Best Pesto outside Italy?

Best pesto outside Genoa comes to Tesco in September

Islander Kelp, currently only available in top UK and Ireland restaurants to be brought to the consumer courtesy of Tesco NI’s Artisan Pop-up shop Programme
The business behind a Rathlin Island-produced pesto described as the best outside its Italian birthplace will be offering Tesco customers a taste of the unique product through its ongoing artisan programme.
Islander Kelp, currently only available in the finest restaurants across the UK and Ireland, will bring the flavour of the clean crisp waters off Northern Ireland’s most northerly coast to shoppers at Tesco’s flagship Newtownbreda store.
Managing director of parent company Ocean Veg Ireland, Kate Burns, who runs it with her son Benji McFaul, will offer samples on four dates throughout September – on Fridays 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 11am until 4pm.
The pop-up sessions will provide the first market tests for retail packs in what is Kate’s third year in business producing the health-boosting natural marine product which is packed with nutrients and more calcium than even kale.
Ocean Veg Ireland is the sole Europe producer of the unique product whose range includes kelp shredded into spaghetti and tagliatelle noodles and pesto.
Tesco Newtownbreda’s customers will learn for themselves what prompted celebrity chef Marco-Pierre White to describe the pesto as “the best I’ve tasted outside Genoa”.
The Michelin-starred gourmand gave the product the supreme compliment after sampling it at the exclusive, luxury hotel Castle Leslie in Monaghan during a recent visit.
Islander Kelp is available, for the moment, in four top restaurants in London, two in Glasgow and around ten in Ireland, including in Northern Ireland Belfast’s Merchant Hotel, Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen, Ballymena’s Galgorm Resort and Spa and Balloo House in Killinchy, Co Down.
Pesto, traditionally a mix of crushed garlic, pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese and olive oil, dates back to Roman times but was first documented in its modern guise, using basil, in Genoa in the mid-18th century.
Islander Kelp’s pesto adds kelp to the basil mixture from forests farmed and harvested off Church Bay in Rathlin Island, where Kate raised her family and followed a life devoted to more scientific pursuits than culinary.
At 58 she came late to the industry, following a very senior career in rural and marine development across Ireland, Europe and the United States.
But Kate finally decided to put her money where her mouth was, transferring her passion for marine life into a food business.
“As part of my work I’ve been advising people for years about starting up their own businesses so I thought I’d have a go and try it myself.
“There’s a lot more that we could be doing with marine resources and what it could provide that we haven’t yet tapped and that we are only starting to do.”
Taking the product to a market who hasn’t tried this before, Kate’s efforts to bring it to the general consumer are founded firmly in the feedback received from those who have tried it in the restaurants.
“There’s not a week that goes by without people asking us where can we buy it,” she revealed.
Tesco NI’s Marketing Manager Caoimhe Mannion said: “We are so delighted to support another innovative local company by adding them to the ongoing Tesco NI Artisan Programme.
“Similar budding artisanal entrepreneurs, who possess minimum SALSA accreditation, can enquire about the Tesco NI Artisan Programme by visiting

The Belfast Food Man

Contact me on

Twitter @belfastfoodman

Tripadvisor (860 reviews)

Linked In

Yelp Elite 2016

Happy Chocolate Day

Chefs going ‘cocoa’ over Killyleagh Chocolate and Fine Food Fest

As thousands of chocoholics and foodies gear up for the highly-anticipated return of the biennial Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, outstanding chefs from Northern Ireland and further afield are joining up with festival organisers to ensure that the three-day festival offers a foodie experience not to be missed. With the addition of Downpatrick’s Finnebrogue Artisan this year as the festival’s overall sponsor, Finnebrogue consultant development chef Chris Burt will lead the charge with an innovative line-up of chocolate and locally-focused food activities to span the entire weekend.


Kicking off with the Hans Sloane Chocolate Ball on Friday 23rd September, Chef Burt will join up with legendary Northern Ireland chef Simon Dougan of Yellow Door to present a meal that will have guests buzzing for years to come. Utilising the finest of hyper-local produce including Finnebrogue venison and sausages, locally farmed vegetables, eggs and butter, and even reindeer moss foraged personally by Chef Burt from the Finnebrogue Estate, this dinner will highlight the wide range of world-class ingredients available from across Northern Ireland.

“As Finnebrogue’s consultant development chef, I have the pleasure of working with locally-produced Northern Ireland ingredients every day, and am delighted to be able to develop and serve an innovative, forward-thinking menu for guests at this year’s Hans Sloane Chocolate Ball utilising these outstanding ingredients,” said Chef Burt. “I’m delighted to be teaming up with Simon Dougan to create a menu that will encourage guests to think outside the box and approach these local ingredients in a new way.”


As a dramatic end to the evening, Chefs Burt and Dougan are brainstorming a show-stopping dessert which will act as homage to Sir Hans Sloane – the Killyleagh-born physician, naturalist and collector credited with bringing the recipe for drinking chocolate back to Europe –and turn heads as the extraordinary chocolate dessert is unveiled to guests.


The festival will continue on Saturday and Sunday, 24th and 25th September. Guests at Killyleagh Castle can enjoy live cooking demos led by Chef Burt alongside leading local chefs including Chefs Danny Millar, Balloo Inns; Roy Abraham, The Smuggler’s Table; and Fernando Correa, Quails at the Gallery, among others hosted by Food NI. Incorporating locally-grown and sourced produce paired with chocolate elements and even a chocolate stout from local Mourne Mountains Brewery, these chefs will bring home the theme of local cooking with a touch of chocolate in honour of Sir Hans.


“We’re really looking forward to this year’s live cooking demos, which have been supported by Food NI as part of Tourism Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink,” said Meave Davison of the festival’s organising committee. “Finnebrogue Artisan Chef Chris Burt will show off his knowledge of foraging local produce and his unique approach to creating dishes with a wow-factor, while some of the area’s most popular chefs, hosted by Food NI, will support the ‘local’ element of the festival by incorporating chocolate into popular savoury and sweet which will be shared with guests.”


“In addition to the live kitchen demos on Saturday and Sunday, 24th and 25th September, guests will also enjoy tasting freshly-made dishes and treats from over 30 local artisan producers including Great Taste Award winners S.D. Bells, Deli Muru, Abernethy, La Coquine, Glastry Farm Ice Cream, Finnebrogue, Krazi Baker and Mash Direct, among many others,” added Meave.


Aine Kearney, Director of Business Support and Events Tourism NI commented, “Tourism Northern Ireland is a proud sponsor of the Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, in line with the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink initiative, the festival is showcasing our unique chocolate offering.

“The festival schedule has something for everyone from the Chocolate Ball to the family fun days and we hope this will encourage thousands of foodies from Northern Ireland and beyond to enjoy some of our great indigenous foods.”

Founded in 2010 to celebrate Killyleagh’s most famous son, Sir Hans Sloane, who was born in the village in 1660 and later credited for bringing the recipe for drinking chocolate to Europe from Jamaica, the biennial festival has grown from strength to strength and is now regarded as one of the leading events of its type in the UK and Ireland and a highlight of the summer calendar for food lovers across the country.


The Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival kindly acknowledges the support of Tourism Northern Ireland, Newry Mourne & Down District Council, and Food NI in the staging of this year’s event as well as the support of sponsors Bryan Somers Travel, Jeep, Killyleagh Development Association, Mash Direct, Roskyle, and S.D. Bell’s.


Ticket prices vary, based on events running throughout the Festival. For further information on all events taking place and to book tickets visit or follow the Killyleagh Chocolate Festival on Twitter @KillyleaghChoc or

The Belfast Food Man

Contact me on

Twitter @belfastfoodman

Tripadvisor (860 reviews)

Linked In

Yelp Elite 2016 



Happy 1st bday Four Star Carrick

First year is a pizza cake for Carrick restaurantFour Star Pizza celebrates birthday by giving customers free pizza for a week

 PIZZA lovers in Carrick will be joining in the ‘party’ this week as the town’s popular Four Star Pizza restaurant celebrates its first birthday.

 The store officially opened its doors on Marine Highway in September 2015 as part of a £150,000 investment which has created 20 jobs in the area. Since then, it has delivered no fewer than 75,000 FRESH PIZZAS to homes in the Carrick area, using OVER ONE MILLION pepperoni slices, 10 TONNES of cheese and 17 TONNES of flour.

 And to mark the occasion, from Monday September 12 to Sunday September 20, every customer who buys a 12” or 14” pizza will receive another one – ABSOLUTELY FREE!

 Owners Scott and Jamie Higginson from Greenisland, who now own a total of six Four Star Pizza stores in Northern Ireland, are delighted with the success of the Carrick store which also has a ‘sit-in’ option that can cater for up to 30 customers on-site.

 “We’ve lived in Greenisland for the past 10 years and always wanted to bring Four Star Pizza to the area but just couldn’t find the right location,” said Scott. “So when the perfect location became available on Marine Highway and we did not hesitate to snap it up!

 “We couldn’t be happier with how things have gone in our first year – which has been the most successful opening of any of our six existing stores in Northern Ireland.

 “The response from people in the town and surrounding areas has been amazing,” he added. “Our Carrick customers are certainly adventurous in their tastes and love to try anything new, including our guest pizzas and latest toppings.”

 It’s been a busy year with many highlights which have included winning the Best New Store Award at the annual Four Star Pizza Awards in March, as well as creating 60 pirate-ship shaped pizzas for a local primary school fun day. And more recently, the appearance of comedy duo ‘Chad and Courtney’ (aka Shane Todd and Colin Geddis) to help celebrate Independence Day on July 4.

 The store has also supported a number of local charity and community initiatives during the year including Autism NI Carrickfergus, Carrick Ladies RFC, the East Antrim Marathon Series, Greenisland Primary School, Sports Changes Life and many more.

 Customers wanting to join in the party and claim a ‘buy one get one free’ pizza from the Carrick store can order a delivery on 028 9335 1489, online at or via the Four Star Pizza app. Alternatively, visit the store and enjoy your pizzas in the sit-in area.

 Scott and Jamie Higginson are directors of Doughboys Ltd which comprises of six Four Star Pizza stores in Belfast, Newtownabbey and Carrick. They opened Northern Ireland’s first Four Star Pizza store in 1999 on Belfast’s Beersbridge Road.

 Four Star Pizza is an Irish-owned Pizza chain, first established in 1988, which operates 40 stores across the island of Ireland, specialising in creating fresh, delicious pizza and delivering it straight to your door. 

 Four Star pizzas are renowned for their pizza dough which is freshly prepared by hand on site daily by passionate and expertly trained pizza chefs, using top quality locally sourced flour. 


Ballyhackamore Market returns

Ballyhackamore Market back after Summer Break 

Ballyhackamore’s Artisan Market is back on September 17 with mouth-watering autumnal treats, children’s face-painting and lots of new stallholders.


The monthly market organised by Ballyhackamore Business Association returns to St Comcille’s Church carpark with stalls packed full of locally sourced food and beautiful handcrafted goods .


William McSorley, the Chair of Ballyhackamore Business Association, said that visitors can expect a huge range of gourmet food and handmade crafts, including jewellery, textiles, candles on offer from skilled artisan producers – all from Northern Ireland.


He added: “Ballyhackamore is one of Belfast’s best food and shopping destinations and the artisan market reflects the variety and quality on offer in the village. We believe it is very important to focus on local suppliers and family run businesses from across Northern Ireland.


“The village has a fantastic range of restaurants, cafés and unique shops and we want people to enjoy the whole experience, popping into one of our many eateries for breakfast or brunch before going to the market to buy some of the treats on offer.”


Ballhackamore Market has been running for a year with around 25 stallholders selling their wares on the third Saturday of the month. The hours are from 10am to 2pm.


Stalls include Ballynahinch-based ‘Tasty Wee Numbers’ which specialises in gluten-free traybakes, breads, scones and desserts. There is also Buchanan’s Farm Shop from Kilrea which provides an amazing range of top-class meats and Tom and Ollies in Belfast for delicious Mediterranean olives, tapenades and hummus.


Next month’s market (October 15) will boast produce from Ballyriff Buffalo, Northern Ireland’s only Buffalo farm based in Magherafelt. As well as being delicious, Buffalo meat is a low calorie, healthy alternative to beef.


Plans are already in place for the popular Ballyhackamore Christmas Market, which will take place on December 3 with an extended number of stalls, longer opening hours and a special festive family fun day.


For more information about the market go to and for details of the best shopping in Ballyhackamore , go to


Restaurant music licence

Play recorded music in your restaurant? Play it right, be compliant.By law, if you’re playing recorded music in public at your restaurant, in most instances you need to obtain permission to do so from the copyright holder(s) and will usually need music licences from both PPL and PRS for Music. This includes playing music from the radio, TV, CDs, background music systems or other sources. Whether you’re playing classic Bollywood, modern takes, pop music or other music genres, by purchasing the correct music licence your restaurant can play recorded music while being confident that you are legally compliant.
PPL acts for all of the major record companies and thousands of smaller independent labels and musicians. PRS for Music represents songwriters, composers and publishers. PPL’s repertoire includes music made in many different countries, including music from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. By offering licences for the use of most commercial recorded music, PPL makes it easier for music users to obtain the permissions they legally require.


 What does music mean for your restaurant?

Playing music has the potential to add value and benefit your restaurant business by creating a good atmosphere, influencing a customer’s choice of restaurant and creating a better working environment for improved staff productivity. 
What happens if you do not contact PPL?

If you require a licence and do not obtain one you will be infringing copyright, contrary to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Ultimately, you may face legal proceedings. These are very much a last resort, but unfortunately are sometimes necessary. A court can order a business to pay its outstanding licence fees plus PPL’s legal costs and issue a court order known as an injunction to stop the business playing recorded music until this is done.

To get your PPL licence now, visit our website. It only takes a few clicks.
Alternatively, call us on 020 7534 1070 or email us at