As part of NI Year of Food and Drink 2016, I attended breakfast at The Europa Hotel this morning. The breakfast took part in the Penthouse Suite on the 12th Floor of The Europa and we were the guests of Dr Howard Hastings.
The format of the morning was coffee with the suppliers then a demo by chef Paula McIntyre, before tucking into our fry and then networking. I spoke to Ken and Jason from Carnbrooke Meats who supplied the sausages, Hannans Butchers who supplied the bacon, Hugh from Gracehill Fine Foods (black and white pudding), Stephen from Malachy Mushrooms, Bob the tomato man, Dr Hastings and Joris Minne to name but a few.
Paula demonstrated how to make Indian Soda bread (made with polenta), slim soda bread, potato bread with bacon fat and apple potato bread. She cooked all this on a well seasoned 150 year old cast iron griddle, which was heated on high for 10 minutes and then heat reduced for cooking. The resultant breads tasted fantastic and I must stress in an Ulster Fry should NEVER be deep fried!!!
The main brekkie was preceded by apple juice from the McCann Family, Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt with strawberry compote and topped with granola a la Crawford’s Foods, White’s porridge (with a splash of Bushmills or honey). There was tea (Punjana from the Thompson Family), Bewleys coffee and milk from the McDowell Farmview Dairy, to help wash it down with.
For the piece de resistance we had fried egg (Clements Eggs), special sausage of pork,Armagh Bramley apple and black pudding, bacon, mushroom, tomato and soda and potato bread . The egg was perfect-bright yellow yolk, sausage was meaty, succulent and tasty, bacon was pure bacon-no white residue, white and black pudding was best I’ve tasted-not oily,chewy but melt in the mouth texture. The tomato was sweet and mushroom was not overly wet. The potato and soda bread was amazing. I had the brown toast (Irwins) which was tasty and not too dry. Margaret Cooper from Donaghadee supplied the preserves which worked very well with the toast and coffee. The Hastings Hotels Group do actually produce a handy wee booklet which explains where the breakfast is sourced.
I really could not fault the breakfast. The portion size was perfect, it was all perfectly cooked and used all local products. So I would dearly say that if you have not tasted one of these superb brekkies, please make sure you do so in the near future.