Birthday time

This week brought a birthday - shared, of course, between myself and my twin sister! People often ask if we like being twins but we've never known anything different, so it's not really a big thing. I think sharing your birthday with someone also means that it's more exciting - you can hep prepare by picking present and (maybe!) throwing a surprise party! 

Our birthday fell during the week and so we decided to stay at home and keep it casual. Mum cooked a delicious lasagne (I told you it was one of my favourite foods) and finished it off with a lovely lemon birthday cake - fab as always! 

We both received lots of beautiful presents - a cake tin and cupcake stand among mine - and rounded off the day with a dose of Mary Berry in the Great British Bake Off. I can't get enough of the show - it's got such a brilliant blend of baking tips, bad jokes and historical facts (not to mention the pastel Kenwood mixers - swoon). 

We ended up drawing it to last the whole week, finishing on Friday with a lovely dinner out at the French restaurant Bastille in Belfast. Mum had visited before with a group and thought that we'd enjoy it too. It's well set back from the main road and is in fact below ground level! However, the softly draped curtains and ambient lighting make it seem as if you're sitting in a café in Paris. 

The waiter who took our orders was actually French, to our joy! This did lead for some awkward moments, though - do you speak in French or English when saying "please" and "thank you"? We decided to stick with English but pronounced the dishes with the best accents possible!  Other servers were mainly local.

We don't usually have a starter and so decided to compromise and ask for the day's fresh bread, complete with homemade pesto and tapenade. Soft, spongy bread with a chewy crust - perfect. 

Next up was the main course. It was a difficult decision to make but I decided to have the duck breast with sweet potato purée, kale and a lovely jus. 

My dad picked beetroot and goats cheese gnocchi with pearl onions and rocket - my second choice! He said it was delicious and not as heavy as potato gnocchi.

My sister chose pasta in a courgette and tomato sauce with roast chicken. 

Mum went for her usual standby - roast chicken. This dish came with creamy dauphinois potatoes and buttery runner beans. 

The portions weren't too big here, unlike other restaurants we've visited. We decided we had enough room for dessert and a coffee each. 

I chose the tart of the day - pear and almond, served with vanilla ice-cream. I love anything with nuts in it and this was lovely and moist, with juicy bursts of pear amongst the soft almonds. 

For my sister, the chocolate mousse. We think it was infused with a little orange liqueur; she said that she would have preferred the mousse without it as she's not one for any type of alcohol, even if it's for flavouring purposes! 

Mum and Dad swapped desserts half-way through for a bit of variety. On one side, a huge crème brûlée with sweet plums. 

On the other, prunes soaked in armagnac served with fromage blanc and a tiny pistachio biscuit. Both equally tasty! 

Night had already fallen as we left the restaurant with happy tummies and smiles on our faces. I love being in a city when it's all lit up - even a small one like Belfast. The streetlights lit the way home and we passed shops shutting up for the night, couples wandering hand in hand, late-night buses with only a few passengers… A lovely end to a great week. 

You can find Bastille's website here