Monday, 31 March 2014

Ice Cream?


Ice cream, as spelt erroneously on the door, in Edwardian script, at my local café.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Gran Familia Restaurant


The Gran Familia Chinese restaurant is on Avenida Antonio Dominguez, in close proximity to the little café Epoca I've been frequenting for breakfast.

I arrived at Gran Familia at about seven thirty last night. Although I'd have preferred to be seated indoors, the only available table was outside.

It was really quite busy and the staff were working hard to serve, take orders and attend to diners generally.

Shortly after I sat down, an older couple arrived and took the table a few feet away. They were chain smokers and unfortunately (for me) the smoke wafted in my direction.

The lady ate and held her cigarette in the other hand, in fact!

My starter of spring rolls was good: tasty, crispy outside, and a moist filling.

I usually have the standard Chinese fare of chicken or prawns in sweet & sour sauce, Peking sauce, or even Szechuan sauce though, on this occasion I was slightly more adventurous.


I ordered crispy duck in mango sauce, with egg fried rice.

When it arrived, the duck was neatly sliced in bite-size pieces on a platter.

The rice, of course, arrived separately.

This helping was large; too big for me, indeed. It was easily enough for two, I should think.

The meat was very lean and tender; the sauce, mild and subtle with the mango slices.

The duck cost €14.75.

I was annoyed that I couldn't finish the meal. I must have eaten about two thirds of it.

They did ask me if I wished to take it away, though.

The staff brought me a complimentary glass of Irish Cream liqueur before I settled the bill, about €24.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

BST

The clocks go forward one hour in the Canary Islands tonight, in line with British Summer Time, presumably.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Indian Palace Restaurant


I felt like an Indian meal last night and the Indian Palace, at Avenida Noelia Afonso, happened to be within five minutes' walk of my accommodation.

It was about seven thirty and I'd already had the customary restorative, viz. the Tanqueray.

The Indian Palace is not suitable for those who are unable to climb a flight of stairs, because this establishment is about twenty feet above street level.

There was only one other person in the restaurant when I darkened their door, a girl who was preoccupied on her mobile phone.

I chose a table and was brought their menu. Incidentally, all the tables have a bottle of red wine, which is taken away when patrons are seated; a minor idiosyncrasy perhaps.

Initially I ordered a fizzy orange, though quickly changed my mind when I noticed that they had Lassi, so I opted for the mango lassi.

Thereafter the predictable chutneys and chapati arrived, followed closely by my lassi, which I did enjoy.

It was slightly akin to a yoghurt drink, I imagine.

As usual, I had onion bhajis as a starter. Although I scoffed them down swiftly enough - I was hungry - they lacked flavour or spiciness; and that's coming from somebody who generally prefers their Asian cuisine on the mild side.

They looked rather lonely, devoid of a garnish, too.

If there's one dish I am well acquainted with, it has to be Chicken Korma and pilau rice.

This came with the peschwari naan bread that I'd ordered.

The Indian Palace's naan was thin and crispy; so thin, in fact, that it's a wonder they managed to squeeze any sultanas in!

I wonder if it had been kept heated in the oven for too long. I prefer my naan hot and moist, twice as thick as this one, filled more generously with dried fruit and almond or whatever.


And the Korma? Well, the chicken pieces and the rice were good enough.

The sauce, however, which is so fundamental, was bland. Before all you aficionados and connoisseurs of Indian cuisine insist that korma sauce is bland, this one was blander still.

Even Tesco's standard korma has more depth of flavour than the Indian Palace, alas.

It was all perfectly acceptable, though not my greatest Indian feast.

The bill was about €20.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Vegas Style

Is it a tourist Mecca in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Well, no, it's now the base for the popular Hard Rock Café in Tenerife.

There was a queue when I passed by last night at about eight-thirty.

Most of the burgers cost just under €15.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Mamma Rosa

I forgot to bring the iPad with me last night so, I'm afraid, no photographs at all of my meal at the long-established Mamma Rosa restaurant.

Mamma Rosa is located at Avenida Santiago Puig, in central Playa de Las Americas.

It's actually set off the street itself, at the side almost.

I used to dine here with my dear parents. The service and food were both of a very good standard.

I'm glad to apprise you that little has changed, in that sense. I was greeted like an old friend, which is always flattering.

I was shown to a small circular table, fitted with linen tablecloth and napkin.

I suppose Mamma Rosa is essentially Italian in character, though it's eclectic and caters for most tastes.

Another trick the head waiter had was to ask me, at the outset, whether I'd like an aperitif, suggesting Dubonnet, Martini Bianco of Campari.

I succumbed and had a Martini, which was served in a tumbler with ice, cherries, lemon and orange slices.

For my first course I had the smoked salmon with a mustard sauce, chives, tomato, and toast.

I'd already been brought a warm bread roll with butter. I requested alioli and this was purveyed shortly.

I ordered one of their signature dishes, the fillet of beef Rossini, with fois gras, in a rich port wine sauce, with a medley of vegetables.

It was an impressive piece of meat, cooked medium-rare, I'd say; perhaps one and a half inches thick.

The Belmont Number One Nose-Bag was earning its keep all right, and my prowess as a hearty trencherman was affirmed (!).

I skipped dessert; requested the bill; and this came with a large shot of some sweet, chilled, sickly liqueur.

Having settled the €36, I bade Mamma farewell.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Caricaturist


I went for a stroll last night, towards one of the opulent shopping centres at sea-level.

Outside, the caricaturist whose work I've been admiring for many years, had set up his stall.

It was about eight o'clock. He brings everything with him: stools, easel, drawing chalk, lamp with battery, rubber etc.


It didn't take long for him to get his first customers, a young couple with their relatives (I presume).

This artist is an experienced and skilful proponent of his trade. 

I've observed his technique, which has remained unchanged for twenty years; the way he gets his subject to look at a point beyond him, by gesticulating with his fingers.

His fee is €12 for black and white; €15 for colour.

I wonder of he recognises me. He looks round occasionally to see who's about.

This fellow still has a good head of hair (alas, mine left me ages ago), though it's now cut shorter and grey.

Monday, 24 March 2014

La Fresquera


Last night I dined at La Fresquera, a restaurant in Avenida Antonio Dominguez.

A few hours earlier, I had a large (the pretty little waitress poured it in front of me) Tanqueray at the Café Epoca.

I'd sought a table at La Fresquera a few nights ago, though they were full; so, on this occasion, I reserved a table.

It was outside, at a strategic position where I could observe patrons arriving and departing.


The menu is traditional Catalan cuisine and quite extensive. I opted for a sort of ham and cheese croquettes.

There were about six of them and they reminded me of small Scotch eggs.

Having asked for a glass of Rioja, I had the crispy lamb (shoulder?), served with a vegetable casserole.


The skin was very dark and crispy; the meat tender, moist, and lean, though there were a number of little bones.

During this time, a couple from Scotland arrived and sat at a table beside me. I overheard them talking about our dear Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. 

Looking over and commenting, they invited me over for a chat.

Anyway, my bill came to about €36, which I deemed rather expensive, taking all things into consideration. 

Still, I did have an agreeable evening.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Menu del Dia

Click to enlarge
This morning I breakfasted on a generous slice of tortilla and a demi-pan.

The daily Special is posted on the pavement of Epoca, this amiable neighbourhood café in the resort.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Little Grey

Little Grey will be due it's annual service shortly. I've been receiving reminders from it's computer.

According to one Internet blog, Service A  costs £249 or thereabouts.

Mercedes dealerships presumably charge a standard fee for this. I suppose it amounts to an oil change and a pimp.

And, of course, it includes transport to one's home or office.

The mileage is under 6,000, so the computer obviously knows Little Grey's age (a year old).

Doubtless I'll be assured that warranty updates, and so on, are "activated".

Al's Breath Test

In a chapter of Back Fire entitled Cloisters Alan Clark tells us of his encounter with a red Hillman in central London.

It was January, 1981.

He inadvertently intercepted the Hillman, only to be flagged down by the occupants, who had put on their police caps.

They proceeded to breath-test Alan. The result was negative.

Later that evening, Al went down to the bar at Pratt's and none other than the Secretary of State for the Home Department (William Whitelaw) was holding a whisky and soda "dark as a piece of mahogany veneer".

Willie was splendid, indignant that the police should dare to detain Alan, "monstrous...where did it happen...on what grounds" etc.

Alan's final comment on the matter: "The Drinker's Union".

Splendid stuff. Sheer brilliance.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Tanqueray Time


It's a little overcast this afternoon, readers; hence the indulgent London gin at  Epoca.

As regular followers shall already know, I brought Back Fire with me. It has some wonderful anecdotes. The splendid Al Clark was a chap who lived life to the utmost and thoroughly relished every minute.

It is my intention to recount some of his exploits.

Would any readers enjoy this?

Café Epoca

This morning I arose from the heavenly slumber relatively early, at about seven thirty in fact.

I've been breakfasting at various places. They're keen on croissants here, which I'm partial too myself, though I do like the regular intake of pan integral, viz. wholemeal bread.

I am breakfasting at an agreeable little café bar called Epoca. It's at 19 Avenida Antonio Dominguez.

Today's offer is croissant mixta y café con leche, all for the frugal sum of €3.

The croissant contains tasty ham and cheese.

Moreover, and the clincher: they have quick wifi.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

BBC World

I have to admit that my gratitude towards the BBC's World service, specifically the television news, is indispensable.

This is one of the few English-speaking channels on my television; and one of the best.

Moreover, it seems to provide us with a genuinely global perspective of the world; quite un-parochial.

I've been following the terrible events surrounding Malaysian airlines flight 370 and the dreadful anguish being suffered by the relatives.

The Ukraine Crisis predominates, too.


I continue to obtain great delight from Alan Clark's Back Fire, the book I've brought with me.

Of course he had a fleet of vintage classic automobiles worth many hundreds of thousands of pounds; though his "Q-Car", a Volkswagon Beetle with a Porsche 356 engine shoehorned into it, was a brilliant feat.

This wolf in sheep's clothing was used for "the school run", apparently. 

Unbeknownst to most poseurs and boy racers, the little Beetle beat them all hands down.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Michelangelo

This evening I dined at Michelangelo's restaurant, about ten minutes' walk from my base.

The Belmont nose-bag was duly attached for a jolly good prawn cocktail; followed by Norwegian chicken, a sort of chicken breast stuffed with salmon in a mustard sauce and  duchesse potatoes.

My plate was very hot (!). Fear not, dear readers, the Belmont hands are akin to asbestos.


This was rinsed down with a glass of local plonk, viz. Rioja wine.

I think Michelangelo is underrated. I've been darkening their door for a few decades; service remains good; and overall standards are most acceptable.

The clientele is generally respectable and international. They're tardiness in bringing the bill, though, is exemplary.

Tenerife: I

Well, readers, you find me replenishing the old aged tan, as faithful sun-seekers must.

I'm enjoying a cafe condensado in a little establishment by the name of Lecci.

The sky is azure blue and it's an agreeable 19 or 20 degrees Celsius, in Euro-speak.

A word of warning: it costs a ridiculous amount of euros to use my hotel's wi-fi connection, though this little cafe does the business.

Ergo, the Belmont missives may not be as regular as you're accustomed to.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Ulster Peers' London Homes


Few hereditary peers whose ancestral seats are in Northern Ireland maintain London homes nowadays.

A hundred years ago, though, the position was different.

I have compiled a list of peers with Ulster connections and their London addresses in 1911 and, in a few cases, 1860:-

The Duke of Abercorn: pre-1869, Chesterfield House, South Audley Street; from 1869-1915, Hampden House, Green Street; 68 Mount Street, Park Lane, 1939.

The Marquess of Downshire: Downshire House, 24 Belgrave Square (1860), later the town residence of Lord Pirrie.

The Marquess of Donegall: 22 Grosvenor Square (1860).

The Marquess of Londonderry: Londonderry House, Park Lane.

The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava: 75 Cadogan Square.

The Earl of Roden: No address found other than Tollymore Park, Bryansford, co Down.

The Earl of Clanwilliam: 36 Draycott Place.

The Earl of Antrim: No address other than The Castle, Glenarm, Co Antrim.

The Earl Annesley: 25 Norfolk Street, Park Lane (1860).

The Earl of Enniskillen: No address other than Florence Court, Co Fermanagh.

The Earl of Erne: 21 Knightsbridge.

The Earl of Belmore: 56 Eaton Place (1860).

The Earl Castle Stewart: No Address other than Stuart Hall, Stewartstown, Co Tyrone.

The Earl of Caledon: No Address other than the Castle, Caledon, Co Tyrone; Derg Lodge, Co Tyrone; Tyttenhanger, St Albans, Hertfordshire.

The Earl of Gosford: 22 Mansfield Street.

The Earl of Kilmorey: 5 Aldford Street, Park Lane.

The Earl of Ranfurly: 33 Lennox Gardens.

The Viscount Charlemont: No London address.

The Viscount Massereene and Ferrard: No London address.

The Viscount Bangor: No London Address.

The Viscount Brookeborough: Nil

The Viscount Craigavon: Nil

The Lord de Ros: 22 Wellington Court, Knightsbridge.

The Lord O'Neill: Nil

The Lord Dunleath: Nil

The Lord Rathcavan: Nil

The Lord Glentoran: Nil.

First published April, 2009.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Parisian Delectation

The trusty two-wheeler got an airing today. The snail was on the thorn; the lark on the wing.

I cycled into town, my first port of call being Ross's auction-house, where I had a little look here and there.


Thence I darkened the grand porte-cochere of Belfast City Hall where, inside the porch, stands the poignant white marble of Frederick Richard, Earl of Belfast, with his grieving mother, Harriet Anne, Marchioness of Donegall.

This marble was originally in the family's mortuary chapel in the grounds of Belfast Castle.

Thereafter I parked the two-wheeler outside Marks & Spencer at Donegall Place, dismounted, and made for the food-hall in the basement.

Fodder procured today included chicken Kiev, smoked haddock en croute, fruit pastilles, and some fresh fruit.


On the way home, via High Street, I was tempted to alight at Pâtisserie Mimi, where many exquisitely crafted pastries, sweets, breads, and confections tantalised the gastronomic taste-buds.


I had a great chat with the lovely Tracy, who served me the Taïnori Chocolate, Raspberry Financier, Pistacchio Truffle.
If I might draw your attention to the disposable sanitary glove being worn. Local bakeries in the Province might like to pay particular atttention to this, especially when handling cash transactions. 


This is a pâte sucrée base topped with raspberry and 64% taïnori dark chocolate mousse, raspberry financier, pistachio truffles, chocolate glacage and fresh raspberries.

It was placed in a carton and I took it next door, to the National Grand Café, where I scoffed it down with a cup of coffee.

Needless to say, this treat was rich and luxurious, enough to share really.

Now Timothy Belmont is home, the noble posterior recovering from the well-padded saddle.

Visitor Numbers

I had a look at the blog's statistics this morning and it seems to me that, after six and a half years, Lord Belmont is well established and getting 1,000 visitors per day.

Since 2007, there have been one million, four hundred and forty-six thousand visitors.

The individual country stats vary a lot, depending on the time of day.

The USA figures are gradually increasing, however, it would be fair to say.

At any given moment in time (like now), the figures could read thus:-

318 Hits  63.60%    United Kingdom   
59 Hits    11.80%    Ireland   
43 Hits    8.60%    United States   
20 Hits    4.00%    Netherlands   
16 Hits    3.20%    Canada   
13 Hits    2.60%    Australia   
9 Hits    1.80%    France                  
4 Hits    0.80%    New Zealand   
4 Hits    0.80%    Italy   
2 Hits    0.40%    Russian Federation
2 Hits    0.40%    Brazil   
2 Hits    0.40%    Spain   
2 Hits    0.40%    Slovakia       
1 Hit    0.20%    Germany   
1 Hit    0.20%    Switzerland
1 Hit    0.20%    Vietnam   
1 Hit    0.20%    South Africa   
1 Hit    0.20%    Kenya   
1 Hit    0.20%    Nigeria

Monday, 10 March 2014

37 Days Locations

Whilst viewing the BBC's excellent drama, 37 Days, I was almost certain that I recognized Ballywalter Park, County Down.

Having read the Ballywalter Park blog, I now know that a number of outdoor scenes were filmed here.

Incidentally, Brownlow House, in County Armagh, former seat of the Lords Lurgan, was also used as a location for 37 Days.

The girls' boarding department at Methodist College, Belfast, was also used as a setting for the Foreign Office.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Imperial Might

 

I've been watching a gripping documentary drama mini-series on the BBC called 37 Days.

I recorded the final episode last night and will view it this evening, after the Top Gear Special.

It covered the weeks leading up to the 1st World War, from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on the 28th June, 1914, to the United Kingdom declaring war on Germany on the 4th August, 1914.

The portrayals of the Rt Hon Sir Edward Grey Bt MP (later 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon KG PC) as the Foreign Secretary, and His Imperial Majesty WILHELM II as the Kaiser, were particularly notable.

Last night I treated myself to the legendary (!) Belmont Hawaiian Burger, a bespoke patty which weighed over half a pound (250g if you prefer).

Later I visited the cinema to see 300: Rise Of An Empire.

I enjoyed its predecessor, 300, though I found this sequel rather disappointing.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Botanic Visit

Upper Crescent

This morning I paid a brief visit to Upper Crescent and Lower Crescent, the main prupose being to see the state of what has been, perhaps, the city of Belfast's grandest terrace.

Lower Crescent

A number of the buildings are in fair condition; though, as one can see, many are in an awful state.

13-15 Upper Crescent

I have singled out numbers 13-15, at the end of Upper Crescent. This block is in a deplorable state.

Let us merely hope that the owner of this property is proud of themselves.

5 Lower Crescent

I was quite astonished to see a For Sale sign on Number Five, Lower Crescent, beside The Fly bar, which states that there is planning consent for demolition.

They cannot be serious, can they? Institutional vandalism?

New DL

APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY LIEUTENANT

Mr David Lindsay, Lord-Lieutenant of County Down, has been pleased to appoint:

Mrs Catherine Anne Haughian, Warrenpoint, County Down,

To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County her Commission bearing the date of the 4th March, 2014. 

Lord Lieutenant of the County

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Gastropub Lasagne


I was in a rush today so I grabbed Marks & Spencer's Gastropub Rich Steak Lasagne from the freezer, threw some sliced tomatoes on top, and had it with lettuce, tomato, balsamic vinegar, and coleslaw.

My verdict? Not bad. The lasagne was far too runny, in consistency.

Despite "garlic puree" mentioned on the list of ingredients, I could not discern any garlic.

I believe that, could I be bothered (no!), I could make a far finer lasagne myself.

I added the tomatoes to the top of the lasagne, by the way.

Who, on earth, do they find to test these recipes? Commonest demoninator, perhaps?

Moreover, M&S still haven't done anything about stocking my size at their Belfast (Donegall Place) store.

I shall have to find my size elsewhere, which is regrettable.

Pie Update

I was viewing the headlines in the BBC news channel last night, when the familiar sound of NJC's car became apparent.

I'd contacted him earlier, asking if he's like some of my seafood pie for the family.

What gratifies me on particular is that it shan't be wasted, because I'd made far too much and knew I couldn't finish it within several days; lest I stuffed myself with fish pie every day.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Seafood Pie

A Seafood Pie was made today at Belmont GHQ, consisting of smoked cod loin, prawns, hard-boiled eggs, mashed potatoes; a sauce comprising onion, flour, mustard, cream, and milk.

It was good, except there's far too much remaining. 

I shan't feel like it tomorrow, and I'm reluctant to re-freeze it.

C'est la vie.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Neill's Hill

Ballyhackamore was like the rush-hour on a Friday evening last night.

My swimming pal, NCS, picked me up from Belmont GHQ and we motored the short distance to this thriving area of east Belfast.

We hadn't reserved any restaurant table in advance, because this was not pre-planned; though we've been attempting to dine at Graze for ages. It's interminably filled to the rafters every weekend, judging by the "bums-on-seats".

Nevertheless, I ventured in to this buzzing little establishment and enquired if they had a table.

It transpired that, predictably, Graze was full; moreover, they had a waiting-list for three weeks on Saturdays, according to the waiter.

Undaunted, we crossed the Newtownards Road Upper and darkened the threshold of Il Parata.

It was heaving, too. No joy there.

Onwards, then, to an old favourite, viz. Acapulco, where the amicable staff greeted us, though advised that they, too, were fully booked.

It was about eight o'clock.

Our fourth attempt was Neill's Hill, close to the corner of Sandown road. In its former existence, this was the celebrated Alden's restaurant.

Indeed, they had a table. It's probably the largest restaurant in "the village".

When we entered, I immediately recognized an old colonel in his distinctive chalk-stripe, who also happens to be a "DL".

So we finally sat down and attached the nose-bags at about eight-twenty.

Neill's Hill was busy, too, by the way.

We ordered the mixed breads with various dips as a starter. This was good enough, though I still have a preference for good old butter with my bread, even with the dips ~ a personal preference, it must be said.

We both had the sea bass with little potatoes, crab-meat and mange tout. As a side order, we chose button mushrooms.

NCS was not keen on this course at all. He asked a waitress about what transpired to be the crab-meat and, I admit, I laughed and couldn't exactly identify it myself.

I found it perfectly acceptable, though perhaps not exceptionally flavoursome.

For pudding I selected the Pear & Almond Pannacotta with hot Pear Fritters. NC had the Cinnamon on Scented White Chocolate brûlée .

We liked our desserts.

Neill's Hill is a different restaurant altogether from the elegant, stylish and modern Alden's which preceded it.

It takes its name, incidentally, from the old railway station which used to be at Sandown Road.

The senior staff, however, remain the same. I recognized the former owner of Alden's, and the head waiter.

The bill came to about £60, including two Tanquerays.