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Food & Drink

Castello Italia Brings a Taste of Italy To Carrickfergus

Since opening its doors in 2017 Castello Italia has delighted its customers with an array of Italian dishes with a modern Irish twist. 

And whilst many businesses shut up shop during lockdown, instead Castello Italia went through an ambitious rebrand which saw the lower floor transformed into a modern Pizzeria.

At the helm of this transformation was General Manager David Long, who saw an opportunity to expand his product offering. “Before I joined the business I had been living in Carrick and always thought Castello should be offering takeaway as well.

“Pizza was always very popular in the restaurant and in the café downstairs, but we always thought there should be an option to take it home or make it at home, we just weren’t sure how it was going to happen, so being forced into lockdown sped up this process,” said David.

This wasn’t an easy feat however, “in the summer of 2020 we remodelled both kitchens and knocked down walls to get our pizza oven from our first floor into our ground floor kitchen.” David said.

However the rebrand has allowed the restaurant to widen its offering with the ground floor restaurant now serving pizza for takeaway, the middle floor serving fine cuisine and the top floor acting as a private function room.

“The downstairs is friendlier for kids because it’s more relaxed in its décor and service.” Whilst the middle restaurant focuses on a carefully curated menu of Italian inspired dishes.

David who comes from a fine dining background states, “We’ve almost hit the nail on the head offering premium quality but not leaving people hungry. Italian food is comfort. It’s full of flavour, filling and makes you happy.

The restaurant also has a commitment to keeping everything local where possible. “Provenance is really important. We are using mostly local ingredients yet ensuring an authentic Italian taste. We work closely with local suppliers to guarantee we keep Northern Ireland’s world class products on par with our Italian inspiration.

“Our most popular dishes are the braised beef gnocchi, it’s a winter dish but it’s popular all year round. It features melt in your mouth braised beef with beautifully intense red wine sauce served with herb gnocchi. Truly mouth-watering. Then there is our Fettuccine Alfredo, which is a classic pasta dish of smoked chicken, Italian sausage and a parmesan cream sauce. During lockdowns we shared some of our secret recipes so everyone could recreate these at home,” said David.

David states that moving forward he hopes the top floor will be popular with tour groups visiting Carrickfergus; “it’s one of the best features, that provides a real private experience with amazing views over Belfast Lough.” Customers who are lucky enough to book a window table or sit on the balcony will experience exceptional views. 

Another highlight to come out of the first lockdown was the popularity of the restaurant’s ‘gelato’, a healthier alternative to ice-cream and a sweet treat perfect for summer.

“During the first lockdown we set up a new counter to sell gelato on the street and the place had never been busier. People were coming from all around, that was a really positive period for us considering.

“The gelato is very popular with kids, especially the dragon fruit sorbet and blue banana flavours because of the bright colours. We mix these together sometimes to create a unicorn flavour.” David said.

David believes that Carrickfergus is a very ‘up and coming’ region and whilst before lockdown people were choosing to go to Belfast to eat out, they are now choosing to embrace the local economy more than ever, so much so that it is essential to book your table in advance to avoid disappointment.

Learn more at: www.castelloitalia.co.uk

Causeway Coast and Glens

5 Slow Food Causeway Events Happening In December

Enjoy good food alongside an unforgettable experience with Slow Food Causeway’s events happening in December.

Taste Causeway is an accredited Slow Food destination, one of only a handful of destinations in Ireland to be awarded the accolade by the global Slow Food Movement.

Originally founded in Italy during the 1980s to combine the regional traditions with the slow pace of life. Since then, the Slow Food movement has evolved worldwide and hopes to preserve the ‘unique culinary heritage’ of NI. 

Slow Food Causeway celebrates  the unique food and drink culture of the Causeway Coast. 

Here is a quick overview of  the  Slow Food Causeway events happening in December:

1. Gifts from the Kitchen by Broughgammon Farm

Sunday 5th December, 11am

There’s nothing quite like a homemade, edible gift to celebrate the festive season so Broughgammon Farm have gathered together some of their most beloved recipes for delicious and luxurious edible treats. In this class we will be making an array of delectable items, perfect for gifting or just to enjoy yourself! You’ll leave with plenty of ideas, recipes as well as treats that you will be making throughout the morning.

For more information go to https://www.broughgammon.com/events/gifts-from-the-kitchen/?occurrence=2021-12-05

2. A Taste of Mussenden by Mussenden Sea Salt

Thursday 9th December, 7pm – 10:30pm

An evening of luxury dining where sustainability meets great Slow Food taste on Thursday 9th December at Mussenden Temple. 

Mussenden Temple opened its doors for the first time on Friday 5th November, offering exclusive dining experiences. 

National Trust, in partnership with Mussenden Sea Salt, are back for a second time offering another opportunity this year to dine at one of Northern Ireland’s iconic landmarks.

The menu for the evening has been crafted by Paula McIntyre MBE, the President of Slow Food NI and her menu will feature a showcase of local food and drink producers from the Taste Causeway Network.

For more information go to https://www.tastecauseway.com/event/a-taste-of-mussenden-by-mussenden-seasalt/ 

3. Causeway Coast Foodie Tours Spirit of the Bann

18th and 31st December, 3:15pm – 5:15pm

The award winning Causeway Coast Foodie Tours are embracing the winter season by hosting you on a very special ‘The Spirit of the Bann’ river whiskey tasting experience along the picturesque river.

‘The Spirit of the Bann’ along with White River Charters are hosting a cosy afternoon full of winter inspired whiskey flavours accompanied by an array of tasty award-winning local Slow Food produce. 

Where better to celebrate our unique Slow Food food and drink heritage than via a journey on the River Bann alongside the beautiful site of Mountsandel, Coleraine.

For more information go to https://www.tastecauseway.com/event/slow-food-causeway-spirit-of-the-bann-whiskey-tasting-experience-by-causeway-foodie-tours-2/ 

4. North Supper Club by Ursa Minor at Glenshesk Barn

Saturday 18th December, 7pm to late

We’re all long overdue for a special, unique night out; get festive with us at our casual and relaxed evening with friends and enjoy a delicious feast, celebrating the best local produce with Ciara from Ursa Minor.  Enjoy three courses of beautiful seasonal food served under twinkling lights and candlelight in an unbelievably special location five minutes from Ballycastle.

After dinner we’re very excited to bring you some of the finest voices on the island right now; the stunning vocal harmonies of Lemoncello; superb Dublin poet & playwright Stephen James Smith & the enthralling experimental folk artist Joshua Burnside.

For more information go to  https://www.northfeast.co.uk/

5. Slow Food Christmas at The Arcadia

Sunday 19th December, 7pm – late

Join in on the festive cheer at The Arcadia with Slow Food Causeway director Paula McIntyre MBE where you will be taken on a festive culinary adventure.

Let your taste buds be blessed at Paula McIntyre’s Slow Food Christmas where she will showcase the finest of Taste Causeway’s European influenced produce such as Guiseppe Guisti Balsamic, Slow Food Presidia Red Cow parmesan cheese and charcuterie from Corndale Farm.

Guests who attend the Slow Food Christmas at The Arcadia will get to recreate Paula McIntyre MBE’s delicious recipes from the six-course Italian inspired menu.

For more information, go to https://www.tastecauseway.com/event/slow-food-causeway-christmas-at-the-arcadia/ 

The Causeway Coast and Glens is Northern Ireland’s first accredited Slow Food destination, Taste Causeway, the collaborative network of local food and drink businesses was awarded the accolade by the global Slow Food Movement following a rigorous assessment process.

To launch and celebrate this prestigious award Taste Causeway is running a six month programme of events, dining experiences, tours and special menus.

Taste Causeway is delivering Slow Food Causeway with funding from Tourism NI in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. 

For more information go to tastecauseway.com/slow-food-causeway or follow the hashtags #SlowFoodCauseway and #TasteCauseway

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Food & Drink

4 Slow Food Causeway Events Not To Be Missed This November

Hungry for adventure? If you’re looking for something exciting to really sink your teeth into, then look no further.

From November 2021 to March 2022, Slow Food Causeway is hosting a series of unmissable events celebrating the unique cuisine of the Causeway Coast. 

The Slow Food organisation was initially founded by activists in Italy to promote the defense of regional traditions, good food, the joy of gastronomics – and the slow pace of life. Slow Food has since gone global – and has recently welcomed Taste Causeway as a Slow Food destination, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, after awarding them the accreditation. 

From guided food tours to delicious tasting menus, Slow Food Causeway has a host of delicious events to choose from.

Here are 4 Slow Food events not to be missed this November:

1. A Taste of Mussenden by Mussenden Seasalt

Friday 5th November, 7pm to 10:30pm. 

Join Mussenden Sea Salt for an evening of luxury dining where sustainability meets great taste, in the beautiful surroundings of Mussenden Temple. 

You’ll be warmly welcomed by our hosts and guided along the atmospheric Downhill Demense to the steps of the Mussenden Temple, where your delectable eight course menu and white wine pairing awaits.

The menu for the evening will be crafted by none other than Paula McIntyre MBE, and will feature dishes from BBC Hamley Kitchen, showcasing the very best of the Slow Food movement here, in Northern Ireland.

The first of its kind, this event is the perfect way to kickstart the Slow Food Causeway experience.

For more information, click HERE

2. Guided Forage And Feast Walking Tour With Ursa Minor

Saturday 6th November and Tuesday 9th November, from 10am. 

Ursa Minor Bakehouse is known as one of the best bakeries along the North Coast. Creating bespoke, honest bakes that are crafted from high-quality local ingredients, encompassing the speciality of slow food with each of their creations.

This walking tour will be led by local tour guide, Ewen Friers, who will tell you all about the history of the area and the vast culture surrounding it.

Along the way, you’ll learn about the art of foraging, the hunt for wild food resources, with Clare McQuillan from Feasting With Weeds as you learn about the natural world around us. 

The guided tour will also feature a picnic feast on the majestic Causeway cliff tops, allowing you to appreciate the spectacular scenery as you bask in a panoramic view.

For more information on the 6th November event, click HERE and for the 9th November event, click HERE 

3. Sourdough Making Classes by Ursa Minor

Sunday 14th November and Sunday 28th November, 9am to 5pm

Have you ever wanted to learn the art of traditional sourdough making? 

Voted Best Slow Food Bakery in 2020, Ursa Minor invites you to get up close and personal with their professional bakers to learn about the craft of sourdough. During the event, participants will create three different types of sourdough bread. Guests will receive refreshments of tea, coffee and Ursa Minor nibbles in between baking. 

Get the behind the scenes experience from one of the North Coast’s most popular bakeries, with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere guaranteed.

To read more click HERE for the 14th November event and HERE for 28th November.

4. Bushmills Banquet at Causeway Visitor Centre

Friday 19th November, 7pm to 11pm

To celebrate the first month of Slow Food Causeway, we are hosting a red carpet event featuring a sensational feast crafted by local chefs along with an exclusive tasting menu from the famous Old Bushmills Distillery. 

Tickets include a drinks reception and delicious canapes to get your evening of wondrous tasting started. Guests will then sample a grazing platter, small plates and tasters, as well as scrumptious desserts that are all created in line with the Slow Food movement, showcasing the very best of our local produce. 

You will also enjoy a relaxing nightcap in the historic Causeway Hotel, the perfect way to end your evening. 

For more information, click HERE 

Taste Causeway is delivering Slow Food Causeway with funding from Tourism NI in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council. 

For more information go to tastecauseway.com/slow-food-causeway or follow the hashtags #SlowFoodCauseway and #TasteCauseway  

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