Bus Food Music

What a fab way to spend lunch. We had the pleasure of listening to live tracks from @TheLogues new album “Coming of Age”. They play @DalriadaFest .The lunch was by The Fatted Calf Ltd  (Tea Room Glenarm Castle) and included smoked salmon bites, mini beef burgers, goats cheese tartlets, sausage/chorizo rolls and a varied array of sandwiches.Our transport was on the @tourbelfast which circled around Belfast City Centre. 

The Logues were fab, buy their cd and watch them up at Dalriada. This was a fab lunch hour!!!! Big thanx to Michelle from Michelle McTernan Management.

Kua ‘Aina birthday treat

Aloha!! To celebrate my birthday last night, my two daughters, wife and I went to Kua ‘Aina in Victoria Square Belfast. Kua ‘Aina opened in November last year and is another welcome eatery in Belfast. 

It was the brainchild of Terry Thompson who opened the first restaurant on Hawaii’s North Shore in 1975. It’s famous for its lava rock char-grilled burgers and sandwiches, accompanied by homemade sauces and divine milk shakes. 

Kua ‘Aina means back country and is a favourite of Barack Obama. The Belfast restaurant is the third in the UK. 

On arrival the restaurant looked like a typical Waikiki Beach restaurant along with surf board. It’s primarily a diner type restaurant which serves various burgers/sandwiches, sides, sauces, craft beers, shakes, soft drinks, desserts and breakfasts!!!

We were greeted by Derek who seated us and brought the girls colouring in pencils,paper and menus-I must say it is very children friendly. Whilst we waited for our milkshakes (coconut for me served in a classic glass milk bottle and small bowls of banana shakes for the girls) Derek brought us over multi coloured nachos and salsa.

We ordered kids Mahi Mahi fish fingers and fries and Chicken strips with sweet corn and fries. My wife had a halloumi and roasted pepper sandwich and I had a triple decker sandwich of Teriyaki chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato in poppy seeded bread. To accompany this we had sweet potato fries, homemade slaw, onion rings and mayo. As a birthday surprise I was presented with a lovely chocolate brownie and ice cream.

Now the nachos were warm and crisp and salsa was great. The shakes were fab-having mine served in a classic glass milk bottle was very nostalgic! The girls loved their fish fingers, fries, chicken and sweet corn. My wife really enjoyed the Halloumi and pepper sandwich and my sandwich was amazing. The best part was that you could actually taste the authentic flavour of the charring, giving that super taste of original char grilled Bbq. The slaw was crunchy and not too creamy and the onion rings were thick and juicy. The fries and sweet potato fries were nice and soft. Then the brownie was sweet, melt in mouth and warm…mmmm!!!

Suffice to say this was a mountain of food and we did have to pack and take home-guess lunch is sorted!! Presentation,service and overall ambience was second to none. This is a great place for an alternative type of burger/sandwich diner. Thank you so much to the team (Ciaran the manager and Derek).

May day


THE May Bank Holiday is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the long weekend with friends and family and to help people along, Tourism NI has listed some of the exciting events and things to see and do that are available all over Northern Ireland.

Rachel Quigg, Communications & Destination PR Officer, explains why everyone should get out and about this May Bank Holiday:

“With so much choice on offer from arts festivals and walks to family fun days and music events, everyone will find something they really want to go and experience.

“For those with an adventurous side there are a wide range of fun outdoor activities and events to choose from and if you prefer something a little bit more laid back there are lots of places to visit where you can kick back and enjoy some rest and relaxation.”

To help make the most of the May Day Bank Holiday, Tourism Northern Ireland has highlighted a number of fun events which are happening across NI. 



The sound of laughter will be echoing all over Belfast this Bank Holiday weekend, as the 13th Festival of Fools comes to town. Over 120 performances will be taking place from April 29 – May 2, all free of charge with daredevil acrobatics, circus acts, comedy, magic and much more from some of the leading street theatre companies from Europe, America, the UK and Ireland.

On Bank Holiday Monday, line the streets to support over 17,500 participants in the 2016 Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon, which will take in the north, south, east and west of the city.

The 17th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival will provide a packed line-up of music, comedy and spoken word beginning on April 28, through May Day weekend and continuing until Sunday May 8. To celebrate Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016, the festival will also include a one day meat-free mini-festival, Vegstock, taking place in the festival marquee on May 2.



Cushendun is one of the most picturesque villages in the Glens of Antrim and will be hosting four days of music, drama, exhibitions and family fun as part of Cushendun’s Big Arts Weekend from April 29 – May 2. Showcasing the rich culture and spectacular landscape of the area, this fun and varied weekend is sure to have something for everyone.

For those who would like to do something more active over the Bank Holiday weekend, there is the Causeway Coast Challenge Walk on May 1, commencing at Portballintrae and following the coastal cliff path via Giant’s Causeway to reach Portbradden, before returning. Not for the faint of heart, the walk is 30km in length and is organised by local club Bannside Ramblers, attracting walkers from all over Ireland and beyond.

Visitors to Ballycastle can invigorate their senses and tickle their taste buds as the Naturally North Coast & Glens Artisan Market comes to Ballycastle Seafront on Sunday, May 1, featuring food and craft producers from all around the North Coast and Glens area.



The Orchard County celebrates its reputation as the Orchard of Ireland over the holiday weekend with the Apple Blossom Fair, taking place from April 30 – May 2. The festival comprises many different events at Ardress House and Loughgall Country Park, with shuttle buses to transport visitors between the two sites. Celebrate local food traditions with orchard tours, cider tastings, barbecues and entertainment for all the family.

Armagh is also home to plenty of places for a family walk or cycle on Bank Holiday weekend, such as the beautiful Gosford Forest Park and country estates like the The Argory or Derrymore House.



Enjoy the annual May Day celebrations in Holywood town centre with traditional May Day dancing by local school children, a selection of market stalls and fantastic family-friendly entertainment from 10am – 4pm on Monday, May 2.

Elsewhere in County Down, Newry will be holding its first annual Craft Beer Festival on April 30 and May 1, with ten craft breweries exhibiting over 30 craft products to taste including Mourne Mountain Brewery, Armagh Cider Company, Whitewater Brewery and more. Enjoy the best of local craft products with a top notch entertainment line-up.

The Newry and Mourne Museum is hosting the last weekend of its ‘The World Has Become Smaller – Transport in Newry and Mourne’ exhibition, examining all aspects of transport in the area over the centuries, and open to visit until May 2.



It is the golden jubilee of Castle Archdale Caravan Park and Camp Site, and the whole family is welcome to join in the celebrations, which on Saturday April 30 include balloon modelling with Mr Twister and a kid’s quiz with prizes.

April 30 will also be an exciting day for dogs, dog owners and dog lovers as Castle Coole holds Paws In The Park. Dogs are always welcome at Castle Coole, but especially on this day, when dogs and their owners can join in the dog walk, enter the pet dog show, and pick up some behaviour techniques and grooming tips.

The May Day weekend is also the perfect opportunity for families or groups to visit SHARE Discovery Village. The Share Extravaganza gives visitors an opportunity to try out an array of land and water activities in one-hour, two-hour or taster sessions.



Fun for all the family is on offer at The Jungle NI in Moneymore on May 1 as its popular Family Fun Day takes place, where visitors can buy tokens to exchange for a variety of outdoor activities on offer throughout the day.

During the evenings from April 29-May 1, music lovers should head to the village of Macosquin near Coleraine for the Big Marquee Weekend II. This year’s line-up features a thrilling mix of big name dance, indie, country and Britpop stars, in a purpose-built marquee in the grounds of Mary Pat’s Bar.

However if jazz is your musical style of choice, the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival is a must, with Derry~Londonderry reverberating to the sound of jazz from bars, theatres, shopping centres, restaurants and on the streets around the city from April 28 – May 2.



Pull on your wellies as rare and minority breeds of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry make the Ulster American Folk Park home for the weekend in the Rare Breeds Show. Experts will be on hand to answer questions about the variety of farm animals on show. The event takes place from April 30 – May 2.

Also this Bank Holiday weekend in Co. Tyrone, the number one country music festival in Ireland returns as Jamboree In The Park comes to Ecclesville Centre, Fintona. Taking place on April 30 and May 1, there will be headline performances from Nathan Carter, Derek Ryan along with many other exciting artists, making this a must for country music fans.

Finally, on April 30, beer enthusiasts can enjoy the North West Brew Fest at Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh. The inaugural event will showcase local beer, ale, stout and cider produced across the North West, with the hotel’s pavilion transformed into a beer garden theme with fantastic live music across the weekend.


V important Food Allergies 

Hi please read and heed!!


Survey shows improvements for those with allergies since new allergen labelling rules came in – but more needs to be done.


Research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Allergy UK has found that despite improvements, one in four people with a food allergy has experienced a reaction while eating out in a restaurant or cafe since new allergen labelling legislation came in a year ago. The survey also found that nearly one in five (19%) of those allergic reactions resulted in a hospital visit. 


The EU Food Information for Consumers (FIC) Legislation came into force in December 2014, and means that food businesses have to make information on 14 allergens available to consumers. This ranges from the most common allergens, such as peanuts and gluten, to less well known triggers for allergic reactions such as mustard and celery. It is estimated that 2% of adults and 8% of children (which equates to around 28,000 adults and 30,000 children) in Northern Ireland may have a food allergy.


The survey, which was carried out to mark Allergy Awareness Week 2016, found that overall, 83% of respondents have noticed an increase in measures designed to make life easier for allergic consumers – including menus marking out allergens, and staff actively checking food information with the kitchen. 


More than half (58%) of allergic consumers said that their overall experience of eating out has improved; just 6% said it has got worse. As a result, a similar proportion (52%) say they now feel more confident eating out than they did before the legislation was introduced.


However, people with allergies still report a number of problems when eating out. More than two-thirds (69%) have experienced staff not understanding the severity of an allergy, and how easily a mistake can cause a reaction. A similar number (68%) have seen staff with a lack of knowledge of what’s on the menu or in the food – including staff confusing eggs with dairy, or assuming that the customer was asking for gluten-free rather than avoiding lupin (a grain commonly used in place of wheat). Over half of allergic consumers (56%) said they have been made to feel like an inconvenience due to their allergy.


In total, around a third of those with a food allergy have experienced a reaction in the last year when eating out of the home. The vast majority of these (25%) took place in a restaurant or cafe, with 9% being a result of takeaway food. In most cases (88%) the reaction was self-treated, with 19% of reactions resulting in a hospital visit.


Sharon Gilmore, Head of Dietary Health at the FSA in NI commented: “The number of people who have food allergies and intolerances has increased in the last decade and this is something businesses can’t ignore. Since the introduction of new legislation in 2014, we’re pleased to see real progress in how businesses provide information on allergens but it’s an area that still needs improvement.


“We continue to support local businesses and have produced MenuCal, a free online tool that helps food businesses manage the allergy information of the food they serve. We are working very closely with district councils and food businesses in Northern Ireland to ensure we’re providing food people can trust.”


If anyone encounters a food business not providing information on the 14 allergens, they should report it to their district council who will investigate. The survey showed that those affected are currently more likely to report it to staff in the first instance (69%) or complain on social media after the event (23%). 


Food businesses have been given flexibility on how they provide allergy information. This can be communicated verbally through explanations by staff or signposted to where or how more information can be found on menus or in additional leaflets.


For more information on the EU FIC regulations please visit: http://www.food.gov.uk/science/allergy-intolerance/ or to keep up to date on FSA in NI news visit: facebook.co.uk/fsainni or follow us on Twitter @FSAinNI.


You can sign up for allergy alerts on the FSA in NI website at: http://www.food.gov.uk/about-us/subscribe.


Food businesses can also register to use our free online tool, MenuCal, which helps identify the allergens in the food they serve. Visit: http://www.menucalni.co.uk for more.


Vote for McCoys crisps


AS election fever grips the nation, a brand new ‘party’ is hitting the streets of Northern Ireland to canvass for those all-important votes.

 The party in question is the ‘Flavour Party’ and the only vote they’re interested in is one for your favourite flavour of McCoy’s Crisps, Northern Ireland’s number one selling ridged crisp.

 As part of the brand’s new ‘When Flavour Calls’ campaign, Flavour Party candidates will be calling at homes, offices and shopping centres in the run-up to the May 5 election to canvass for votes and add a little ‘flavour’ to the electoral proceedings.

 Flavour Party election campaign manager Ricky Watts of KP Snacks (NI) explained his party’s manifesto.

 “McCoy’s might be the number one ridged crisp in Northern Ireland but that doesn’t mean we’re resting on our laurels,” said Watts.

 “Our manifesto is clear and simple – we promise to deliver a fresher tastier crisp with stronger bolder flavours and a new crunchier texture. And we’ve invested £1m to make sure that these aren’t empty promises. In fact the only thing that will be empty is your McCoy’s crisp packet after you’ve scoffed its scrumptious contents! 

 “Furthermore, the only cuts that the Flavour Party will be making are thick cuts – with the launch of our new McCoy’s Thick Cut range.   

 “When it comes to crisps, we want the NI public to continue voting for McCoy’s as their favourite, just as they have done for many years,” concluded Mr Watts.

 Across the UK, McCoy’s Crisps are consumed by more than a third of households and one pack is eaten every 15 seconds. In Northern Ireland, the popular brand enjoys 100% distribution across 350 symbol stores locally for its top three flavours Flame Grilled Steak, Salt and Malt Vinegar and Cheddar and Onion. 

 The ‘When Flavour Calls’ campaign will be supported in Northern Ireland by a range of bespoke activities including the annual McCoy’s NI Pub Quiz, the search to find Northern Ireland’s brainiest pub quiz team.

Crisp lovers will also have a chance to win some tasty prizes on the McCoy’s NI Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mccoysni) by voting for their favourite flavour.

Bangers n mash with a twist

For a twist on an old classic I cooked Loughnane’s Pork sausages with Guinness and leeks and served with Italian mash (garlic, sundried tomato and basil), topped off with Xtreme chilli hot wings. My two wee girls loved the mash and sausages-passed on the wings!!! I’m now just about cooled off!!!! The sausages were very meaty, no extra fat and the Guinness was definitely tasted!!


Brewing and Distilling


Northern Ireland is proud to be home to a number of excellent breweries and distilleries, all busy handcrafting some of the UK’s finest beverages. 


But rather than just drinking them, what about discovering how these fantastic local tipples end up in your glass, said Rachel Quigg, Communications and Destination PR Officer, Tourism Northern Ireland.


“This year is the NI Year of Food and Drink 2016 and April is dedicated to brewing and distilling. We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to have such a super collection of distilleries and breweries producing everything from the finest cider and whiskey to craft beers and gin.”


Rachel continued: “Not only that, but there are many exciting drink themed events and happenings taking place all over the country including the not-to-be-missed Hilden Beer & Music Festival which takes place between August 26-28 at Hilden Brewery in Lisburn.”


Tourism Northern Ireland has created a refreshing list of tours, events and happenings, some of which you can enjoy right now.


Raise a glass to the tour
Old Bushmills Distillery

Positioned on the beautiful North Coast, Bushmills Distillery is Ireland’s oldest working distillery. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour where they will learn about the 400 year history of the distillery whilst taking in all the associated sights and smells, enjoy tutored whiskey tastings and be able to browse the specialist gift shop. There is also a restaurant which serves lunches and Bushmills inspired treats. After enjoying a tour of this fascinating distillery visitors can explore all that the stunning North Coast has to offer including the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.


Hilden Brewery

Hilden Brewery is Ireland’s oldest independent brewery and is located near Lisburn in the 19th century courtyard of Hilden House. Many visitors flock to the Brewery each year to discover its interesting history and heritage and to sample the award-winning cuisine. Hilden Brewery Beers are available at various bars and restaurants throughout Northern Ireland, including Molly’s Yard, Belfast, The John Hewitt, Belfast and the Dirty Duck in Holywood.


Rademon Estate Distillery

Rademon Estate Distillery in Crossgar is the home of Shortcross Gin. Gin lovers should keep an eye out for the estate’s new visitor experience centre which is set to open this year and will take guests on a fascinating journey of how this hand bottled award-winning gin came to be. Whilst in the area make sure to visit the Irish Linen Centre where you can take an audio visual tour and see the weaving centre and hand looms.


Hughes Craft Distillery

Hughes Craft Distillery in Lisburn is the brain child of Stuart and Barbara Hughes who manage everything first-hand in their small batch spirits business producing a wide range of award-winning RubyBlue Spirits in a variety of flavours. RubyBlue Liqueurs are made with real fruit from quintuple distilled Irish grain spirit and infused with Blackcurrants, wild Blueberries, Cranberries and Chilli Peppers. The distillery has gained many coveted awards including Global Vodka Master Gold, New York World Wine and Spirits Sliver and won stars in the Great Taste Awards. Tours can be arranged which take visitors on the journey behind this interesting range of drinks.


Walled City Brewery, Derry~Londonderry

The Walled City Brewery is a brew house and restaurant in one making it a unique destination for sampling tasty craft beers and enjoying the delicious tapas style menu. Visitors to the brewery can discover the fascinating stories as to why the brewery’s craft beers are named Boom, Stitch and Kick. Be sure and visit the City Walls which are 1.5km in circumference and provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance Style street plan to this day.


Armagh Cider Company

Armagh is renowned around the world for its Bramley Apples and the Troughton family behind the Armagh Cider Company have been at the centre of the apple growing tradition for generations. All of their products are artisan and handcrafted so they are completely natural and contain no artificial ingredients or flavours. Those interested in finding out more can contact the Armagh Cider Company and arrange a tour. Be sure to visit the Navan Centre which offers a unique appreciation of the history of the area through a stimulating exhibition packed full of information, artefacts and hands on activities for all the family.


McComb’s Grub Crawl Tour

Those looking for a tasty way to spend the day with friends should look no further than McComb’s Coach Travel’s new tour, Grub Crawl, which will visit some of the country’s most innovative food and drink producers. Tours operate on a Friday and Saturday and will take in renowned food places such as Abernethy Butter, Kilmegan Cider, Mourne Seafood Bar and The Poachers Pocket.


Raise a glass to the event

North West Brew Fest, Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh, April 30. This exciting debut event is all about great drink producers who will showcase local beer, stout, ale and cider from across the North West. Silverbirch Hotel’s Pavilion will be transformed with a beer garden theme and there will be fantastic live entertainment by local band, ‘Hootin Annie’s as well as Fermanagh duo, Niall and Karl.


Five Beer Friday, Neill Wine, Groomsport, Co. Down. Beer lovers can come along on the last Friday of every month and sample five local beers.


Bangor Beer Club, The Salty Dog Hotel & Bistro, Bangor, Co. Down. Come along to Bangor Beer Club on the first Tuesday of the month to meet some of the characters behind the ever growing NI brewing scene.


Beer Club Belfast, Sunflower Public House, Belfast, Co. Antrim. Beer Club meets monthly, usually on a Friday and is open to everyone from seasoned beer lovers to those who just want to find out more about the wide range of beers that are available. Samples are provided of new and exciting beers from around the world and interesting meet the brewer events are also held throughout the year.

For further information check out http://www.discovernorthernireland.com or join the conversation online with #EnjoyNI16.

Beannchor expansion

Looking forward to this:

Beannchor – Ireland’s largest hospitality group and owners of Belfast’s award-winning Merchant Hotel – has announced plans for expansion of its restaurant and hotel portfolio.
New sites are currently being explored for the Group’s Little Wing Pizzeria chain, which currently includes six restaurants across Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the news, Little Wing Managing Director, Luke Wolsey said: “The Little Wing brand has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Its success has proven that this is a good business model and we have ambitious plans for growth in the coming years.
“We are reviewing options for further expansion of Little Wing, with a number of sites being investigated across Northern Ireland. Looking to the future, we see the time arising whereby we will have reached a level of critical mass in Northern Ireland and will need to consider options in other markets for further growth. We are already tentatively looking at site locations in both the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.”
In addition, Beannchor has announced exciting plans for phase two of its new Bullitt hotel concept. The Group has acquired Annsgate House on Ann Street; the property adjoins Lagan House, which is currently being redeveloped to create the hotel.
Drawing on nearly 40 years of expertise in the industry to create a new and vibrant hospitality concept for the city, Bullitt – named after the Steve McQueen movie of the same name – will be an exciting new addition to the city’s social scene when Phase One opens later this year.
Bullitt will epitomise urban chic with stylish, contemporary surroundings, alongside affordable room rates. Located in a prime city centre location, wrapping Victoria Street, Ann Street and Church Lane, the hotel is a stone’s throw from Belfast’s shopping mecca, Victoria Square and the lively Cathedral Quarter. The hotel will be a social hub for city workers, locals and tourists alike, bringing a fresh approach to work, rest and play.


Phase one will feature 44 stylish mod-con clad bedrooms and a lively ground floor café, bar and restaurant will open later this year. Phase two, which is expected to open in 2017 (subject to planning), will add in excess of 30 rooms to the exciting new development.


Commenting on the announcement, James Sinton, Finance Director, Beannchor said: “Recent acquisitions have emanated from our trading confidence in the local market and our ability to create an exceptional new hotel concept for Belfast.
“Subject to planning, the addition of Annsgate House to our Bullitt hotel development will complement the existing footprint of Lagan House to deliver an 80 bed hotel in the heart of the City centre.”
The Beannchor Group owns pubs and hotels across Northern Ireland including The Merchant Hotel, The National Grande Café/sixty6, The Dirty Onion, Cuckoo and The Hillside, as well as six Little Wing Pizzerias, employing over 650 people.
In April 2016, The Merchant Hotel celebrates a ‘Decade of Decadence’ with a suite of luxurious offers to mark its 10th anniversary. For further information, visit http://www.themerchanthotel.com