lunch at the MAC

I went to the MAC canteen for a delightful and chilled out lunch with Mrs BFM- without the kids-what a rarety!!!


Exchange St West
Cathedral Quarter
Belfast
BT1

I can still remember the day the MAC or the Metropolitan Arts Centre opened as I was a guest there. There is also an original member of staff still working there, a really pleasant young lady called Amy who just happened to serve us. She was very attentive and chatty.

The MAC is a great arts centre and has had and still had many good art shows/displays/exhibitions and plays. It has also the finest restaurant of any of the art centres in Belfast and serves from 10am til 8pm breakfast, lunch, dinner and tapas.

We opted for the seafood platter (tapas) which contained salmon, prawns, rollmops, breads and remoulade sauce. Also we had the seafood chowder (which was red/orange in colour and delicious) served with Guinness and treacle bread which again was amazing. The chunky chips came well recommended and were super as was the mushroom arancini on a bed of squash chutney. To wash it down I had water and my wife had fizzy orange. To finish I had a latte and the good lady had a devine hot chocolate.

The guys in the open plan kitchen did a fantastic job of the food and are very on the ball listing the 14 allergens in the menu and website.

This was my wife’s first visit and she did naively ask if the walls were to be painted!! I explained that this bare wall look was intentional and that that was the way the architect designed it. It is superbly lit up at night inside and outside and the art displays are worth looking at. I love the openess of the dining area on the ground floor and first floor. It’s a real relaxed dining experience with the privacy of booths. A very fine,highly recommended eatery!! 

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Cakeage

Yep you read right cakeage as in corkage. I heard on the radio that a restaurant charged a table for ten,who were celebrating a birthday party, a gut wrenching £9 per person to serve and cut a birthday cake!!!


Obviously this would be outrageous but if one looks at the principle then one can see the logic. Let’s look at corkage. This is when an establishment levies a charge to open an alcoholic drink (usually wine), which is the difference between the cost of the drink and how much the establishment would charge for the drink themselves. So if you apply this to a cake then cakeage would be the difference between the cost of the cake and how much the establishment would sell it for. So if it was a huge, costly cake then applying the principle, the cakeage would be expensive. Remember in setting up,delivering and serving the cake, an employee would have to expend time and effort and use resources (plates,cleaning and napkins) to facilitate this. So in a kind of way this would justify the charge BUT let’s be real and decent about this and NOT go down this road!!!!

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Meal for four

The BFM cooked for the clan today. In the menu was Sardine masala with brown rice and jeera aloo. The sardines were cooked in ghee,onion,garlic,ginger,tomato and salt. The brown rice was coloured in ghee and cumin seeds before boiling in water and finished with spinach and sweet corn. The potatoes were sliced and boiled,before adding to cumin infused ghee with masala and turmeric. 

All in all a balanced, tasty,cheap and delicious meal for the family of four. Note can have with naan and yoghurt. I served a simple tomato and cucumber salad.



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Jordanstown Indian Jewel

I was treated to a truly amazing culinary experience in the Crown Jewel of Indian cuisine in Jordanstown that is TAAJ. 

620 Shore Road

Jordanstown

United Kingdom

http://www.taajrestaurant.com/

028 9086 6599

TAAJ is an acronym for Traditional Authentic Aromatic Journey  and along with the very strong Lion logo and branding exhibits a very powerful message. TAAJ Jordanstown is the second TAAJ after the Magherafelt branch brought to us by Manjeev and Pradeep. It is a truly authentic Indian restaurant having owners and chef of Indian origin. Chef in Jordanstown is Nirmal.

After chatting to Manjeev and Nirmal I was recommended the signature dish of Sea Bass. This was delicately pan fried in a selection of aromatic spices, served on pan fried new potatoes, topped off by cherry tomatoes and accompanied by boiled rice, side salad (lettuce,cherry tomatoes, red onion and cucumber) and makhani sauce, with a wedge if lemon. This was all served on a single square white plate. The whole combination worked very well,was absolutely an amazing dish and was enough for my satiation.

The food was so nice I took a take out of chicken tikka bhuna with pilau rice (for wife and kids). Again that was delicious and finished by three hungry ladies! Meat wasvery succulent as with the fish,very flavoured and a bit spicy for the girls,but this was quitened down with yoghurt.

The team are very up to date with legislation and regulations and are very proactive and forward thinking. Again this is reflected on the menu and restaurant set up. A truly great addition to the Indian food scene in the greater Belfast area, thoroughly recommended!!

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Fantastic Traditional Butcher

This traditional butcher cum grocer and bakery shop has been a fixture and fitting of Ballynure for a long time.

Main St
Ballynure
BT39 9TU
028 9335 2592
http://www.jacksonsbutchers.co.uk/

It is a family run shop and is always busy. I picked up a 10 inch square birthday cake for my nephew (great taste and value for £12.50) yesterday. There is a wide range of cakes,pastries and tray bakes available. Also a varied range of vegetables, pies, ready meals, general grocery provisions and a huge selection of fresh meats and some frozen. Their selection of fresh condiments and accompaniments are worth checking out as well. This is how a traditional shop should be.

They are very pro active and up to date with legislation and have displayed a list of 14 allergens in a mind map format.

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Lunch treat

I decided to have a treat so I went to Di’Maggios Southside for lunch.

1038 Pollokshaws Road
Glasgow
G41 3EB
United Kingdom
http://www.dimaggios.co.uk/
+44 141 632 7924

I had a 12 inch Americano Pizza for £5.95. Bargain and great VFM and service. Loved the remote control tea lites, very cool!!! The pizza is same size in evening but more expensive!!

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Amazing Indian food in Fantastic ambience

I was truly treated to a great meal in the original Mother India set up by Monir in 1990. Monir was with Ashoka restaurant before going it alone and very well!!

It’s a 170 seater spread over 3 floors. I chose the two course menu for £11.50. I had to start Aloo Saag Dosa and for main it was Chicken tikka Chasni with peshwari nan. The food and service was amazing. Definitely worth a visit.

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Very ordinary tandoori

The two of us ate at Shezan in the Mount Florida area of the Southside.

Started life in 1980, current owner Nomi has had it for last 20 years. Exterior decour needs updating. Interior is in need of a whole makeover from top to bottom. It is very dated but on plus side is licensed.

The menu had some decently sounding dishes some of which I had not heard of and was old school in design.

We received complimentary poppadoms and chutney set (in a chipped dish-not impressed!!!!)
For starters we shared the Chef’s Tandoori platter (2 pieces lamb tikka, 2 pieces chicken tikka, 2 large tandoori chicken wings and one chicken seekh kebab and salad) £5.50. This was cooked fresh and was delicious.

For mains we shared karahi gosht (£9.95) very tasty but small portion, chicken tikka masaladar (£8.95) was supposed to be tangy and hot,was tangy,sweet and hot. To accompany we had Afghani rice (£2.50) pilau with chick peas and onions, garlic nan (£2.50) tasty,big and not oily and a complimentary tandoori roti (£1.25).

They don’t do social media, website or have a list of allergens displayed. The best dish was the starters, Karahi gosht, garlic nan, tandoori roti and last the masaladar in that order. The service was reasonable, wouldn’t rush back!!

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Is this the next food scandal?

Courtesy of The Independent newspaper

By TOM BAWDEN
Friday 13 February 2015

Britain’s food supply network is facing a scandal even more serious than the horsemeat crisis, a leading expert has warned, after the Government’s new food crime unit launched an investigation into the undeclared use of nuts that are potentially life-threatening to allergy sufferers.
Professor Chris Elliott, who led the Government’s inquiry into the horsemeat scandal, has put the UK’s half a million nut and legume allergy sufferers on high alert. He fears that cheap peanuts and almonds are secretly being used in dishes claiming to contain more expensive cumin seeds to save money.
Cumin is one of Britain’s most popular ingredients, being widely used to enhance flavour in soups, stews and processed meals, as well as in curry and chilli powder.

Substituting it with peanuts or almonds can inflict a range of suffering, from mild symptoms such as sneezing and facial swelling to abdominal pain and cardiac arrest. Both can prove fatal.
Professor Elliott’s concerns – shared by the UK and US governments and food companies – follow a disastrous cumin harvest in the major growing region of Gujarat, India, after soaring temperatures halved the crop from last year and sent prices spiralling upwards.
The Food Standards Agency launched a far-ranging inquiry after two cases came to light in the past fortnight in which products claiming to contain cumin included almonds that were not declared on the packaging. One of them involved Morrisons’ 500g Fajita Meal Kit, which was recalled from the supermarket shelves on Thursday because samples were found to contained undeclared almond protein in the “seasoning mix”.
Cumin is one of Britain’s most popular ingredients, being widely used to enhance flavour in soups among other food (Getty Images) Cumin is one of Britain’s most popular ingredients, being widely used to enhance flavour in soups among other food (Getty Images)

It is too early to say whether the inclusion of nuts was accidental or fraudulent. However, Prof Elliott said he is highly suspicious that nuts are being substituted for cumin in the UK, the US and potentially worldwide. The FSA said it is taking the threat seriously.
“This is the first real test of the integrity of the UK food supply system since the horsemeat crisis and it’s actually much, much more serious,” Prof Elliott told The Independent.
“It’s much more serious because in the whole horsemeat scandal nobody got ill and nobody died because of it. But if you happen to be allergic to almonds or peanuts there is the potential of getting ill or even dying because of it. So the challenge is there,” he said.
“Whenever there’s a crop failure you always have to look to see what is the potential fraud that is behind that. This time the crop failure is cumin and it does seem to be that there has been fraud going on,” Prof Elliott said.
The potential food scandal is the first big issue the FSA’s new food crime unit has had to deal with since it was set up at the start of the year at the request of Prof Elliott, who made it the key recommendation following his investigation of the UK food chain in the wake of the horsemeat saga.
As well as the Morrisons’ Fajita Meal Kit withdrawal – which was identified by the supermarket – the FSA found almond protein in batches of ground cumin at The Bart Ingredients Company, a spice specialist based in Bristol.
The scandal is thought to be more serious than horsemeat (Getty Images) The scandal is thought to be more serious than horsemeat (Getty Images)

“We are still doing our food chain investigation. It is too early to say whether the substitution was deliberate or accidental, whether the two cases in the UK are linked and whether there are any links to cases in the US. These are all things we’re looking into, for peanut and almond protein,” an FSA spokesman said.
The agency said there is no evidence as yet that the practice is intentional or widespread, but added: “Obviously it’s a concern in terms of the potential health risks involved – that’s why we’re taking it seriously.”
A spokesperson for Allergy UK was keen not to cause panic but warned: “It is a worry. Any cross contamination is a major concern to somebody with a food allergy. We are confident the FSA will be thoroughly looking into the issue”.
Prof Elliott praised the FSA for its rapid response to the potential crisis. Nonetheless, he said the substitution of nuts for cumin could wreak havoc on the UK food chain. “Cumin is incredibly widely used. There are a huge number of food products – quite often involving a combination with chilli. And is found in a lot of processed foods as a flavour enhancer,” he said.
Any substitution is likely to involve peanut and almond shells rather than the cores, as they effectively cost nothing and can be made to look like cumin. Although the shells are not a danger to allergy sufferers per se they often come with pieces of nut attached.
The problem is more advanced in the US, where dozens of products have been pulled off the shelves in recent weeks in the most widespread series of allergy-related recalls for at least a decade – although it is yet to be proved whether any of it was fraudulent.
“Whenever notifications from the US appear it is a warning to the rest of the world that there is a problem,” said Prof Elliott.

Decimated crops: Cumin in short supply
Although seeds from cumin flowering plants are best known in the UK as ingredients in curries and chilli powder, they are thrown into everything from soups and stews to processed meals, as well as alcohol and desserts.
Cumin also acts as a fragrance in creams, lotions and perfumes and is regarded by some as a good remedy for indigestion, colds and anaemia.
The vast majority of cumin plants are produced in India – with three-quarters of the world’s supply coming from the state of Gujurat. But the crop there has been decimated by high temperatures which are expected to reduce the yield by 50 per cent at harvest in March. Prices are soaring in anticipation, from around 1,800 rupees (£18.80) per 20kg sack in December to about 2,800 rupees now – and they are expected to keep rising.
If you find yourself short of cumin, chefs recommend ground coriander, caraway seeds and chilli powder as a substitute – although this is unlikely to save much money.

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Review for Radisson Blu

The BFM was recently asked to do a wee interview for Radisson Blu on Irish Stew. Please read it below:

A foodie’s guide to finding the best Irish stew in Belfast

Once againe the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao 4 now!!
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