/place of mirth.

With the second generation family member Billy Hawkins taking an active role in the business, a small shop was established at the front of the The Rinkha dancehall, as well as a café upstairs.

Ice cream production was also moved from the Gobbins stores to the new premises at the Rinkha – and it’s still the same great family recipe Rinkha Ice Cream, in a variety of flavours, that you enjoy today!

During the Second World War, American GIs were stationed at nearby Red Hall en route to Europe. While they completed their training, they joined dances at The Rinkha, and on occasion, even hired the dancehall out to run their own Dances.

Mr Hawkins still has the dusty sign that proclaims ‘No Jitterbugging’….a reminder of that racy dance, popular in the US at the time, which left the local girls dizzy and the local boys bemused.

The dances ran successfully for many years, until around the time of The Beatles era, when the show band scene began to change and The Rinkha Dancehall (as with many other dancehalls around the time), closed for dancing in the 1960s.

Many long and happy marriages were the result of a first encounter on the The Rinkha dancefloor!

The dances eventually came to an end but The Rinkha continued to be used for many other community needs, as it always had.

It fulfilled the role of a leisure centre (badminton & table tennis), a community centre, a concert venue (hosting such names as the late, great, James Young) and providing a meeting place for organisations such as the local conservation society, Islandmagee football club post-game teas and we even hosted a wedding reception for a well known local couple, who still reside in Islandmagee to this day!

Eventually, the dancehall was given over to sales with Billy and Molly Hawkins introducing a wide range of products, while still running The Gobbins Stores and manufacturing ice cream. In the early 1970s the family chose to close The Gobbins Stores and incorporated it into The Rinkha.

During the late 1970s, and now in the care of the third generation, William Hawkins decided to expand the toy department and built this up to be one of the most well-known and loved toy stores in the area – maintaining the fun-loving aspect of the Rinkha.

All that dancing and the passage of time was beginning to take its toll on the structure of the Rinkha, and in 2006 major renovations were carried out, ushering in the next exciting chapter.

The Rinkha continues to move with the times and provide for the community. We continue to keep the kids happy with our large toy department and the adults with all the groceries you could need, hardware for many jobs and one of William’s youngest son, Ross, has taken up the ice-cream mantle, producing new and exciting flavours (all made fresh on the premises) while remaining true to the four-generations-old, top secret recipe.

We hope to see you instore at The Rinkha, Islandmagee, very soon!

Veda Bread

Veda bread is a malted bread sold in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is a small, caramel-coloured loaf with a very soft consistency when fresh. Allied Bakeries Ireland (ABI) is the market leader with over 81 per cent value share of the Veda market within Northern Ireland, which it sells as "Sunblest Veda".

In Northern England, veda bread is something quite different: a sweet, sticky loaf made with black treacle. It is eaten sliced, dry, or with butter or margarine. The molasses in the treacle help to preserve the mixture, and veda bread connoisseurs will leave a freshly baked loaf for several weeks in a closed cake tin to allow the flavours to mature before they eat it.

It is still impossible to find a recipe for a Veda loaf, over a hundred years after it was invented. However, devotees have had good results by following the instructions for a malted fruit loaf but without the fruit or alcohol.

Although a sweet bread, Veda is often eaten toasted with butter and cheese, although many prefer to add jam or marmalade. It is usually eaten as a snack.

Veda Bakeries hold all the original recipes for Veda bread. Veda Bakeries is a company registered by law. The company is based East Lothian, and is owned by Jim Kerr of Forthestuary Cereals.

The formula for Veda was allegedly stumbled upon by luck when a Dundee farmer's house-keeper accidentally used damp wheat which had sprouted to produce malted wheat. This produced a sweet-malted flavoured bread – and Veda bread was born.


Champ is a popular dish in Northern Ireland of mashed potatoes with scallions,  butter, and milk.

Champ is made by combining mashed potatoes and chopped scallions with  butter, milk and optionally, salt and pepper.

It was sometimes made with stinging nettle rather than scallions. In some areas the dish is also called "poundies".

Champ is similar to the Irish dish, colcannon, which uses kale or cabbage in place of scallions, champ is popular in Ulster whilst colcannon is more so in the the Republic of Ireland.

It was customary to make champ with the first new potatoes harvested.

Clare Smyth MBE

Clare Smyth MBE


Clare Smyth MBE is an award winning chef from Northern Ireland. She is the Chef Patron of Core by Clare Smyth which opened in 2017. Previously she was Chef Patron at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay from 2012 to 2016, won the Chef of the Year award in 2013, and achieved a perfect score in the 2015 edition of the Good Food Guide. Smyth has also appeared on television shows such as Masterchef and Saturday Kitchen.

Smyth grew up on a farm in County Antrim. She is the youngest of three children, of her father William, a farmer, and mother Doreen, who worked as a waitress at a local restaurant. At the age of fifteen, Smyth held a job over a holiday period at a local restaurant, inspiring her to become a chef. She left school at sixteen to study catering at Highbury College in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

While at culinary college, Smyth served an apprenticeship at Grayshott Hall, Surrey. She left that post to work full-time at Terrance Conran's restaurant at Michelin House, London. She followed this with a six-month period in Australia to work for a catering company, and on her return to the UK she staged at a variety of restaurants including The Waterside Inn and Gidleigh Park. She worked at the restaurant of the St Enodoc Hotel in Rock, Cornwall, first as sous chef and then as head chef. While there, she won the title of Young Cornish Fish Chef of the Year.

In 2002 Gordon Ramsay offered Smyth a post at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. In 2007, she was announced as the new head chef of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, becoming the first female chef in the United Kingdom to run a restaurant with three Michelin stars. Of the 121 British Michelin-starred restaurants at the time of her appointment, only seven had female head chefs. She had left Ramsay's restaurant to work for a year and a half in Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV restaurant in Monaco, before returning once more to the UK to run the Chelsea-based restaurant. She took over from Zanoni, who was heading to Versailles to open a new Gordon Ramsay restaurant.

In 2013, Smyth was named the Good Food Guide's 'National Chef of the Year'.

Smyth was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to the hospitality industry.

Smyth was awarded a perfect ten score by the Good Food Guide of the UK's 2015.

She won the Chef Award at the 2016 The Catey Awards,[16] previously won by her mentor Gordon Ramsay in 2000.

Smyth left Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in 2016 to open her first own restaurant Core. Her first solo venture, Core, opened in London's Notting Hill neighbourhood in July 2017.

In April 2018, Core was named Best Restaurant at the GQ Food and Drink Awards.

Clare Smyth was named the World's Best Female Chef 2018 by the World's 50 Best Restaurants.

In 2018, Smyth appeared as a judge in the "UK" episode of The Final Table, season 1.

On 1 October 2018, Core was awarded two Michelin stars in the 2019 Michelin Guide.

Smyth’s restaurant Core was awarded three Michelin stars in the 2021 Michelin Guide, which made her the first British woman to have a restaurant awarded three Michelin stars.


A farl is any of various quadrant shaped flatbreads and cakes, traditionally made by cutting a round into four pieces. In Ulster, the term generally refers to soda bread (soda farls) and, less commonly, potato bread (potato farls), which are also ingredients of an Ulster fry.

It is made as farls (that is to say, flat rounds about 3/4 inch thick which are then cut into quarters). Modern commercially mass-produced potato farls, however, are often rectangular in form.

In Scotland today, the word is used less than in Ulster, but a farl can be a quarter piece of a large flat scone, bannock, or oatcake. It may also be used for shortbread when baked in this particular shape.

Farl is a shorter form of fardel, the word once used in some parts of Lowland Scotland for "a three-cornered cake, usually oatcake, generally the fourth part of a round". In earlier Scots fardell meant a fourth or quarter.

A farl is made by spreading the dough on a girdle or frying pan in a rough circular shape. The circle is then cut into four equal pieces and cooked. Once one side is done the dough is flipped to cook the other side.

Mauds Ice Creams

Mauds Ice Creams is an ice cream  manufacturer from Northern Ireland, with stores across the island of Ireland and one in England. They have made over 350 flavours during their 38-year history, the most popular being Poor Bear, a mix of Vanilla ice cream and Honeycomb. They are the largest producer of dairy ice cream in Northern Ireland. In 2004 they were the first ice cream producer in the island of Ireland  to be crowned 'Champion of Champions' by the Ice Cream Alliance.

Mauds Ice Creams was founded by John Wilson and was originally part of his grocery business in Carnmoney, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. The ice cream business quickly became the major part of John's grocery store and on Mothers' Day 1982 John renamed his store, Mauds Ice Creams, as a Mother's Day gift to his mother, Maud.

Today, Mauds Ice Creams is made in a modern production facility in Carrickfergus. Two of its most popular flavours are Poor Bear (honeycomb and vanilla, which was originally called Pooh Bear's Delight, until Disney opened a store in Belfast and Wilson decided to be cautious) and Belgian Chocolate (fine milk chocolate slivers in vanilla).

Their products can be found at over 300 stockists across the whole island of Ireland, including hotels and restaurants. There are "flagship" stores branded as Café Mauds, in Newcastle, Co. Down and Belfast, Co. Antrim. The first shop outside the island Ireland opened in Windsor, England  opposite the castle but in recent years the company have started to ship their ice cream to the Málaga area in Spain.

Paul Rankin

Paul Rankin


Paul Rankin is a celebrity chef from Ballywalter, County Down. Rankin's parents moved back to Ballywalter, where he grew up, some time after he was born.

In 1989 Paul Rankin opened Roscoff, the restaurant that was to become the first to win a Michelin Star in Northern Ireland. Soon after opening, it became the favourite meeting place for the Belfast business and arts community, and people travelled from Dublin simply to experience what was considered to be the best cooking in Northern Ireland at the time. Forced by financial difficulties, Rankin sold the restaurant in 2005. The building is now occupied by restaurant CoCo.

Many chefs and head chefs, such as Dylan McGrath, Michael Deane and Robbie Millar, have received part of their training there.

His first foray into television was in the series Gourmet Ireland, produced by Irish company Waddell Productions, and shown on both BBC and RTE. Both Paul and Jeanne starred in the show that was noted for the banter between the two. Jeanne is a successful pastry chef. He has since been a regular chef on the BBC cookery programme Ready Steady Cook. In 1999 Rankin was the first chef from Northern Ireland to be awarded a Michelin Star. He has written five cookery books & ran The Rankin Group chain of restaurants & cafés, including Cayenne and Roscoff in Belfast. His Canadian wife Jeanne introduced him to cooking and is co-owner of their business.

In 2006 Rankin competed in the Northern Ireland heat of the BBC's Great British Menu, a competition to cook for the Queen on her 80th birthday.

In 2006, Rankin appeared on The X Factor: Battle of the Stars, along with fellow chefs Jean-Christophe Novelli, Aldo Zilli and Ross Burden. He has also appeared on the TV programme Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Rankin has recently sold off most of the Rankin Group to cover business debts, leaving only the flagship Cayenne restaurant under his control.

The late Robbie Millar made his name while working at Roscoff.

Paul and Jeanne Rankin were married for more than 25 years. Their marriage ended amicably in 2011.

Paul Rankin and Jeanne met in the 1980s, while working in Le Gavroche, a notable restaurant in London. He started there as a dishwasher, while she started as a waitress. Soon they were moved into the kitchen and started their kitchen career. A riding accident left her in constant pain and ended her career as pastry chef.

In August 2012, Rankin spoke about the devastating effects of Alzheimer's disease. He revealed that his father is suffering from the disease and no longer recognises him.

Vegetable Roll

Although the name might suggest otherwise, vegetable roll is a beef product that is shaped like a large sausage. It is lightly seasoned with fresh herbs and spring onions. Fried or sliced and grilled, vegetable roll is a staple of Ulster Fry, but it can also be served on its own, paired with mashed potatoes and beans for dinner.

This savory treat has been made since 1954 by Hull's company, but it is said that vegetable roll dates back well before that time. Many believe that it became popular in the years after the war, when rationing beef could be forgotten and meat was plentiful once again.


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