Sometimes I have come onto this blog after a few too many lemonades and written about a pretty memorable meal.
Maybe a meal where I bonded with a new friend.
Maybe a meal where I was celebrating something important.
Maybe a meal where Mr P wore a shirt.
A cause for celebration in itself.
I have drunk my lemonades, and logged into wordpress, and written these blogposts because food really is THAT important to me.
I dumped a very respectable lawyer boyfriend who bought me presents from Agent Provocateur because, well, he didn’t like vegetables.
I nearly cried once on holiday when I ended up in a touristy restaurant eating tough steak and drinking red wine that tasted of vinegar.
Mr P may not buy Agent Provocateur but he certainly knows that every date he ever takes me on must involve food, and good food at that.
Because food really is THAT important to me.
And because food is so important to me, and because I love shopping for food, and eating out and having options, I absolutely adore living in East Belfast.
We have several good butcher’s shops in the area, Warwick’s at the Arches being my personal favourite. We have an excellent fruit and vegetable shop up in Ballyhackamore, the first to have Dungannon strawberries when the season comes. On Bloomfield Avenue, just before you get to the fancypants clothes shops, we have a scoop shop for all your rice, pasta and washing powder needs. We have SD Bells for tea and coffee. For eating out we have Il Pirata, and Ace, and Bennetts, and Mandarin City, and Bistro Este, and that is only talking about the places I find good, there are many more options beside.
I love it here.
But, in recent times, east Belfast has seen more than its fair share of trouble over the flag issue.
I’m not going to give any kind of opinion on the flag issue, I’ll leave that to political bloggers and the boys on the hill.
I will say that all the disruption is causing these local businesses I know and love so very, very much quite a bit of bother.
To put it mildly.
And well, the whole business is getting me down.
Because I really do love these businesses so very, very much.
I love shopping and eating with them.
I love that they are on my doorstep.
I am proud to say I am from East Belfast.
So instead of sitting in my armchair at home and complaining about the whole situation, I decided to do something about it.
No, I didn’t lead a revolution.
I don’t have nearly enough beard for that.
No, I didn’t get Belfast City Council to reduce rates for the business.
I don#t have nearly enough of a grasp on finances to do that.
I went and had lunch.
In fact, a whole group of us did.
And we did what we could to show these businesses that we care, we met for lunch in Bistro Este.
You know the one, right?
The little bistro run by David and Sarah?
Its bring your own?
Its right beside the Alliance Party offices?
Right beside the offices that have had at least one police landrover parked outside for what must nearly be a month now?
Right beside the street where there have been a LOT of unmarked silver cars this last few weeks?
The very one.
To be honest, we couldn’t have chosen a better spot for a lunchtime gathering.
I opted for a simple curried parsnip soup, and what arrived had been pimped up with a beautiful aubergine pickle and some naan bread, so delicious that I can’t promise that I won’t be trying to recreate it in the little pink kitchen as soon as I can.
The food was good and the service was friendly and the company was great, but this was a meal about showing our support for our local businesses.
Showing them that in a few months when all had (hopefully) calmed down, we still want them to be there.
Showing them that East Belfast wants restaurants, and shops, and other businesses.
Which i think made today’s lunch a pretty memorable meal.
And if you are reading this and remembering that you really don’t want a pickled aubergine in your soup, there is a wee cafe at the Holywood Arches.
If you are reading this and just want a ham & cheese toastie, there is Espresso East on the Newtownards Road.
If you are reading this and want a comfy sofa and free wifi, there is the Oasis cafe on Castlereagh Street.
If you are reading this and just want a drink, there is Horatio Todd’s.
If you are reading this and are desperate for a gravy chip, there is Mr JDs on the Newtownards Road
If you are reading this and thinking of your January bank account, you can get a fry and a cup of tea at the Hot Pot Cafe a few doors up.
Basically if you are able to read this, and live in Belfast, particularly the east, get out there and support these businesses.
It might be a meal to remember.
* Bizarrely, I was part of a local BBC news piece about this whole thing. The interview is available about 49 minutes in here. Yes, I am the girl with That Laugh.