I’ll admit I was late to the party when it came to Bia Rebel. A small ramen bar, 5 minutes from me on Belfast’s Ormeau Road. I was afraid it might be one of those places that opens to alot of hype but can’t sustain it. But this place is a little gem, and has had glowing reviews for food critics like Jay Rayner.
The place is tiny, but has become a local sensation. They’re best known large steaming bowls of noodles and vegetables, with different options for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans.
I didn’t have time to sit in, but seating is limited, so I ordered my food to go. Noodles bowls are the things people travel miles for, but I was food bullied by a friend who raved about their Bimimbap. She wasn’t wrong! This is a Korean dish of slow cooked pork rice and vegetables. It was amazing, the pork was well flavoured sweet and tender. The vegetables and herbs were fresh and delicious and offset the gentle heat of the dish. Honestly, it took take away Asian food to a whole other level.
Unfortunately for my waistband, I think I’m going to become a regular.
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.
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.
A Belfast childhood can best be described as character building. One of the plus points was that every now and again you would get to have a smokey!
A smokey was normally served in a tall glass and consisted of pineapple lemonade, vanilla ice cream and a chocolate flake.
I’ve never been able to track down who started serving these in Belfast, although there was a well known Italian ice cream shop in Castle Street where I got mine. Give this a go, it’s really scrumptious. If anyone does know the origin of smokies please let me know.
4 Large scoops of vanilla ice cream
1 Litre Pineapple lemonade
4 chocolate flakes
Get 4 tall glasses, and a scoop of ice cream to each glass and top up with the pineapple lemonade and stick the chocolate flake into the ice cream when floats to the top.
I live in Belfast, which is home to St George’s market (one of the best indoor market in the UK and Ireland). Chances are there is somewhere close to you that offers all sorts of food inspiration or tasty street food , so get out there and explore.