"Buy my book about the Roussillon on Amazon UK in paperback or eBook or black & white version, and Amazon USA: paperback or eBook or black & white. OR BUY IT DIRECT FROM ME (UK & EU only). Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap on the link above the cover (below)." Richard Mark James

14 November 2019

Irish Craft beer: Kinnegar Brewing, Donegal


Originally set up in a farmhouse in Rathmullan Co. Donegal, the Kinnegar (named after a nearby beach apparently) operation moved into a new 'state-of-the-art' brewery in Letterkenny in 2017. The 'core range' comprises six beers (plus an intriguingly wide variety of seasonal 'specials'): pictured above is the absolutely delicious Rustbucket Rye Ale (5.1 % abv), very fruity and tangy and rather different. 

07 November 2019

New York State, Finger Lakes: Seneca and Cayuga

The cool-climate Finger Lakes wine region, although summers can be very warm, is named after this series of eleven beautiful glacial lakes found in central-northern New York State, which dramatically mark the landscape like long deep cuts running north-south(ish) about 50 miles inland from the southern (US) side of Lake Ontario. It's about a four and a half hour drive from New York City and two and a half hours from Niagara Falls (extremely touristy but unmissable by the way). Seneca and Cayuga lakes are the longest of them, and Seneca the deepest, which is where the greatest concentration of vineyards are planted along and around their sloping edges as the corresponding microclimate is much less severe in winter there. Not surprisingly, there are two well-organised wine routes (in fact Cayuga Lake wine folk claim to have 'America's first wine trail') linking up wineries, accommodation, restaurants, events and attractions.

16 October 2019

Wine Education Service Belfast wine workshops, tastings and courses winter-spring 2020

You can now book these Wine Education Service NI wine workshops, tastings and courses online, scheduled to run from February to May 2020. All delivered with enthusiasm, insight and a sense of humour by wine tutor and blogger Richard Mark James, and held in Belfast city centre. Also available to buy as gift vouchers. Go to the WES Belfast web page for more details and online booking:
wine-education-service.co.uk/location/wine-tasting-belfast.

22 September 2019

Belgium and Netherlands: Bruges, Gent, Rotterdam, Haarlem; beer and eating...


Besides being one of the most awesome (and alas touristy) old cities in Europe, Bruges is home to three (according to belgium.beertourism.com) tasty breweries as well. The Bourgogne des Flandres brewery backs on to the Dijver river on the south side of the old centre. On the website, their beer is described as a 'red-brown ale' (the English translation obviously), although I remember it being fairly dark but not at all heavy - alcohol content is 5% - with a lovely tangy finish to the richer darker malty side. 

30 July 2019

Ballyhackamore Belfast BYO: Rajput and Good Fortune restaurants (with wine tips to match dishes).


Ballyhackamore in east Belfast - known locally as 'Bally-snack' thanks to no shortage of eateries and cafés along this busy stretch of Upper Newtownards Road - is home to at least two recommended restaurants, where you can bring your own wine. The Rajput has become something of an Indian food institution, and I've always found the quality to be very consistent and the service top notch. It has also become one of the dearer Indian restaurants in Belfast, although no more than some fancy places with arty pretensions where you don't get enough food for the money. Whereas, even if the prices have edged up a little at Rajput, you always get good portions of tasty and varied dishes.

24 May 2019

'Wines of the week'

This varied selection of 'wines of the week', to use the popular editorial-speak, is making an impromptu appearance here instead of the more customary 'wines of the moment', just for a change of scenery, along with a few random dishes that made a good match. Some of these wines were opened at two recommended BYO restaurants located in Ballyhackamore in groovy suburban east Belfast, known affectionately as 'Bally-snack-amore': the Rajput Indian and Good Fortune Chinese, which will both be featured on this blog shortly.


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