This year, Food NI, the region's promotional voice for food and drink producers, are sponsoring two awards - The People's Choice Producers Award and Taste of Ulster Restaurant of the Year 2013.
For The People's Choice Producers Award, producers, from across Northern Ireland, have been asked to put forward the product which they feel deserves recognition and are now putting its fate in the hands of the public.
Michele Shirlow, chief executive of Food NI, said: "This is the 12th Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards and we are delighted to be sponsoring two categories. It has been great fun getting the nominations in. Food and drink producers play a massive role in our economy. We all love something nice to eat and drink and somewhere nice to dine out. But the public can now have their say on whether it's bread or butter, yoghurt or ice cream or burgers or steak or, indeed whatever, which tickles their fancy, by nominating online."
In Northern Ireland, over 100,000 private sector jobs depend on the success and continued growth of the agri-food sector which has an estimated turnover of £4billion.
Food NI provides a single promotional voice for Northern Ireland's food and drink. It works to enhance the reputation of Northern Ireland's food and drink through the Taste of Ulster and Northern Ireland- Good Food is in its nature messages. Food NI is a company limited by guarantee, formed voluntarily by a consortium of food sector representatives, to develop a positive identity for high quality food from Northern Ireland. The Board consists of representatives from across the entire supply chain.
"Broughgammon Farm is Northern Ireland's first commercial goat meat enterprise hand rearing male goats from the dairy industry to provide a deliciously mouth watering, sweeter and healthier alternative to lamb. Although new to the scene they have been quick off the mark and their burgers are simply to die for!"
"From the finest part of select prime rump of beef, cut and trimmed from the succulent rump heart. It can be served on its own, as part of a surf n turf dish or as the perfect steak sandwich paired with a nice Ciabatta or baguette."
"This iconic Northern Irish delight has been produced at Tayto Castle in Tandragee since 1956. Best quality specially grown local potatoes combined with the top secret distinctive flavour makes Tayto Cheese& Onion Crisps part of every Northern Irish person’s heritage and is a Taste of Home whether near or far."
"Situated on the Ards Peninsula, on the shores of Strangford Lough with a relatively mild climate, we have been growing, preparing and packaging seasonal vegetables for over 25 years. Our organic and conventional leeks are available from August to May each year and are of the highest quality. Look out for the blue sticker to be sure that they have been 'Grown here, not Flown here!' Perfect for casseroles, pies and winter warming soups!"
"At Cloughbane we believe in the ethos of supporting our local farmers; which is why our lasagne is made with premium Northern Irish mince steak and cooked with fresh carrots, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, celery and smothered with our homemade white sauce, pasta and cheese to make a delicious meal."
"The Bella Jo Relish is becoming a household favourite across Ireland. All handmade along the Antrim coast with the finest ingredients of vine ripened tomatoes, onions and chillies."
"Being so hot & tasty, Filled Full Of mushrooms go with pretty much anything, but we find they go particularly well with a nice crunchy salads."
"A proper ‘Big Leaf, Big Flavour’ cup of tea. The schooling and health care of the families who pick this are supported every bag you buy & every cup you drink. It’s Rainforest Alliance certificate means the environment and wildlife of the area are also looked after. Tea as it should be."
"Heavenly Tasty Organics stage 1 purees are 100 organic, dairy free and gluten free. They are portion controlled, and come in a handy little tray with 4 heart shaped cavities per tray. Parents simply pop out what they need with no wastage of product. Convenience without the guilt."
These Top 22 Taste of Ulster Restaurants, selected from independent assessors scoring, have been nominated for the public vote via social media. The comments made by the assessors show just how much they enjoyed the restaurants, their ambiance and their locally sourced food.
To vote for your favourite Northern Ireland produce and restaurant visit www.nigoodfood.com. Voting is open from today, Monday February 25 until Friday March 8th.
The Yellow Door Deli - Portadown
"From truly scrumptious breads and cakes to sublime salads and heavenly hot dishesIt’s a real community café with customers coming from all arts and parts. They smoke and cure their own meat, fish and game. Last time we were there we pigged out on Tuscan bean stew and mojito cheesecake , but there’s no point telling you to have that since their menu changes daily".
The Cuan - Strangford
"Our seafood platter is a prime example of how our local produce should be served. Pure, simple, not mucked about with. Owner and head chef Peter McErlean really knows how to get hold of, and cook the good stuff. Loin of cod from the Shetland Islands, lambs liver from Bells of Crossgar and Gloucester Old Spot pork."
The Londonderry Arms - Carnlough
"Chef Manus Jamison designs menus that reflect the specialities of the Glens of Antrim. There’s wild salmon, lamb from the Antrim Hills and locally produced vegetables. The homemade wheaten bread and tasty scones are among the best we have ever tasted."
The Mitre Restaurant at The Culloden Estate and Spa - Holywood
"Stand-out local produce like pigeon from the Clandeboye Estate just up the road served with beetroot and orange salad and a walnut vinaigrette? Or local Aberdeen Angus fillet steak paired with Asian flavourings?But five star doesn’t mean snooty. The atmosphere is warm and friendly. They do a great casual menu. We’re torn between the Belfast omelette and the Irish stew served with a traditional soda farl."
Del Toro - Lisburn
"The steak in this place is cossetted beyond belief, that’s why it tastes so fantastic, But it’s not all bull here. Anton Campbell is a passionate advocate of using local, seasonal ingredients. There’ll be a very decent fish dish on too, (we had the turbot with surf clams) and the ribs are another must-try."
Ballyrobin Country House - Crumlin
"Near the international airport, it’s worth the trip in its own right. Good gastro-pub style nosh. The head chef was trained in France, so expect lots of continental touches like sautéed foie gras with pickled walnuts and sous vide of pig’s cheek."
Browns Restaurant - Derry/Londonderry
"The food is sublime. Ian has worked at the River Café in London and in Shanks with the late great Robbie Millar. Who wouldn’t love his ravioli stuffed with Portavogie prawns, lemon and ginger followed by 24 hour cooked shoulder of Lough Erne lamb. Both of these courses cost less than £22 and at dinner time too! Such good value for money."
Carriages - Larne
"Like all the cool places these days, they have their own restaurant garden. The team of chefs cure their own bacon on the premises, age their own steaks and make their own corned beef and sausages. Customers love the train carriage seats too."
Denvirs Hotel - Downpatrick
"There’s a long, long history of sheltering travellers here. That tradition of hospitality has obviously seeped into the very walls. Try the Fivemiletown Ryefield goat’s cheese tart or the Boiled Belfast ham with champ. The fish is from Walter Ewing and the game is from Baronscourt Estate. Where else can you eat pheasant three ways for just £10.95?"
Dufferin Coaching Inn - Killyleagh
"They don’t believe in small portions in this neck of the woods. Breakfast, Killyleagh style involves fluffy Tatty Bread rounds and soda bread fingers, sausages from the local award-winning butcher. The eggs are from chickens that are free to roam, they’re perfect with local smoked salmon, lemon and herbs."
Katch 27 - Kircubbin
"This cosy 27 seater place is a café by day and a restaurant by night. Breakfasts are superb. Lunch options include pies, lasagne, wraps, burgers and baguettes. The weekend evening menu changes according to the fisherman's catch. It’s not all about fish, though. You can nosh on Northern Irish sirloin of beef and saddleback honey glazed pork."
La Scala Bistro at The Stormont Hotel - Belfast
"Don’t think bistro means beef stroganoff and chequered tablecloths. This place is all clean lines and perfectly executed dishes crammed with prime local ingredients like Moyallon Sweet Cure bacon chop and Carnbrooke Dexter beef."
Malmaison - Belfast
"It’s French style but using the absolute best homegrown produce. Start with the closest thing to wild salmon from the Belverly Smokeries or some of the superbly flavoursome wild boar sausages from Jilly Dougan. They also source duck and Finnebrogue venison locally. The meat comes from Peter Hannan and the fish from Walter Ewing."
Nick's Warehouse - Belfast
"Nick Price never lets you down. Quite simply we have never had a bad meal here. You can eat around the world but always with the best local produce available.. The super salad and cold collations are particular lunch favourites, but so too is the Edible Garden."
Roe Park Resort - Derry/Londonderry
"The multi-award winning Green’s Restaurant is where you will get starters like duck terrine and baked goats cheese. The mains are melodies of like minded flavours and contrasting textures. Don’t you just love the sound of salmon with a spring onion and chorizo orzo pasta with a saffron cream?"
The Garden Restaurant at The Ballygally Castle - Ballygally
"Set within the original 17th Century walls, The Garden Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Feast on seafood chowder, daube of beef from the Glenarm estate or a Moyallon Sweetcure Bacon chop. And you must try the Causeway chips. They’re shaped like the stones at the Giant’s Causeway! Sunday lunch is served in the magnificent River Room and the afternoon tea is a real treat."
The Burrendale Hotel - Newcastle
"The Cottage Kitchen serves soup in a rustic bap and they smoke their own chicken for the Caesar salad. Head Chef Ciaran Sansome has really gone to town on the menu in the Vine Restaurant There’s confit of Lissara duck and local hake with Kilkeel prawns, but the menu is changed according to the seasons- as it should be!"
Bushmills Inn Hotel - Bushmills
"The traditional 17th century building might take you back in time, but the food is bang up to date. Their style is Irish with an international twist. We can’t resist the pan-fried fillet of beef flamed with the local whiskey."
Groucho's Café Bar - Richhill
"There’s a good mix of the modern and traditional with dishes like steak burger, chips and fried onions and chicken and chorizo tagliatelle. The honey and the bread are from the village and the hedgerows, woodlands and herb garden also contribute to the larder. Head chef Mervyn Steenson says he’s a "back to basics" kind of guy. As much of the food as possible is cooked from scratch."
Oyster's Restaurant - Strabane
"Anywhere that serves bacon and cabbage with parsley sauce gets top marks from us. The pork plate is a great idea. You get the belly, fillet & loin, served with apple puree, apple crisp & cider sauce. Very Michelinesque."
The Brewer's House - Donaghmore
"There is an honest commitment to serving local produce. The beef comes from a farm - less than 5 miles away, the eggs less than 4 miles away. Game is from the surrounding areas and the fish is stiff fresh from the sea. You will often see head chef Brian McMonagle up and about on a Sunday morning foraging. The breads are baked on site as are all of the desserts. We salute you!"
Wildfowler Inn - Greyabbey
"A Greyabbey gem .. Meat and game are their specialities, and with such fantastic produce on their doorstep, it’s a no-brainer. The local village butcher provides the burgers which are served with a homemade relish. They don’t ignore the water though. Strangford Lough mussels and Irish Sea prawns arrive daily from the nearby fishing ports. We love how the mussels are done in a broth."