Last weekend I was in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh for the inaugural Festival Lough Erne.
An area was set aside beside the Lakeland Forum and teemed with food tents, a cookery demonstration area, hands on baking classes and even a carousel and helter skelter!
Up until November last year I’d never done a cookery demo in Fermanagh but Ballinamallard football club put that right twice in the past six months and I’ll be at Fermanagh Show on the 4th and 5th August.
The county has so much to offer in terms of scenery, produce, hotels and good old fashioned hospitality. It’s a joy to visit and a place where I could happily live.
Teresa O’Hare runs a small scale food business called Orchard Acre Farm outside Enniskillen. She and her husband Hugh have brought together a unique combination of their respective farming backgrounds and Teresa’s passion for food and teaching.
She refers to “plot to plate” and educates groups on growing and cooking in a sustainable way.
They’ve won a plethora of awards for their ecological approach and hospitality.
The concept of agritourism, where working farms open themselves up to visitors, has been embraced in Italy and it’s wonderful to see local people here adopting this very sensible ethos.
The O’Hare headquarters was in a yurt at the festival selling their jams along with award winning butchers, Kettyle, Kennedy bacon from Omagh, Made in Belfast jams, Burren Balsamics and many more. Fermanagh lamb is a world class meat.
I used their deboned loin and simply grilled it and finished it off with a glaze at the end of reduced Inishmacsaint ale from the county and some local honey.
Although we associate barley with soups it also works well as a base for salad.
Mervyn Kennedy from Omagh cures bacon in the old fashioned way and it tastes and smells like bacon should! Crispy bacon makes a good base for a salad and grated beetroot adds a brilliant purple secondary crunch to the whole thing.
Burren Balsamics have added a rhubarb and ginger variation to their line and its adds a little zip to the dish.
Teresa O’Hare has very kindly given me the recipe for rhubarb and chocolate cake that she cooked for Prince Charles and Camilla on their recent visit to the county.
Apparently he liked it so much he got his aide to go back and get him another helping – that’s how you take the bad look off yourself!
They say there’s an island for every day of the year in Fermanagh.
It also has amazing food, characters and a traditional warm, Ulster welcome.
If you haven’t been for a while the summer months would be an ideal time to make a point of visiting this spectacular western corner of our country.