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“My kitchen may not be the tidiest or the fanciest,” Tracey says of her home on the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down. “But it is certainly lived in and loved.” Everything here in Tracey’s farmhouse, from homemade buttermilk soda bannock (bread) to hearty wheaten bread, is made with love.
When you arrive at the traditional thatched cottage, the first thing that greets you – even before you spot Tracey at the front door in her flour-covered apron – is the smell of fresh baking. The aroma fills the air and leads you inside to a big farmhouse kitchen table laden with traditional breads, sweet treats and tray bakes (another Northern Irish delicacy) made early that morning, accompanied with local butter and jam. “Make yourselves at home and tuck into everything on the table,” says your warm-hearted host, brewing up hot tea and coffee.
Soon, you are getting stuck in: donning an apron, rolling up your sleeves, and mixing and kneading dough for soda and wheaten breads using local flour and buttermilk before placing them on a griddle.
“We don’t measure or weigh anything,” Tracey explains. “It’s a handful of this and a handful of that in the traditional way.” The day is full of chat, laughter and local stories, mostly about the farming community of this beautiful landscape just half an hour from Belfast. In Tracey’s Kitchen, people make friends as well as bread.
Your end product might not be the perfect shape or size, but this isn’t a beauty contest. What matters is how good the bread tastes, still warm from the griddle and served dripping in award-winning local butter, all washed down with more tea or coffee.
And no one leaves empty-handed. As well as the memories you bring with you – not to mention your new-found skills as a traditional baker – guests take away the bread they griddled, a pack of ingredients, recipes and some of Tracey’s wonderful cakes and scones… if there are any left, that is. This is true Northern Irish hospitality.
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- All major credit/debit cards accepted
- Euros accepted