A Calorie Adding Walk of Beauty

Instead of the usual restaurant review or recipe it's something a bit different this week - a WALKING FOOD TOUR! On Saturday past Laurie and I headed to Ballycastle to take part in a North Coast Walking Tour with a difference. Local historian and food enthusiast Caroline Redmond took us on culinary journey of beautiful Ballycastle! Before our adventure began I took time to take this shot of the Antrim Coast! (we got a good day - it only rained for about 5 min)

So our tour started at 10am at the Visitor Centre located at the Marine and Caroline gave us a short brief of what this super day would include - thankfully more eating than walking!!! it is obvious that Caroline is passionate about the North Coast and Glens of Antrim and she bases her tours under the principle/acronym WELL - Walk, Eat , Laugh, Love and this day definitely included all four :)

I will now give you a snapshot of each of our stops, wetting your appetite in a way and I am sure at the end of this, some if not all of you will consider this as an alternative weekend plan, a quirky date or just a reason to try new food.

FIRST STOP - THE BAY CAFE

So we took the short 22 metre walk from the Visitor Centre to the Bay Cafe; a small cafe which overlooks the sea and harbour (wonderful views) Here we were treated to a mini Ulster fry comprising of (all miniatures) soda farl, potato bread, black pudding, sausage and scrambled egg served with cherry tomatoes cooked in pesto. Our breakie was accompanied by some black tea to help us wash down the fry. The chef Steven Boyle came out to talk to us about the range of local produce he uses and to answer any questions we had! On an end note, that black pudding was up there with the best I've tried!

SECOND STOP - THYME & CO

Next we headed up the main town towards a beautiful little patisserie/cafe called Thyme & Co. This place was beautiful, the interior was quaint and the menu was all home grown and local, even down to the jam made by the Woman Next Door! We had the best seat in the house and it was covered in delightful treats upon our arrival, parmesan and dulse scones, pear and almond scones, pistachio bread and home-made wheaten accompanied by Kelp Pesto and Woman Next Door Jam! We were also treated to some infused tea which was yummy. The owner took time to talk to us about the business, the local ideals and inspiration from Blazing Salads in Dublin and how everything was produced in store. I savoured every bite and this place alone will draw me back to Ballycastle, very shortly! I hope you enjoy the photos! (SLIDESHOW)

THIRD STOP - CENTRAL WINE BAR

So, as Ballycastle is a coastal town I was fully aware that fish was going to be on the menu - I am still coming to terms with fish becoming a more present staple in my diet and I must admit that I not fully converted...yet! Here we moved from sweet to savory and we tucked into some of Kieron Samson's soon to be, hopefully, award winning Sea Food Chowder along with some home made Guinness bread and Wheaten! This was my first try of Chowder; the sauce was nice, reminded me of potato and leak sauce and I did eat a good portion, which included a prawn! (This is a big step) Laurie cleaned her plate and I saw her eyeing mine up so for the more experienced fish connoisseur I'd say this was darn right tasty!

FOURTH STOP - O'CONNOR'S BAR

A short walk across the road we arrived a O'Connor's Bar for our main course - Hake with coconut and curried rice, mango salsa, served with a curried sauce and 2 mussels (which I tried). This stop started with a craft beer, brewed in the Glens - I actually tried two, Lizzie's Ale and Rathlin Red, I preferred the Ale and it was a good accompaniment to the fish! I surprisingly really liked the Hake, as a fish newby I was pleasantly surprised at the taste and texture and I could definitely see myself trying this again! This dish was very fresh and I loved the presentation!

FINAL STOP - URSA MINOR

What a delight this place is, from the friendly staff, the indulgent treats on offer to the sense of community in this cute little establishment, Ursa Minor is a gem in the heart of Ballycastle! The name derives from Latin for Little Bear, named after their baby and it is this sense of love that makes Ursa Minor stand out - the careful consideration to acknowledge their loyal customers and the abundance of fresh bread and patisserie selection (that taste amazing) on offer make this a must visit for all! I loved this place and their story - Well Done on following a dream!

THEND - THE TOUR

Our tour wrapped up with a short walk back to the Marine, on the way Caroline educated us on the history of Ballycastke and the surrounding areas, the events that are upcoming and provided many a reason to return. All in all a fantastic day, one I would def recommend to all and at only £25 per person it really is a no-brainer - Food, History, Fun and Laughter all in 5 hours!!! Amazing!

If you're interested please check out their website at

http://www.northcoastwalkingtours.com/ballycastle-food-tour.html


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