Gr8 Chinese Buffet

The BFM has had a gr8 evening after being helped by the bodies in the Apple store.Then I treated myself to some Chinese at China Buffet King.

Victoria Square
Belfast
BT1 4QQ
United Kingdom
028 9024 8100

All the favourite Chinese cuisine was there,so would thoroughly recommend it compared with another equally appetising brand close by!!!

Service was amazing,staff all wore smiles.

Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

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The BFM

BFM here wanting to share the food love. Here’s a bit about me

The Belfastfoodman (BFM) is a local food blogger, writer, critic and all things food lover from field to fork!!!

If there is anything happening in the future that may interest me please be kind enough to email me.

Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

You can follow me on
@belfastfoodman
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The hatching of the Asian Chicken Shop in Belfast

Like many others from the mainland the BFM has noted a huge array if the “chicken shop” or fried chicken establishments from mainstream to individuals in places like Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and London to name a few. Competition is fierce!!! I got two piece of fried chicken and chips for £1.50 in Bradford!!

We have a couple of players in Belfast now. Chick N lick N
Dublin Road
Belfast
United Kingdom
028 9032 0023
I had 3 wings, 2 pc ch, chips, coke £4.99

and Frango
41 Bradbury Place
Belfast
BT7 1RR
United Kingdom
028 9508 5659
Peri peri hot burger chip can £4.49
Very nice burger,soft Bap, cheese,tom,cucumber,onion
But hot sauce nit hot!!!!

Tried em both yum yum
Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

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Solo dining part 2

BFM does it all the time
Tables for one – the rise of solo dining
By Barbara Balfour
Ottawa, Canada
24 July 2014 Last updated at 00:00

Amsterdam restaurant Eenmaal only has tables for one
Not too long ago solo dining was synonymous with a greasy takeaway scoffed down in the car, or room service consumed in the sterile anonymity of your hotel room.

This was preferable to the thought of dining alone in a proper restaurant, and the associated stigma of being seen as a “friendless loser”.

Some of that sense of unease surrounding booking a table for one no doubt dates back to our childhoods, when sitting alone in the high school cafeteria was tantamount to social suicide.

Yet today, a growing number of us live alone – including one out of every seven adults in the US – so the stigma surrounding solo dining has started to dissipate, says Aaron Allen, a Florida-based global restaurant consultant.

With more and more people choosing to dine out alone, Mr Allen says savvy restaurants around the world are trying to make themselves more welcoming to solo diners, for example by fitting more bar seating, or encouraging waiting staff to be more attentive to customers sitting on their own.

Is there still some stigma attached to dining out on your own?
Lunch on the house

Ottawa restaurateur Stephen Beckta says fine dining establishments should see a solo diner as “the greatest compliment a restaurant can receive”.

His three restaurants – Beckta, Play and Gezellig – are magnets for solo diners in the Canadian capital.

In addition to having the extensive bar seating and thoughtful service that restaurant experts such as Mr Allen highlight, Mr Beckta’s three outlets also enable solo diners to busy themselves with tasting menus of up to eight small courses.

Mr Beckta says: “Solo diners choose to eat with us for the pleasure of dining – not because they were roped into a celebration or a date – so why would we not embrace them?”

And while his staff are happy to have a good chat with people dining on their own, he says guests can request to be left alone.

“If you’re a solo diner, my suggestion is to ask for the things that are going to make you happy,” says Mr Beckta.

“A table out of the way? A seat at the bar? In conversation or left alone? A good restaurant wants to make you happy.”

Solo diners at Stephen Beckta’s three restaurants can sit at a bar counter and talk to staff and fellow diners
Mr Beckta’s love for solo diners also goes as far as his three eateries offering a free lunch to guests who have booked a date reservation for two, only to find themselves stood up.

“How else would you want to turn around their experience if not to take care of their bill?” he says.

But do any diners pretend to have been stood up just so they can get a free meal?

“We’ve never had anyone try to take advantage of our policy, though we don’t extensively advertise it,” Mr Beckta says.

“We just trust our customers, and have found that if you do the right thing by them, they’ll take care of you in return.”

Purchasing power

Aaron Allen says there are a number of societal reasons behind the growth in the number of solo diners.

“Divorce rates are higher, and people are waiting longer before getting married,” he says.

“[As a result], there are way more singles in the marketplace, and they’re much more affluent in terms of what they spend on food and living expenses.”

Chefs at the Top of the Market restaurant are encouraged to chat to people dining on their own
Official figures confirm that the purchasing power of single people is vast, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculating that singletons in the US spend $1.9 trillion (£1.1tn) per year.

In London almost a third of homes are now occupied by just one person, while in New York and Paris it is more than half. And in cities such as Stockholm, 60% of residents live on their own.

While most of these people do of course go out for meals with friends and relatives, many are also increasingly choosing to book tables for one.

Provide a show

At the San Diego restaurant Top of the Market, executive chef Ivan Flowers was brought in last year to make some changes, with one main aim being to increase the number of people dining alone.

He felt that while the eatery already had bar seating in front of the open kitchen, it was underutilised because the chefs weren’t interacting enough with the customers.

Mr Flowers says solo diners sitting by the kitchen now get “to see a show”, which includes cooking demos, free tastings and conversations with the chefs.

“If you catch our eye, we’ll ask, ‘Would you like to try that?’

Dining alone at least means that no-one asks if they can try your food
“Our solo diners love watching professional cooking at that level and speed. When there’s a pause, they’ll start asking questions like ‘I made this the other day, how can I prevent it from burning?’

“We’ll take their email to load them up with the information [they are after]. We do whatever it takes to make it a memorable night.

Solo diners in London will soon be able to dine out at an Eenmaal restaurant
“Our solo customers forget they are alone – because they’ve never been alone from the moment they stepped in.”

Deliberate disconnection

Yet for those solo diners who do actually want to feel alone, there’s Eenmaal, a pop-up restaurant in Amsterdam that features only tables for one.

Created by Dutch designer Marina van Goor, the restaurant has been fully booked every night since it opened last summer. Sister branches will be opening in Antwerp, London, Berlin and New York later this year.

Ms van Goor says: “I noticed that in our society, there is no room for being alone in a public space, unless you are going somewhere.

“I wanted to create an attractive place where disconnection is okay, especially in our hyper-connected society.

“I chose to set up a restaurant, because eating alone is the most extreme form of feeling disconnected in our culture.”

Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

You can follow me on
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Solo dining part 1

The BFM does it all the time!!
Your solo dining experiences
31 July 2014 Last updated at 00:07

A recent article looking at the growth of solo dining prompted many emails from readers sharing their own experiences.

The story explored the rise in the number of people eating out on their own, and how restaurants around the world are trying to make themselves more welcoming to such individual diners.

Here are some of your stories on solo dining.

Chris Scruggs, UK: I remember a time, only a few years ago, when I found the idea of eating out alone to be a depressing prospect. I would view solo diners as sad and lonely people. Now, I eat out by myself quite often, and sometimes prefer it to the company of others. One thing more than any other has made this change to my perspective – a smartphone. I suppose solo diners really aren’t solo any more at all. I don’t know whether this is good or bad.

William Wohlsen’s lunch at Red Riding Hood’s Basket in Massachusetts
William Wohlsen, Massachusetts, US: For some reason I never felt at all self-conscious about requesting a table for one. And it’s much better than room service or fast food.

Stephen Sakulsky, Los Angeles: I have spent the majority of my meals solo. For me it’s the best way to experience, and have, a food and wine focused meal. There are no distractions to the dining experience. No people talking and no opinions. It’s about the food and wine and nothing else. It’s great.

Annette Allen, Buckinghamshire, UK: I love eating out on my own. I travel a lot for work, and on holidays, on my own, and often eat out solo. I can choose to enjoy food in peace, or chat to other diners and restaurant staff. Also I don’t get criticised if I have dessert, and I can just stare outside the window, if I like – I enjoy people watching. In 30 years of doing this, I’ve noticed a big sea change in the past decade in the way that solo women diners are treated. We’re finally treated with respect, not someone to be hidden away, so I’m often offered a window seat.

Meal machines: Order your meal at the push of a button in Tokyo
Emma Lui, UK: While working as an English teacher in Tokyo for 18 months, I found myself in a country where solo dining appeared to be the norm and not the exception. [Noodle] restaurants near the train station would always be filled with rows of “salary men” in the evenings, with worn faces and loosened ties from their working day, quietly tapping on their smartphones and stoically shovelling rice and noodles into their mouths. I can think of at least one ramen chain where there were special individual wooden booths for customers to eat their ramen in private!

Tokyo certainly embraces the lone diner. Even when you order food, you don’t need to speak to a waitress or server. Of course there are places with traditional menus, but there’s also a very efficient Japanese way of dining. There are ticket machines either just outside or inside the restaurant, and you insert your money, press what you want, and hand the printed ticket over to the worker in the kitchen area. It did strike me as a foreigner living in Tokyo how easy it was to live entire days without needing to speak a single word.

Jon Goodwin, Glasgow: Although I should love to eat out at fine restaurants by myself, I have always regarded solo diners as very deeply sad, and I should almost die of shame to be amongst their number.

Richard, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire: Although I dine alone infrequently, I find the experience completely different from dining in company. It allows me to give more of my attention to the food and its presentation. I can drift off into my own thoughts and not have to worry about seeming to be rude or inattentive. Also I can eat at my own pace, as there is no-one else waiting for me to finish, nor am I waiting for another diner. As an occasional event I really do enjoy dining alone, but I wouldn’t want it as a regular occurrence!

Eric Anker spends more than half the year travelling for work so enjoys many solo meals
Eric Anker, Tehachapi, California: I eat nearly every meal alone when I am on the road. I travel more than 200 days a year for work. Once I was [sitting by the kitchen] at a restaurant, and I was watching the prep cook make a dessert. He was caramelising the sugar coating when the tart caught fire. While trying to put out the flaming tart the cook spread the fire to his prep board. Quickly he grabbed the board and shoved it into the trash bin… and yes that also flared up. The head cook calmly walked over with a bowl of water and put the fire out. Of course the two other diners and I were rolling with laughter with the proceeding entertainment.

Tom Cook, Bristol, UK: I hate eating alone in a restaurant. I have to do it every so often when I travel on business and it is always a trial, to be ended as quickly as possible. What are you supposed to do in the half hour it often takes from arriving to having your first course served if you’re on your own? Being overseas only makes it worse – even if you found someone to talk to, chances are the conversation would falter on the language barrier.

Dung Nguyen, Vietnam: In my country, people rarely dine out alone. I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant alone, because I feel so pathetic. I think it is a great idea to open restaurants specially for solo diners. Then people on their own would not feel like a fish out of water. I wish there was a chain of solo dinner restaurants in my country.

Amanda Hazleton, UK: I’ve always hated eating out by myself, but if I must, I usually suffer through in uneventful silence. One time when visiting central London on my own, the waitress kept mentioning the fact that I was alone. She kept asking if I was OK by myself and if someone was coming, even though I had asked for a table for one and told her several times I wasn’t expecting anyone. She acted like I had been stood up. I hate eating alone even more now, for fear of having another experience like that.

Jon Moody, Houston, Texas: In America I’ve noticed often that I’m not the only one eating lunch, and sometimes dinner, alone. I admit I enjoy eating alone on many workdays, especially on those days I need to get away from work, and I’m too far from home. And when I don’t want to eat with co-workers, especially if we are working on the same project. However, I do wish there was an app [for] people in the same restaurant or general area [who are] eating alone and would not mind a non-romantic lunch where one could practise the art of conversation (which seems impossible at work or home these days).

Karen van Hoey Smith’s candlelit dinner for one in Tenby
Karen van Hoey Smith, UK: Until I moved to Japan for five years I would have been too embarrassed to eat out alone, but knowing no-one and just remembering how nice good food can be irrespective of company I went out… and loved it!

I am currently on a spontaneous trip to Tenby (alone), am in a gorgeous 10th Century restaurant and am the only solo diner. I’ve had a few pitiful looks from some diners but the foreigners all seem impressed with it. The staff have been perfect. Attentive and smiling and I feel comfortable. The barman downstairs treated me totally normally and I’ve had a great time so far. Tenby rocks! 😉

I don’t usually have anything like a phone or book with me… this is unusual. I like enjoying the experience. I like to feel the cutlery, look at the room and live in the moment. Not many people do… food’s here… bye.

Kevin Leah, Sussex, UK: The biggest solo dining issue I come across is eating in establishments where you have to order at a counter. You have to leave your table to order and run the risk that someone will take the table whilst you are ordering. Or if you need to pop to the loo, you risk the table being cleared of your half-eaten meal. To avoid this I take props with me to make it clear the table is occupied. Nothing of any value usually. An extra jumper or coat. An old paperback and a magazine.

Augusto Murillo, Hawaii: It is not the customer that feels uncomfortable about solo diners, but the restaurant owners themselves, in my opinion. The owners are afraid of having an empty seat opposite you, and losing out on another meal they could bill. And so they will not give an open arms welcome, especially if you dare to choose a better table from where they first sat you.

Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

You can follow me on
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Gr8 chippy in Glengormley

The BFM loves the Cod House

323 Antrim Rd
Glengormley
United Kingdom
+44 28 9083 3555

I love the £3 lunch special which was 1 sausage,1 chicken goujon, 2 battered mushrooms , 2 scallop,2 onion rings and chips. Served between 12 noon and 16.00. Absolute lunch time special!!

Please try them.
Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

You can follow me on
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Northern Ireland produce and events

Northern Ireland is known for the beauty and unspoilt nature of its lands, for its great visitor attractions, rich cultural heritage and for the warmth of its people, but a tasty fact that can sometimes be overlooked is the huge variety of food on offer that makes it a great place for a food lovers’ short break.

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has listed some of each county’s food-related connections including delicious restaurants, farmers markets, quality cookery schools and food and drink festivals that will leave your taste buds wanting more, explained Ruth Burns, NITBs Marketing and PR Manager.

“Northern Ireland’s unique bio-diversity means we have the perfect conditions for rearing healthy livestock and growing delicious produce that has a distinctive, Northern Ireland flavour. We are famous for our great breads, cheeses, drink and have our fair share of talented cooks, quality cookery schools, restaurants and locally produced goods that we all find irresistible.

“From Cuan Oysters to Finnebrogue Venison and from Lough Neagh Eels to Glenarm Salmon, some of our produce is slowly but surely becoming recognised as best in class. Well known Northern Ireland chefs like Michael Dean, Paul Rankin and Niall McKenna have also helped to spread the word about our superb local food and drink”, concluded Ruth.

County Antrim

County Antrim is famous for Dulse and Yellow Man and these wonderful local flavours can be enjoyed at hundreds of great pubs and top restaurants including Ox in Belfast and Square Bistro in Lisburn.

The county has wonderful cookery schools like the Belfast Cookery School, Hillmount BBQ Academy, Ballymiscaw Cookery School and James Street South Cookery School where you can learn everything from pasta making to cupcake classes for the kids. There are many farm shops stocking mouth watering produce like Mulholland’s and Michel’s Fruit & Veg in Belfast and Ballylagan Organic Farm Shop in Ballyclare.

One of the best ways to experience authentic Northern Irish speciality foods is to visit one of the farmer’s markets that take place all over the province including St Georges Market in Belfast and the Templepatrick Farmers Market at Colmans Garden Centre which takes place on the last Sunday of every month.

Causeway Cheese Company, Glens of Antrim Potatoes and Corgy House Preserves are some of the delicious locally produced foods.

County Antrim is also known the world over as the birthplace, 400 years ago, of Bushmills Whiskey, and today people can take a tour of the distillery and sample the amber nectar. The Bushmills Salmon & Whiskey Festival takes place from September 19 – 21and boasts a full programme of events including culinary displays, market stalls, family entertainment and a stunning fireworks display

Other food and drink highlights include Ireland’s oldest traditional market fair, the The Auld Lammas Fair, August 25 – 26 in Ballycastle, where you can sample local specialities, Dulse, a dried edible seaweed, and the deliciously sweet chewy Yellow Man, made from a closely guarded secret recipe.

The Hilden Beer Festival, August 22 – 24, has more than 30 international beers, great food and a family day to keep everyone entertained. The Autumn Fair, September 20 – 21, takes place in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens and is a weekend of food and family fun with an array of live music, children’s entertainment and autumn flower show exhibitions.

Larne Loves Food festival on September 27 will feature food demonstrations by chefs from Taste of Ulster and the ‘Focus on Food’ Stall with samples from local food retailers as well as great family entertainment.

Belfast Restaurant Week, returns in October 2013 for the second year when the city’s top restaurants come together to celebrate the richness and diversity of the city’s food. With special menus, promotions and competitions throughout the week, there will be something for everyone.

County Fermanagh

You can sample local speciality, black bacon at chic cafe, Frou Frou in Enniskillen or enjoy an island escape on Lusty Beg where a warm Fermanagh welcome, great food and stunning views await.

The Belle Isle Cookery School on the magnificent Belle Isle Estate on Lough Erne or the Orchard Acre Farm in Irvinestown are perfect places in which to unwind as you learn how to cook using locally farmed meat and produce. They have fun classes that suit every level of cook from the novice to the very experienced.

A great place to find locally grown food is at Gillen’s Greengrocers in Enniskillen and for a seriously creamy treat try Tickety Moo Ice-cream which is produced in Irvinestown.

County Derry~Londonderry

Browns Restaurant and Champagne Lounge in the City of Derry and Gardiners Restaurant in Magherafelt are just two of the myriad of excellent eateries available in the county.

There are numerous farmers markets including the Culdrum Organic Farm in Aghadowey, Moss Brook Farm Shoppe in Desertmartin, Arkhill Farm Shop in Garvagh and Keady Mountain Farm in Limavady.

Food lovers will enjoy a day at My Little Kitchen Cookery School located in a beautiful and tranquil setting on a family farm overlooking Lough Foyle.

Hunter’s at the Oven Door located in Ballykelly, Coleraine and Limavady are great places for baked goods and butchers Norman Hunter & Son in Limavady and McKee’s in Maghera offer choice and quality meats fit for the most special of family occasions.

County Down

Finnebrogue Venison, said to be the best venison meat in the world, and the humble Comber potato all hail from County Down. The county is also famous for Cuan Oysters from Sketrick Island, Dundrum Bay Oyster Fishery in Dundrum, Mash Direct from Comber and Glastry Farm Ice Cream which is made in Newtownards.

It is also home to two Mourne Seafood Cookery Schools, one in Kilkeel and the other in Newry, as well as the wonderfully named Orange Tree House in Newtownards where you can learn to cook the perfect three course meal or winning fish dishes.

The county abounds with farm shops including Homegrown in Newtownards, McKee’s Farm Shop in Newtownards, Camphill Organic Farm Shop & Bakery in Holywood, Helen’s Bay Organic Farm in Helen’s Bay and Lurganconary Organic Farm in Kilkeel.

Foodies flock to popular eateries like the Salty Dog in Bangor, The Parsons Nose in Hillsborough and The Cuan Restaurant in Strangford where they enjoy locally sourced food cooked to perfection.

There are many food related events including the Festival of Fish, August 22 – 25, which takes place in the four fishing villages of Kilkeel, Annalong, Ardglass and Portavogie in a celebration of seafood. The seafood theme continues with the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, September 2 – 7, held in the historic village of Hillsborough, the festival features local food and light hearted events such as the World Oyster Eating Championships.

The Hans Sloane Chocolate and Fine Food Festival, September 19 – 21 in Killyleagh feature a selection of the finest food producers from County Down and many of the best Chocolatiers from Ireland will be participating at the event.

County Armagh

Armagh, known as the ‘Orchard County’, has a history of apple growing dating back 3000 years. Saint Patrick planted an apple tree at Ceangoba, an ancient settlement east of the city and today more than 4000 acres of Armagh are covered by apple trees.

There are many popular places for dinner and lunch including The Planters Tavern in Waringstown, The Yellow Door Deli in Portadown, The Moody Boar in Armagh and the Famous Grouse Restaurant in Loughgall, to name a few, where you can experience local produce cooked with skill.

It is also home to Tayto Castle where some of the world’s best loved crisps and snacks have been made since 1956. You can go on a tour of the Castle and experience first-hand how these famous crisps and snacks are made, sample the various flavours and even meet the brand mascot, Mr Tayto.

Rathcarbery Cookery School has classes for kids and adults teaching everything from tray bakes to a course that helps those with a family member or friend on a special diet prepare suitable food.

County Tyrone

County Tyrone has many fine options for eating out including Otter Lodge in Cookstown, Kelly’s Inn in Ballygawley and Oysters Restaurant in Strabane.

Grange Lodge Guesthouse, set in 20 acres with over 3 acres of well manicured gardens, is owned by Ralph and Norah Brown and has become well known for its ‘Cook with Norah’ cookery sessions when Norah has the opportunity to pass on some of her skills and knowledge.

No trip to Tyrone would be complete without a visit to the Cloughbane Farm Shop in Dungannon and Tyrone Farmers Market, held on the first Saturday of every month, and Strabane Farmer’s Market, held on the last Saturday of every month.

Apple Day at Peatlands Park, Dungannon, September, 28 is a chance for everyone to celebrate the humble apple and its wonderful diversity. There will be apple crafts, cooking and all manner of apple products and produce for sale including free rides on the ‘Orchard Express’ train, and much more for the whole family to enjoy.

My very first food article James Street South Cookery School

Foodies with a passion for cooking should get themselves along to one of the classes currently being run at the James Street South Cookery School.

The Dining Quarter
21 James Street South
Belfast
BT2 7GA
United Kingdom
http://www.jamesstreetsouth.co.uk
028 9043 4310

With the days getting longer, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than to attend a game cookery master class in the assured hands of Niall McKenna at James Street South Cookery School.
When I arrived I was very excited as I do love my game but am a bit wary of how to cook it! Niall soon put me and nine other intrepid foodies at ease. He had a fantastic menu lined up, with Quail, Pigeon, Pheasant and Venison on offer.
He demonstrated how to prepare the birds
– the finer points of butchery – before we all had a go. Then we started the cooking process. First, the birds’ legs and wings were cooked in a vegetable and red wine sauce which would become the “Jus”, before starting the oven roasting process. Paramount to the whole procedure was the sealing of the birds in a pan with the new in thing, “rape seed oil”. This oil, which can now be purchased in all major supermarkets, is fabulous because it has a very high burning point, tastes great and is also healthy.
Once the birds were sealed they rested whilst we got on with making the Venison Pithivier. There was definitely a French theme running through the menu, and these techniques were very intriguing, as previously I had only ever cooked game Indian style. Pithivier is basically
cooked potatoes, carrots, celery, leeks, thyme, rosemary and garlic all minced with cooked venison onto a round sphere golf ball in size. This is then placed into a puff pastry “sandwich” rather akin to ravioli. The edges are then crimped and egg washed before being cooked in the oven. The puff pastry was made in the restaurant but Niall assured me that all the supermarkets had very good puff pastry. A wee tip here is not to buy puff pastry which is very yellow in colour because it will have had food colouring added to it.
Our class started at 10am and before we knew it, it was nearly 12.30 and time to start plating up. There was an absolute mountain of food and I did feel guilty about having to tuck into this glorious feast without my wife, so I decided to take home the pheasant to share.
Niall is a brilliant chef and demonstrates his methods very clearly. He was always willing to answer any questions and share pearls of wisdom when it came to techniques. He has had a good grounding in cooking, starting off with Paul Rankin in Roscoff before moving on to work in London. Since deciding to come back to Belfast he has never looked back and is an absolute asset to the chef culture here in Belfast. His talent and passion can be seen right through all of James Street South Cookery School, Bar and Grill and Restaurant.

Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

You can follow me on
@belfastfoodman
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Food and drink for thought!!!!

Afternoon from the BFM.Firstly I read below article and wanted to share it with you guys. Secondly I don’t want to put you off your food/drink. Please share the message!!!!!!!!!!

“Fancy a slice of lemon in your water? You won’t after reading this: From germ encrusted menus to what’s under the waiter’s nails, a top biologist on the hidden horrors in your restaurant

The prices on the menu are reassuringly expensive, the decor immaculate and the food delicious. But you can still go home with a nasty stomach bug.
There are a million cases of food poisoning each year in the UK – and 60 per cent happen away from the home.
A pricey menu is no defence against poor restaurant hygiene – as highlighted recently when London’s Chiltern Firehouse, frequented by the likes of David Cameron, Kate Moss and David Beckham, received a hygiene rating of two out of five.
Here, Dr Carl Edwards, a microbiologist at Nottingham University, reveals how to keep safe when eating out…
Say no to ice and a slice+4
No thanks: Around 70 per cent of lemons in restaurant drinks show signs of microbe growth
You may think there’s nothing more refreshing than a jug of water with ice and lemon. But beware – the contents are probably bacteria-ridden.
Around 70 per cent of lemons in restaurant drinks show signs of microbe growth, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Health earlier this year. The bugs include faecal bacteria and E.coli (which can cause serious food poisoning) and the yeast candida, which causes thrush.
This is because chefs don’t tend to use gloves for most kitchen activities, including cutting lemons. And lemons aren’t peeled or cooked, which kills off many bugs.
On top of that, the jugs may not be washed all day, despite being used by a lot of people – and stagnant water is a great incubator for bacteria and parasites.
The ice can be a hazard, too. Tests last year found that ice cubes from branches of McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Cafe Rouge and Nando’s all had more bacteria in them than samples of water taken from the lavatory bowls.
This may be because there are rotas for the regular cleaning of toilets, while ice machines can be left for ages in between cleans, as most people assume they are too cold for germs to survive. In fact, ice preserves most organisms – including E.coli.
Choose bottled water or a clean jug with fresh tap water – with no lemon or ice.

Don’t trust a mucky menu
Peer carefully at the menu – not to see if you fancy the chicken dish but to find out if the menu itself is dirty. Quite often, it’ll have a plush cover with a velvety finish – which is extremely difficult to clean.

Cheaper vinyl covers and laminated menus are much easier to wipe down – and will show up the stains and grease spots if they haven’t been cleaned. If they’re sticky or tatty, be wary.
With paper and card, it’s even more straightforward. Take one look – if it’s soiled, consider leaving. After all, if the restaurant is dishing out dirty menus, what on earth is going on in the areas you can’t see?
Analyse your waiter
Is your waiter or waitress’s uniform clean? How about their hands? If they have a tea towel over one shoulder, is it spotless?
When it comes to jewellery, there are various guidelines for serving staff – a wedding band and very simple ear piercing are all that should be allowed. You wouldn’t want to see uncovered jewellery or lip and nose piercings, because these could fall into the food.
Nevermind service with a smile: Check your server’s uniform is clean and that their nails are short and not fake
If you see a little blue plaster over a ring or ear stud, that’s an indication the establishment takes hygiene seriously.
Serving staff with long hair should have it tied back so none of it can fall into your dish. Long nails are a no-no, too, as they’re impossible to keep clean.
A study found that nails longer than 3mm carry more germs under them than shorter nails. These commonly include klebsiella – which can cause pneumonia and urinary-tract infections – and candida parapsilosis, which can cause blood-stream infections.
If the nails are fake, they can easily fall into food. And if you see staff go into the toilets while wearing their apron, head for the door.
Think of all the bacteria from the loos that they’ll be taking back with them into the kitchen.
Scout the premises
If you can peer into the kitchen, all the better. You should see hand-washing facilities – at least one basin near the entrance and one near the exit – and they should be in regular use.
If the kitchen is hidden away, check out the toilets instead. If there’s no soap in the dispenser, what are the chances of there being soap for the staff?
Make sure there’s a hand-dryer or disposable towels. A normal towel is unacceptable – you have no idea what the last person smeared on it.
Check out tucked-away spots too, such as skirting boards and plug sockets. If they are clean, the management probably cares about the finer details of food hygiene. If not, beware.
Check the tabletop
A clean wooden surface or fresh disposable tablecloth are equally hygienic, as are cotton tablecloths that are replaced for each customer.
If the cloths are not being changed or look grubby, you should be worried. People wipe their hands on them – and not everyone washes their hands after the toilet. Also, condiments should never sit on tabletops for the whole day – it implies that they are not being cleaned between diners.
Salt and pepper shakers are usually filthier than mustard and ketchup bottles because they don’t get greasy, so are rarely cleaned. If they’re sticky, they’re a good indicator of the rest of the restaurant.
Cleaned between diners? Make sure table tops and condiments on your table are clean
Make sure it’s cooked
If you’re on a diet, you’ll know exactly which foods to steer clear of. But if you’re concerned about bacteria, you may not know which dishes are a no-no. Avoid uncooked or not-thoroughly-cooked fare, such as salads (including fruit salad) and sandwiches prepared on the premises.
And while I love a rare steak, if I had something wrong with my immune system, I wouldn’t eat it unless I’d prepared it myself – because the cooking time is not long enough to kill dangerous bacteria that may have been transferred to it by unwashed hands.
I also like crab and lobster but usually prepare and eat them at home. You don’t know what’s been done to them before they get to a restaurant, let alone your plate.
Fish can look fully cooked yet still not be cooked for long enough to kill all the bacteria in it. If it’s been cooked particularly badly or prepared long in advance, you’re putting yourself at risk – and there’s very little way of telling.
It comes down to a level of trust. If you’re really concerned, only go to restaurants that you know – or stay at home.
Ban the boards
There is a ghastly trend for serving dishes, especially burgers, on wooden chopping boards.
Although wood is naturally good at resisting germs (it has to protect itself from fungi and bacteria), you need to allow it to dry out for at least an hour after washing it to stop bacteria from multiplying.
In a busy restaurant with a high turnover of customers, this is very unlikely to happen.
There is no way to see if it’s properly dry, and you don’t know what’s happened to it before it reached your table. If it has been constantly damp, it will probably be loaded with germs. Ask for a plate instead.
Keep an eye on cash
In a takeaway outlet such as a sandwich shop, watch how the staff deal with the money. This is because cash is filthy and usually stored in warm wallets and pockets – perfect germ incubators.
In fact, a study this year found there are more germs on £1 coins than on toilet seats.
And as bank notes are passed from one grubby hand to another, they can be contaminated with the potentially harmful bacteria klebsiella and enterobacter.
All of this means there’s a huge issue if staff handle money without washing their hands or having used gloves while preparing your sandwich or other food.
Touching money with the gloves on is the worst of all possibilities. The gloves will be damp – so they’ll get even more dirt off the money than a bare hand would.”

So hope I haven’t put you all off your food!!!!

Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

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St Anne’s Square 4th Wall pulled pork

The BFM wanted to go see, feel and taste A Taste of Summer at Saint Anne’s Square, so went down Saturday afternoon. The heavens had just opened and by the time I was there it wasn’t that busy. But I did make it over to the 4th Wall restaurant.

St Annes Square
Talbot Street
Belfast
BT1 2LR
United Kingdom
http://www.4thwallbelfast.com
028 9027 8707

The offering there was a £5 pulled pork roll with celeriac coleslaw,apple sauce,BBQ and chilli sauce. The roll was crusty outside and moist inside,the slaw was very runny but delicious and the sauces were brilliant, not too chilli,salty or sweet. An amazing compliment to the spectacularly cooked, melt in your mouth and tasty pork. Would definitely recommend the 4th Wall. Must try the main menu!!!!

Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!

You can follow me on
@belfastfoodman
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