Ballycastle is a small town in Northern Ireland, which is doing big things with food! From well-established eateries to new kick-starter founded cafe’s, there are countless foodie places to visit in this picturesque place. Along with a few of my fellow Northern Irish bloggers, including my good friend Rosanna from Silver Brogues (pictured with me below), we were taken on a tour of the town by North Coast Walking Tours guide Caroline Redmond. Full of fun and a fountain of knowledge on all things Ballycastle, Caroline was a delight (although if you don’t keep in line and keep up with the group you will feel her wrath – as I did!).
The Ballycastle blogger food tour was organised to coincide with the commencement of the Rathlin Sound Maritime Festival – which takes place from 27 May to 5 June and features a bustling schedule of events perfect for families, local foodies and boating enthusiasts.
I must say, I was really taken with Ballycastle, which is located on the north-easternmost coastal tip of the island of Ireland. It’s not an area of Northern Ireland I am familiar with so it was lovely to have a proper introduction to the town by resident Caroline. And a food tour like this can be such a fun thing to do. As you walk from place to place and fill your face with food, it’s hard not to feel good about life! In total, Caroline took us to five places and we sampled a great variety of food. Portion sizes were not huge thankfully as there is nothing worse than feeling full-up early on and struggling to eat anything by the final stop.
Here’s a run-down of the different food stops we made on the Ballycastle Food Tour…but be sure to check out my short vlog to get a real ‘feel’ for the tour!
Mini Fry Stack at The Bay Café
The tour kicked off at 10am, and what better way to start a Northern Irish morning than with an Ulster Fry? Thankfully not a big greasy affair, this mini fry stack was very dainty as cooked breakfast go. It was served up by The Bay Café, a family run business, and consisted of homemade soda bread, potato bread, Clontakilty black pudding, sausage, scrambled egg and a few cooked cherry tomatoes. We all washed our fry down with tea and then set off for the next destination.
Bready Goodness at Thyme & Co.
Want to find a way into my heart? Serve me a big freshly baked scone and smother it in real butter. At Thyme & Co. we were served the most delicious almond and pear scones, parmesan and kelp scones, as well as beautifully moist pistachio cake and wheaton bread – all with a choice of butter, jam and pesto. Again we washed the bready goodness down with tea. Thyme & Co. opened in 2006 and is run by a husband and wife team – who make everything fresh on-site. I loved the shabby chic interior of this café – it was so homey and inviting.
Classic Chowder at Central
At Central Bar, the longest running establishment we visited, we were served mini helpings of seafood chowder – made up of locally caught fish from Morton’s Fishmongers. This was served with a slice of guinness bread and a slice of fennel and seed bread and a generous helping of whipped Irish butter. It was all divine and I wolfed my portion down. I’ll be keeping an ear out to see if Central win in the Rathlin Sound Festival Chowder-Off this weekend!
Ale & Hake at O’Connors Bar
At O’Connors Bar we were given samples of locally brewed Glens of Antrim Ale. Whilst I only had the smallest of sips (I’m not much of a beer person and I’m pregnant!), I did admire the eye-catching labels on the beer. However, as usual it was the plate of food I was more interested in! We were served a beautifully cooked piece of hake, served with a pepper and mango sauce, and a small helping of coconut rice and a few mussels. It was all really fresh and light to eat.
Pretty Little Treats at Ursa Minor
Ursa Minor was the only place in Ballycastle I’d heard anything about previously. It’s actually the most recent addition to the Ballycastle food scene – but it’s made a huge impact and I regularly see very tempting instagram pics of Ursa Minor’s homemade delights. What I didn’t realise was that Ursa Minor actually came to fruition thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. Ciara who co-owns Ursa Minor with her husband Dara (she is pictured above with her brother) was inspired to set up her own café in Ballycastle after living and working in New Zealand for a time.
After initially making homemade bread for other Northern Irish coffee houses and cafes, her husband and her set up Ursa Minor just last year. Open three days a week, the bakehouse offers up a constantly changing (and very beautiful) selection of homemade pastries and desserts, as well as salads and breads. Ciara served us some delicate strawberry tarts, rhubarb entremes and madeleines – of which the latter was my absolute favourite! We all happily gobbled up the sweet treats and drank some beautiful orange blossom tea – a wonderful end to a fabulous food tour.
Thank you to Caroline for a wonderful tour. To book on a similar tour visit North Coast Walking Tours.