Wedding at Manor House Hotel

My family and I attended a wonderful wedding two days ago. The wedding was of a family friend, Tina with Allen. The venue was the superb Manor House Hotel. I have previously visited the hotel for drinks and to hire a boat at the Marine, but this was our first formal visit.

The grounds and location are exquisite and it’s easily accessible. On arrival there were snacks and tea/coffee-all provided by the hotel and well received after our 2 hour drive. The Manor House is an award winning hotel and it is very easy to see why.

The wedding ceremony was a traditional Hindu ceremony and was discharged admirably by the Priest Mr Ashok Sharma who went to great detail to explain the ceremony and involved the audience. I must say this was a truly wonderful ceremony.

After the ceremony there was a drinks reception and snacks which again were provided by the hotel and tasted fantastic. There was champagne, juice and lassi and to eat there were fish cakes, chicken skewers, paneer and sweet potato chips as well as sandwiches and pastries.

We then made our way into the main dining hall where John, Maureen and staff looked after approximately 200 guests with Swiss clockwork proficiency and precision . The entertainment was provided by the famous Edinburgh outfit VIP Entertainments along with the two renowned Dholis (drummers). Before the dancing there was the scrumptious five course meal of goats cheese tartlet, butternut squash soup, bacon wrapped chicken with vegetables, fruit crumble and tea/coffee. Kids had sausages and chips and there was a wonderful veggie main choice. The service ran smoothly and the food was absolutely amazing. There was plenty of wine and soft drinks to accompany.

After this feast we were treated to some excellent entertainment by DJ VIPS and the Dholis. We welcomed the newlyweds onto the floor for their first dance and then partied!! We had to drive back home so couldn’t dance into the wee hours….have to go back and try the bedrooms soon!!!!

Thanks for the gracious invite, wonderful hospitality and best wishes for you married life.

Halloween Pumpkin time

I finally succumbed today and bought an extra large pumpkin from Tesco for £3. I told my two wee girls only 1 this year!! Got home and made bangers and very opulent mash-using bacon, mushroom, onion, garlic and carbonara sauce….ok it was from a jar but hey I was busy!!

I cooked the onions, garlic, carrot, celery and mushrooms in peanut oil. Then added the cut bacon. Meanwhile I boiled 4 sliced spuds and cooked til al aldente.i then layered the veg mix, spuds and carbonara sauce in my oval Le Crueset.I added spinach, kale, rocket and oats before  I placed in oven at 220C for 30 minutes. I then cooked the sausages and dinner was ready!!

After dinner I got the girls to help me scoop out the pumpkin and separate the seeds from the flesh. I started the soup stock with oil, onion, garlic, greens, stick cubes and mushrooms. Whilst carving the pumpkin we added the flesh to the soup mix. Eventually the pumpkin was ready and the soup base was also. I liquidised the soup , seasoned and added cream. This I simmered for 5 minutes whilst we added candles to the pumpkin and hey presto all done…. now who will do the washing up!!

Happy Halloween!!

Happy 20th birthday Tesco NI

Tesco celebrates 20 years of supporting local suppliers 

When it comes to birthday celebrations, who better to have some tea and birthday cake with than two of your oldest ‘friends’.

 Tesco is 20 years in Northern Ireland this Saturday and invited Ross Thompson from Thompson Family Teas and John Hopkins from Irwin’s Bakery down to the Belfast Metro store to celebrate with store manager, Jim Gough. Thompson and Irwin’s are two of Tesco Northern Ireland’s longest standing suppliers and Jim Gough has been with Tesco since the beginning.

 Sean Largey, commercial manager at Tesco Northern Ireland, said: “Tesco arrived in Northern Ireland on the 29th October, 1996 with a local shopping budget of £50m. Nowadays it spends more than £580m on local food and drink. Cause for celebration itself!”


Opening of Seasons at The Balmoral

I spent a couple of hours with friends old and new at the launch of Seasons Restaurant at The Balmoral Hotel.

I can remember attending school functions here many moons ago!! My how the place has changed and is still undergoing a metamorphosis. On arrival we were greeted by a singer at the entrance and harpist in the foyer. We also had a choice of champagne, Moctail or sparkling water.

In the newly kitted out 70 plus seater restaurant, we mingled and caught up with old friends and made some new ones. The odd celeb graced us with their presence like Tommy Bowe!! Loved the porcelain plate display depicting deer-in keeping with the “Seasons” theme of the restaurant. There was also a traditional Irish band playing.

The menu was carefully devised by head chef Dave who hails from Cork. He has had tutelage from Paul Rankin in Roscoff and Michael Deane and now has the reins at Seasons. He had a range of canapés from the starter and main course menu. There was rancini, goats cheese, hake cakes, venison pie-my favourite!!, ham hock, duck and salmon. For dessert there was a selection of chocolate cake, shortbread, toffee sauce and chocolate balls. A perfect sweet selection.

Our very own weather girl Cecelia Daly MC’d the speeches and first Mr Terence Brannigan from Tourism NI spoke then chef said a few words and Mairtin O Muilleoir wound up the formal proceedings.

The investment in the Hotel is substantial and judging by the facilities and the restaurant and staff I am confident it will be a success. I would highly recommend you book a table in Seasons Restaurant because if the canapés are anything to go by the rest of the food will be of very high standards. Thank you Seasons for the invite!!

My Ireland Photography Shortlist is a Celebration of Local Talent

SuperBreak Reveals Top Five Photos Taken by Members of the Public

Short break holiday company, SuperBreak, has today announced the shortlist of photos going head-to-head in a public vote as part of its nationwide My Ireland photography competition.

Celebrating the best of Ireland as captured by local people, the top five photographs were chosen out of more than 300 entries by a panel of expert judges, including influential Irish photographer Patrick Donald and travel editor Tom Sweeney.

Showcasing homegrown talent, the images illustrate favourite views of Ireland. Now members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite shortlisted image on the SuperBreak Ireland Facebook Page.

The lucky winner will receive a luxury two-night staycation for two people staying at the 4* Hotel Westport in County Mayo, including breakfast and dinner on the first night of stay, as well as entry into the historic Westport House & Gardens, courtesy of SuperBreak. Runner up prizes include Dublin Passes for access to a variety of attractions, transport and special shopping offers and a €100 photography gift voucher from ‘My Ireland’ sponsor, Giles Norman.

A preview of the shortlisted entries:

Wooly Wards Farm, Swords Dublin


“This photo shows the friendly, joyous atmosphere in Ireland that we pride ourselves in and love so much. Our country is dotted with moments like these, showing off the raw beauty of Ireland’s countryside.” Jack Kilfeather

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland


“Very stormy and windy end of the day at Dunluce Castle. I was hoping for great sunset as weather so far was brilliant but no luck. It was raining every five minutes plus Atlantic is known from being rough so I was getting washed by waves every few minutes. I was standing at the edge of slippery rock at the bottom of the cliff, where water was running down the cliff straight on my head, feet were getting washed by waves and camera splashed by rain. I constantly had to clean it so I consider myself lucky that I was even able to take this shot.” Pawel Zygmunt

Anne Valley, Waterford


“It is a place of beauty and also a nature reserve. From the fishing to the scattered fairy doors and the farm animals on the surrounding hills… it is like a little piece of heaven 15 minutes from our beautiful town.” Catherine Winters

Lough Carra at Brownstown, near Ballinrobe, Co Mayo


“On a beautiful Summer’s day when the lake is like glass, where else would you rather be? My own paradise.” Liz Parsons.

Mount Errigal in Donegal


“A very special memory of climbing Mount Errigal in Donegal with my partner and two sons aged eight and four, that’s them at the other side of ‘One Man’s Pass’. I was so proud of my four-year-old wee boy that day, we were all very thrilled to be up there, eagles circling overhead at one stage, stunning views, best holiday!!” Aine Hayden.

Jacquie Fisher of SuperBreak said: “We have been astounded at the number and quality of entries submitted to the My Ireland photography competition. The shortlist is a stunning collection of images representing best-loved local scenes and special moments. Congratulations to all those whose images have been selected for this next stage in the competition, and best of luck in the public vote!”

With more than three decades of experience in providing package short breaks, SuperBreak launched a dedicated Irish website earlier this year and has already helped hundreds of local holidaymakers enjoy a getaway to favourite Irish destinations, as well as to the UK, Europe and beyond.

For more information about the My Ireland competition please visit or to cast your vote on the final five, head over to the SuperBreak Ireland Facebook page

Stroke Awareness Day 29th October

This year Stroke Awareness Day is 29th October. Stroke can be a killer and disabling if not caught early. Always remember FAST which stands for Face, Arm, Speech and Time an aide memoir in early diagnosis/catching someone with stroke-it could save someone’s life.

On a lighter note the wonderful folk over at NI Chest Heart and Stroke, who do a fantastic job, sent me a wee hamper/ kit to make a “stress free” spicy chilli bean dish as part of Stroke Awareness Day. 

My challenge this evening was to turn the above into a meal for the four of us!! I happily took it up and tweeked it a tad. I added some chicken to the chilli bean mix and used less tomato and added a splash of soy sauce and came up with my dish below!!

The four of us polished it off no problems and it went down a real treat-all stress free!! Thanx to NI Chest Heart and Stroke and please all support Stroke Awareness Day on the 29th!!

Zen food pairing with Lehmann Wines

I was honoured to attend a wine pairing event at Zen- a truly exquisite Japanese restaurant. The wines were by Peter Lehmann Wines from Australia.  Joe Roberts from Lehmann Wines was our wine aficionado whilst Michael and team from United Wines  facilitated the event.


It was fascinating to learn the history behind Lehmann wines. Peter Lehmann was one of the original trilogy of South Australian German wine producers (others being Wolf Blass and Max Hubert of Grange Wines). The Lutheran Germans arrived in Port Adelaide in 1844 and brought with them the original, pre Phylloxera “old vines” so technically speaking these wines are “old” world and not “new” world wines!! Phylloxera decimated European vines in 1853. 

Barista is synonymous with this region and it was named after an area in Cadiz,Spain by Col William. There are two main producing areas being High or Eden Valley for white and the floor for red. The soils and granite all impart their own characteristics.

Peter started the company in 1979 and it was called Masterson until 1983 and then Peter gave his name to the company. The wines are commercial and boutique and drank globally. Sadly Peter is no longer here in body but is in Spirit!!

This brings us on nicely to the food.We tasted five tasting dishes (salmon, sushi, chicken, duck and monkfish) along with the respective wines. On arrival we sampled the Pinot Grigio. With the salmon we had dry Riesling, with sushi there was Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay went with the chicken and Shiraz Cabernet with the duck.  I had monkfish instead of beef and Shiraz. The wine pairings were spot on and definitely good matches!!

The ambience of the place, coupled with the efficient and professional service really made this a truly wonderful experience. Suffice to say this is still my favourite Japanese restaurant in Belfast!! The food plates we had really made us all wanting more!!!!

Early dinner with my girls

I brought my two daughters here for dinner last night. They’ve never been here before. Simon and the staff were very friendly and helpful and seated us near the fish feature-my girls loved it!!
We went for a kids chicken fried rice, kids chicken chow mein, Bangkok seafood (me), chips and curry sauce. We had complimentary prawn crackers and curry sauce to start and the girls loved these as they were warm, crispy and tasty.

The kids dishes came out and I actually had to question whether they were kids or adults as the portion size was big!! They tucked into their meals and then mine arrived followed by chips and sauce. The food was superb, portion sizes amazing and service excellent. 
Definitely worth a trip to Glengormley for good, authentic, Chinese and Thai cuisine and all for £30!!!

Bloggers dinner at Il Gusto

This evening about 18 bloggers and plus ones tried the newest, very authentic, Italian food in the newly opened Il Gusto on the Lisburn Road.

 Il Gusto is the latest restaurant opened by Michael, the first being Solo which he opened in 2014 and Ambrosia in 2015. Michael came to NI from India in 2004 and has worked in Armagh City Hotel and later went on to run restaurants in Ballycastle and Ballintoy before Solo, which incidentally was crowned Best World Cuisine Restaurant 2017 at the recent YesChef awards. He is proud to call NI home!!
Chef (who is genuine Italian) has been very busy perfecting the menu and we got to sample the delights.

For starters I had mussels in tomato sauce with bread which was excellent and a good portion size. Dor mains I had spicy chicken in freshly made tagliatelle in s creamy sauce. The tagliatelle was perfectly cooked and the spicy sauce really lifted the dish. To round it off there was a light fluffy cheese cake and ice cream.

I highly recommend Il Gusto for a romantic meal for two, families or small groups. The staff are excellent. The restaurant is compact with maximum of 34 covers and the food is as authentic as you will get.