Armagh is fast becoming a gastronomic destination.
Locally sourced produce, world-class cider and award-winning restaurants are all on the menu for the adventurous food lover.
Nestled by the southern shore of Lough Neagh, County Armagh is a place of undulating drumlins and sweeping forests. It was once an ancient capital and history is hewn into every tumbling ruin.
Visitors come from far and wide to experience Armagh’s natural beauty and to walk in the footsteps of Irelands’ most famous mythical characters. St Patrick sited his first church in Armagh, and Navan Fort, or Emain Macha gave Armagh its name – Ard Macha.
Armagh has the friendly locals, breath-taking scenery and sense of magic visitors have come to expect from an Irish county. But what people might not anticipate, is the high level of gastronomy.
The localities of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon have, quite rightly established themselves as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland- and with good reason.
As the county dips from its highest point in the south, to the rolling lands that border the Lough, it forms a natural basket. A basket that boasts a cornucopia of local produce.
From fine restaurants and exemplary orchards to small batch, handmade products, we celebrate an abundance of quality food and drink. This autumn, locals and tourists alike should taste all that this county has to offer.
How do you like them apples?
Speaking of apples, County Armagh’s mild yet damp climate makes it the perfect place to grow quality fruit.
It is this reputation that has led to Armagh being fondly referred to as the Orchard of Ireland. The crunchy Armagh Bramley apple joined the gourmet elite in 2012 when it was awarded special EU status.
Sweet, juicy and crunchy apples find their way into world-class ciders and juices – not to mention home-cooked pies.
Fancy exploring Armagh’s long heritage of apple growing and meeting some local producers? Pop along to the Armagh Food & Cider Festival running from 19th to 22nd September.
The focus of the festival is on small intimate events, in amazing spaces and with great atmosphere. Two such companies involved in apple juice and cider production are Long Meadow Cider and Armagh Cider Company. As part of the festival, you can enjoy a cidery tour, learning about apple growing and production and not to mention tasting the finished product!
Learn the art of foraging and preparing your own lunch with your findings. If art is your thing, enjoy an art class in an orchard, or learn to make amazing sushi, Mediterranean classics.
Enjoy the tuition at Blackwell House Cookery School preparing an “Autumn Dinner Party” or with On the Hoof cooking the best of local produce outdoors.
If you prefer to sit back and relax and savour the food served to you, then the Cider Discovery Dinner with Bill Bradshaw cider expert at Armagh Cider Company, the Bramley Inspired six course tasting dinner at
Newforge House or even a Bramley Apple Banquet in the beautiful settings of Crannagael House might be just the ticket.
For those who savour the calmness, try the Orchard Retreat at Ardress House, a National Trust property nestled in the orchards.
Two festival open air markets will give you the chance to relax, catch up with new friends and enjoy great local tastes.
Cidery tours at Long Meadow and Armagh Cider Company will demonstrate the workings of orchards and production of amazing ciders, apple juices and more.
And to celebrate the anniversary of the moon landings, join in with a G-astronomy culinary adventure. Be prepared to be amazed by spectacular food with a lunar twist! The programme is packed, the cider is cool and crisp and the welcome is friendly so come and join us at the festival.
Whet your appetite
If all of that has whet your appetite and you’re hungry to taste Armagh’s bounty for yourself, then hurry up and book your trip. For more details on where to eat, what to do and where to go check out visitarmagh.com /foodandcider