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A Taste of Christmas

Christmas isn't Christmas without a Turkey! However, thanks to Northern Ireland's wealth of extremely good local produce, there's a lot more to choose from whether you decide to eat out or try your hand at one of our 11 cookery schools.

Appetisers like Glenarm organic smoked salmon, Portavogie prawns or winter vegetable soup set the scene for the main event; roast turkey with a side of ham on the bone or a Charles Dickens style goose, Lissara farm duck from County Down or a roast of the highly sought after Glenarm short horn beef (it was recently named as the best steak in the world by a top US food journalist in the Huffington Post!). Then there's all the trimmings; stuffing, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes (aka 'champ', 'poundies' or 'howd' depending on where you eat it), gravy, cranberry or bread sauce and, love them or hate them....brussel sprouts!

If you still have an appetite, many Northern Ireland restaurants offer their own twist on traditional desserts including Christmas pudding and brandy butter, mince pies or a slice of lovingly crafted Christmas cake or sherry trifle made by soaking sponge cakes in sherry and with lots of fruit, jelly and cream.

If you're planning a self-catering getaway over the festive season, there's no better time to stock the larder! There are farmers markets in every county including the Causeway Speciality Market in Coleraine and the Tyrone Farmers' Market in Dungannon or try McKee’s Coffee and Farm Shop, in the Holywood hills that CS Lewis loved as a boy. Bruces Hill Cattle Company, the award winning Northern Irish producer of speciality meats including Dexter beef, has opened the first ‘pop up’ butchery and deli in Belfast city centre. In Moira, The Meat Merchant, part of award winning Hannan Meats, sell quality products at wholesale prices.

Pheasant’s Hill Farm, Downpatrick stocks a great selection of rare breed speciality meats;  Cloughbane Farm Shop Co Tyrone specialise in bespoke cuts of meat and Culdrum Organic Farm, Coleraine and Ballylagan Organic Farm, Ballyclare supply fresh organic fruit and vegetables. In Belfast, the St George's Market in the centre of town extends its opening hours and offers shoppers a great variety of local food stuffs and crafts and the popular Christmas Continental Market offers an eclectic mix of world food and variety stalls.

Once you have sampled the very best of local produce, try one of our Gourmet Christmas recipes, below, and add a little extra Northern Ireland flavour to your Christmas menu this year.

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    • Spiced Oranges in Port

      Gourmet Christmas Recipes

      A selection of recipes for the festive season, from Northern Ireland's top cookery schools.

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