Four Star Pizza Britney v Christina

Pizza company re-ignites 90’s debate that still rages on – Britney versus Christina

Back in 1999, The Matrix and Toy Story 2 were setting the box office alight, the Y2K bug had us all panicking, and the game changed forever for pizza lovers in Northern Ireland, as Four Star Pizza opened its first ever store on the Beersbridge Road in East Belfast, which this month is celebrating its 18th birthday.

To celebrate this, Four Star Pizza has stepped back in time to 1999 and is encouraging its customers to do the same, according to Four Star Pizza Director, Brian Clarke.
“This is a big month for Four Star Pizza as we celebrate 18 years in Northern Ireland, so we’re going to have some 1999-themed fun including asking our customers to send in photos of themselves from the 90s. We’re also giving away some fantastic prizes on our Facebook page and also with Q Radio as well as introducing an incredible new meal deal on the 29 May which will run for one week – *buy one pizza and get the other for 99p.
“As well as our original Northern Ireland store in East Belfast, four other Four Star Pizza stores are celebrating this month, with our Kennedy Way store in West Belfast turning Sweet 16, our Derry~Londonderry store turning 9, the Lisburn Road store in Belfast turning 15 and our store in Drumahoe celebrating its first birthday, so we are going big to celebrate,” said Brian.
In the year that JK Rowling released her book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Grand Designs aired its first ever episode and we were still saving our files on floppy disks, a big debate had the whole world talking and Four Star Pizza is asking that same question again in 2017 – Britney or Christina?

“Pop megastars Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera faced off big time in 1999 for the title of ultimate pop princess. Even now people still have an opinion on which one really is the best, and while some would say we’re foolish to reignite this debate, we’re not afraid to ask the big questions at Four Star Pizza!,” continued Brian.
Make your voice heard and visit Four Star Pizza’s Facebook page and vote for everyone’s ‘Genie in a Bottle’, Christina or if you want to ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’, then vote for Britney.
As well as voting, Four Star Pizza is asking everyone to rummage in their old shoe boxes and manila folders, dig out photos of themselves from the 1990s and post them online using #FourStarPizza1999 to ^win a pizza party for ten people or one of four runner up prizes of **dinner for two.
“Maybe you have a photo of you in some 90s fashion favourites like dungarees, or dressed like your favourite sports star or music act? Did you wear your hair like All Saints or the Spice Girls, copy the dance moves of Steps or were Blur and Oasis your fashion inspirations? Maybe you were still at school and have an embarrassing school portrait which you’d like to share or were you still a baby? Send in your snaps and you could win some fabulous prizes!” Brian concluded.
Send in your 90s themed snaps using, #FourStarPizza1999 when uploading your photos to social media and you could be a winner, winner, pizza dinner!
For further information on Four Star Pizza, visit<> or log on to Four Star Pizza on Facebook.
*Selected stores only – they include south, east, west and north Belfast stores. The Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, Bangor, Armagh and Newry stores. ^Prize will include six 14 inch pizzas, 6 sides, cookies and soft drinks. Delivery charges may apply. ** Prize includes one 14 inch pizzas, two sides, cookies and soft drinks. Delivery charges may apply.

The BFM loves them both!!!

The art of Indian Pickle – ‘Achar’

From the dawn of time mankind has been foraging for food on a daily basis. If excess food is found this would waste especially if meat and in the heat, as there were no fridges then. So began the quest to preserve and hence pickling started.

Pickling is the art of adding a liquid or some spices or salt to form a barrier around the foodstuff or to draw water from it. The reason for this is that micro organisms require oxygen and/or air and/or water to survive and this action of untreated foods cause spoiling and pickling therefore is a natural preservative.

Different pickling agents include oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, spices, Chillies and sugar-these would be the most common. Western cultures have been pickling things like onions, eggs, gherkins and cabbage (using vinegar) to name but a few. It’s good for gut bacteria.

The Portugese cracked pickling using chilli and salt back in the 1400’s with the Vindaloo and Indians, due to extreme heat, have mastered the technique of pickles or Achar using spices and oil.

On this theme I made two pickles using salt, chilli, my special achar masala and oil. The first was sweet corn and fish:

The other was my speciality, my chilli achar:

These Achars can be used with snacks, meals and even sandwiches!!

Search for NI’s greatest scones


Golden Cow has announced the launch of ‘Golden Cow Softer’ and to celebrate, Golden Cow has partnered with Belfast Cookery School to embark on a search to find the most delicious scones in Northern Ireland.

For almost 100 years, Golden Cow, Northern Ireland’s favourite butter, has provided real butter to homes across the region and has been at the heart of home cooking, helping create dishes for all occasions. The new product, Golden Cow Softer, is rich and creamy Golden Cow butter which has been softened with a touch of rapeseed oil so it spreads straight from the fridge. Golden Cow and Belfast Cookery School have joined forces in a bid to find the best scone recipe in Northern Ireland to recognise the central role that butter plays in creating our favourite dishes. 

(Pictured is Chef James Devine, Belfast Cookery School and Bronagh Clarke, Marketing Manager, Golden Cow) 

Golden Cow is calling for amateur bakers, aspirational cooks and food lovers to share their best recipe, whether it’s sweet or savoury, a new and unusual creation or a recipe that has been handed down through the generations. The only rule is that the scones are made with butter and can be enjoyed with lashings of new Golden Cow ‘Softer’ on top.

Bronagh Clarke, Marketing Manager, Golden Cow said, “This competition really celebrates the love that people in Northern Ireland have for cooking, no matter what their skill level. Butter plays a huge role in home cooking and baking and in creating those amazing moments when family and friends come together. We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with the experts at Belfast Cookery School to help us choose the very best of the best!”

Judges from Belfast Cookery School and Golden Cow will select three finalists who will visit the Belfast Cookery School to freshly bake their scones under the watchful eye of the judges as they battle it out to win the title of the best scone in Northern Ireland. 

At the launch of the competition, chef James Devine from Belfast Cookery School said, “Belfast Cookery School was born out of a love for great food with an aim to encourage everyone to really enjoy cooking and get together to eat. That is what this competition is all about – sharing your passion for cooking. We are really looking forward to judging all the entries, I know there are lots of delicious classic and creative scone recipes in homes around the region and we look forward to finding the best one.”

The lucky winner will receive; a £500 voucher for Belfast Cookery School, allowing them to develop their cooking skills in a fun and passionate environment; an overnight stay for two in the luxurious Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast; and a hamper filled with brand new ‘Golden Cow Softer’.

The two runners up will also receive a hamper of ‘Softer’ and a £100 voucher for Belfast Cookery School.

To enter, submit a copy of your own scone recipe, along with a photograph of your finished scones and a maximum of 200 words explaining why your scones are the best in Northern Ireland to by 16 June 2017 or by post to Golden Cow Softer Competition, Smarts Communicate, 157-159 High Street, Holywood, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, BT18 9HU.

For further information on the competition and for T’s & C’s please contact:

Belfast new Newbridge Silverware Store

Over the past few weeks I’ve been invited to visit the new Newbridge Silverware store in Belfast City Centre. I was so happy that I eventually got the chance to pop in and see it for myself!!

 My first impression was that it was very bright and light, very welcoming and spotlessly clean. This environment really showed off the silver ware in all its true glory….the two very attentive and warm assistants could not have been more helpful and were saying to me that the jewellry is doing very well. I thought that the store was absolutely fabulous and will do great!

As can be seen from above picture that one of the Brand Ambassadors is “Sue Ellen Ewing” from Dallas aka Linda Grey. Could not have chosen a more classy and high profile lady!! Also Naomi Campbell is a very high profile Ambassador too and the Jewellry looks great on her.

I was invited to their headquarters in Newbridge, County Kildare for lunch, followed by a tour of their museum by Michelle McTernan Management.The museum boasts iconic outfits from Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Audrey Hepburn, Joan Collins and Michael Jackson, to name but a few. Alas I was unable to attend but Michelle did get me a wee pressie-a lovely silver decorative star.

Michelle then invited me to the official opening by ‘Marilyn Monroe’. My wife deputised for me!!!

Marilyn recreated the iconic flying skirt subway scene from her 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch, in one of Belfast’s busiest shopping streets.

The glamourous 1950s star was in town to unveil an authentic Marilyn Monroe pucci dress and a number of her personal artifacts, that will be on display until the first week in June in the newly opened Arthur Street Store.

The ‘Queen of the Silver Screen’ is convincingly portrayed by one of the work’s most successful impersonators, Suzie Kennedy from the US, who recently starred in the Oscar-winning film The Theory of Everything and the movie Me and Marilyn, as well as fronting global TV advertising campaigns.

Guests at this exciting launch included TV and Radio personalities Denise Watson (UTV), Lynette Fay (Radio Ulster), Robin Elliott (Downtown Radio and NVTV) and former broadcaster Lynda Bryans.

All guests were treated to a generous goodie bag from Newbridge Silverware, 

as well as delicious refreshments from the newly opened healthy fresh food company, Freshii, in Donegall Square West.

The last invite that I couldn’t make (again deputised by my wife) was to a special short performance by Made in Liverpool – a Beatles tribute act so good, they are resident band at the world famous Cavern Club! 

They performed a Fab Four busking-style set to unveil authentic personal items connected to the world’s favourite band.
 June 1, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the seminal album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. To celebrate this landmark date in pop history, Newbridge Silverware were bringing to Belfast a signed guitar from Paul McCartney, a Gold Disc and a letter from John Lennon, from their Museum of Style in Kildare. The Beatles’ artefacts will be displayed in the window of the Belfast store until the end of June.

Again the food was by Freshii and my wife did receive a goodie bag!!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michelle and Newbridge Silverware and wish them every success.

Gin Afternoon Tea at The Galgorm

There is no better way to spend a glorious Friday afternoon than to have a heavenly Afternoon Tea in The Conservatory, overlooking the river at Galgorm Resort And Spa
I was invited along to sample The Gin Afternoon Tea- I had everything on offer except the arrival Gin cocktail and the Gin Champagne cocktail.

With my savouries I had a delicious cup of Little Green Bag tea, from India (which I had without milk) which worked very well. The savouries were Cucumber Gazpacho, Gin Cured Salmon Gravalx, Potted Duck with Gin and Lavender Jelly and a finger sandwich of Chicken with Martini Aioli. The mini servings were subtly flavoured with Gin and really went down a treat.

For sweets I started with Freshly Baked Scone with Raspberry Gin Jam with clotted cream, note the cream always goes on first-I tried it both ways haha!! Then I tucked into Lemon and Cucumber Cake laced with Hendricks, Vanilla Panacotta with a Sloe Gin Jelly, Brockmans Berry Macaroon, Oranged Infused Gin Tart and a walnut cake (and not the marshmallow). 
The scone was soft and moist and cream and jam were excellent. The cakes were moist and delicious and not too strong with gin. The panacotta was velvetty and probably my favourite, clever use of gin jelly. The macaroon was purple and hard and dry outside, soft and moist inside and the tart filling was again rich and creamy and pastry was firm and not stodgy. My tea choice here was Black Beauty from India and I had this with a drop of milk.

The venue was absolutely fitting for this Regal Gin Afternoon Tea, service was second to none and I managed to get a few minutes with Matthew the Bar Manager and Gin Expert to give me a run down on the different gins used- he really is a font of knowledge!!. The cutlery and crockery befitted the occasion!! I would like to thank Jane and Matthew for making my visit today a very memorable experience. The price tag of £34.94 is per person and includes two Gin cocktails and a selection of 11 teas (from India, China, Spain, South Africa and Egypt) supplied by Johnson Coffee!! 

Metamorphosis of Royal Thai to Mama Masala

I’m so excited and sad all at the same time!!! Sad because my favourite Thai restaurant in NI has close…worry not as takeaway still operational!! Very flag because one of my all time favourite Indian Italian Fusion restaurant is opening in Glengormley….Mama Masala.

The two owners have been very successful in Londonderry with their award winning Mama Masala overlooking the river. I have been and eaten Italian and Indian food there and must say it was exceedingly and extremely good!!

When the lads took over they had to and are basically rebuilding from top to bottom, right to left and back to front as the below pictures show. 

The grand opening is slated for June/July….will keep you all posted…..

30 Good Reasons to Visit Comber Farmers’ Market

There are more reasons to visit Comber Farmers’ Market than ever before, with the monthly award winning artisan market going from strength to strength.
 With the finest quality produce available to try and buy, those attending are spoilt for choice with a delicious variety of dairy, baked goods, meat and fish, plants and flowers, jams and chutneys, charcuterie, fruit and veg and much more.


This month the market has been running an online campaign highlighting 30 good reasons to attend the event including:

– Award winning fresh produce from Northern Ireland every month

– It is a great place to catch up with friends and meet new people

– Comber Farmers’ Market was recently awarded the Best NI Local Market

– Visitors are warmly welcomed by each and every trader who love to talk about and let customers sample their produce
June is a big month for the town as the Comber Earlies come into season, celebrated at the Comber Earlies Food Festival on 17th June. Along with Comber Farmers’ Market this fantastic event places the town firmly as ‘The Home of Great Taste’.

Held in St Marys Church car park of Comber Square the first Thursday of every month from 9am to 1.30pm, Comber Farmers’ Market is well worth a visit.


Car parking is available in nearby public car parks, at Parkway on Killinchy Street and the car park of 1st Comber Presbyterian on High Street.


Find out more about the popular monthly food event at or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Spring Continental Market 2017

The middle of spring, bright glorious weather, blue skies and the arrival of the 5 day Spring Continental Market in the grounds of City Hall!!

I took a wander down and met up with lots of trader friends from France, Holland, Germany and Jamaica to name but a few!!

Lots of room to have a beer, eat some gorgeous food and soak up the sun. Carl was doing a roaring trade at the Jamaican stand.

Plenty to see and do for young and old. There are a few Spanish stands, German sausage stalks, olives and pastries- all good healthy competition what!!

Get down and check it out….


I had the pleasure and honour of chatting to Andrew Smyth, the Great British Bake Off finalist yesterday. Andrew has joined the Northern Ireland Pork and Bacon Forum as a brand ambassador working on a creative campaign to celebrate NI Pork’s provenance and versatility. Andrew wanted to highlight the different recipes that can be cooked with pork from a simple quick sandwich, to more slowly cooked dishes like pulled pork. He would cook pork 2-3 times per week and likes the versatility of pork and uses different cuts such as fillet which is very good value and under used.
 Andrew hails from Holywood and he was telling me that his passion for cooking and baking was passed on to him from his parents and granny respectively. After graduating from Cambridge in 2013, Andrew moved to Derby to work as an Aerospace engineer with Rolls Royce, where he is currently. He was saying that he really enjoyed cooking at Uni, throwing full dinner parties or tapas or cakes and bakes for his lucky friends!! His lucky flat mates in Derby are his guinea pigs and happy recipients!!


As part of the activity Andrew visited Northern Ireland recently to film a collection of locally produced pork inspired videos providing some great recipe ideas in the kitchen.

Andrew became well known on the seventh series of The Great British Bake Off in 2016 and rose to fame for his innovative creations which combined his love of baking with engineering. His cookery and baking skills have now made him a household name. Andrew said that to get onto GBBO he had to pass five stages, held around the UK, then the series lasted ten weeks with the final three candidates baking it out in the last week.

 Commenting on the partnership Deirdre McIvor, Chief Executive of NI Pork and Bacon Forum said: “Northern Ireland Pork which carries the ‘Assured Origin’ logo guarantees that the cut, from pork chops to shoulder of pork, is wholly produced here in Northern Ireland to the highest possible standards. This means that customers can trust that item’s with this label have been produced in line with some of the highest standards in Europe.

 The pig farming industry makes a significant contribution to the agri-sector in Northern Ireland and sustains 400 farming families and 2,000 local jobs. We’re proud of that industry and we encourage customers to support and protect it by always looking for the label and choosing locally produced pork.”

 Andrew is an emerging local culinary talent and we are delighted that he has come on board with a range of tasty Pork based dishes bringing new energy to our campaign which has provenance and creativity at its heart.”

 Andrew was over recently and spent around four days shooting 12 videos as part of the new campaign. The campaign has been created in support of NI Pork and Bacon Forum’s ‘Assured Origin’ quality seal which is a guarantee to customers that pork is 100% Northern Ireland produced, governed by the highest animal welfare standards and quality production systems. It forms part of NI Pork’s larger effort to encourage retailers across Northern Ireland to stock NI Assured Origin pork product to ensure they offer customers the best locally produced products.

 Andrew said: “Northern Ireland pork is among the best and tastiest in the world – cue Andrew with his delicious, bespoke recipes for NI Pork. Pork is really versatile, is great value, incredibly tender if cooked correctly and oozes flavour. It can be enjoyed as a classic slow-cooked roast, in casseroles, as an accompaniment with fresh summer salads – the options are simply endless. Hopefully my recipes and videos will show people just how easy it is to cook and will offer some simple inspiration in the kitchen.”

 Deirdre continues: “We urge consumers to take inspiration from the recipes showcased in Andrew’s videos and look for the Quality Assured label in shops.”

 Go to the NIPork’s Facebook or Instagram page for more of Andrew’s recipes or to find out where you can buy Northern Ireland Pork ‘Assured Origin’ products.”

For all the latest news, top tips and NI Pork recipes visit NI Pork’s Facebook page

 Im really looking forward to trying some of the recipes….so should you!!


My ‘Daal Makhani’

Daal Makhani is a rich and delicious spiced brown lentil dish which is very popular in North Indian and especially Punjabi cuisine. 

I made mine using my Ikea pressure cooker. After dicing two small onions on my Mountain Salt chopping board and cooking in my oil and ghee tempered cumin, ginger and garlic, I added to my washed lentils. I had already added chopped tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala, salt and coriander. Then this was topped up with 2 litres of boiling water and 50g butter. Lid was placed and cooked for 1 hour.

The best way to eat this, as I did, was with chapattis and achar (pickle)….