11111111111111111111111111Sourdough September

Some sourdough loaves cooling

So what is Sourdough September??

This extract from the website of the Real Bread Campaign explains it all:

‘Since 2013, the ninth month of the year has when the Real Bread Campaign goes on a mission to help everyone discover that: life’s sweeter with sourdough!

The aims of #SourdoughSeptember are to:

  • Share the delicious delights of genuine sourdough
  • Encourage more people to bake genuine sourdough
  • Celebrate the small, independent bakeries that bake genuine sourdough

From 1-30 September, Real Bread bakers and other fermentalists worldwide are encouraged to organise their own local events and activities to help share sourdough secrets and demystify the delicious delights of the oldest way of raising a loaf.’

sourdough starter or leaven

So bakers from all over, encouraged by the Real Bread Campaign and Real Bread Ireland, are getting involved in sourdough events in various ways – workshops and classes, demonstrations and tasting events.

Here at ‘Blackthorn Breads’, our mini-micro-Saturday-bakery, we are, throughout September, giving away sourdough starter and a recipe sheet to get you started on baking your own sourdough loaf (in the belief and hope, of course, that regular customers won’t stop coming to the shop to buy ours!)

Alternatively, just call in on a Saturday to take a look at our range of loaves – sourdough and yeasted.

11111111111111111111111111Locally Produced Speciality Foods

Here at Blackthorn and Willow we keep a wide range of interesting foods, all of which have been produced within the nine counties of Ulster.  We started out initially with the long-shelf-life foods such as jams and marmalades (‘Rose Cottage’ in Ballycarry, Co. Antrim); herb infused rape seed oils (Broighter Gold from near Limavady, Co. Derry) and fruit and herb-flavoured balsamic vinegars (Burren Balsamics from Co. Down).

Oils and vinegars


Some of the Deli Muru range of chutneys

Dried sea vegetables from Carnlough as well as North Coast Smokehouse’s smoked dulse, sea salt and black pepper were added to the shelves as were Belfast-based Deli Muru’s range of chutneys and pickles and their selection of biscuits.

Italian pasta sauce and ketchup from Peppup in Co. Down and vinaigrettes from Harnetts’s Oils followed, as did Tamnagh granola.

More recently we have expanded into stocking chilled foods – the Dart Mountain range of cheeses; the Abernethy selection of butters and, of course, Glenarm smoked salmon (just a few cheeses and butters are on display in the shop; the salmon and most of the cheeses and butters are kept refrigerated in our store room).

Dart Mountain Cheeses from Tamnagh Foods in the Sperrins


The most local of all these locally produced foods are our ‘Blackthorn Breads’, which are baked every Saturday in the tiny kitchen upstairs above the shop!  These are ready shortly before midday on  Saturdays.

‘Sunflower Brown’ Loaves

In terms of drinks we have a delicious range of single-variety apple juices from Barnhill in Co. Armagh and fruit and herb-flavoured kombucha (fermented, lightly sweetened green tea), which come from Co. Donegal; coffee from S.D. Bells of Belfast and ‘Nine Blends of Antrim’ from Larne, and teas – black, green, white and herbal – from S.D. Bells and Suki Teas (loose leaf, pyramids and tea bags).

Suki Teas

We think that everyone will find something here on our shelves to whet the appetite!

11111111111111111111111111Picnic time

Now is the time to make the most of this lovely weather by heading off to Glenarm Forest or to the coast with a picnic.  On your way, you could call in here at Blackthorn and Willow to pick up all the essentials for a good picnic from our range of locally produced foods – we keep Glenarm smoked salmon; cheeses from the Sperrins, a wide range of chutneys, oils and vinaigrettes; smoked salt and pepper; jams, biscuits and cake.

Dart Mountain Cheeses from the Sperrins


Glenarm salmon hot smoked in Ballycastle


Chutneys from Rose Cottage and Deli Muru and Harnett’s vinaigrettes


We also keep a lovely selection of single-variety apple juices from Barnhill in Co. Armagh as well as a wide range of teas and coffee too. 

And if you come on a Saturday there will be a selection of freshly baked loaves to choose from too.

Sunflower Brown loaves


Poppy seed loaves

And if it is a really fancy picnic, perhaps you should include some linen napkins as well!

Linen napkins from the Flax Mill and from Jupiter Red

Here’s hoping that it will be a long, hot and sunny summer!


11111111111111111111111111Music for Spring

Music for Spring at Blackthorn and Willow

The first of our two musical events in April was on the afternoon of Sunday 9th April: we opened from 2.00 to 5.00 for live music from 2.30 provided by part-time resident of Glenarm, Tim Dornan, on bassoon,  with Kristine Healy on flute – who came across from Manchester for the occasion – and Gareth Lewis from Belfast on keyboards.


Tim, Kristine and Gareth played a selection of classical and baroque pieces as well as some jazz and more contemporary numbers. The appreciative audience thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to hear some excellent music played in a small intimate venue.

Our second event will be this Sunday 30th April, when Rowan Leslie, an Irish fiddle player currently living in Glasgow, and local guitarist, Gregory Gault, will be here playing a range of traditional dance tunes and slow airs.


He will be joined by other local musicians and they will be playing from 2.30 onwards.

Blackthorn and Willow will be open from 2.00 to 5.00.

All Welcome    Blackthorn and Willow Glenarm


11111111111111111111111111Spring Opening 2017

We re-opened on March 8th and we are looking forward to the new season and to welcoming old and new customers to the shop. We have been working hard to get things ready – upstairs, the bakery and stock room have been re-organised and repainted.; downstairs, the floor of the old bar, where we serve tea and coffee, has been painted pale grey to lighten up the whole room, and the chairs have been freshened up with another coat of paint.


We opened with some new stock – both from our regular craftsmen and women and from new people. I am always on the lookout for interesting new work so in January I went, as I did last year, to Showcase Ireland at the RDS in Dublin to look at a beautiful range of new craftwork of all kinds . There I met Joanna Martin, a designer/illustrator/printmaker from County Down whose colourful cushions will soon be in the shop, and artist Stephen Farnan from Belfast who will be supplying us with exquisitely designed ceramics.

We are delighted to continue stocking the work of craftspeople such as Alan McCluney of Down Pottery and Alison Fitzgerald of Greenwood Baskets, shown here with the woodwork of Ken Andrews:


as well as linen from The Flax Mill and from Jupiter Red, bags and aprons from Granny Mac and the ever-popular pottery from Alison Hanvey:


… and much more besides from talented local craftspeople and artists.

As regular customers know, we also stock a range of locally produced artisan foods: oils and vinegars; chutneys and pickles; jams and marmalade; biscuits and oatcakes; sea vegetables and smoked condiments; teas and coffee; fruit juice and cordials; Glenarm smoked salmon – and a range of freshly-baked loaves on Saturdays!