A New Chapter For Parson’s Nose, Hillsborough

Dining Parsons Nose Hillsborough - Pikalily Food Blog

We were recently invited along to a media night at The Parson’s Nose in Hillsborough to celebrate a new chapter in this gastro-pub, following a recent £500,000 investment into the premises.  We’ve dined in The Parson’s Nose on a number of occasions (read about our lunch experience here), most recently over Christmas to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary.  As we arrived at the media night, we didn’t know what to expect in terms of renovations, but we really were blown away by the changes that had been made since our last visit.

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A Noble Dining Experience

Dining in Noble Holywood - Pikalily Food Blog

A few weeks back we were in Holywood for the afternoon, and while we hadn’t set out to grab food in the area, our trip had been longer than expected so our focus quickly turned to places to eat.  We don’t know Holywood that well and aren’t regular visitors to the area but we had heard good things about Noble and decided to make it our port of call for dinner.  As it was a Wednesday night we were unsure of whether or not we needed to book, and thankfully we were able to get a table without much trouble.

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9 Northern Ireland Restaurants in McKennas top 100 Restaurants for 2017

Tasting Menu at Deanes Eipic - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

John and Sally McKenna released their latest guide to the top 100 Restaurants in Ireland over the weekend with Northern Ireland having nine representatives on the list.  Unsurprisingly, Dublin is top of the charts with 29 restaurants on the list, while Cork has 18 restaurants listed.  Ireland’s newest Michelin restaurant, Heron and Grey in Dublin makes it on the list, although there is no room for Ireland’s only two-star restaurant, Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.  Other Michelin restaurants to fail to make the grade include Lady Helen Restaurant at Mount Juliet in Kilkenny, and The Cliff House Hotel in Waterford.

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Winter Wonderland at Blessingbourne Estate

Blessingbourne Estate - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

A few weeks back we spent the weekend in Blessingbourne Estate with our good friends Neil and Orla.  We made the journey to Fivemiletown in Tyrone on a cold and frosty Friday evening, and as we arrived in the village of Clougher just before Fivemiletown, we could see the pavements and roadside had a skiff of snow, so we knew it was going to be a chilly one.

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Amazing food in a wonderful setting at Bull and Ram in Ballynahinch

Bull Ram Duck Wings - Pikalily Food Blog

On Saturday night we made the short trip from Newcastle to Ballynahinch to try out the recently opened Bull and Ram restaurant.  Located beside the main roundabout as you travel through Ballynahinch, the Bull and Ram has been making all the right noises since opening its doors back in June, and it even impressed one of our favourite food critics, Jay Rayner, who shared a fantastic review on The Guardian (you can check it out here when you’re finished with this one).

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10 Things to see and do in Belfast this Christmas

Things to do in Belfast Christmas - Pikalily food travel blog

We were recently asked by the guys at Go Euro to give 3 things to do in Belfast over Christmas.  Along with a number of other local bloggers, we provided a list of 17 things to do in Belfast this Christmas (which you can read here).  We thought we’d share some of our favourite things to check out in Belfast this Christmas, so here’s our list of 10 things to see and do this Christmas in Belfast.

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Great Food at Coq & Bull Brasserie, Clandeboye Lodge

Coq and Bull at Clandeboye - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

Yesterday we shared with you our recent trip to the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel in Bangor, Co. Down (which you can read here), and today we’re back with a review of our dining experience at the Coq & Bull Brasserie at the hotel.  As we were staying in the hotel, we booked a table for 7.30pm to give us ample time to relax in the hotel before enjoying our evening meal.  As we went down to the brasserie we could see it was already getting busy, an had a vibrant atmosphere.  As this was our first time dining at Coq & Bull, we knew the busy dining room was a good sign.  We were greeted by a member of staff and took a seat in the lounge area to enjoy a drink before taking a seat for dinner.

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Gourmet Wine Evening at Slieve Donard Resort & Spa

Fine Dining Slieve Donard Hotel - Pikalily Food Blog

Last week we were invited along to the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in our home town of Newcastle for a lovely gourmet wine evening.  We’ve been pretty fortunate over the last 8 – 9 months to be invited along to a number of fine dining evenings thanks to the NI Year of Food & Drink, although we like to think it’s down to the fact that we’re great company 🙂

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A Celebration of all Things Fermanagh at Festival Lough Erne

Lough Erne Resort Review - Pikalily Food Travel Blog

On Friday night we were fortunate enough to get invited along to Festival Lough Erne, and a celebration of all things Erne County at the Lough Erne popup restaurant in the newly refurbished Enniskillen Castle.  Now in its second year, Festival Lough Erne showcases some of the wonderful local food producers in Fermanagh, and this year to celebrate the year of food and drink here in Northern Ireland, the festival marked the end of the inaugural Fermanagh Restaurant Week.

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Getting Ready For Fermanagh Restaurant Week & Festival Lough Erne

Festival Lough Erne - Pikalily Blog

This weekend sees the first ever Fermanagh Restaurant Week kick off.  The event runs from this Friday (16th September) until next Sunday (25th September) and coincides with Festival Lough Erne which takes place in the grounds of the newly redeveloped Enniskillen Castle on 24th and 25th September.

Launching Festival Lough Erne, the Chairperson of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Mary Garrity, said:

“County Fermanagh is renowned for its Lakelands, and has a growing reputation for top-class restaurants for producing a wide range of high quality foods.  Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is delighted to bring these elements together in a festival atmosphere to showcase the hospitality and activity sectors which are so important to the local economy.  Festival Lough Erne is the highlight of the 2016 Year of Food and Drink for us here in Fermanagh, and I hope it will become firmly established in our calendar of events attracting visitors to Enniskillen and the wider region in the years to come”.

Festival Lough Erne - Pikalily Food Blog

Councillor Garrity went on to add that Festival Lough Erne comes at the end of Fermanagh Restaurant Week, another event which showcases all that is best about local produce and celebrates local culinary talent.

“Agrifood businesses are very important to our economy, and the chefs who use local produce, and the producers who supply the freshest of meats, vegetables and dairy produce are mutually supportive, helping to create and sustain the local economy,” she added.

The highlights of Restaurant Week will include three signature events taking place at Enniskillen Castle from Wednesday 21st – Friday 23rd September, where three of Fermanagh’s best known eateries: Westville Hotel, Saddlers Restaurant & Lough Erne Resort, turn the venue into a pop-up restaurant for the night, serving the very best of their cuisine in the grounds of this iconic visitor attraction overlooking Lough Erne.  We’re lucky enough to have grabbed two seats for the Lough Erne Resort pop-up on Friday 23rd and we can’t wait to see what chef Noel McMeel and his team have in store.

Diners will also get the chance to eat at Florence Court and Castle Coole, National Trust properties with menus by Tully Mill Restaurant, Florencecourt.  Other events include afternoon tea at Belleek Pottery or taking part in the black pudding recipe competition organised by O’Doherty’s Fine Meats during their Black Pudding Festival.  There will be seafood specials at Franco’s and a special taster menu in the Killyhevlin Lakeside Hotel.  There’s plenty going on to wet the appetite!

Fermanagh Restaurant Week - Pikalily Food Blog

Fermanagh Restaurant Week aims to highlight the wonderful local produce on offer in the area, combined with the amazing scenery of the Lakelands area, the historic monuments and the iconic Lough Erne, as well as the great range of eateries in the County.

This is the perfect event for food enthusiasts with cookery demonstrations, courses and competitions, wine tasting, craft beer events and themed menus such as a “Game of Thrones” speciality menu created by Cafe Merlot, there really is something for all tastes and budgets.  Dine on the tranquil waters of Lough Erne on board one of our water buses – the MV Kestrel, Lady of the Lake or take a bespoke tour in the Erne Water Taxi and discover the Lough Erne Food Trail.

There is no doubting that Fermanagh Restaurant Week and Festival Lough Erne will make Fermanagh the place to be over the coming week.  With the year of food and drink here in Northern Ireland now entering the home straight, this will be the biggest food event in the Erne County in 2016 and we’re looking forward to getting along and experiencing everything on offer.

For a full programme of events, please visit www.fermanaghrestaurantweek.com, and for more information on Festival Lough Erne visit www.festivallougherne.com.

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