11111111111111111111111111Sweet Things

We are pleased to be stocking a range of fantastic handmade chocolate from Belfast-based company NI CHO. They produce chocolate with differing proportions of cocoa content with cocoa beans from all over the world – we have 37% bars (milk chocolate) made from Indonesian beans; 48% bars from Costa Rica; 82% from Peru up to a strong 91% made from Ecuadorian beans.  In addition we keep another range of their chocolate – Rose & Pistachio, Fruit & Nut, Pecan, Ginger – where the added ingredients are attractively pressed into the surface of the chocolate.

   In this photo you can also see, next to the chocolate bars, some of the Sea Sugar range of sweets. These sweets are made from natural – and delicious – ingredients: Lemon & Elderflower; Lime & Mint; Rhubarb & Vanilla; Apple, Pear & Ginger … and more.

We have also started to stock the ‘infusion’ range of shortbread from Holmes of Craigavon. These are really nice shortbreads that are flavoured – or infused with – with different fruits, herbs and spices: we have Blackberry; Blueberry & Apple; Ginger; Camomile & Spiced Apple; Pomegranate & Raspberry, and Lemon & Ginger.

 Talking of sweet things – after looking around for quite some time we finally managed to source some honey; we are delighted to now be stocking honey from Bellaghy.

And, as we are halfway through November, we are now beginning to keep some special items for Christmas – we have traditional little Christmas puddings from Holmes, while mince pies have been added to the choice of a snacks that we have on offer with tea or coffee in ‘the old bar’. 

Of course all of the foods that we keep here, as well as the lovely craft items, would make great gifts.

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