Christmas at Victoria Square

Victoria Square at Christmas is very nice, especially at night time!! Check it out

New Mexican Chinese takeaway in the making

I got a sneak preview of works going on at the newest Chinese Mexican take away on the Lisburn Road!! It’s called 

It’s slated to open very soon and will be a great addition to the Lisburn Road, being near Adelaide train stop, the fire and police stations. I can’t wait!!

Hawaiian Christmas party

The celebrations have truly begun!! My girls and I arrived and were garlanded with colourful flowers, there were canapés floating about as well as nibbles of cheese and cold meats. 

Main event was the milkshakes and build your own burger. I went for the lava chicken with salad and pickle, my wife had mushroom and halloumi, one daughter had chicken whilst the other had Mahee Mahee fish fingers and chips. At the end there was a shot of mince pie milk shake-delicious. Big thanx for the party!! Great seeing so many friends!!

The Duck House is “Fantastically Quackers!!”

We had lunch yesterday at The Zen Duck House. This used to be Hakka Noodles which was excellent, but this surpasses it foot and beak!!

The interior is all Zen like, calm with a huge “duck” tree!! Absolutely fantastic ambience and well laid out.

We opted for a mixture of dishes from the fixed Business lunch and the evening menu. The Christmas menu is also available. 

Whilst we waited for my wife to join, JoJo our lovely Malaysian host, brought the girls some colours and a booklet each. We ordered fresh prawn crackers and this was accompanied by chilli oil and soy sauce and went down a treat!!

When my wife arrived we were treated to salted edame beans, salt and chilli prawns, tofu and dim sum. For drinks we had water and freshly squeezed water melon juice, apple juice and orange juice, which was so refreshing!

After this we had a wee wander round and saw the “duck tree” on which yellow rubber ducks grew and our girls got a handful!! Also there’s a lovely wee private dining area.

For mains we had a selection of honey chilli chicken with fried rice, chicken with crispy noodles and a BBQ combo of crispy duck and Pork. All the meat was tender and delicious, the noodles were crispy and fried rice were also just enough!

I would thoroughly recommend The Duck House- it “quacks up” to its name and is an amazing dining experience. Thanks to owner Eddie and JoJo and chef!! Great place for a party or an intimate meal and amazing services such as a hot towel between courses!!

Food Hygiene ratings

90% of food businesses in Northern Ireland expected to be displaying food hygiene ratings……but only a third of us regularly look for them

Around 90% of food businesses in Northern Ireland should now be displaying their food hygiene rating sticker following the Food Hygiene Rating Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 coming into force in October. But, according to new research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA)[i], only a third (34%) of us regularly check food hygiene ratings before eating in a restaurant or takeaway. With an estimated 4.3 million meals expected to be eaten out in Northern Ireland over this festive period[ii] the FSA is urging people to check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating before booking this Christmas.
The research, released ahead of the expected Christmas spike in restaurant bookings, found that although food hygiene and safety were of concern for 37% of people, only 6% said that they actively consider the food hygiene rating when deciding where to eat. Other priorities included:
· Quality/type of food (58%)
· Own experience of the place (32%)
· Location/convenience (23%)
· Good service (21%)
· Price (20%)
· Appearance (20%)
· Recommendation (19%)
Mark O’Neill, Senior Advisor, Local Authority Policy and Delivery, Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland said: “We are pleased to see that so many food businesses in Northern Ireland are already compliant with the Food Hygiene Rating Act, which came into operation in October, making it mandatory for food businesses to display their hygiene ratings. This means that around 90% of businesses should now be displaying hygiene information on a green and black sticker somewhere easy to spot outside of their premises. We expect that consumers will be pleased with this development as our recent survey showed that 95% of people in Northern Ireland believe that businesses should have to display their ratings, which now they do.
“We are now urging people to make the most of this new transparency by looking for these ratings and choosing restaurants which score three or above this Christmas. That way we can all play a part in improving food hygiene standards in Northern Ireland.”
No matter what the hygiene rating of the food business, they now have by law to display the rating sticker given by the district council following inspection. This can range from ‘5’ which means the food hygiene standards are very good, down to ‘0’ where urgent improvement is necessary. This instant and visible hygiene rating information will help people choose where to eat out in restaurants, pubs and cafes this Christmas. It will also provide guidance when shopping and buying food in supermarkets and other food shops as well as for hospitals, care homes and schools.

· It is now an offence for a food business not to display their sticker in a position where it can be readily seen and easily read before entering the premises and the district council will take enforcement action where businesses do not comply.
· The Act means that the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is now mandatory, and replaces the voluntary scheme run since the end of 2011 by district councils and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
· The food business operator or relevant member of staff must, on being requested to do so, orally inform that person making the request of the establishment’s food hygiene rating.
· In addition to looking out for the green and black stickers on display outside the premises it is also quick and easy to check a restaurant’s food hygiene rating online – just go to the FSA website:<>. Ideally consumers should be looking for establishments which score three or above.
· When any food business is inspected by a food safety officer from the district council they are checked and assessed on how the business meets the requirements set down in food hygiene regulations This comprises three elements:
· hygiene – how the food is prepared, cooked, reheated , cooled and stored
· the condition of the structure of the buildings – including the cleanliness, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
· how food safety within the business is managed and how the business records what it does to make food safe.
Findings from each of these elements are taken together and result in the food hygiene rating given. A low rating means that there are serious failings.

The food safety officer will provide a detailed report to the food business and will work with them to ensure that action is taken to correct standards.

· Anyone who has a concern about food hygiene standards of any business should contact the food safety team or the environmental health department at their district council or can report the problem online at /report –problem.

[i] Food Hygiene Rating Scheme – Biannual Consumer Attitudes Tracker (Wave 4), 14 November 2016
[ii] NISRA estimates the population of Northern Ireland is 1.86 million. Research by the FSA identified that each person is likely to eat 2.3 festive meals (Online poll of 250 adults in Northern Ireland, conducted by Censuswide (October 2014) on behalf of the Food Standards Agency). 1,860,000 multiplied by 2.3 is 4,278,000

Food Standards Agency (FSA)
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Friendship Four Ice Hockey

So awesome to be at the SSE Arena to watch the 3/4 place play off between University of Massachusetts  and  St Lawrence University in the Friendship Four Games Thanksgiving Series.

We are in an awesome suite with a fabulous view with great Pelican Rouge coffee and a fine menu to be served. But first the hockey!!

The final is this evening between Quinnipiac University and The University of Vermont.

This is the home of The Belfast Giants!!

Vote for NI signature Dish

VOTING OPENS TO NAME NORTHERN IRELAND’S NEW SIGNATURE DISHHave your say in what is being hailed as ‘the tastiest vote in NI’


Tourism NI has tasked four of Northern Ireland’s top chefs to create three brand new locally-inspired dishes, one of which will be named as Northern Ireland’s New Signature Dish, via public vote.


Northern Ireland’s New Signature Dish search is part of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 celebrations and the four creative minds taking part, referred to as the ‘cooking collective’, are Niall McKenna from James Street South in Belfast; Ian Orr from Browns Restaurant and Ardtara House in Derry~Londonderry; Kelan McMichael from Bull and Ram in Ballynahinch and Chris McGowan from Wine and Brine in County Armagh.


Naomi Waite, Director of Marketing, Tourism Northern Ireland, said: “We want to create a lasting food legacy as part of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 to live on long after the year-long celebration is over and that is what the Signature Dish is all about.


“The three dishes prepared by the ‘cooking collective’ are completely new to the dining scene in Northern Ireland and are made from only the best of our local produce. While the Born and Braised, Buttermilked Lamb and Jowled Eel dishes are of restaurant quality the recipes are available on the Discover Northern Ireland website and can easily be cooked, adapted and enjoyed at the dinner table at home.


“We all have an opinion on food and have strong feelings when it comes to what we like and what we don’t like and now that the chefs have created the three dishes they think could be Northern Ireland’s new signature dish it is over to the public to tell us what they think. I’m encouraging everyone to log on to the Discover Northern Ireland website and cast their vote for Northern Ireland’s new signature dish and tell us who you voted for and why over on the Discover NI Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page.


“Voting closes on the December 8th and the winning dish, as voted for by the public, will be announced at a special unveiling event at St George’s Market on December 10th where the ‘cooking collective’ chefs will be hosting a cookery demo before the grand unveiling”, concluded Naomi.


Ian Orr, Browns Restaurant and Ardtara Country House Hotel, said: “I love experimenting with local produce and wanted to create finalist dishes with the rest of the ‘cooking collective’ that would showcase the best of what’s available in the Northern Ireland larder. I am really pleased with the results and I’m looking forward to seeing what the public chooses as Northern Ireland’s new signature dish.”


Chris McGowan, Wine and Brine, said: “Coming up with three potential signature dishes has be an amazing experience for the ‘cooking collective’. We have taken quite a journey through Northern Ireland food and drink during our research and have even more admiration for them and the work they do. The diversity and quality of produce available across Northern Ireland is astounding and we have showcased just some of it in our three finalist dishes. I’d like to wish the public the best of luck in choosing their winning dish – it won’t be easy – and remember to support local producers.”


Kelan McMichael, Bull and Ram, said: “We chose the final three dishes because they bring together the very best local produce we have on offer but also because the ingredients are affordable and accessible for people to buy in their local butchers, deli’s and shops. All the ingredients chosen work really well together, are easy to cook and the flavours are harmonious so whatever dish wins we hope everyone in Northern Ireland enjoys trying them out at home for their loved ones.”


Niall McKenna, James Street South Restaurant Group, said: “We decided that these three dishes best represent Northern Ireland on a plate as each dish is packed full of flavour and made with the highest quality local produce. We also really liked the fact that there were a few curve balls thrown in there when it came to ingredients or techniques, and we enjoyed those little surprises and examples of thinking outside the box. This is what is helping make Northern Ireland a global destination for food lovers.


“All three dishes really embody a taste of Northern Ireland and are stellar examples of the quality, flavour, value and diversity of the amazing produce we have on our doorsteps, and all the ingredients are widely available making each dish accessible to everyone across the country.”, concluded Niall.


Have your say on Northern Ireland’s New Signature Dish. Let Tourism Northern Ireland know which of the three dishes is your favourite by logging on to, and sharing your thoughts on the Discover NI Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages with the hashtag, #SignatureDishNI.


Competition incentive – Vote for your favourite and you could win a Belfast break for two, including two nights B&B in the 4* Radisson Blu and a food tour with Taste and Tour. Join the conversation online with #SignatureDishNI.


All ingredients used in the dishes have been sourced from Northern Ireland food and drink producers and suppliers. Comber Early Potatoes currently not in season and wild garlic, usually available from late January onwards, must be washed before use. 


LEADING convenience brands, SuperValu and Centra, which are owned by Musgrave NI, have exclusively launched chat show host Graham Norton’s Own Wine in Northern Ireland last night.

The announcement that the local retail brands will stock the wine in their stores was revealed at an event hosted at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast to showcase SuperValu and Centra’s seasonal range of food.

More than 100 media, stakeholders and retailers attended the Christmas themed evening which saw VIP guests sample SuperValu and Centra’s exciting new festive range of fresh, quality, convenience food including party foods and desserts, fresh bakery and special Christmas Gourmet sandwiches. 

The venue was transformed into ‘a re-tail of two Christmases’ as SuperValu’s Bring Home Christmas campaign of indulgent food, festive value and time-honoured tradition was launched alongside Centra’s ‘Let’s Rock Christmas’ messages of food inspiration, convenience and enjoying the festive season to the full.

SuperValu’s Ambassador Chef Noel McMeel treated guests to a live demonstration of recipes he’s created exclusively for the brand, to help customers with hints and tips for the perfect family Christmas while Nutritionist Jane McClenaghan, who is partnering with Centra, created an inspiring selection of healthy alternatives for the party season.

Musgrave NI Managing Director, Michael McCormack, said: “We’re delighted that SuperValu and Centra stores have been selected to stock Graham Norton Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz exclusively in Northern Ireland. 

“These are great wines for Christmas celebrations and complement our new seasonal range perfectly. The festive season is a key time for retailers and we’ve increased our convenience food offering this year by 25%, to ensure our customers have everything they need for the perfect Christmas.


“Whether you are cooking from scratch with a Fresh Turkey Dinner and all the trimmings or prefer a special Food to Go Christmas lunch, we have both the range and our Ambassador partnerships to offer recipes, inspiration and ideas to help brighten up the festive season and Bring Christmas Home to you.”
Musgrave NI’s wine expert, James McLornan said: “Graham’s favourite two wines are New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Australian Shiraz, hence the choice of his blends. Graham Norton Sauvignon Blanc, which launched in the UK last year, has already received a number of accolades and sold more than 600,000 bottles since its launch.
“Tonight we launched the Graham Norton Shiraz in Northern Ireland and it has already won a Gold medal at the 2016 Sydney International Wine Competition from its global launch earlier this year. There’s a reason why this has been described as ‘one of the most successful celebrity wine pairings ever’ and with the exclusive launch into SuperValu and Centra stores, we believe our customers may buy the wine for the celebrity behind it, but they’ll return for the quality,” he added.

Ethical reviews

I have been vey fortunate to be invited by restaurants. Wholesalers and retailers. I must  admit if it is  retailer or wholesaler we graciously accept the Fayre even ifit is free.If a restaurant then I always offer to pay and on many occasions this is rejected. 

This does not detract on how good or bad the food/service is. So bear in mind!!!!