Easter In ‘Ards

Our family visit to Northern Ireland for Easter weekend started the way every visit to NI should – with an Ulster Fry. Morning, Noon or Night you just can’t beat the soda and potato breads, bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, black and white pudding. With a little improvisation due to an Easter Saturday power cut (at least we weren’t the only ones in the street plus it’s a great way to see all the neighbours at the same time to say we “we’re home” – you can’t come home for a quiet weekend in Ireland!) it’s a meal which the whole family enjoys and allows us to fall into the NI way of life ‘til we are full to bursting.

Easter Sunday and there’s no question as to what’s for lunch. Roast leg of lamb from the nearby farm shop McKees www.mckeesproduce .com (if you’re on a self catering holiday in NI they deliver to most places in Co Down free of charge) with locally grown vegetables, followed by a generous helping of chocolate gathered from various Easter Egg Hunts in the neighbourhood. A long walk round the bird reserve to let dinner go down and then it’s back home for a bread, crackers, pate and cheese supper. The bakery and dairy products in NI are second to none. When in Co Down you must visit and try Knotts family bakery www.knottsbakery.co.uk and  Clandeboye Estate www.clandeboye.co.uk yoghurts,  Fivemiletown www.fivemiletowncheese.com cheeses. You wont regret it!

Easter Monday and its obligatory to visit The Yard Coffee shop and Gallery in Holywood www.coffeeyard.com  Our eldest son is really into his art at the moment and The Yard is an absolute gem of a place. The family run coffee shop and gallery prides itself on using NI produce and stocks the shop and gallery with established and up and coming NI artists. It is a haven of indulgence for foodies and art lovers. Mid morning pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup (ok that’s not so Irish but hey) freshly ground coffee and a couple of prints purchased from the gallery for the Cookery School and it’s off to the shores of Belfast loch for a play with the kids and a blast of salty Irish Sea air.

In order to keep both boys interests equally balanced our next stop is Ulster Flying Club to watch the small aeroplanes and helicopters take off and land over Strangford Loch. It really is a beautiful part of the world. Never far from food and drink we had some of the expertly blended Belfast Blend Suki tea www.suki-tea.com and a scone. Well, it would be rude not to and the boys would get withdrawal symptoms if we didn’t visit somewhere which stocked Mauds ice cream www.mauds.co.uk so just to top off a weekend of food indulgence we treat ourselves to a couple of scoops of Poor Bear – a moreish mixture of honeycomb and vanilla.

So now it’s back home on the ferry and back to school next week for the boys. Maybe I will stop off at Galloway Smokehouse www.gallowaysmokehouse.co.uk for one final Easter weekend treat…