Staycation at Roe Park Resort, Limavady

Is there anything better than a little staycation for a pre-Christmas rejuvenation?  Last weekend, Andy and I were invited to Roe Park Resort, Limavady for exactly that!  Of course, being married to a PGA Pro Golfer, I would never turn down the chance to stay in a hotel that was recently named 'Golf Resort of the Year' (by The Ireland Golf Tour Operators Association).  After all of the Black Friday shopping, heading to a spa hotel was exactly what I needed.  I was able to take a couple of hours away from Andy, which allowed me some downtime in the spa (and a break from listening to how I 'overshopped' and how I am 'a marketer's dream') and allowed Andy time to play Golf with Roe Park's PGA Pro, Michael McCrudden.

The drive to Roe Park from Belfast is gorgeous.  We stopped along the way to grab a hot drink  and some gluten free brownies (from Greggs of all places!) to enjoy along the way.   

Munching on Greggs gluten free chocolate brownies.

Munching on Greggs gluten free chocolate brownies.

We took the Glenshane Pass, which is like entering a completely different climate!  We left a sunny, but cold Belfast and within an hour, we were in a snowy winter wonderland!  

Glenshane Pass

Glenshane Pass

I had totally forgotten how close Limavady was to the North Coast, in fact it's merely a 20minute drive away.  So if you're looking for somewhere to visit while you spend the weekend in Roe Park, your options along the coastline are endless.  Visit the Giant's Causeway, take a drive along the Causeway Coastal Route, walk along the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge or watch the waves crash on the small Ballintoy Harbour.

Roe Park is situated in a stunning, natural setting of the Roe Valley Country Park.  It has an 18 hole parkland golf course, which takes advantage of the beautiful setting and Lough Foyle and Inishowen Peninsula offers the dramatic backdrop that everyone is looking for when they golf in Northern Ireland.  I was pleasantly surprised that the resort hotel has the feel of a traditional coutry house hotel and the enormous Christmas tree in the lobby only added to it!

The impressive Christmas tree in the lobby

The impressive Christmas tree in the lobby

Roe Park was buzzing when we arrived.  There was a festive wedding on and there were lots of happy people walking around the large lobby in sparkly dresses.  The lobby sides onto the bar, so it’s the perfect place to grab a drink, take it to a cosy seat to people watch.  

We checked in and went to our large room above the main entrance, which overlooked part of the golf course.  It had all the amenities you could possibly need, including a giant TV, big bed and tea and coffee facilities.  Our room also had two single beds, which would be great if you're looking for a family getaway!  We dropped our bags, kissed goodbye and I made my way to the spa and Andy to the golf course.

Welcoming treats from the Roe Park team

Welcoming treats from the Roe Park team

The Spa and Healthclub boasts a gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.  Unfortunately, these were closed during our visit as they were under maintenance, but that just gives us something to look forward to for our next visit!  It was SO cold and I couldn't have been happier that I had chose a hot stone massage as my complimentary treatment.  The spa is so lovely!  It smells beautiful and is complimented by the gorgeous soft, warm lighting.  I felt totally at ease as soon as I walked in.  

I met Michelle, my masseuse, and she showed me into the room.  Michelle was so friendly, so knowledgable and so nice.  I never talk during massages, but at the end of my massage, I realised that an hour had passed and I had chatted to Michelle the whole time!  The hot stone massage was everything I needed and more.  I have had a sore shoulder since August, which Michelle immediately picked up on and worked on, without hurting me.  She also offered some fantastic advice for things I could do to help when I was at home.  For someone who loves heat, a hot stone massage is your dream treatment, as it was mine.  

After my massage was over, Michelle showed me through to the relaxation room.  She showed me the facilities and brought me over a glass of water and also lemon sorbet in a cocktail glass.  I lay there in the darkened room, slowly eating my lemon sorbet while enjoying the therapeutic sound of the waterfall.  Knowing that Andy would have well and truly finished playing golf, I peeled myself off the bed and made my way to the lobby to meet him.

While I had been in the spa, Andy met up with Roe Park’s PGA Pro, Michael, and because the weather was so bad, they opted to stay indoors and spent the afternoon practicing golf swings using Michael’s Flightscope.  This equipment allows you to take an in-depth look at your golf swing giving results on all impact factors, which is not only excellent for golf lessons, but also for club fittings (these are Andy's words, not mine - I don't have a clue about golf).

Andy said that Michael had a first class pro shop with top brands and boasts top facilities.  His coaching studio was loaded with technology, including a V1 video coaching system and the Flightscope launch monitor which they used.  Thy explored the 18 bay (10 indoor and 8 outdoor) driving range and the high spec short game facility.

Andy was really impressed and said that when the weather was better he would love to take ‘a few of the boys’ up to play.  Of course, he was picturing a lad’s weekend, but I agreed with him and said a couple’s retreat would be fab – the guys could play golf while the girls enjoyed a spa day.

When we met up, we popped bottle of champagne and enjoyed a bit of people watching before deciding to grab a warm drink and a snack.  So we headed to The Coach House to do just that.  We ordered Calypso coffees and a sharing platter of nachos - my favourite!  

There are two evening dining options in Roe Park - The Coach House Brasserie and Green's Restaurant.  We were booked in The Coach House, which is the more casual of the two restaurants - it feels a little bit like an old ski lodge and I loved the oldy-worldy lighting around the bar.  We began our meal by reviewing the impressive wine menu and settled for a bottle of Chianti.  We were married in the Chianti region in Italy and the wine is a great way to take our taste buds on a trip down memory lane.  That weekend we had been married for six months - so our wine choice definitely seemed fitting! 

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I really appreciate a restaurant that has a gluten free menu because it removes any stress from choosing what to order!  Roe Park had a great gluten free menu.  I chose the chicken liver parfait, with gluten free toast and chutney to start…what a treat!  The parfait was light and rich, the chutney was sweet and the toast was lovely and perfectly crisp.  Everything you could wish for in a starter!  For main, I ordered a sirloin steak, with whiskey & pepper cream sauce and garlic potatoes.  The chef cooked my steak to perfection – rare (sorry vegans!) and added sautéed onions, as I couldn’t have tobacco onions.  

Andy opted to ignore the gluten free menu and order food from the standard menu, which of course meant that we couldn't share (insert eye roll emoji).  He chose the breaded mushrooms to start, followed by the 'Mexicana' burger.  The burger looked incredible and like something an American would describe as a 'Sloppy Joe'.  

I rarely order three courses, but when I saw that they had a gluten free chocolate fondant, all bets were off and knowing it’s Andy’s favourite dessert, we agreed to share.  I regretted sharing because it was SO good, but my leather skirt was tight enough and I don’t think the zip could have coped with anymore pressure from my stomach!  With that, we rolled back to our room to finish the champagne for a little nightcap!

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Breakfast the next morning was fab!  I'm not that much of a breakfast fan in hotels, because options are limited if you're gluten free.  However, not in Roe Park!  The lovely hostess brought me over an assortment of gluten free cereals to choose from  and I picked Rule of Crumb's gluten free cornflakes.  She also asked if I would like the kitchen to prepare a gluten free breakfast for me - a full fry including gluten free sausages and gluten free toast!  It was a no brainer! 

With full bellies and happy hearts, we checked out of Roe Park and made our journey back to Belfast. 

We are very much looking forward to returning to Roe Park in the New Year!  To book your stay visit https://www.roeparkresort.com

Fx

I would like to send a HUGE thank you to Roe Park Resort, who invited us to stay and sample their new gluten free menu!  The staff were all wonderful and a complete credit to the resort.  I look forward to seeing you all again soon! x

Gluten Free Take Aways in Belfast

If there’s one thing I hate to hear from people following a gluten free diet it's, “I can't eat that!”.  If I want something to eat that I had before I was gluten free, I will research it until I can find a gluten free version, or I will make it myself!  One thing that you can never ‘make yourself’ and that I get asked about a lot is good take away food.  I’m sorry, but sometimes a quinoa salad just won’t cut it and you need a hit of something dirty and carbilicious.  Gluten free people of Belfast, I am here to help you!  I have tasted so many gluten free delights in Belfast and I am going to share my favourite take aways with you!  

Macau (Ormeau Road, Belfast) - Chinese food

Macau Restaurant is the holy grail of gluten free Chinese food.  It is not your typical Chinese – the food is very authentic and their specialty, in my opinion, is the beautifully fresh seafood dishes.   In particular, the salt and chilli king prawns, the monkfish & picked veg hotpot and the slow cooked cod.  The owner, Sue-Lynn, is incredible.  All you have to do is ask if a dish can be made GF and she will make sure it is done for you!  If you are eating in the restaurant, I would recommend booking ahead – Macau is always busy!

Available as a BYO restaurant, or as a takeaway (collection only).

http://www.macaubelfast.com

Slow Cooked Cod

Slow Cooked Cod

ATTACK

ATTACK

Mandarin City (Ballyhackamore, Belfast) - Chinese food

When I have my girlfriends over, we order a Mandarin City.  It brings me back to the days of being 16 and having a sleepover with your besties, because this Chinese serves typically ‘westernised’ Chinese food – it doesn’t taste like gluten free food, because it is bloody good and ticks all of the boxes for a dirty (and I mean that in the best possible way, like durrrty) takeaway night!  Their menu is very GF friendly because they mark on the menu everything that is gluten free, which makes it hassle free dining because you get an idea straight away which of the dishes you can order.  I always order a GF black bean chicken (not on the menu as a GF option, but they will make you one!) and the crispy chicken in a spicy & garlic Peking sauce.  My friends are kind enough to order everything GF so I can share – we are never short of dishes, because there are so many options!

Available as a licensed restaurant, or as a takeaway (collection only)

http://www.mandarin-city.co.uk

A dreamy takeaway from Mandarin City

A dreamy takeaway from Mandarin City

John Dory’s (Ballygowan Road, Ballyhackamore, Dundonald, Carryduff and Lisburn) - Fish & Chips

On a winter’s evening there’s nothing quite like sitting down to fish and chips in front of the fire.  This was never an option for me until John Dory’s introduced a gluten free menu (thank you!).  With a fryer dedicated to gluten free food, it limits any worries about cross-contamination.  After receiving a delivery, I have phoned up so many times to double check that the food I ordered was definitely gluten free – that is how good the batter is!  The thing I love most is how dedicated the owner was to getting the gluten free batter ‘just right’.  It has been developed consistently since they released their GF menu and they have really done so well.  It is light, perfectly crisp and sticks to the food perfectly.  John Dory’s fish & chips was our Valentine’s meal of choice this year.  We picked up a takeaway and took it to the beach to eat in the freezing cold!  I would recommend the battered haddock, cod bites, chicken goujons, battered mushrooms (with a huge tub of garlic mayo, of course!) and their onion rings!  The best option for a cheap and cheerful meal!

Take away only - delivery available.

http://johndorys.co.uk

Boojum (Botanic Avenue, Victoria Square & Great Victoria Street) - Mexican Food

The first time I tried a Boojum, somebody got their herbs mixed up and put parsley in the guac instead of coriander.   I didn’t visit Boojum again for perhaps another year because, “Why would a Mexican restaurant make a bad guacamole?!” .  I feel like that is a year of my life that I have wasted and will never get back.  Everybody makes mistakes – I have bought flat leaf parsley instead of coriander before too, it happens.   The second time I was forced to order a Boojum, I realised that being stubborn isn’t a good trait and you should always give food another chance.  The only way I can describe it is as a little fiesta in your mouth!  I order a Burrito Bowl, which has all of the contents of a burrito, but without the wrap.  The lime and cilantro rice (the only GF rice option) adds a delightful freshness to the smoky depth of the meats and spiciness of the salsa.  This is my hangover option as a friendly Deliveroo cyclist brings it to the comfort of my own home.  Each time the Deliveroo rider arrives at my front door, I have to remind myself that I have a husband!

Available as a licensed restaurant, delivery (through Deliveroo) and collection

http://www.boojummex.com

Boojum Burrito Bowl with Lime & Cilantro Rice

Boojum Burrito Bowl with Lime & Cilantro Rice

Nandos (Boucher Cresent, Dublin Road & Victoria Square) - Portuguese

Nandos is one of the meals I used to get the most sick after eating.  Anytime I had one, I would be crippled with pain (because I was eating pita bread and was an undiagnosed coeliac), so I always had a negative association with it.   That all changed when I realised I was coeliac and that Nandos had GF options.  I love the butterfly chicken, the whole chicken platter (to share, I'm not THAT bad), macho peas, spicy rice, peri peri fries and slaw.  Oh, and platefuls of halloumi!!!

Available as a licensed restaurant or takeaway (collection only).

https://www.nandos.co.uk

Picture source: Pinterest

Picture source: Pinterest

 

Green’s Pizza (Lisburn Road & Ballyhackamore) - Pizza

The pizza choices are SO fun! Fresh Fig & Basil, Chicken Fajita or Fennel Sausage & Tender Stem Broccoli?  Pizza options like this are endless at Green's Pizza.  The meatball pizza I had below was just outstanding.  The only thing I need them to do is to invent a gluten free "Dragon Tongue Supreme" - it's a garlic bread with cheese, garlic and a sweet chilli sauce and it smells bloody increcible - then my life will be complete.

http://www.greenspizza.com

 

The Pizza Co. (Botanic Avenue, Finaghy) - Pizza

The gluten free pizza from The Pizza Co. is pretty damn good!  The only problem is that we have nicknamed them 'The Forgetful Pizza Co.' because they always forget something from our order.  Honestly though, they always deal with it so well that I forgive them (every. bloody. time) and after the first slice of pizza, all is forgotten!  Another perk...they open late night, as in reeeally late, so this immediately puts them to top of the poll in my books for 'drunk snack' options.  I never ever order Domino's because I feel uncomfortable every time I eat it and my stomach is a good gluten detector, so there must be some kind of cross contamination.  So it's nice to have a pizza company that I can trust (even after a few drinks!).

http://www.thepizzaco.co.uk

 

Pizza Express

Two words: Garlic. Doughballs.  Yes, gluten free garlic doughballs with the most gorgeous little pesto dips, fantastic pizza and garlic bread options.  Pizza Express continues to knock it out of the park with their gluten free options!

I hope this helps you in your search for the ultimate gluten free take away food!  If you have any questions or would like any advice on where to eat or what to order, please leave me a comment!

Fi x

Win a JORD Wooden Watch

This week I have teamed up with JORD Wood Watches in order to give one of my blog readers the chance to win a $180 e-gift card.  Better yet, if you don’t win this competition, you will still receive a $50 e-gift card to put towards a new wooden watch just for entering!  All you have to do, is click on the link below, enter your name and email address and pick your favourite watch!  Easy!

ENTER: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/glutenfreefi

In the last few weeks, my days have been focused on the final details of our wedding.  A nice chunky watch on my wrist has been extremely handy (pardon the pun) as I desperately seek more hours in the day that I have! 

The watch I chose is unisex and minimalist - called "Frankie" in the colour of 'Koa and Ash'.  It has a masculine edge – chunky, a grey face and larger in size.  I think a chunky watch makes for a really nice style statement.  I have small wrists, but can still pull off the larger watch face.  This means if you're choosing a watch for your partner, you can both wear the unisex watch.

Now that it is our wedding month, my JORD watch will be on my wrist at all times until everything is well and truly planned and we are on the flight to Italy!

ENTER: https://www.woodwatches.com/g/glutenfreefi
 

FREE Worldwide Shipping  

Good luck! Fx