Northern Ireland’s best-loved celebration of local food and drink is officially back on the menu this autumn as Armagh’s Food & Cider weekend safely returns next month with an exciting new line-up of events including cider tastings, orchard tours and grand farm-to-fork treats.
Famed the world over for its Armagh Bramley apples, top class cider and its local quality cuisine, the region’s award-winning food and drink experience will share its proud heritage with locals and visitors alike from Thursday 24 th until Sunday 27 th September.
Food and drink lovers this year are invited to enjoy more than 20 pre-bookable events to celebrate Armagh’s unrivalled Food Heartland status and the warmth of its welcome in the ultimate weekend of culinary indulgence.
Already six years old, this annual weekend in one of this Island’s top foodie destinations and provides a perfect pairing of gastronomic delights and cidery experiences that will have you coming back for more.
This special gourmet weekend is led from the front by some of the area’s best local chefs, including Ireland’s Hotel Head Chef of the Year, John Whyte, from Armagh City Hotel, and Gareth Reid from 4 Vicars Catering, Simon Dougan, Yellow Door Deli, Joyce Brownless, Blackwell House and Fiona and Rory Chapman from On the Hoof as well as a legion of local food producers who have worked creatively together to produce a unique menu of food events that combine tradition and contemporary taste.
Weekend highlights include tours of Armagh’s famed apple orchards accompanied by exclusive tastings and talks with global cider expert and author Gabe Cook and a scrumptious five-course feast curated by Gareth Reid from 4 Vicars’ Catering at the stunning Crannagael House.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Kevin Savage, said: “Enriched by a beautiful landscape and a welcome that will warm your heart, Armagh is the perfect location to celebrate this year’s harvest and the quality, heritage and experience we have producing the best food and drink available anywhere in the world.
“Developed with everyone’s safety in mind, this year’s special series of events rightly commends our proud past and our present culinary successes and I’m delighted that this award-winning event is back on the menu this year so that more people can enjoy our local provenance, meet the people behind it and share many memorable stories for years to come.”
Supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, this year’s weekend includes many of the area’s leading visitor venues including Blackwell House, Long Meadow Cider Company, Armagh Cider Company, FE McWilliam Gallery & Studio, Elmfield Estate, Crannagael House, Armagh City Hotel, Navan Centre & Fort, The Vault and Groucho’s on the Square.
There is also plenty to entertain younger family members too, including a lunch inspired by the Celts at Navan Centre & Fort and a foraging event at Oxford Island to seek out wild and tasty ingredients.
From Armagh City to Banbridge, Scarva and Portadown to Markethill and Richhill, there are plenty of tasty events to get your teeth into.
Armagh Food & Cider Weekend carries the accredited ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard developed by VisitEngland in partnership with Tourism Northern Ireland, which means all events fully adhere to government and public health guidance.
To see the full programme of events and to book your place at these unmissable events, visit
ARMAGH FOOD & CIDER WEEKEND 2020 – HIGHLIGHTS
Thursday 24th September:
Sushi Masterclass at Armagh City Hotel
Lough Neagh Eel, Ardglass Crab, smoked salmon, shellfish and locally grown wasabi will be combined in a taste for
the senses at this Sushi Masterclass with Head Chef at Armagh City Hotel, John Whyte. Come along and master the
techniques of this Japanese art form. From Temaki to Norimaki, this is a masterclass for those serious about their
Sushi! Class includes an Armagh Cider tasting with Sushi food pairing.
Vegetarian Tasting Evening at Crannagael House
Hosted at the home of John and Jane Nicholson, whose ancestors planted the first Bramley apple seedling in County
Armagh, guests are invited to dine in their covered courtyard, and feast on a series of small plates featuring produce
from John and Jane’s garden and surrounding orchards. Wines, local ciders and apple juice are included. The
evening will begin with a drinks reception served on the patio and lawn before being led into the courtyard for a
vegetarian menu carefully curated by Gareth Reid of 4 Vicars’ Catering.
Friday 25th September
Cakes and Bakes Masterclass at Blackwell House
Step into the award-winning Blackwell House kitchen to experience and learn alongside proprietors Steve and Joyce
on Friday 25 th September or Saturday 26 th September. Baking and cooking is at the heart of Blackwell House so it
won’t come as a surprise to know that the tradition gathered from time well spent as a small child with Grandmother
Lily, Great Aunt Maggie and Joyce’s own mum continues. This is your opportunity to step into the cosy, aroma filled
kitchen to hone your own skills and learn with Joyce. With this as inspiration, Joyce has attended cookery schools in
top Michelin Star restaurants and has brought these experiences with her to Blackwell House. For this event Joyce
has chosen her favourite recipes from the hundreds she has perfected over the years and is eager to share them with
you. She will soon have you raring to get stuck into the recipes for the day, learning new skills as you go but most of
all having fun.
Five Course Farm to Fork Feast at Crannagael House
Set in the grounds of Crannagael House, the evening will begin with a champagne drinks’ reception served on the
patio and lawn. You will then be invited to the courtyard where the evening will be introduced by wine expert Darren
Rafferty. A tasting menu curated by Gareth Reid of 4 Vicars’ Catering will feature food and wines all sourced from
suppliers who focus on best natural farming practices including organic when possible. Ingredients include local free-
range meats, local seafood, free range poultry and fruit and vegetables grown by the Nicholsons in their garden and
orchards. Dishes will be paired with wines from organic or biodynamic wine producers. Darren will describe each
wine served and will be on hand for those interested in a little more information. This not-to-be-missed event runs
across two nights and guests can also pre-book a place for Saturday 26 th September.
Cider Discovery Tour across Armagh City Centre
The Cider Discovery Tour offers a unique experience where you will sample and savour the very best in local in
artisan ciders from across the Orchard County. Grab a place on this tour where you’ll embark on a guided walk with
local tour guide, Donna Fox, who will regale you with stories of the City. Gabe Cook, as seen on C4’s Sunday Brunch
will accompany the tour, bringing over a decade of cider experience and will keep you informed on the ciders you will
be tasting on the tour.
Saturday 26th September
Cooking with Fire at the Keeper’s Lodge at Gosford Forest Park
Have you ever fancied cooking with fire, outside in the fresh air, with the simplest of tools and the freshest of foods? If
you have, then this one-day course is for you! It will guide and instruct you on how best to cook with fire. Some of the
tools and tricks you will learn include how to make a simple smoker, create a fire pit, select the best wood and
charcoal, and prepare the high quality produce – meat, fish, rubs and sauces. To try out your new skills, participants
will be able to cook their own breakfast and a BBQ supper. During the six sessions throughout the day there will be
lots of tips and tricks to equip you with the skills needed to prepare your own feast at home. Complete the day by
enjoying an evening meal washed down with local ciders or apple juice.
Find and Dine – A Celts Inspired Lunch at Navan Centre & Fort
The ancient Celts were experts at using nature as their larder for their meals. Forage the hedgerows of the Navan
Centre & Fort and pick the wild foods that surround us that you can then enjoy with any meal! Meet with some of the
resident Celts and see how they cook using Iron Age cooking techniques before you tempt your taste buds as the
chef expertly creates a modern lunchtime twist for you to enjoy; inspired by Iron Age staple ingredients and the
foraged food from the hedgerow walk.
Armagh Cider Company Tours & Tasting with Gabe Cook
Armagh Cider Company is very excited to have global cider judge, expert, author and ambassador Gabe Cook, a.k.a.
The Ciderologist, to impart his wealth of knowledge and passion about cider. Gabe has worked for a range of cider
makers from the smallest independent producers, right up to the world’s largest. He has made appearances on C4’s
Sunday Brunch, just finished writing his first book, ‘Ciderology’, and has even presented a bottle of cider to the
Queen! A captivating speaker, Gabe will be giving us a tutored tasting of Armagh Cider Company’s range of ciders.
On the tour, you will learn about the Bramley apple and its unique PGI status, the history of Ballinteggart House and
Armagh Cider Company. The Troughton family have been growing apples at Ballinteggart for four generations since
1898. The tour will take you through the orchards, the mill and the bottling hall for you to see the complete cider
making process ‘from blossom to bottle’, showing the production of their own cider and apple juice. The tour includes
tea/coffee and a slice of apple tart and a bottle of cider.
Nose to Tail Beef Dinner at Quails @ FE McWilliam Gallery
Nose to Tail Dining celebrates all things bovine, paying homage to the best of Northern Irish Beef, bred, reared, Salt
Dry Aged and butchered by restaurateur owners, the Quail family. The mouth-watering 5-course menu prepared by
head chef Fernando Correa, will use a fantastic variety of beef cuts combined with the best of locally sourced
seasonal ingredients. There will be complimentary Prosecco on arrival and musical entertainment provided.
Sunday 27th September
Long Meadow Cider Apple Picking & Cidery Tour
Join the McKeever Family in their orchards in the heart of County Armagh. Experience a tour of the Long Meadow
orchards where you will learn about the different apple growing systems, visit the production plant and see the apple
storage facilities, cider vinegar making, cider press and information on the fermentation process. Get closer to the
orchard after the tour by helping out with apple picking and help us bring in the apples for harvest. Every apple you
pick will either be turned into juice or cider. After all that hard work, enjoy a cider reception and lunch comprising
soup, a gourmet sandwich, apple pie and tea or coffee.
Blackwell House Orchard County Afternoon Tea
The Food and Cider Weekend Afternoon Tea at Blackwell House is tradition at its finest. Three tiers of taste
explosions await you. This tea talk will be led by an expert from Thompson Teas with an aperitif on arrival. Served in
lavishly decorated rooms, surrounded by the romantic and exciting art of Fabian Perez relax and enjoy the afternoon.
Kick off with a chilled glass of Bramley Gin Cocktail while deliberating over the wide choice of Thompsons loose-leaf
tea served in fine bone china cups. Begin your taste experience with a shot glass of hot Roasted Squash Soup
followed with warm savoury pastries and home-made classic finger sandwiches. Your sweet journey begins with light-
as-air scones hot from the oven heaped with Joyce’s wonderful raspberry or crab apple and clove jelly jam then
crowned with Chantilly cream. This Is followed by a mouth-watering array of carefully crafted bite sized pastries such
as Bramley Apple carrot cake, dark chocolate ganache eclairs and salted caramel donuts. Be sure to leave some
space for the Bramley creme brûlée to finish off your orchard afternoon tea.