Just the name ‘Titanic’ conjures up images of luxury, wealth, grandeur, tragedy, horror and early death. So much!
Fortunately a trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland, for a taste of the Titanic Experience carries with it more positive emotions, not least are the gustatory experiences to be found there.
The trip started and ended with the ridiculous but practical way to travel – good old Easyjet. Bargain prices making these types of trips accessible to all but don’t bother with the in-flight refreshments – 5 star prices for bargain basement food/drink. I mean, would you pay £2 for a packet of crisps?? I won’t even mention the heated food!!
The Titanic Hotel is pretty wonderful; it is the refurbished Harland and Wolff offices where their White Star Line ships were created on paper. Outside, it is true to the purpose it was built for and looks just like the wharf side offices of a shipping line. Inside is something else. Totally themed to the Titanic, everything within the refurbishment tells the story of the Titanic, from inception to the actual launch and through to its untimely demise in the Atlantic Ocean, courtesy of a huge iceberg.
Drawing Room 2 is the main bar and restaurant (a la carte) which used to literally be the room where the designers produced the plans for some of the largest ships to be built during its heyday. The room is elegant and has a glass roof to allow natural light that helped the designers produce their intricate plans. Today the lovely, courteous staff produce wonderful cocktails, tea, coffee and meals throughout the day which are not overpriced. Beautiful, comfortable furnishings make it a great place to relax but the real beauty of it is to be seen at dusk when a wing of the new and wonderfully designed Titanic Museum is lit up and looks just like an iceberg about to crash into the large glass windows of Drawing Room 2.
We visited the incredible Museum, its architecture clearly designed to produce a large iceberg. Inside was also amazing. The contents of the museum also showed in great detail the birth through to the demise of the Titanic, with pictures, still and moving, everything in detail. The most poignant parts being the cameos of the people involved and the outcomes and effects on family. Very moving. There was a spiral, downhill cable car ride which showed film of how the huge rivets were made and put into the ship – such hard work that left a great many with very impaired hearing as they aged.
Then we made a visit to the Nomadic, the last surviving ship of the White Star Line, which worked as a tender out of Cherbourg transferring passengers to the Titanic as it was too big to get into the dock there. This was very interesting and had holograms that talked to you and gave a more personal side of what it was like to work on the ship.
Then we went the whole hog and this is where it touches on the sublime. We had a meal in the Wolff Grill. Oh my goodness, not just a brilliant choice of courses but such an artistic presentation – take a peak at the scallops starter …… no fancy name involved just a description.
‘Smoked Scallops, Langoustine, Cauliflower, Parsnip, Almonds’, bet you can’t identify the parsnip (just kidding!).
My grandson wanted to try the scallops but was worried he wouldn’t like them, so I ordered the Hake, which he would eat and said we could swap. He loved the scallops and I was jealous, although the Hake was really good too.
‘Hake, Seaweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Leek, Pea’. Tom was putting these images up on social media and whilst some comments clearly enjoyed the finer things in life, some asked if they could send us a food parcel!
We both settled for the ‘Guinea Fowl, Spinach, Mushroom, Leek, Shallots, Jus’, which was so tasty I wanted to pick the plate up and lick it clean!
We chose a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to accompany the meal; it was fruity and fresh and complimented the food perfectly.
We then had to choose a sweet – again, no fancy name, just descriptions.
My grandson chose ‘Apple, Sage Cream, Toffee, Vinegar, Blackberries’. He said it was delicious and wouldn’t share a taste with me. My choice was, ‘Cherries, Dark Chocolate, Parsnip Custard, Cream, Sponge’. The finished article looked like a flying saucer from outer space and tasted divine.
Our short trip to Belfast turned out to be a bit of a gourmet’s dream because for lunch one day we chose Bullitt, a Taylor and Clay Restaurant, and it also came up to 5 star standard. Shame I cannot seem to find one in our area – it would be repeat visits if there was.
Our trip home ended with Easyjet and the travel was problem free. I did wonder, when the cabin crew were doing the safety demonstration, how on earth someone with my girth (a bit large) could possibly get the life jacket on with the space the slim young things needed, I would probably knock my neighbours out if the need ever arose. Needless to say, we did not partake of the culinary delights on offer, just snoozed for the one hour flight home.