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Mid and East Antrim Needs Your Vote For Foodie Award!

There’s just over a week to get your vote in for Mid and East Antrim as one of Ireland’s top 10 Foodie Destinations 2018.

It’s one of three areas in Northern Ireland in for the prestigious accolade and a public vote makes up a quarter of the score.

The competition, organised by the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), looks at what destinations lead the way with food festivals, gourmet trails or farmers markets, as well as great dining experiences for locals and visitors alike.

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The judges will examine whether the entrant offers a unique visitor experience, local knowledge and participation, local producers, promotion, community events, the prospect of future projects, along with education and training.

Mid and East Antrim will now move on to the second stage of the competition. This will include a visit by the esteemed the Foodie Destinations 2018 judges, along with a nationwide public vote.
The borough will be showcasing its best retailers, suppliers and foodie experiences on offer here in Mid and East Antrim.

Local businesses are also being encouraged to get on board and share social media posts and the link to vote so the area can be in with a real chance of winning.
Mid and East Antrim boasts a thriving Food and Drink Network, with the area home to a superb array of excellent food producers, chefs, hospitality providers and food retail businesses.

Vote Now

Online voting for the 2018 competition ends on Tuesday 21 August. The overall winner of Foodie Destinations 2018 will be announced at the end of August. Place your Vote here.

Food & Drink

Lidl Northern Ireland Crunches New £11 Million Supply Deal with Newtownards Producer

Pictured celebrating the announcement is Enya Rooney, Senior Buyer at Lidl Northern Ireland, John McCann, Founder and CEO of Willowbrook Foods and Tanya Neilson, NPD & Hub Innovation Manager at Willowbrook Foods.

Lidl Northern Ireland has awarded Newtownards-based fresh food producer Willowbrook Foods an expanded supply deal worth £11 million – almost double its previous contract – to supply 25 new lines of fresh convenience foods across its network of 210 stores throughout the island of Ireland.

Established in 1968 by the McCann family, Willowbrook Foods is the largest salad and vegetable processing company in Ireland, operating from its two sites on the shores of Strangford Lough. The local company has been supplying Lidl Northern Ireland with premium bagged salads and fresh deli products since 2011.

The new contract with Lidl Northern Ireland represents an 83% boost on last year – taking the former £6 million annual contract to a cool £11 million – and will see 25 new product lines introduced across its premium range of ready meals, stir fry and deli salads.

Enya Rooney, Senior Buyer at Lidl Northern Ireland said:

“Lidl Northern Ireland has held a long-standing partnership with Willowbrook Foods and over the years we’ve seen the company enjoy exponential growth. As a proud supporter of local agri-food producers, we’re delighted to reaffirm our commitment to the partnership and provide a significant sales boost through this expanded new contract.

With a strong focus on new product development, Willowbrook Foods is continually innovating to introduce new lines in response to changing consumer demand. We’ve seen a real increase in demand for our fresh convenience foods range and we’re excited to now launch an expanded line of great tasting, home-grown salads, cold deli foods and stir fry meals to thousands of customers across the island of Ireland.

Through this new supply deal we’re thrilled to offer shoppers even more choice of fresh, quality convenience food at the same great value customers can expect from shopping with Lidl Northern Ireland.”

Headquartered in Killinchy, Willowbrook Foods opened its £5.5 million state-of-the-art production facility in 2011 to support its ambitious growth plans and enhance production capability. The site is also home to its dedicated New Product Development hub where it operates an innovation centre utilising the latest food production technology. In addition, the company operates a cooking facility at its site in Newtownards where it manufactures ready-meal products.

Lidl Northern Ireland crunches new £11 million supply deal with fresh food producer Willowbrook Foods: Pictured celebrating the announcement is Tanya Neilson, NPD & Hub Innovation Manager at Willowbrook Foods, Enya Rooney, Senior Buyer at Lidl Northern Ireland and John McCann, Founder and CEO of Willowbrook Foods

John McCann, Founder and CEO of Willowbrook Foods said,

“Since the early days Willowbrook Foods has been a leader in providing premium prepared fresh vegetables and salads, cooked and ready to cook products. Over the last 50 years we have focused on mastering our craft of growing the highest quality, great tasting vegetables and continually developing our product offering.

Key to our success is our established partnership with Lidl Northern Ireland. As the region’s fastest-growing supermarket, we’ve been able to realise our ambitious growth plans, break into new markets, reach new customers and grow our brand exponentially through the partnership.

Willowbrook Foods is delighted to secure this increased supply deal with Lidl Northern Ireland and embark on a new period of growth whilst providing its 300,000 weekly shoppers in the region with a fantastic new range of locally grown, quality products to enjoy.”

Since the beginning of its relationship with Willowbrook Foods in 2011, Lidl Northern Ireland’s supply deal has helped to create 100 new full-time roles, in addition to providing access to sales in the UK and Republic of Ireland markets.

Lidl Northern Ireland is a major supporter of local food suppliers.

An independent report into the economic impact of Lidl Northern Ireland’s operations revealed that the retailer spends at least £290 million annually with suppliers across the region while also supporting 3,500 jobs.

In 2020, Lidl Northern Ireland announced a £24 million contract with Fermanagh-based bakery, Crust & Crumb, to supply an expanded line of pizza products across more than 1,000 UK and Ireland stores whilst top Northern Ireland horticulturalist Greenisland Flowers secured a new supply deal with Lidl Northern Ireland to ship over four million stems of freshly cut tulips, lilies and scented stocks, building on their existing partnership worth more than £7.2 million.

Earlier this year Lidl Northern Ireland confirmed a new and expanded contract with Irwin’s Bakery after a successful 20-year partnership deal worth more than £50 million. Under the new supply deal, worth £2.7 million annually, the family-run bakery will continue to supply customer favourites including Nutty Krust batch bread, Irwin’s Veda malted loaf and Jammy Joey’s buns to Lidl stores across the island of Ireland.

In addition, Lidl Northern Ireland announced a new supply deal worth more than £500,000 with Antrim-based coffee producer, SlumberJack Coffee in 2021 to supply their premium Italian Espresso whole bean and ground coffee across all 210 Lidl stores within the island of Ireland.

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Food & Drink

Anthony Flinn Set To Cook Up A Storm With Asda at Balmoral Show

Join ASDA at this year’s Balmoral Show, taking place from 22 – 25 September and enjoy a range of cookery demonstrations from renowned chef Anthony Flinn. 

With years of experience, Anthony has worked in some of the world’s best restaurants throughout the UK and Europe including the esteemed 3 Michelin Star, El Bulli in Barcelona. Having attained 3 AA Rosettes as well as numerous regional & national accolades, Anthony has a first class reputation for creativity, quality and attention to detail.

ASDA will be situated on Alexander Avenue in the centre of the Balmoral Showgrounds and during the four days of the Show, Anthony is set to cook up a storm using the best of British beef that is readily available from local ASDA stores.

Why not try his mouth watering Dirty Burger recipe for yourself and get a taste of what the Show has to offer.

Dirty Burger Recipe (Serves 2)

  • 1 pack of ASDA Extra Special 4 Seasoned Beef Burgers
  • 2 brioche buns
  • 1 bottle of BBQ sauce
  • 2 kraft cheese slices
  • Sliced gherkins

Beef Stock Mayonnaise

  • ½ Oxo Cube
  • 100gr Good Mayonnaise

Crumb the oxo cube into a bowl and add 1tsp of warm water and mix until fully dissolved and smooth. Add the mayonnaise and mix until the stock and mayonnaise are fully incorporated.

Crispy Onions

  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • Toss the sliced onions in the flour and deep fry until crispy. Season with salt.

Cheese Sauce

  • 8 kraft cheese slices.
  • 150ml double cream.
  • Warm the cream in a pan. Add the cheese slices and whisk until the cheese is fully melted and smooth.

Simple Steps

  1. Cook the burgers as per the cooking instructions on pack.
  2. Toast the burger buns.
  3. Spoon the beef stock mayonnaise on to the top and bottom halves of the burger buns.
  4. Place a burger on to the bottom half of the bun and top with cheese.
  5. Stack the second burger on top and drizzle the BBQ sauce.
  6. Add the crispy onions and finally the bun lid.
  7. Skewer through burger to stop it from tipping over.
  8. Pour the warm cheese sauce over the whole burger and serve.

The Balmoral Show will run from Wednesday 22nd September to Saturday 25th September, that’s four action packed days of family fun.  Come along and visit us this year, whether you’re from the city or countryside, a first time visitor or repeat show-goer, we hope to see you there.  Tickets are now available to purchase online at www.balmoralshow.co.uk. Please note this year tickets are day specific only and must be purchased prior to the Show. Conditions of entry can also be found online.

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