Pre opening night at Camile Thai Belfast

After battling through the traffic for an hour from Glengormley to the Lisburn Road I wasn’t in a happy mood, but the reward of a delicious Thai meal from the new Camile Thai was my goal and kept me going!! I had the foresight to call my order in earlier. I ordered a large king prawn chu chee dish and large red Thai chicken curry, both £15.9 each. This was served with two portions of brown rice each. 

On arrival the weather was like a monsoon and the converted old M&S store on Lisburn Road was totally transformed. It was a good job I ordered earlier because it was extremely busy and I guess all 24 staff were working!! 

Camile Thai is predominantly a takeaway place with 40% of orders online, then telephone orders then walk ins. There is limited seating for those that can’t wait to tuck in. I was given a tour of the restaurant by the CEO Mr Brody Sweeney who explained the “flow” of the place and the ethos. He also showed me a tiny freezer and said that all the ingredients are fresh and only prawns are frozen!!

I battled my way back to Glengormley with my girls in the car and as soon as we were home we feasted!!! It really was well worth the wait. The red chicken curry was very coconutty and creamy and not too spicy whilst the king prawns were cooked in a spicy sauce with onion, green beans and cucumber as requested. There was plenty of rice also. Was ample for four adults!! Ps Brody threw in a bag of prawn crackers (£2) which were greatly welcomed. 

The official first day of trade is tomorrow (Wednesday) and look out for special offers. I must say I think that it will do very well. The menu is extensive and has all calorie values as well as allergen and healthy eating information. Thank you guys for the kind invite!!

Arguably the best Indian Restaurant 

I had a business lunch here with a couple of colleagues today. Their brief was to take them to the most authentic Indian restaurant. There was a very select few to choose from but the winner hands down was Tale Of Spice in Dundonald!!

It won hands down on a number of scores. First it has ample free car parking. Second it is owned and run by a fantastic all Indian team from kitchen (Chef Gautam) to Front of House (Abhishek and Sunil). Third the food is as authentic as if one was sitting and eating it in any Northern Indian restaurant. 

The decour is modern contemporary with a subtle Indian touch. The staff are very helpful and knowledgable and chef himself a real expert. I asked him to make three dishes (two chicken and one lamb). He duly obliged but not before we tucked into fresh crispy popadoms with tasty dips-so many restaurants fall foul of serving oily soggy popadoms- a real turn off!

Our three mains came out with two pilau rice, a nan and garlic nan. The butter chicken was creamy and tomatoey with no artificial colouring-and not overtly sweet. The Karahi gosht was divine with the lamb being tender, juicy and succulent. The chicken tikka saag was excellent-all three dishes garnished well with ginger juliennes and parsley and coriander…..just like one gets in Punjab. Alas the portions beat us quantity wise. This really is as authentic North Indian as you will get. A must visit place.

New Harp ad

NEW AD FROM HARP CAPTURES THE BEST OF NORTHERN IRELAND ‘IN A GLASS’HARP rolls out iconic ‘Pure Here’ campaign to champion the unique spirit and humour of NI


Belfast, NI, 7th November 2016: HARP looks set to build on its position as one of Northern Ireland’s leading lagers with the launch of ‘Pure Here’, a brand new creative campaign that celebrates the distinctive people, places, sense of humour and idiosyncrasies that make up Northern Ireland.


The ‘Pure Here’ TV advert launches tonight, in primetime slots on UTV and Channel 4, and is the first new TV ad from the leading lager brand in three years.


The ad opens with the Harp Angel posing the question: ‘What would it take to create a new beer with the true essence of Northern Ireland?’ and sees two Harp brewers scaling the breadth of the country on a madcap journey, taking in legendary landmarks such as The Giant’s Causeway, The Harland and Wolff cranes, and Belfast’s Cathedral and Linen Quarters to add the best bits of Northern Irish culture to a glass.


Local Northern Irish acting talent make up the starring cast and bring to life the nation’s distinctive sense of humour, with Alan Turkington as The Harp Angel and comedy duo Roger Thomson and rising star Micky Bartlett, who has featured on NI comedy shows such as The Blame Game, as the Harp brewers. Viewers might even spot a cameo from local influencers such as James from social media sensation Real Trance Family.


The ‘Pure Here’ campaign will tell uniquely Northern Irish stories – stories with humour and bite – in a brand befitting tongue-in-cheek way across TV, cinema and online channels. The campaign is a testament to the on-going commitment to strengthen HARP’s position as one of Northern Ireland’s leading lagers.


Jeanette Levis, Brand Manager for HARP, said: “‘Pure Here’ is an iconic campaign for HARP, and sees the brand celebrate its place in Northern Ireland culture in a bold way, championing the people and locations that make this small but brilliant place what it is. With ‘Pure Here’ we want to bring to life the unique humour and spirit of Northern Ireland, and at the same time pay tribute to HARP’s much-loved status here.


“We know HARP is a hit with beer fans in NI and we hope the ad will be too.”


The ongoing ‘Pure Here’ campaign will see HARP continuing to work with local talent and consumers to define and champion the best of Northern Ireland.


To view the new ad, click here:

To find out more about HARP and ‘Pure Here’ visit

Interview with Mr Derek McKnight, Executive Chef, Royal Caribbean

On this day of the US Presidential Election and a very cold one indeed, I thought I would bring a little bit of the Caribbean, some heat and dreams and a chat with one of Irelands finest chefs, Mr Derek McKnight.

Derek has been the Executive Chef for Royal Caribbean holiday company since 2008, and this year took up the mantle of food and beverage director on board Oasis of the Seas. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to chat with him yesterday for half an hour. Derek hails from Cork and is 49 years old, married (in 2000) with three children aged 11, 13 and 16. He was telling me that his love for the culinary art was more of necessity which became a passion. His parents both worked and it was a case of “make your own dinner” when he was younger. Fortunately for him and all of us he turned this into his life. His formal training started in Rockwell Hotel School in Tipperary and as they say he broke the mould as his year was the last year (1987) to be taught!! He finished his qualification at Cork Institute of Technology (1988).

Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class ships, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and the new Harmony of the Seas, greeted each other at sea for the first and possibly only time on 06.11.16. In a meeting of unprecedented proportions, the three record-breaking sisters came together to celebrate the U.S. arrival of Harmony of the Seas on the eve of the ship’s debut in her new permanent homeport of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


His first placement was at the Hotel Europe in Killarney where he spent a summer season under the tutelage of German workers, with whom he followed back to Germany in October to spend the winter season. He then came back for the summer season, before another winter stint. 1989 saw Derek join the Cunard Queen Elizabeth II in Tokyo where I suppose he got his “feet wet” at sea. He then became the Executive Chef at The Westin in The Hotel Grand Cayman. As many chefs want to be their own boss at some stage in their career, this happened to Derek in 2003. He and his newly married wife, opened up The Black Sheep, a bar and restaurant in West Cork. The Celtic Tiger was roaring but had started to quieten and in 2007 he sold up. Then 2008 saw Derek join The Royal Caribbean as the Executive Chef of Freedom Of The Seas and the rest is history.


Derek is still very hands on. He is more of a “Roving Chef” on board helping out in whichever galley he is required in. He is responsible for the food for upto 8000 people (passengers and crew), for the hiring and firing of staff he is fully involved and was telling me that approximately 40% are from India and that 32 different nationalities work on board!! There are stringent health and safety checks of all the food and all dietary requirements are catered for.

Derek eagerly told me many amazing facts and figures about his new ship Oasis of the Seas. These include:

· Oasis of the Seas boasts an amazing 24 dining options throughout the ship that ensure there’s something great to eat day and night, 24/7.

· There are 20 separate galleys around the ship, plus onboard facilities ranging from a butcher shop to a fish prep room and a commissary kitchen – a Royal Caribbean first – which takes care of all the major prep work for all the galleys of the ship.

· Nearly 1,100 cooks, waiters, assistant waiters, bartenders, bar servers and cleaners in the food and beverage operations on board Oasis of the Seas, running venues that range from the spectacular three-level Opus dining room, which is divided into three independently operating 650- to 1,100-seat restaurants, to the most intimate venue, the 14-seat Chef’s Table

· For the health-conscious, not only has the entire Royal Caribbean fleet been transfat-free for three years, two outlets especially focus on healthy eating

· Oasis of the Seas is an architectural marvel – it spans 16 decks, encompasses 225,282 gross registered tons, carries 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and features 2,700 staterooms.

· There are 20 chefs, 222 cooks and 102 sanitation and cleaning culinary crew.

· All breads and pastries are made fresh onboard. The bakery has a machine that makes 4,000 rolls an hour.

· Consumption in an average week: 15,600 pounds of beef; 9,700 pounds of chicken; 18,000 pounds of potatoes; 8,000 gallons of ice cream; 10,200 bottles of beer; 60,000 eggs; 40 different varieties of fresh fruit; 80 kinds of fresh vegetables; 2,225 bottles of wine; 479,314 gallons of fresh water consumed daily; and 18,000 slices of pizza, wow!!!!


A sample of the different dining experiences are below:


01 Seafood Shack: A casual indoor/outdoor family restaurant on the Boardwalk;

seafood, over-sized desserts and a vast selection of ‘mocktails’

02 Boardwalk Bar: The main bar on the Boardwalk; offering fruit, salads and


03 Boardwalk Donut Shop: A classic haunt for casual snacks and delicious treats

04 Ice Cream Parlour: A variety of ice cream flavours and toppings take centre stage

against a backdrop of 1950s kitsch

05 Johnny Rockets: ‘50’s-style Diner with server-entertainers



06 150 Central Park: A trendy, upscale and intimate restaurant with a tasting menu with

customized wine pairings

07 Giovanni’s Table: An Italian trattoria with both indoor and alfresco seating featuring

Italian classics served family-style

08 Park Café: An indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups,

pastries and to-die-for fudge

09 Vintages: A wine bar with pre-dinner tapas and cheeses along with a robust

selection of fine wines

10 Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse with views of Central Park,

and premium cuts or quality meats



11 Solarium Bistro: A health-conscious dining option for lunch and healthful fare and

dancing under the stars in the evening

12 The Wipe Out Café: A casual self-service buffet with pizza, hamburgers,

sandwiches and fresh salads

13 Izumi Asian Cuisine: Featuring mouth-watering flavours and a sushi bar with hot-rock




14 Mondo Café: Open around the clock this café offers coffee, sandwiches and

pastries like those found in Italy, Spain and Cuba

15 Sorrento’s Pizzeria: Featuring New York style pizza, with both made-to-order pies

and by the slice

16 Café Promenade: Offering Seattle’s Best coffee, fruit shakes, pastries and

sandwiches all day

17 The Cupcake Cupboard: Featuring fresh-baked gourmet cupcakes as well as

parties and design classes




18 The Vitality Café: Offering healthy snacks, sandwiches, wraps, fruit and smoothies.


THE CLASSICS, Royal Caribbean hasn’t forgotten the classics of its fleet:

19 Opus Dining Room: The ship’s main restaurant features a three-tier venue with a

1920s Art Deco style; flexible My Time Dining and traditional assigned seating

20 Windjammer Marketplace: A casual buffet fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner

21 In-Stateroom Service: Order from the complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner

menus, or choose an original Johnny Rockets hamburger or Ghirardelli chocolate

cookies from the new Dine In Delights menu


I am absolutely starving just reading about all the different genres of food available!!! I asked Derek how often he works and how often he is at home and he said it was 15 weeks on and 8 weeks off- I could certainly do that!!! Downtime for Derek is back in Cork with his family, walking the dogs on the beach. He loves cooking a good seafood chowder, so I invited him up to Belfast to get fresh amazing seafood at St Georges Market and then to cook it up at my place!! Derek has been to Belfast many moons ago when he played rugby so I would be keen to get him and The Royal Caribbean up here!! He is currently reading the book, “The Battle” by Paul O’Connell and he loves watching any Police themed movies- Derek my favourite is The Untouchables!! Thank you Derek for your time and Caroline for arranging the chat.


Right Derek book me in!!!!!