Fair Head Walk and Talk- vlog

Fair Head Walk and Talk with archaeologist Thomas McErlean on Saturday 17th June.

​This walk covered the sequence of walks which have taken place over the last 2 years of the Fair Head landscape including Murlough and Goodlands.

It followed a route past Lough na Cranagh and Lough Doo out along the cliff top, and celebrated the heritage of this dramatic part of the Irish coastline.

Check out the vlog!

Galgorm Gourmet Wine Evening

Earlier this month I was delighted to be invited to the Galgorm Hotel’s Gourmet Wine Evening.

This exclusive event, which is being run just four times in 2017, pairs gourmet cooking with expert wine tasting.

Guests are treated to a drinks and canapés reception, a five course dinner and a selected glass of wine with each course.

I attended the event on 1st June which was being hosted by Robert Neill from Neill Wine, a boutique wine merchants with stores in Helen’s Bay, Groomsport and Carrickfergus.

The theme for the night was “Outstanding Grape Discoveries: Taste the Difference” which wanted to introduce us to grape varieties that we, perhaps, would not be familiar with.

The venue for the evening was the hotel’s stunning River Room which we were individually taken to after the drinks and canapés reception.

We were given a introduction to the wine by Robert Neill before each course, and Robert expertly talked about the region in which the grapes were grown, the style of the wine, the type of food it works well with and generally got us excited about trying it out.

The first wine we sampled was a Antech Cuvee Heritage 2012 from Limoux in France. It’s believed the world’s first sparkling wine was, in fact, produced in Limoux and so, certainly dates back further than Champagne.

The Antech Cuvee Heritage has a international style of sparking wine, a mix of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac.

It has a dry, but slightly spicy taste and pairs well with canapés and aperitifs.

The first course on the menu was sole with squid ink, sea lettuce and tomato. This was served with Raidis Estate Cheeky Goat Pinot Gris Rose (2014) from Coonawarra in Australia.

The Connawarra region is synonymous for Cabernet Sauvignon so it I was very interested to try its Rose!

The wine is medium to full body (which you don’t get for Rose) and more importantly, is dry.

As to be expected, this wine goes well with fish and accompanied the light, flaky and tender sole perfectly.

The second course was cured beef with radish, black garlic and lovage (sea parsley). This course was matched with Casar de Burbia Mencia 2013 from Bierzo in Spain.

The Mencia grape produces dark fruit flavours, such as blackcurrant, cherry and plum, with acidity being one of the distinguishing factors of this wine.

The Spanish tend to serve Mencia with cured meats, as was the case at the Galgorm.

The beef course was one of my favourite of the evening and I was left wanting more.

The third course was monkfish served with scallops, peas, smoked butter and samphire.

This was matched with Deu La Deu Alvarinho Reserve 2014, a vinho verde (‘green wine’) from Portugal.

This is a fruity and fresh wine- the grape just as ripe as the day it was picked.

It has citrus and mineral characteristics which made it the most enjoyable for me to drink.  It really complimented the slightly sweet but mild taste of the monkfish.

The fourth course was lamb, girolles, artichoke, nettle and courgette flower. This was paired with Terra Noble Gran Reserve Carmenere 2013 from Maule Valley in Chile.

This full-bodied wine, which is matured in oak for up to two years, has the most intense aroma of freshly ground coffee beans.

It is rich and smooth with a very tart finish, which is why it worked very well with the strong flavour of the lamb. The dish was beautifully presented and was very appetising.

The final course of the evening was the dessert- lemon with bee pollen, strawberry and local yoghurt.

This was served with Antech Cuvee Ancestrale 2014, again from Limoux in France. This medium sweet wine has incredible hints of red apples and pears and makes for the perfect wine to accompany dessert.

I mentioned that the cured beef was one of my favourite courses of the night and this was certainly the other. Refreshing, cleansing, sweet and tasty!

We finished with tea/coffee and petit four. I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable evenings in terms of the range of food and drink I’ve had in a long time. I cannot fault anything.

With more than 6 glasses of wine (as often we were topped up!), a 5 course dinner, as well as canapé reception and petit four, you leave completely satisfied.

The next Gourmet Wine Evenings are Thursday 5th October 2017 and Thursday 7th December 2017 and cost £95 per person.

Check out http://www.galgorm.com/upcoming_eventst.html for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oblumi Digital Thermometer

For any parents out there, you’ll know a thermometer is a must-have. (We all worry about whether our child has a fever!)

I recently received a thermometer from Oblumi, part of the BubbleBum family (the company which makes inflatable booster seats and is headquartered right here in Northern Ireland.)

Now this isn’t a normal thermometer but one which converts into an infrared digital thermometer when the small device is connected to your very own smartphone! Technology, hey!

So, I download the Oblumi app, connected the device into the headphone jack and it was good to go!

The thermometer takes a recording by either placing the device into the ear or rubbing it on the forehead.

I tried it out on me first and within seconds, the reading had appeared- a normal 37°. I then tried it out on my five month old daughter, Niamh.

At first she was a little wary of the device going into her ear but, having tried thermometers on her before, this was something I expected.

After a second or two, she was back to her smiling self (as you can see!) Her reading was 36.5°, so again a normal temperature.

I thought the device was quick and easy to use, especially because I would always have my phone on me.

I felt taking the temperature in the ear was easier than the forehead, as you couldn’t go wrong. (I think I wasn’t placing it close enough to the temple when doing it on the forehead at first!)

The app allows you to save profiles, so you can have different readings recorded for different members of the family.

The smart technology also allows you to set alarms so you know when to give your child medication if they have a fever and can also check the temperature of liquids such as a bath!

I thought the Oblumi thermometer was a great, handy device and thankfully Niamh liked it! Check out https://www.bubblebum.co/product/oblumi-tapp/ for more!

Handy size for carrying in baby bag

Fits into your smartphone

Trying it out on Niamh

Reading appeared in seconds

Temperature can be saved to ‘profiles’ of family members

 

 

 

 

Tesco NI- National BBQ Week

As I write this, it is threatening to rain! (Typical!)

We all love a BBQ but of course, it’s hard to plan because you never know what the weather might do. However, it’s National BBQ Week so at least one BBQ had to be on the cards!

I was delighted to receive a BBQ pack from Tesco Northern Ireland, championing local produce. So, as  soon as the sun shone on Wednesday we fired up the coals!

In the pack we had:

  • 4 Beef steak burgers and 4 chilli flavoured beef steak burgers (from Ballymena-based meat company Doherty and Gray)
  • Hull’s of Ballymena smokey BBQ pork sausages
  • Irwins white finger rolls (Portadown bakery)
  • Country Kitchen reduced fat coleslaw (from Craigavon-based Avondale Foods)
  • Sweet Chilli and Cranberry coleslaw (Newtownards company Provenance Salads)
  • Nightingale Farms lettuce (grown in Northern Ireland)
  • Dromona mature cheddar cheese slices (part of the Dale Farm group)
  • “Really Good” floury baps (made in Armagh)

We were also treated to a selection of local beers and ciders:

  • Belfast Blonde (Hilden Brewery in Lisburn)
  • Madden’s Meadow Cider (from Armagh Cider Company)
  • Horny Bull Stout (Hillstown Brewery in Randalstown)
  • Yardsman Lager (Hercules Brewing Company in Belfast)
  • Belfast Ale (Whitewater Brewery in Castlewellan)
  • Carson’s Crisp cider (Armagh Cider company)

So, burgers, hotdogs and a few drinks was the order of the day this week! We loved it, especially since everything is made right here! Thanks Tesco!

Northern Ireland BBQ pack from Tesco NI

Local craft beers and ciders

Chilli steak burgers with Sweet Chilli and Cranberry coleslaw, Nightingale Farms lettuce and Dromona mature cheddar cheese

 


Hulls of Ballymena BBQ pork sausages with Irwin’s finger rolls

La Taverna at Fratelli

Today is the Italian National Day so there’s no better day to write about Italian food!

Last week I was invited along to Fratelli in Belfast (Great Victoria Street) to try out their new offering, La Taverna.

La Taverna, situated upstairs in Fratelli, is an elegant bar (with all-Italian wines) and a menu which consists of small, sharing-size dishes known as cicchetti (similar idea to Spanish tapas.)

Last Friday happened to be the warmest day of the year so it was perfect for Barry and I to sit out on the terrace and enjoy the 26° heat! (Now we really did feel like we were in Italy!)

The La Taverna menu is broken down into sections, including Piadina (filled Italian flatbreads), verdure al forno (baked vegetables) and cicchetti fritti (fried sharing plates).

We decided to go for one dish from each section, as we felt that this was a good mix and would give us a broad sense of all the different styles of cicchetti.

Out of a possible three dishes from each section, we selected;

Piadina: Prosciutto crudo with provolone, tomato, pesto and rocket

Stromboli: Pancetta, wild mushrooms and grated truffle

Verdure al forno (baked vegetables): Fine bean, tenderstem, shallot, pancetta

Cicchetti fritti (fried): Spiced chicken breast with salsa rossa

Cicchetti al forno (baked): Venetian-style seafood gratin

Cicchetti freddi (chilled): Buffalo Mozzarella, marinated tomato and basil

Verdure Fritte: Parmesan fries with truffle mayo

For me the Piadina was my favourite- it’s similar to pizza but traditionally thinner and crispier, and eaten more like a sandwich/wrap.

The Stromboli, again, has the style of pizza but is long, thin and rolled, with the ‘toppings’ inside. While I enjoyed all the dishes, I also particularly liked the spiced chicken breast (perhaps it could be a little bit spicier?)

I loved the mix of cold and hot, baked and fried, meat and vegetarian dishes and would recommend covering each of the menu’s sections! The sizes were great for sharing and accompanied the drinks well, mine the locally-made Jawbox gin.

Piadina: Prosciutto crudo with provolone, tomato, pesto and rocket

Stromboli: Pancetta, wild mushrooms and grated truffle

Verdure al forno (baked vegetables): Fine bean, tenderstem, shallot, pancetta

Cicchetti fritti (fried): Spiced chicken breast with salsa rossa

Cicchetti al forno (baked): Venetian-style seafood gratin

Cicchetti freddi (chilled): Buffalo Mozzarella, marinated tomato and basil

Verdure Fritte: Parmesan fries with truffle mayo

Jaxbow gin on the La Taverna terrace

Once we had finished our dinner and were ready to hit the road, we spoke to the manager who recommended the cheeseboard to us. Now I was pretty full but anything with cheese gets my vote, so of course we had to try it!

The cheeseboard consisted of four different types of cheeses- gorgonzola, pecorino, fontina and taleggio- served with cracker breads, grapes, and Prosecco and chilli relish. I’m so glad we tried it and was a lovely way to finish.


We had a very enjoyable evening at Fratelli and the dining al fresco was an added bonus!

 

Afternoon treats with Andrew Ingredients

Last week I was invited along to Kingspan Stadium by Andrew Ingredients, a Lisburn-based business which provides products to the baking industry across Ireland.

The event was to showcase their extensive range of goods, as well as launch a new rugby-inspired bread product, NO 8, in partnership with German ingredients supplier IREKS.

Throughout the afternoon, Andrew Ingredients discussed the latest bakery innovations and advice, as well as offer an unbelievable choice of samples.

I’m not joking when I say I tried breads, buns, muffins, baps, donuts, brownies, cookies, pizza…..the list goes on!

Check out the rugby ball bread, if you get the chance!

Launch of NO 8

Country Kitchen launches Mexican inspired coleslaw

One of Northern Ireland’s best-loved food brands has launched two new products just in time for BBQ season – and I was very lucky to get the chance to try them out!

County Kitchen, the own-brand of Lurgan-based Avondale Foods, has announced that Mexican-inspired Chipotle Coleslaw, featuring a hint of smoky spices, as well as tomato, pepper & feta cheese salad will now be available in Tesco stores across Northern Ireland.

As part of the brand’s 25th anniversary, new listings will also be introduced, such as a single-serve twin-pack of Coleslaw and Potato Salad.

Last week I received a pack from Country Kitchen featuring the two new products as well as some firm favourites.

So far, I’ve used the new chipotle coleslaw in a burger and as a side dish to pizza, as well as having the new tomato, pepper and feta cheese salad as part of a picnic lunch!

If you’re a fan of coleslaw, check out this new coleslaw with a twist for yourself!

Mexican party pack from Country Kitchen

Two new products from Country Kitchen

Some firm favourites from Country Kitchen

Bacon and cheese burger with chipotle coleslaw