New coastal tourist tour will help ‘toast’ East Antrim culinary gems

Pic (L-R) General Manager Norman McBride, Head Chef Kevin Osborne at Ballygally Castle with Portia Woods.
Pic (L-R) General Manager Norman McBride, Head Chef Kevin Osborne at Ballygally Castle with Portia Woods.

A new guided food tour along the Causeway Coastal Route and Antrim Coast will shine a spotlight on Whitehead, Larne, Ballygally, Glenarm, Carnlough and Cushendun – celebrating local hidden culinary gems to the local and international tourism market.

After identifying a gap in the market, Toast the Coast was devised by local woman Portia Woods to highlight the breadth of producers, suppliers and hidden gems located along the Antrim Coast.

Beginning from either Belfast or Dublin, tourists will be taken by executive coach, on a culinary journey stopping off in Whitehead, Larne, Ballygally, Glenarm, Carnlough and Cushendun, tasting the very best food and drink on offer plus exploring local tourism hot spots along the way.

Speaking on the development of Toast the Coast, Portia says: “Having been born and bred in County Antrim, I celebrated local food every day during my childhood and then with my own family and children. From traditional meals, to local favourite hotel stops, to picnics on sunny and dull days, when we made the most of days off school.

“I am extremely proud and passionate about the Antrim Coast and feel that Toast the Coast is a nod towards acknowledging this, sometimes overlooked, part of the coastline that is home to some of Northern Ireland’s best local artisans, crafters and tourist destinations.

“The support I have received to date from the local tourism market has been fantastic. They have been there to support, advise and focus my ideas, allowing me to create a tour, I feel gives a true insight to this wonderful part of Northern Ireland.

Portia, who is a trained World Host Food Ambassador, added: “It was important for me to build strong partnerships with each of the businesses located along the tour – to not only ensure that tourists get the very best insights but for the local businesses involved to reap the rewards as well. Each venue has been hugely supportive and created a package that is unique to this tour only”.

Helen Porter from Ann’s Pantry is thrilled to be involved: “We’ve always been keen to be a part of anything that attracts people to all the great places in Northern Ireland and we love the idea of reaching out to tourists – local or international – to chat to them about why we love the North Coast and why they should too.”

Portia added: “The initial feedback on the tours has been extremely encouraging and we are adding more details weekly. My aim is to build upon the tour and keep it fresh, linking in with more local venues and events. I hope to add more tour packages in the future.”