Belfast Focus on Food Conference

Belfast Focus on Food Conference

On Tuesday 17th February I went along to St Georges Market, Belfast for an event that hoped to provide networking opportunities and encourage discussion on a wider scale to help promote Belfast as a “Food Tourism Destination”. Other than the fact St Georges is essentially a giant walk in fridge, it was a fairly fruitful day. The organisers had brought together some well respected speakers, including Xanthe Clay (A food writer for The Telegraph), James McIntosh (Northern Irishman who is ambassador for Aga Rangemasters and host of a Food TV Show in China), Fia Gulliksson (Food ambassador of Jamtland, Sweden and soon to host a TED talk on food tourism) and Joe Warwick (Curator of the cookbook “Where Chefs Eat“) as well as others, and for the most part, the presentations where engaging and informative. Fia did have a penchant for odd metaphors (we are all passionate potatoes…) but when a food ambassador from another land comes over to try and teach us a thing or too that they have implemented successfully in their own backyard, we should pay attention. The general feel of the event was that Northern Ireland has already established itself on the platform of world cuisine. It’s not that we have our own cuisine necessarily, although¬†fifteens were mooted by a guest speaker as something we should be particularly proud of. We have our own distinctive elements of course…fifteens, caramel squares and traybakes, potato bread, soda & wheaten…beyond that though i’m not sure the cuisine itself is what makes Northern Ireland an attractive place for a foodie to visit. It’s what makes up everything else in...
The Homeless Pod is Back – Social Welfare in Action

The Homeless Pod is Back – Social Welfare in Action

Whilst our glorious leaders at Stormont have spent the majority of the week (month…year…??) debating welfare reform in the millions and sometimes hundreds of millions, a small band of dedicated souls have been hard at work making a positive influence without the caterwauling of an army of civil servants, lobbyists, media types and other interested parties. The Common Law Ni group have refurbished the Homeless Pod and put it back in situ on Wednesday evening, right back in the forgotten corner of Jubilee Gardens that it was removed from just 16 days ago. In that time, lots has happened in the wee world of Northern Ireland, but in a small corner some talented civic-minded individuals reclaimed the Homeless Pod from Belfast City Council (Parks Department I believe…) repaired what needed repaired, reassured themselves that it both served a need and offered no risk to anybody, decorated it so that it not only provides a basic need but offers a bright focus point in a dreary urban space & provides an outreach information point for anyone in the vicinity. The ball is firmly in societies court now. As a result of the removal of the Homeless Pod, Emmet McDonough-Brown(alliance), Niall O’Donnghaile(sinn fein) & Julie-Ann Corr-Johnston(pup) have agreed to set up a council working group on homelessness (due to have their first meeting in the coming weeks). The question is, when they do meet, will the homeless pod still be on the streets of Belfast sheltering those who require it? As outlined by myself previously, I don’t necessarily blame any government body for homelessness or rough sleeping…but that changes when a...
I’m not gone…

I’m not gone…

This is an odd post for me, I’m normally quite content based rather than reflective but I wanted to put this out there for those of you who read my ramblings. I haven’t gone, I haven’t given up on blogging, I am just struggling for time. I had a grand plan for 2015, I took www.belfastbarman.com and began self hosting and putting in place plans for how to really expand this year, some really exciting things on the to-do list (at least in my eyes…) I want to feature more bars, more beers, really highlight the positive stories in this industry. I have some people already agreed to let me interview them which is superb, collaboration should be encouraged and getting to know people is the first step on the way to collaboration… I want to get some other voices contributing on the hospitality industry. There are plenty of things on my “want list” it is just down to a matter of time. I promise I will get back to ranting, raging, mocking and mirth…I will share more views on current affairs and focussing on the issues that matter to me…I will. I will also kick this years #blamemervyn Easter licensing campaign up a notch. I’d like to thank those of you who occasionally pop on this ol’ site of mine and have a read and ask that you stick with me whilst I try to get a better balance of time…or work out how to have 36 hours a day. Until then, overthrow the system and drink good beer....