Morning at The Mac

One of my favourite things about Belfast are the amount of hidden gems there are hidden around the city, and The Mac is one of the best of them. Hidden away in St. Anne’s Square it has played home to collections of greats such as Andy Warhol and has recently been shortlisted for the Art Fund Museum of the Year award.
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Opened in 2012 it’s still a relatively new addition to the ever blossoming cultural scene in Belfast and with three art galleries, two theatres, an artist-in-residence studio and workshop spaces it’s definitely helping to ensure it continues to. Not to mention it’s a perfect way to lose an afternoon as you wander around the amazing space, so we picked up our brochures and followed the rainbow.
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The current exhibition is curated by Gregory McCartney which explores the end of things; of personal and social empires with art from Adrian Ghenie, Pieter Hugo and Olaf Brzeski. I first found myself in the photos taken by Pieter Hugo which were haunting glimpses into his violent landscape of his native South Africa and I have to say I have never experienced photographs with the ability to conjure such feelings. You truly got a sense of the brutality and conflict that Hugo was trying to convey through the pictures which made me so uncomfortable but thus emphasized it’s brilliance.DSC02811DSC02813

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The strangeness of the booklet I feel best surmises the atmosphere of the exhibition, with the strangeness of the masked man conveying the other worldliness of the environment of the photo with a slightly eerie, potentially violent inference to be made due to the man’s choice of a mask.

DSC02820    To try and clear our heads we wandered down to the lowered gallery where the vast space was taken up by an explosive sculpture. Olaf Brzeski’s art is described as representing iconic situations having gone awry, such as the below “Dream – Spontaneous Combustion” reflecting Olaf’s attempt to clean out his chimney. Although this explanation renders any possible imaginings harmless, it was hard for me to shake my initial reaction which was noting the marked similarities between the sculpture and the mushroom cloud made by nuclear explosions. Although I am certainly nothing close to any semblance of an authority of art, I’ve always thought that anything that can conjure a genuine human emotional reaction has succeeded and this exhibition, no matter how darkly definitely succeeded in that.DSC02831DSC02795

It’s fair to say though that after all that exploring we were physically and emotionally exhausted, and that meant only one thing, brunch! Luckily for us The Mac cafe is often heavily featured as a recommended place to eat in Belfast, and with this spread it’s easy to see why.

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After being thoroughly spoilt for choice we decided to stick with the classics (and come back for cakes later). With produce from local farms and bakeries it’s probably one of the most authentic breakfasts you can have in Belfast, and believe me the freshness of the food makes it one of the tastiest. And I bet you can’t guess which breakfast is mine….DSC02780

Of course I had to go for my ultimate breakfast choice of eggs benedict and it didn’t let me down being one of the tastiest (not to mention prettiest) ones I’ve ever had.

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With plenty of food and tea to revive us we discussed what we had seen before finally taking one last look at the beautiful building and heading out to see what the rest of the day had in store for us.

Every time I go to The Mac there is something bold and imaginative to be seen and I can’t recommend it enough even if you’re not an art fan to just pop into the cafe and then have a wander because you never know what you might see.
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Graduation Belfast Style

So as you will probably know last week I headed back up to Belfast to finally pack up the remnants of the past three years of my life, and probably more importantly to graduate university! I’m still waiting for it all to sink in and the possibilities that now lie ahead of me, but in the meantime I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite parts of the day.

After the ceremony (which went by in the blink of an eye) I finally got my piece of paper proving that those three years of hard work weren’t for nothing and left me severely needing a drink. With the family in tow we headed to the newly opened Miel et Moi which is Belfast’s first licensed patisserie for some cocktails and cakes (my favourite combination).

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And boy did we have plenty to choose from! From tarts and eclairs to cakes and gateaus they have everything you could dream of, and with them all freshly baked every morning it was hard to resist not getting one of everything.
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In the end we managed to cut it down to just four deciding that dividing and conquering was the best way to tackle the amazing treats on offer. Trying to tick every box we went for viennese whirls, lemon madelines, a strawberry and white chocolate eclair and a rosewater gateau.

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Note the problem of ‘resting bitch face’ (of which I am a chronic sufferer of), but I can assure you that faces actually translates into me having the time of my life haha.DSC02943 DSC02948

As you can see they were so good it was impossible to get pictures of them all before we’d sneaked a bite. I have to say as a girl who has tasted her fair share of cakes and pastries the bar was set pretty high, but I can honestly say these blew me away. I have never tasted a viennese whirl so buttery and crumbly with the lemon curd cream filling perfectly providing a balance of tartness to the sweet. The lemon madeline (which I had to order to channel my inner Sansa Stark, Game of Throne fans you’ll know what I’m talking about) was so incredibly moist and fresh I could’ve eaten hundreds of them. Now while eclairs aren’t exactly my bag, my eclair obsessed sister assures me that it was the best she’s ever eaten, but my favourite has to be the rosewater gateau. I have never experienced a sponge like it,, it had the texture of air while melting in your mouth and the delicateness of the rosewater can only be described as the taste of summer. Paired with a combination of teas and bellinis with freshly made coulis it was the perfect high tea to celebrate the end of my time at university. Not to mention the setting was pretty idyllic too.DSC02917DSC02972

After all that it’s probably not really a surprise that we couldn’t resist going home without picking up a couple for the road. But with pastries this delicious it’s just too hard to say no!  DSC02912

If any of you are in or around Belfast, or even visiting in the future I highly recommend you swing by for a visit as with breakfast, lunch or dinner menus it’s perfect for every sort of celebration or even for an everyday treat. I’m still coming to terms with the post graduation blues so I’d love to hear your graduation stories, or if you have any cute places you like to visit I am always on the lookout for new recommendations. And if you haven’t graduated yet, good luck!