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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 13:23 GMT
Local food 'worth boasting about'
Are the cows local?
When it comes to food, Northern Ireland has a menu all of its own.

Soda farls stirred up with the best of local buttermilk are a favourite.

But there's also potted herring you only stumble across in County Down or the lyrics of a Van Morrison song.

And beef sausages to sink your teeth into are a local speciality.

The authors of a new food guide say that there is plenty to boast about... local people just don't shout loud enough.

And Ulster rustic could be just as trendy as the Italian peasant variety of food, with just a small helping of imagination, they say.

Among the delights that feature in the new Bridgestone Food Lover's Guide is the humble vegetable roll.

"Laugh if you want to," says Caroline Workman, who along with John McKenna, wrote the second edition of the Bridgestone Food Lovers' Guide to Northern Ireland.

But, she argues, vegetable roll made with properly mature meat and fresh juicy leeks, has a place in the best of restaurants.

"Rustic food is not given the same prominence here as in Italy... nobody shouts about Northern Ireland.

Let's copy their ethos, not just take their foods
Caroline Workman

"But, for example, in Italy, cotechino is a rich sausage served with a gratin of turnip and a cherry compote. We could do something similar with vegetable roll.

"It is about thinking how we can make it better and make it into an attractive dish in a restaurant. Let's copy their ethos, not just take their foods. "

Ms Workman has moved from her home in County Down to County Cork.

Nevertheless, in her opinion, Northern Ireland fares very well in the food stakes.

She applauds the new generation of food producers and the number of good restaurants.

As for the big plate mentality - where quantity rather than quality has people opting for the fry you don't know whether to eat or leap over - that is changing too, she says.

"What I miss about home is local bread and local butchers. Most towns in the north have that. I miss bacon from Portadown, oatcakes and soda bread.

All that, she says, is worth coming home for.

Bridgestone Food Lover's Guide to Northern Ireland by Caroline Workman and John McKenna is published by Estragon Press

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