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Another excellent meal at Souls

I had the opportunity to dine at Souls with the owners, new friends and family to celebrate the birthday of the owners son. 

Once again excellent surroundings, fantastic service, delicious and well presented food and plenty of it. 

For starters I had the meat antipasti consisting of home made spiced bread, Parma ham, tapenade, olives and Abernethy butter.


We also ordered a mixed platter for the table of seek kebab, chicken tikka, monkfish, quail and salad. Again all spiced and cooked to perfection. Chef Sanjay really has the knack for proper fusion cuisine whilst keeping the trueness and authenticity of the Indian dishes.


For main course it had to be the  Signature dish of monkfish served with man, onion rings, garlic creamed butter and vegetables. The dish was very well laid out and presented and was perfect in every way. 


We all are so much that we didn’t have room for cake!!!!


The food and service is consistently great and this would be a firm favourite for Best Newcomer in the Irish Times Restaurant Awards 2017 so get voting!!!

Luxurious Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at The Manor House Country Hotel

My eight and four year old daughters, wife and I spent a most luxurious, but short stay at The Manor House Country Hotel on Saturday/Sunday past. We had previously attended a wedding there in October last year, but couldn’t stay over. So we decided to come and spend some quality time and have some rest and relaxation. 



We were lucky to get the last family room- a very spacious and comfy room. It had two large double beds, plenty of room for the four of us and my two girls loved the tv in the bath!!! There was another wedding going on so the place was buzzing.

There are beautiful statues and pottery from the local Belleek pottery factory on show as well as some beautiful and intricate internal decor and fine wood work and craftsmanship evident all around the hotel.


 


Once we had unpacked and booked ourselves dinner in The Cellar Door Restaurant, which is the bistro restaurant, we made our way to the other side of the hotel to the Spa complex. It has been modernised with electronic lockers, mosaic heated loungers, hot kiddies pool adjoining a cooler adult pool, indoor Jacuzzi, outdoor hot tub with great views, sauna and steam room. We spent a good hour just swimming, playing with the girls and generally winding down. There is also a fully functional gym and treatment rooms. Now we could have walked through the hotel to the spa in the provided robes but would have felt a bit odd walking through/past the wedding guests and reception!!!

 



We certainly had built up an appetite and after getting changed for dinner we made our way to the Cellar Door Bar & Restaurant and were shown to our table. We planned on having a drink in the Watergate Bar before dinner-this is a lovely intimate bar and oozes class, but alas the kids were too hungry!!

 

The menu choice for adults and kids was just right, with a good selection of dishes, the emphasis being on fish. For the girls we ordered a flatbread pizza with real chunks of ham and fish and chips. The two girls loved their dishes which were served with our starter of chowder and wheaten which my wife and I shared.

 



For main course my wife chose the pappardelle pasta and I had the grilled chicken. This was served on mash, with roasted vegetables and aubergine puree, along with a side of chunky chips and onion rings. The pasta was vegetarian and absolutely wonderful and served with garlic bread and the grilled chicken was cooked to perfection. The kids loved the chunky chips also. The taste of the roasted vegetables married well with the mash and the aubergine puree was very distinctive. We had no room for sweet so we went back to our room and had an early night in the most comfy hotel beds I’ve been in.

 

After a real good power shower, I went down to the spa to take some pics before the guests arrived and it looked so tranquil and inviting (pictures above) !! As we were leaving early it was time to pack up and make our way down to The Belleek Restaurant for our a la carte, table served breakfast. 

This is the sign of real class when one is table served a luscious breakfast. The girls had cereal and yoghurts, my wife had eggs Benedict, I had a small serving of bread, cheese and meat before a full Irish cooked breakfast. Note there were no beans or mushrooms served. My wife had loose leaf tea accompanied by a strainer and I had freshly brewed coffee, the girls had some hot chocolate. The Belleek Restaurant epitomises fine dining through and through and we would love to come back and have dinner there.
 


The Hotel is rated Four Star by Tourism N Ireland and I was puzzled why it was not 5 Star, but a chat with the GM John on Sunday explained all that. The food and hotel has won many awards such as Ulster Tatler Award in 2015, Irish Restaurant Award 2015, Two AA Rosettes For Culinary Excellence, Yes Chef Awards 2016, Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence and The AA Hotel Of The Year Northern Ireland 2016-17 to name but a few!!!!


 It is not difficult to see why they have won all these awards as from the moment we drove up the well kept, long driveway and through the well manicured golf course, to the quality and style of the decor, to the very high standards of service by all staff and the amazing food and facilities it is easy to see why.

 Also there are stunning views, a lovely garden and a marina as well as chalets that can be privately rented, this suits a wide range of clientele. There is also the Lady Of The Lake Cruiser which is owned by the hotel (more details on website). They have some fantastic deals on their web site, I would seriously consider checking them out and booking in. May I and my family thank John Dolan, John O’Neill and all the staff for their wonderful hospitality. We will definitely be back. 

 

Spices

I’ve sourced an awesome place to get spices online. It’s Freshly Spiced and they are based in Nottingham. They very kindly sent me out some freshly milled and vacuum packed spices. Coriander, Cumin and Chilli.


Then there was Garam masala, ginger, turmeric and a spice mix for scrambled eggs-I’m really looking forward to trying that one out. Ps spices should only be kept for 3-6 months once opened!!!!!

Awesome dip mix

I tried some fantastic dips at the Travel show today. An ingenious idea from Carrick Cottage Dips . 

Really simple concept-just add a teaspoon or two to 200g of yoghurt, creme fraiche or mayo, mix and chill for 1 hour. Order directly online as per link or picture. The flavours I got were garlic & coriander, Romeo chilli, curry and smokey BBQ- looking forward to trying them!!!

Forest Feast snacks

I received a wee box of assorted dried fruits from Forest Feast thank you.These ranged from 70-100g and the fruits were dates, apricots, plums, cherries, banana and goji berries.


Now it would be so easy to eat a pack of these all in one go, but they contain great quantities of sugar, are sticky and would be akin to eating midget gems/jelly babies. The way I recommend their use is in moderation e.g. at meal times or used in smoothies or porridge, which is what we would do. For the sake of market research I have tried them and they are lovely, sticky, sweet and moorish!!!!

Belfast Telegraph Travel Show

I’ve just been to the Belfast Telegraph Travel Show. Recently released from the I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! jungle in Australia, travel and property expert Martin Roberts opened the twenty-fifth Belfast Telegraph Holiday World Show.There’s plenty for all different types of holiday makers. Towards the back there are holiday homes and caravans.


There are also various non travel stalls like a racing car, massage stand, health related stalls and sweeties, a chocolate fountain and an ingenious way of making a whole range of dips using spices from Carriage Cottage dips.


As you can see there’s a real live eagle, drones and yours truly getting stabbed by a Game of Thrones actor!!!!


There were many regions of Ireland showcasing what they have to offer and it really makes one think of holidaying at home either in the cities or the waterways. I felt TourismNI should have been there as well-unless I missed them?!?!


Also on show was Dublin Airport and holidays and flights out of Dublin from the likes of Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar which will start later in the year especially to the USA.


A few of our big travel agents had some tantalising deals such as Knock Travel, Oasis and Clubworld . Themost exotic   destination I felt was Mexico!!


Also on show was Stena line and a couple of regions in Spain. The Spanish Tourist Board should have been there as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Portugal will be big destinations and the Portugese stall was excellent.


Cruising is getting bigger, better and more popular and this was very much in evidence. There were presentations from the big companies. If you need inspiration definitely make a trip down to The TitEx

Holiday World will be open from 1pm – 6pm on Friday 20 January and from 11am – 5:30pm on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 January. Admission is £5 for adults; £4 for Senior Citizens and £3 for Students. A special family ticket gives admission for two adults and up to four children for £10. 


Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is extending his unique sense of style to travel, designing a glamorous range of weddings for Beachcomber Tours and will be there from 12.30 on Saturday.