Sunnyside Supper Club?

A friend recently suggested that I start a supper club in Belfast.

I’ve been to a couple over the years and honestly a great time at each. It was cheaper than eating in a restaurant. I met really interesting people from different walks of life and got to eat some great food.

Let me know if you think it’s a good idea. Have you been to other supper clubs, and what you thought of them. What worked, what didn’t? What you liked and what I should avoid. Maybe you run your own supper club, and if so I’d welcome any insights you might have.

I’m hoping you’ll be my focus group. So let me know what you think, and what you might like to see if I take the plunge.

Thanks

Seaneen

Cheese and Wine -The perfect way to spend a cold wet Saturday

A great Friday night spent at Direct Wine Shipments “walking wine tour” sharing gorgeous wines with friends and probably spending much more than I intended.

Direct Wine Shipments, in Corporation Square in Belfast is an institution. For 65 years it has been bringing great wines from around the world to Northern Ireland. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the owners have their own wine Crua Celta from their vineyard in Spain. Their historic premises have been everything over the years from a grain store to a brothel, and are reportedly haunted.

I enjoy wine, but what I love even more is cheese. The Artisan Cheese Monger from Holywood brought some brilliant samples for pairing with wine. It turns out brie and the right Champagne are a marriage made in heaven.

I arrived home, a little tipsy and with a bag full of cheese. Saturday turned out to suck, a day full of house cleaning, laundry and sh*tty weather. However, the upside was being able to settle down with my purchases from the night before. Brunost cheese from Norway is amazingly delicious. It’s made from boiling the whey after cheese making. It’s like fudgey, caramely cheese, it sounds wrong but it’s fabulous. Go try some!

Lila, and the Piece of Cake Bakery, my food hero!

Lila and her family run my favourite Belfast bakery, Piece of Cake, now with a shop in the Europa Bus Centre in Belfast. They are also much loved regulars at St George’s Market in Belfast.

Due to unrest in their native Croatia in the 1980’s, Lila and the family relocated to Belfast. Once here they worked their socks off, getting up at the crack of dawn everyday to build a business and a home.

While she might be 80 years young, Lila’s work ethic and energy would put most people half her age to shame. On top of this, she is also a sweetheart.

This bakery creates amazing artisan breads, pastries and cakes. I have a secret fantasy about being locked in their shop overnight. Just two among my many favourites are their potato rostis, and the coconut meringue cheese cake, OMG they’re fabulous.

Some moronic pr*cks like to spout off about how immigrants don’t contribute to society. I would say they obviously haven’t met women like Lila or her family or see how hard they still work, and the local people they employ.

Coastal Food Foraging

I’m fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where you are never far from the sea. Despite this as a nation we don’t eat enough sea food. We definitely don’t take advantage of the absolute heaps of sea vegetables and edible coastal plants we have access to

On a mild but rainy day, the immensely knowledgeable David (former National Trust Ranger, with a passion for coastal flora and fauna), was kind enough to share a small portion of his encyclopedic knowledge with me and a small bunch of other food nerds.

To make things even better David’s partner Celia, an extremely talented and well known chef in her own right, treated us to a fabulous meal centered around foraged food.

Who knew that trendy foods like sea purslane can be collected for free!, and scurvy grass was used as far back as the Romans to give sailors a massive hit of vitamin C on long voyages, (it also tastes like wasabi).

Other top discoveries were pepper dulse, which tastes somewhere between an oyster and black truffle, OMG it tastes so good.

All sorts of terrestrial plants such as sea spinach, sea radish, wild peas and orach all make amazing salad vegetables, and sea vegetables like channel wrack, and sea spaghetti are super tasty when lightly steamed and are bursting full of iodine, and other trace elements that are really good for you.

Who would have thought of baking fish in sea weed. Celia treated us to hake wrapped in sugar kelp and it was properly delicious. She also made us a feast of breads seasoned with seaweeds, dulse butter, wild garlic pesto, and great salads.

Get out and get foraging, make sure you check what you are picking, and don’t be a d’ck and over pick plants that are scarce. Other than that, go forage!

Game Night at The Academy

Belfast is also home to two Universities. Ulster University has a campus right in the centre of the fashionable Cathedral Quarter. It also produces graduates from their hospitality and tourism degrees, who work in world class restaurants and resorts across the globe.

As part of student’s training, the University has their own restaurant (The Academy), which gives students experience of working in a fine dining establishment. The restaurant produces some of the best food I’ve eaten and is priced reasonably to cover running costs. Student are also trained to deliver Michelin star service.

The night I visited was a theme night based around game. The set menu included wood pigeon and venison with a quirky blackberry and lavender sorbet served in between as a palette cleanser. It took every ounce of reserve I had not to lick the plates.As part of student’s training, the University has their own restaurant (The Academy), which gives students experience of working in a fine dining establishment.

The restaurant produces some of the best food I’ve eaten and is priced reasonably to cover running costs. Student are also trained to deliver Michelin star service.

If you live in a city that has a hospitably/catering or culinary arts school, check out if they offer similar training facilities. You’ll eat extremely well for a reasonable price and provide students with a chance to gain experience with paying customers