Food Review:il Gusto Ristorante

As the autumn nights are closing in, the temperatures are dropping and the clocks are going back my food choices change. Out go the salads and light meals instead I start to crave comfort food. Big steaming pots of casseroles, stews and my favourite pasta.

So when invited along to check out the newest Italian restaurant on the Lisburn road, I was hoping for authentic Italian cooking which would leave you feeling full and with a smile on your face.

Il Gusto did not disappoint the restaurant is small but cosy. Has a modern feel and very well trained staff. I had a mouth watering dinner starting with some delicious meatballs, I had a comforting salmon dish for main and my favourite chocolate fudge cake for desert. I was feed like a queen and enjoyed every morsel.Food is comforting, portion sizes are perfect and the menu is vaste with lots of fresh local ingredients and homemade treats so lots for the picky eaters out there. I also found the prices to be reasonable for Belfast. Check out the menu below.

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Overall it’s another great addition to the Lisburn road and I am sure I will be back over the threshold very soon.

Emer D xx

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Something different on the Newcastle shore: Synergy

Newcastle I associate with family holidays it used to be a favourite of ours for many years as a kid. I loved the ice cream arcades and pools. More recently it’s become an oasis to escape the rat race of working life in the spas and coffee shops but now I have found somewhat of a gem on the shore front which will keep me amused for many an hour with that same childish wonderment.

Synergy is a charming shop on the shoreline of Newcastle which    is staffed by friendly knowledgable locals who are only to happy to help. It is stocked with everything from artisan jams, local paintings, sculptures, jewellery and some cutting edge fashion.Three of my favourites are pictured below.

On the night that I visited the wind was howling at the door but the warmth basking from the open door welcomed me in. I was also lucky to have timed it perfectly for a fashion show by stylist and designer Lewis Robert Cameron. The looks were edgy urban and broody. I loved it. What do you think.

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Overall I would recommend you pop in to Synergy and see what you can find. Especially now coming up to Christmas I’m sure you could find something unique for your friends and family.

It’s International Gin and Tonic Day, so why not try the newest kid on the block?

As today is International Gin and Tonic Day;according to some online dictionaries (and just for reference to all my readers who like a little tipple National Happy Hour Day is the 12th November.) I thought I would tell you all about the new gin I encountered last week at the Ox Cave Belfast.

The Boatyard Distillers Double Gin was tasted and admired by various press and media in it’s raw form and with excellent hand-crafted cocktails on a warm October night under atmospheric candle light in Belfast.The cocktails were enjoyed and perfectly paired with cheese, crackers, tappenade from the Ox Cave and the assorted guests listened to Joe’s lilty Fermanagh accent tell us enthusiastically about his new baby; Boatyard Double Gin.

Working with local ingredients and with a bit of family know how this gin is the result of years of distilling knowledge (Joe has worked in the industry for over 15years) and local knowledge from  Fermanagh man  Mc Girr. Joe let us into a few secrets on the ingredients last week, did you know they forage sweet-gale  from the bogs of Fermanagh,  as well as sourcing the familiar juniper and botanicals (which he has also been experimenting with.). This gin is smooth and refreshing and for someone who is normally a vodka drinker I found it was easily the “tonic”. (I was also excited to hear that the second phase of the distillery will be focusing on  potato Vodka!!!)

The Boatyard is the first working distillery in Enniskillen since 1887 and I for one would love to go in for a tour. Joe encouraged us to pop in if ever in the vicinity. But don’t all rush at once as the distillery which is accessible by boat and foot will have it’s own visitor centre early next year firmly planting their feet in the landscape of the Fermanagh tourist trail. As Joe put it ““The beauty of Fermanagh, aligned to the craftsmanship of our distillery – well it would be a shame to keep that hidden from the public!”

I’m sure this brand and this distillery will become a jewel in Fermanagh and I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold for the company but for now I say raise a G&T to a new thriving local industry and a new distillery which is sure to put NI on the map and the gin doesn’t taste half bad if I say so myself.
Emer D xx
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Time to bite the Bullit and tell you all about my week…

Sorry I’m only getting to sit down at my keyboard now guys but if you have been following my social media channels you would realise it has been one hectic but amazing week.Where do I start? I have discovered new art pieces and new fashion designs in Newcastle, drank some amazing gin cocktails and got a ticket to one of the hottest VIP parties in town. In fact I’m feeling  very Carrie Bradshaw as I type.

Let’s start with the big party shall we. So on Friday night I was lucky enough to be invited to Bullit Hotel Belfast. This new venue is from the Beannchor Group; the people behind the award-winning Merchant Hotel, Little Wing Pizzeria, National Grand Café and The Dirty Onion. Throughout the year we had been feed little snippets of information but the full scheme was kept very closely guarded. In fact for a long time I thought one of the bars was the main entrance. I was in awe of this new spot, I was left open mouthed as I tried to guide my way through the gathered guests; all giving off that trendy young city vibe.  You enter through a large courtyard reminiscent of the Dirty Onion but with its own original magnificently light barrel sculpture, here you are serenaded by some of the best DJ’s  that can be found in the UK and no doubt world-wide.  On Friday night they where blasting out tunes to create a fabulous funky vibe perfect for sipping a cocktail or two.

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Photo Credit: Press Eye.

I was fashionably late (or maybe a little later than I’d originally planned, according to some ) so I missed the room tours but I was informed by actor Chris Patrick Simpson (currently starring in the Fall) that they are something else. I may just have to check myself in for the night to check them out. Side note: I was gutted to find out on Friday night their had been some surprises in store. See the pic below. I think those twins may have made me scream!!

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However in regards to the accommodation, I was informed by the very knowledgeable assistant manager who stopped me in the new restaurant Taylor and Clay that they come in three options with double rooms ranging from compact to spacious.  All rooms, no matter what size, offered the same great features, including comfy king-size beds, refreshing rain showers, super-fast Wi-Fi, smart TVs and a daily breakfast bag filled with OJ, a granola pot and a piece of fruit to kick-start your day. She was amazing and I’m sure she will be an asset to the team but I was glad she finally took a breathe. Full of information so told me about every amenity available in the hotel as we bathed in the glow of the bespoke Asador Grill and took in the sights and sounds of the kitchen.

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 Pictures by Kelvin Boyes, Press Eye.

My two favorite little places in the hotel had to be the open plan Espresso Bar with it’s Kees van der Westen coffee machine the only one in Ireland. Which for a caffeine-fiend like me was heaven. And I quite liked the feel of the intimate Baltic ski-themed bar, I could see myself having a few of their signature gin cocktails on a Saturday night. Both places where prefect for my favorite hobby;  people-watching. Throughout the space they had an amazingly fast wi-fi connection so I could snap and post away to my hearts content.  Overall I think this hotel is a new gem in the city and I will most likely be frequenting it on a daily basis.

Bullitt Belfast is a vibrant new concept that will provide a cool new space for people to work, play and stay in the heart of the city. Featuring 43 stylish bedrooms, three bars (including Baltic, NI’s first ski-themed bar), a courtyard garden, 58-seater restaurant ‘Taylor and Clay’, an Espresso bar and a versatile private events space. Rooms are available to book now at http://www.bullitthotel.com, starting from £120. Stay up to date with all of the Bullitt news on the Bullitt Facebook page, facebook.com/bullittbelfast or follow Bullitt Belfast on Twitter @BullittBelfast

OK I’ve run out of time to elaborate on my other events but don’t worry a few more fashion and Gin blogs to come this week (fingers crossed). I hope you have a had a fantastic weekend and if you pop into Bullit make sure to keep an eye out for me.

Emer D xx

 

 

 

Food Review: Amo Zizzi

I love Italy! So far I’ve been to Milan,Venice (twice), Sorrento, Como, Garda and there are so many more areas I want to explore. I love the architecture, the beautiful people, the arts and culture but most of all I LOVE the food and drink. The three P’s; Prosecco, Pasta and Pizza. So when I was told there was a new Italian popping up in Victoria Square I had to check it out.

Zizzi, is Belfast’s newest Italian restaurant situated in Victoria Square, the trendy restaurant serves up classic Italian dishes with a unique signature twist. Points to highlight: their Vegan cheese pizza was delicious and they stock “Skinny Prosecco”. I also loved all their little starters esp. the meatballs I would go back to eat a big plate of those on their own ( delicious, moreish and with a bit of a kick). They also make one of the strongest Cosmopolitan’s cocktails I have had in quite a while.

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I was in awe of this new restaurant it sort of popped up out of nowhere in a space which I thought was pretty much derelict.If your a Belfast Resident I’m going to start calling this area of Victoria Square the Italian quarter. If your not  from Belfast this new competitor has popped up in an area where their is a Prezzo and a Pizza Express.

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But Zizzi is different it’s a bright airy restaurant with views out over Belfast and an open kitchen which means the smells of pizza baking just waft through the air.It also has an eye-catching mural by Local artist, Hannah Coates. The eye catching wall mural features an abundance of flowers, leaves and berries, with bright colours and sharp black lines to offer a stark contrast to the rustic ambience of the restaurant. As an art lover I was impressed that a  large company would go out of there way to find something so local and yet so unique.

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On that night I got briefly speaking to Jo Fawcett (Zizzi’s marketing manager) who was brimming with pride in this new venture. She told me how they had been inspired by the seeds that had been sold on that very spot and how they wanted to give something to Belfast which was a little different. Ever element had been thought out. Plates which take the perfect Instagram pics, Menu’s with inspirational quotes and one of my favorite trends little rose gold accents here and their. Jo also mentioned their maybe a few more of these lovely restaurants popping up over time so watch this space.

I had a lovely evening in Zizzi and would happily bring my whole family back for a night out. Let me know if you check it out this week and what you thought.

 

Emer D xx

 

 

 

 

Something for the Weekend: Getting Canned with Franciscan Well Brewery

I don’t know about you but as the nights have been turning colder and darker. Ive been wanting to sit in front of the fire more, have my candles lit and watch some box sets. I’m not saying I’m completely giving up my social butterfly title but some nights it’s fun to stay in and chill. Not to hassle with the heels, taxis or squeeze in to that tiny little dress. And when I stay in I do like a tipple. I reach for a glass of white, a bottle of something sparkly or something chilled and satisfying this blog post relates to the latter.

Last week I had the pleasure of being introduced to the canned versions of the popular Ales and beers from the Franciscan Wells Brewery in Cork.Three of their best selling ales and beer’s have now conveniently been put into  a can perfect to take home and chill.

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Press Eye Belfast

On Wednesday at the Dark Horse in Belfast, Shane Long, founder of the Cork craft brewery, Franciscan Well, which includes Ireland’s number one* craft beer Rebel Red in its range, announced that the brewery was bringing its award winning craft beers into canned format in Northern Ireland from September.  Rebel RedFriar Weisseand Chieftain IPA will be available in a 330ml can for the first time in off licences across Northern Ireland, with selected bars also stocking the product.  It is the first time Franciscan Well, which is brewed in Cork, has canned any of its beers and also the first time that Chieftain IPA will be available for purchase in off licenses.  The decision to can Ireland’s favourite craft beer range is part of an international trend which has seen rising consumer demand for craft beer in a can. In the USA, 30 per cent of all craft beer sold in the off-trade is in can format.  In Ireland, craft beer sold in cans accounts for around 15 per cent of sales in the off-trade and that figure is expected to double over the next couple of years.  *AC Nielsen ROI On-Trade MAT to end August 2016.

As stated before I am not the biggest beer drinker however I have been experimenting and I seem to be leaning towards this new IPA trend. So I couldn’t help but sample the Chieftain Irish Pale Ale, The Rebel Red Ale and the Friar Weisse, a wheat beer with flavours of banana, clove and toffee. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by all three but  I was pulled more towards the Rebel Red as it seemed to sweet and malty.

So if you are having a night in this weekend, why don’t you pop out to the off license and try a can or two. In moderation of course I don’t want to be responsible for your hangover in the morning.

 

Emer D xx

 

 

Falling for Aw16 Fashion

This week has been another whirlwind of events but mostly I have been fashion focused. I have discovered some new local retailers on the Belmont Road East Belfast, have had an eye-opening sneak peek of LIDL NIs new range of AW style (in very affordable prices) and I attended a charity fashion show Launching Nor Lisa’s AW16 collection and that’s all before Belfast Fashion week kicks off (see Winter is Coming and West Coast Cooler Fashion Week is Back to light the way! For full details on that). Needless to say I am now well informed with a shopping list as long as my arm.

Right lets start in chronological order shall we. So first up I attended the LIDL NI AW16 launch in the sumptuous surroundings of  Saphyre on the Lisburn Road Belfast. If you’ve never been it’s an amazing renovated church filled with gorgeous interior design, think pretty delicate China’s, gorgeous ornate candlestick holders and delicious treats. I was joined by some of the most fabulous fashionistas in town and even got to meet the gorgeous @ellepearls whom I have been lusting after for months.

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Lidl NI never ceases to surprise me, I browsed the rails of gorgeous items; spotting woolen jumpers with sparkling fleeks,fluffy gillets,lingerie sets (which would look and feel amazing on any body type) and amazing new accessories including golden watches which look way more expensive than the £7.99 price tag.

The fashion show itself showcased looks for under £30 working its way through the sports luxe look to comfy winter chic.  These are my two favourite looks the beautiful cami is only £6.99 with matching underwear,the jumper dress is £8.99 (note the pocket detail), and the faux fur Gillette is £11.99. The full Esmara AW collection will be in store from October to December so keep an eye out with your shopping and be sure to snap up a stylish bargain.

Fashion show number two was more a fashion experience. I had been invited along to “fall in love with the Belmont Road.” The day began with a guided tour by the lovely Barra Best (who had also supplied the sunshine.) We toured around an eclectic mix of independent and specialist shops.We checked out OMMactive, Sillhouette Belfast,Fiddlesticks,Dundela Pharmacy and a gorgeous Action Cancer Boutique. It was an eye-opening experience finding out about gorgeous new brands and bargains which can only be found on the Belmont Road (TIP: Ask Dundlea Pharmacy about their Chanel perfumes; they have the full range and at some of the best prices I’ve seen in Belfast and go upstairs in Fiddlesticks check out the art prints and framing business.

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We rounded the day up with wine cheese and nibbles (a tasting platter) in Canteen.

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Followed by a fashion show by the suppliers. My three favourite looks from this show are below; a gorgeous padded jacket and Jean combo from Silhouette, a large leopard print blanket scarf from Fiddlesticks and how amazing is this OMMactive set perfect for any workout and it will definitely catch any passerbys eye.

Last but not least on Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the Nor Lisa Aw16 Charity showcase in aid of Addiction NI.It was a wonderful night hosted by the lovely Lady Portia and showcasing Lisa’s evolving styles. I love her long floor length gowns but her chokers and black faux fur tops also caught my eye this season. The charity was a,so showcased with a Q&A session, it was great to hear how Addiction NI are there for everyone and want to make more awareness of the charity and disease. My favourite looks from the night; the little red number below and I loved this fab metallic looks as well.It has certainly wet my appetite for the full showcase at Belfast Fashion Week.

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I’ve included more pics of all these events on my social media channels but I hope this has given you a taste of what AW16 has in store,let me know your favourite looks and if you pick up any bargains.

love

Emer D xx