North Coast Walking Tours holds the Ballycastle Food Tour on the first Saturday of every month to coincide with the artisan’s market, run by Naturally North Coast and Glens. The inspiration for the tour was to showcase the excellently cooked, locally grown/brewed/caught produce that Ballycastle offers all year round.
Ballycastle is the gateway to both the Causeway Coast (think Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. the Bushmills Distillery) as well as the Antrim Glens (think Glenarriff, Glenarm, Cushendall). The area produces potatoes, eggs, fish, vegetables, chicken, goat, beef, lamb, herbs, ales, whiskies…and that’s just the beginning. Then it’s what we do with those ingredients – North Coast Smokehouse’s organic roast salmon on Ursa Minor Bakehouse’s sourdough bread with Broighter Gold chilli oil, a great Ulster Fry, Morton’s chips!
So, to encourage both local visitors and those from far flung places to realise that #ourfoodsogood is right here, the Ballycastle Food Tour was created. The current restaurants and cafes are simply those I know best – the tour could be repeated later the same day using a completely different ones and still be the best food tour you’ve been on with the most delicious local food and the most passionate chefs.
Our North Coast Foodie guide will meet you at the Visitor Centre, near the Rathlin Island Ferry Terminal and take you past the ancient Port Brittas, (Fergus Mor mac Eirc, Sorley Boy McDonnell, Children of Lir) to our first stop at the Bay Cafe. Stephen and Theresa provide one of the best breakfasts in the town and we get a chance to try a bite sized one – fadge, soda bread, black pudding, egg and tomato – oh boy!
Afterwards we wander past Hugh A Boyd’s Ballycastle (he was the Richard Branson of the 1700’s), up to Ann Street to look round the traditional, family run, local shops – butchers, bakers and food shops, art galleries and outdoor pursuits shops. We sample a starter of locally caught fish from Morton’s made into truly delicious chowder in The Central Wine Bar, then go to O’Connor’s Bar for a daily special (this changes according to what the chef has to hand that day) but generally includes fish, potatoes and, if we’re very, very good, a small glass of Glens of Antrim Ale.
Past look out points from the 1500’s and other unexpected wee nooks, we come to the Ballycastle Garden Centre where, next to a wood burning stove, we listen to Ursa Minor Bakehouse’s determination to make #realbread appear on everyone’s table again. On ours, they put delicious patisserie and serve it with orange blossom tea. So VERY civilised!
To show a fascinating fragment of Ballycastle’s history, we stop in at the Court House museum (manned by knowledgeable volunteers from the town), we end at the Artisan Market, ready to do our weekly shop for bread, buns, meat, salmon, veg, condiments and, of course, wee treats. There’s craft stalls there, too, with artisans using wood, glass, stone – treat yourself to a memento of your North Coast Foodie’s Ballycastle Food Tour #ballycastlefoodtour