Business

Armagh in the running to be Ireland's top 'Foodie Destination'

RAI judges Wendy Kavanagh and Zack Gallagher, who run Irish Food Tours, join Kelly Crawford and Mark Troughton from Armagh Cider Company in the county’s famous orchard countryside

ARMAGH is in the running to be Ireland top 'Foodie Destination'.

The city and surrounding area has been nominated by the 2,500-member Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) as one of only 10 finalists on the island and is now vying for number one spot.

Judges arrived in the orchard county last week taking an intensive tour and inspection of Armagh's thriving food, drink and hospitality sector.

Sponsored by FBD Insurance, the ‘Foodie Destination' initiative aims to encourage food tourism initiatives across the island and Armagh's first-time top 10 ranking is a major coup for the city and the wider Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area which has become known as the 'Food Heartland'.

The top 10 shortlisted destinations are widely recognised as those that actively promote themselves through joint promotional activities such as food festivals, gourmet trails or farmers' markets as well as great dining experiences.

A combination of the judges' assessments and the results of an online public vote will determine the overall winner.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Lord Mayor, Julie Flaherty said:

“This borough has so much to offer when it comes to world-class local food and drink products, access to learning about them, events to celebrate them and chefs who know how to do them justice

“I would urge local people to vote for the food heartland to ensure that our borough gets its deserved place on the all-island foodie map. If our destination wins, it will ultimately attract tourists and visitors to the area to strengthen the local economy, which is great for everyone in the borough.”

Michele Shirlow, chief executive of Food NI, added:

“With award-winning restaurants, gastro pubs and cafés and some of the finest artisan producers in Ireland, two of Northern Ireland's three PGIs (Product of Geographical Indicators) in Armagh Bramley apples and Lough Neagh eels, one PGO (Product of Geographical Origin) – Lough Neagh pollan, and a world class cider cluster, it's no exaggeration to describe the food heartland as the beating heart of Northern Ireland's burgeoning food scene.”

To vote for Armagh visit: www.foodiedestinations.ie/city/armagh/. Voting closes today for the awards, with the winners to be announced at this year's Food Heartland Awards, being held at The Palace, Armagh next month.

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