Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Tarte Tatin

I have posted this picture of my sumptuous pudding at The French Rooms for a loyal reader, who inquired about whether I'd had dessert at The French Rooms.

Here it is in all its splendour.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

The French Rooms

I've been spending a few days at Portballintrae, County Antrim, on Ulster's north coast.

The weather has really been very good, mostly sunny in fact.

I explored Ramore Head and the headland at Portstewart, places I was unfamiliar with.

On Friday evening I dined at The French Rooms, a restaurant, café and artisan shop in Bushmills.

Bushmills, probably my favourite village in County Antrim, is a mere hop, skip and jump from Portballintrae.

It usually suits me to dine early, so I had reserved a table for six-thirty.


On arrival I was shown to a lovely little table, directly opposite the bar counter, which happened to have particularly comfortable leather chairs.


In fact I quipped to the waiter at the time that they were reminiscent of some ancient Bentley or Daimler.

The staff here are engaging and courteous.

Having perused the excellent menus, I opted for Spicy Prawn Pot on Spicy Leaves as a starter.


The trusty nose-bag was donned and I tucked in to a dainty little pot of prawns, dressed in a kind of seafood sauce.

I had motored in to the village, so simply had iced water with the meal.

After a short interval my main course arrived, viz. Cajun French Sea Bass, oven-baked and drizzled with a dill-infused rapeseed oil dressing.

I also had creamed purée potatoes and roast beetroot and cherry tomatoes with it.

The sea bass was delicate, moist, mild, boneless, and complemented my vegetables famously.


I seldom indulge in three courses; the fine list of puddings, however, seduced me, as it were.

Tarte Tatin, the traditional Gallic apple dessert, with toffee sauce and fresh whipped cream, proved to be irresistible.

The thinly-sliced apples almost literally melted in the Belmont mouth.


The layer of pastry underneath was barely discernible, though complemented it perfectly.

During the course of my dinner I chatted with the waiter, recounting tales of The Ugly Ducking in Corralejo, Canary Islands, which was so outstanding and popular that it had to turn away most passers-by.

Another restaurant across the street gained the extra business.

This was the case with The French Rooms last night, so it is advisable to book ahead for dinner.

I had the iPad and headphones with me, the plan being to settle self in the Bushmills Inn a few doors up, so I approached the counter to settle my bill.

To my utter astonishment the staff apprised me that my bill had been paid for by an American couple.

They had been seated at a table twenty or thirty feet away, though I never caught their eyes or even encountered them.

I still have no idea who they were or where they were staying.

This was an opportunity for another good turn, so I gave the staff a good tip instead.

I don't think I've enjoyed myself so much at a restaurant for years.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Heritage Apple Trees

THE APPLE TREES WE PLANTED AT BALLYQUINTIN ARE NOW ALMOST FIVE YEARS OLD. WE REVISITED THE SITE ON WEDNESDAY, 23RD MAY, 2018.

HERE IS THE ORIGINAL POST FROM 2013.

I spent today at Bar Hall, a property of the National Trust close to Ballyquintin Point, on the Ards Peninsula, County Down.

We all met at the old Mount Stewart estate schoolhouse, from where the trucks were loaded with spades, stakes, mulch sheeting and, of course apple saplings.


We have established a new orchard at the side of a sheltered field near the entrance to Ballyquintin Farm.

The little apple-tree saplings are not ordinary ones. They are heritage varieties, including Bloody Butcher, Lady's Finger of Offaly, Ballyvaughan, Ballyfatten, Ross Nonpareil, Widow's Friend, and Kemp.

Eighteen saplings were planted and they cost about £200.


Therefore, unsurprisingly, we devoted the day to planning the layout, planting at appropriate distances, ensuring that no same varieties were planted together; and stakes were hammered in at a 45-degree angle.

There was fresh manure in the field, which we put to good use.

The mulch sheets will protect the little trees from long grass and weeds, thereby fostering growth and providing them with the best chance of flourishing.

Published in November, 2013.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Princess Royal at Balmoral Show

The Princess Royal, President, this morning attended the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth's Annual General Meeting, Royal Ulster Agricultural Society Show-ground, Balmoral Park, Maze, Lisburn, and was received by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast (Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O'Boyle CBE).

Her Royal Highness this afternoon visited Royal Ulster Agricultural Society's Balmoral Show.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Belfast DL


APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY LIEUTENANT


Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE, Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast,  has been pleased to appoint:-

SELLAR, Very Rev Dr Francis Paul
Belfast

To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County Borough his Commission bearing date the 30th day of April 2018


Signed : Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE, Lord Lieutenant of the County Borough

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Mayoral Rolls-Royce

This stately Rolls-Royce Phantom VI was the official limousine in use by the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Belfast between 1968-78.

It was purchased by Belfast Corporation for the official use of the Lord Mayor.

The traditional navy blue colour is still on the bonnet, roof and boot, though elsewhere it has been re-painted.

The bonnet's considerable length is reminiscent of a concert grand piano.


Its original registration number was 1 WZ.

Of course the Council should have kept the car and continued to use it.

It could even have been converted to run on bio-fuel.


This car was the first Phanton VI off the production line: 1969 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI limousine. Coachwork by H J Mulliner, Park Ward. Registration number WVO 338G. Chassis number PRH4108. Engine number 4108. Sold for £36,700, including premium.


FOOTNOTES

The Rolls-Royce’ in-house coach-builder Park Ward Limited (later H J Mulliner, Park Ward) produced what was, in effect, the ‘standard’ seven-passenger limousine coachwork for the Phantom V.

This timeless design would survive until 1990, being built in near-identical Phantom VI form from 1968, when separate air conditioning for front and rear compartments was standardised alongside the Silver Shadow-specification 6,230cc V8 engine.

The usual upholstery for the front compartment was leather, which was also included in the list of alternatives for the rear along with West of England cloth.


As one would expect in a car of this class, a cocktail cabinet incorporated into the rear compartment’s cabinet-work was one of a host of options that also included electric windows.

Phantom development tended to lag behind that of the contemporary ’Shadow range, and it was not until 1978 that the model received the three-speed automatic transmission and 6.75-litre engine that had featured on the latter for many years.

By this time the opulent Phantom VI was being built to special order only, with prices ‘on application’.

The very first Phantom VI produced, chassis number ‘PRH 4108,’ was sold new to Belfast City Corporation for use by the Lord Mayor (as referenced in Martin Bennett’s book, ‘Rolls-Royce & Bentley: The Crewe Years’) and was mostly maintained by the Crewe factory until sold by the Corporation in 1978.

The car enjoyed three subsequent owners before passing into the vendor's’ hands in 1991, and comes with numerous invoices for this period issued by recognised Rolls-Royce specialists.

Since acquisition it has been maintained by the engineer owners and used regularly on R-REC events, most notably Her Majesty The Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations at Windsor Castle in 2002.

Restored in the early 1990s, the vehicle is reported as being to factory specification apart from the addition of an electric radiator cooling fan.


AUCTION NOTICES

This, four previous owner car, was acquired by the current vendors in 1991 when it was then comprehensively restored underneath and new rear springs fitted.

It has since been enjoyed at many club events.

In addition to regular servicing, the car has benefited from a new radiator, brake overhaul, three new tyres, rear fog lamps and an electric radiator fan together with new front and rear bumpers.

The car comes with all MOT certificates dating back to 1977 and numerous invoices from recognised Rolls-Royce specialists.

Handbook, jack and wheel brace are all included and the cocktail cabinet is complete with decanters and glasses.

First published in August, 2012.