Recipe: Courgetti with lean beef Bolognese ragu

I was recently inspired by Taste Today and their use of Spiralizers (read about their reviews of different products here, plus 10% discount code to purchase), so I thought I would dust off my own Spiralizer and get to work on a new healthy mid-week dinner recipe.

Obviously you can eat this meal at any time. But I find with meals like ‘spag-bol,’ its great to make a large batch then portion-up and freeze, ready for those evenings when you get in from work and have no energy other than to press ding on the microwave. As I tend to indulge a little more at the weekends (who doesn’t), I have made this recipe as healthy as possible, without compromising on flavour. It’s low on the carbs, low on fat and contains no Gluten* but still really tastes delicious and so, so satisfying!

This recipe makes 6 hearty portions of Bolognese ragu – but you can split it up into smaller portions if you wish (it makes up to 10 if you count 1 portion as 1 ladle full). It takes 60 minutes to make in total. Use 1 large courgette per person for the courgetti.

What you need:

  • 2 medium onions, very finely sliced or whizzed in a food processor
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2-3 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • 400g extra lean beef mince (I use this one from Muscle Foods)
  • 125g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 100g red lentils
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes (I use Cirio)
  • 500ml good quality beef stock*
  • 1 tbsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried Basil
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 large courgettes, or 3 medium ones
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • a sprinkle of finely grated Pecorino cheese, to serve

*for a gluten free recipe, GF stock can be used.

What to do:

1. Heat 2 tbsp of the Rapeseed oil in a large heavy-based sauce pan with a lid. Add the onions and sweat them over a low-medium heat for 3-5 minutes until just translucent. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for a further 2-3 mins – but don’t let onions or garlic brown. Add a tad more Rapeseed oil if needed.

2. Break the lean minced beef into chunks and add to the pan, stirring well until the beef begins to brown (about 6-7 minutes).Once the meat has just cooked through (no longer pink). Next add the red lentils and the mushrooms and continue to stir everything together whilst the mushrooms begin to wilt (about 3 minutes).

Lean beef mixture cooking, with the lentils and mushrooms just added
Lean beef mixture cooking, with the lentils and mushrooms just added

3. Add the beef stock and the two tins of chopped tomatoes, stir everything together, then mix in the dried basil and oregano. Season well with freshly ground black pepper.

4. Bring to the boil, and simmer with the lid on for 40 minutes.

5. Whilst the ragu is cooking, ‘Spiralise’ your courgettes. I prefer the thin noodle setting, but I have taken a picture of both settings so you can decide which you prefer (see below).

5. After 40 minutes, remove the lid and check the consistency of the ragu – if it’s a bit thick, add a little boiling water and continue to cook without the lid for a further 10-15 minutes over a low simmer.

The Bolognese ragu after 40 minutes, add a splash of hot water if the sauce is too thick
The Bolognese ragu after 40 minutes, add a splash of hot water if the sauce is too thick

6. Whilst the ragu is finishing off, heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a low-medium heat. When the pan is warm, add the ‘courgetti’ and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly so they don’t catch. Add the fresh parsley at the last 30 seconds and stir through.

7. Divide the courgetti between warm bowls, then top with a ladle of the ragu Bolognese. Top with more freshly ground black pepper and some Pecorino cheese to taste.

<3 Voila - Courgetti with lean beef Bolognese ragu! <3
❤ Voila – Courgetti with lean beef Bolognese ragu! ❤

If you try this recipe at home, please send me a tweet (@sophiesscran), Instagram tag (@sophiesscran), Facebook mention or use the comments box below! ❤

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Crazy Pedro’s Part Time Pizza Parlour, Manchester

I have now been to this place a few times, and I love it. Their pizzas are so delicious and the vibe in there is just kind of cool. Very laid back, you eat off paper plates, drink outa plastic cups, no table service. It’s that sort of vibe. Everybody is just having a good time. The beers are decent and the cocktails are lush too. Happy days.

So this is going to be a quick and dirty review. Put simply – these guys make awesome pizzas & cocktails and there’s some images below to support this. They have an impressive mexican beverage selection too, including tequilas and mezcals – and have recently been declared “the finest mezcaleria outside of Mexico,” pretty impressive stuff.

Also, DON’T be fooled by the name – these guys are open daily from Midday ‘til 4am serving up their delicious slices of quirky and adventurous Italian-American style pizzas. They are £12.50 for a whole 16″, or just £2.50 a slice. So an absolute bargain too if you ask me. Plus, if you live in Manchester you can order their pizzas via Deliveroo, if you really cannot be arsed to leave the sofa. Winning!

My first visit was (sober) with my family. My Dad, Sister, Brother and I decided to hook-up there one Saturday afternoon for a bite to eat and an overdue catch up. We sat down on the stools and tall tables to the right of the front door and started perusing the menu (which is now new since my last visit and looks even more epic!) it didn’t take us long to decide on 2 large pizzas to share between the 4 of us. We went for a bit of a meat-frenzy: the classic Pedro’s Pepperoni, and one that featured Salami, Ham, pulled chicken, red peppers and onions (the exact name escapes me).

As for drinks, I chose the ‘Freddy Fudpucker’s Revenge’ as recommended by Jo from Taste Today. In fact, she recommended the whole place to me. This cocktail is a mix of El Jimador Bianco, Aperol, Lemon, Vanilla, Blood Orange, Peach & Lemon Sorbet. It comes served in a tall terracotta-type vessel with a straw and a wooden spoon for the sorbet. Absolutely delicious. Hannah went for the Peach and Black Pepper Frozen Margarita. Like a slushy for big kids, she thoroughly enjoyed it and it was very prettily presented with pink peppercorns atop. Delish.

Crazy Pedro’s 16″ Pizza’s – all £12.50
Salami, pulled chicken, ham, red peppers & onion <3
Salami, pulled chicken, ham, red peppers & onion ❤
Pedro’s Pepperoni ❤

As you can probably see from the photos, these pizzas are f***ing epic. They really are delicious. The bases are thin, a little crisp on the bottom and the ingredients are fresh as they come. The pizzas are also not overtopped (even for some of the big ones, like the Nacho Libre, for example). These guys take their time to ensure each pizza is cooked to perfection, oh and serve it with a smile too, which is a lot more than you can say for some other fast-food pizza establishments!

Here are a few more images for you to drool over from my other visits…

Summer B - a delightful mix of Wild Mushrooms, Blue Cheese and Truffle Oil. YES! <3
Summer B (V) – a delightful mix of Wild Mushrooms, Blue Cheese and Truffle Oil. YES! ❤
Nacho Libre (V), Chilli sauce, American Cheese, Jalapeño, Tortilla Chips, Guacamole, Sour Cream and fresh Pico de Gallo - HELL YES
Nacho Libre (V), Chilli sauce, American Cheese, Jalapeño, Tortilla Chips, Guacamole, Sour Cream and fresh Pico de Gallo – HELL YES ❤
Fried Chicken & Waffle - Fried Chicken, Smoked Bacon, Maple Syrup & Waffle. Seriously. A TASTE SENSATION!
Fried Chicken & Waffle – Fried Chicken, Smoked Bacon, Maple Syrup & Waffle. Seriously. A TASTE SENSATION! ❤
Service with a smile... told you.... :-)
Service with a smile… told you…. 🙂
0161 359 3000 Crazy Pedro’s Part Time Pizza Parlour 55-57 Bridge Street Manchester, M3 3BQ
0161 359 3000
Crazy Pedro’s Part Time Pizza Parlour
55-57 Bridge Street
Manchester,
M3 3BQ

Follow these crazy cats on Facebook and Twitter.


Each time I have visited Crazy Pedro’s Part Time Pizza Parlour I have paid for my meal in full, and they did not know I was going to review their pizzas.

Urban Burger Bar, Altrincham

I recently joined a couple of workmates in a local burger bar for dinner.  We chose the Urban Burger Bar in Altrincham, as the reviews were pretty good, and of course, we all love burgers.

Photos of our visit are quite limited (to just 2!) as my phone battery was running low and I was driving to Liverpool that evening and needed it as a sat-nav. So, instead of going wild and taking copious amounts of photographs, we sat down, relaxed and got to choosing our burgers from their rather extensive range!

Located on Greenwood Street, they are just a 5 minute walk from Altrincham Station, and very close to Altrincham Market. The place has been decorated well with a rustic, laid-back vibe which I really liked. We didn’t book, so we opted for a window seat where we settled ourselves on high, grey metal stools and high wooden tables. Other seating options included regular tables and chairs and some comfy looking, bright cushioned booths towards the back of the restaurant. The bar is situated in the middle of the dining space.

The staff were very friendly and attentive, offering to talk us through the menu and explaining that all their beef burgers are served pink, unless you wish to have them cooked otherwise.

IMG_1150
The Wellington

Having saved ourselves all day, we were hungry. So (2 of us) we went for the double-stack options, which I thought were really reasonable in price. Lucia ordered the “The Wellington” which was a double beef patty, toasted bun, truffle mayo, sautéed mushrooms, maple mustard, spinach, double Jack cheese and dill pickle. I know, right!? A FEAST IN A BUN! She really enjoyed it. Ate every last bite. Little fatty!

The Firecracker
The Firecracker

Being the spice-lover that I am, I could resist in going for “The Firecracker”. This one was also a double beef patty (also a fatty), toasted bun, jalapeño and chilli’s, Jack cheese, tomato, salad and ‘Urban’ sauce. The meat itself was tender, juicy and absolutely full of flavour. Well seasoned and cooked as described – ‘just through’. The chips were also delicious, freshly cooked and crispy, as well as lightly seasoned with some salt which was nice. The garlic mayo was also a highlight, it came served in mini glass Kilner-style jars, which was a little awkward, but I can see what they were trying to do and it does fit in with the ‘trendy’ theme.

Aimee, my not-so-greedy friend, went for the “Urban Chick” Chicken breast burger, toasted bun, urban sauce, salad Jack cheese, bbq sauce, bacon & salad. She really enjoyed it and went for the grilled chicken option, as opposed to the ‘Urban fried chicken’ version. I know, good on her. She healthy!

As we were nearing the end of our meal (around 7pm), the place started to fill up. To my surprise, the clientele was very mixed in age, which I think is a good sign. There were families with children aged about 10-12 years old, all seemingly enjoying chowing down on a proper beef burger. Goes to show this place is popular with local families, for a reasonably priced treat for the kids after school.

Overall, I would recommend the Urban Burger Bar to anyone who is a fan of a decent burger. Their restaurant is cool and the menu is pretty extensive. They also have an ice-cream bar where you can choose your own sweets and chocolate toppings – probably very popular with the kids (and the big-kids, of course!) The only thing I would say is that with burger’s becoming (and staying) increasingly popular, especially in Manchester, it would be good to see some more adventurous options on the menu, to ensure they keep up with this well-established trend.

I paid full price for my meal at Urban Burger Bar, and they did not know I was going to review their food.

30-32 Greenwood St, Altrincham WA14 1RZ

Follow Urban Burger Bar on Facebook and Twitter.

Miyagi’s, Bold St, Liverpool

Liverpool is a place I am very fond of. I lived there for 3 years, in Wavertree, whilst studying a Psychology undergraduate degree at Liverpool Hope University. Many, many memories were made there. But when it came to Graduation (I graduated with a first!) it was time to leave the city as my housemates (all Irish and heading back across the pond) were doing the same. I was too much of a wimp to brave it alone.

Looking back, sometimes I wish I had stayed – but I have no regrets. The life I live now is amazing, and honestly, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I do however keep an eye on the Liverpool food scene as much as I can, and my ‘Liverpool List’ is becoming increasingly longer! And I happen to know a few MCR foodies who’d agree!

So as my Irish best friend was back in lovely Liverpool for a few days this weekend, how could I not go and reminisce with her over food & cocktails. After a bit of Twitter research, I decided it had to be MIYAGI’S.

Hannah & I enjoying our cocktails upstairs in KYO bar
Hannah & I enjoying our cocktails upstairs in KYO bar

MIYAGI’S is set at the top-end of Bold Street (number 77, to be precise). They serve up a wonderful range of sushi, yakitori, hearty bowls (including Laksa), Japanese ‘soul food’ and some impressive sounding ‘big plates’. Their menu is Japanese inspired and it’s honestly stunning – I could have closed my eyes and cast my finger on the menu and literally eaten anything from it. ❤

They don’t take reservations for less than 6 people, so as we arrived just after 7:30pm (on Sunday evening) it was a short 20 minute wait for a table for two. We had the choice of having a drink in the bar downstairs or upstairs, and as we were intrigued by upstairs… up we went. To our surprise, the first floor had a completely different look and feel to downstairs, and we later found out this is KYO, their sister late-night bar serving a smaller food menu (until 1am!) and a load of #GuiltyPleasures which sounded epic. Basically a mix of puddings, cocktails and milkshakes with sweets and chocolates and ice-pops and all sorts. We ordered a cocktail up here and the nice bar lady whipped us up a treat – I chose the Ghetto Geisha: pineapple, coconut water, lychee, Havana 3 year Rum & coconut rum – beautifully garnished with a flower and a pink sugar rim. Honestly the best cocktail I have ever tasted, and it looked gorgeous too. You could certainly taste the rum but it married so well with the other fresh, delicate flavours. Hannah went for the Cho Cho San: fresh mint, grapefruit, cranberry, green tea syrup, Giffard pamplemousse & Finlandia grapefruit vodka. Another absolute cracker.

When our table was ready we were escorted downstairs by (another) lovely member of staff. We were seated on a nice table with a low-hanging light above it, with a stunning Japanese-style lampshade. We decided to order a mix of things to share between us both. Our lovely waitress (also named Sophie) was happy to talk us through the menu and also made some great recommendations.

I was really keen to try the Miyagi Fried Chicken with Kimchi mayo, so we ordered 6 pieces which was great value at £9.95. Also from the ‘Soul Food’ menu we chose the Fried crispy duck gyoza with hoisin,£5.75. Keen to try their sushi offering, we ordered a portion of the Yellowfin tuna Nigiri (£6.95) and the Salmon California Rolls (£5.95). Last, but by no means least, we opted for a portion of Mr M’s Tempura, the vegetable option as recommended by Sophie (asparagus, courgette and broccoli, £6.95).

We were told the food arrived when it was ready, so we got straight to catching up on old-times, when only about 20 minutes later the food started to arrive. First up was the sushi, and Sophie came across to the table and asked if we liked wasabi. Yes, was the definitive answer from both of us, so she proceeded to serve up some freshly grated wasabi using traditional (and stunning) Japanese utensils. She told us that there’s only 1 place in the UK who produce proper wasabi – and that’s where this stuff was from. It was barely green, more so a creamy-beige colour and the taste was hot yet milder than other varieties (which are commonly Horseradish dyed green to imitate real wasabi).

The sushi itself was delightful. It was served, of course, with pickled ginger and soy, and the quality of the tuna was absolutely fantastic. It was so tender and just melted in your mouth.

Next came along the duck gyoza with hoisin. The duck parcels were hot, crispy and packed full of delicious, meaty duck. The sauce was smooth and light and tasted so fruity. Sometimes hoisin can be heavy and sticky but this was neither, it was yum.

Crispy duck gyoza with light hoisin
Crispy duck gyoza with light hoisin

We were able to have a short break after these three dishes, but then shortly after came out the vegetable tempura. I really liked how it was served as long batons, obviously complimenting the natural shape of the tenderstem broccoli and asparagus, but the courgette was cut to match and it just worked really well. It came with a creamy/seasoned/mayo-like sauce which was also delicious.

Mr M's vegetable tempura (asparagus, broccoli & courgette)
Mr M’s vegetable tempura (asparagus, broccoli & courgette)

Next to adorn our table was the Miyagi fried chicken. A great mixture of thigh, (huge) wings and drumsticks. It arrived with a plate of something we had never seen before – pickled watermelon rind! It sounds strange but it was really tasty, it was sweet and sour and went with the spicy chicken surprisingly well. The chicken itself was crispy on the outside and absolutely tender and succulent in the middle, the meat almost fell off the bone. The kimchi mayo was spicy, which was great, and dunking the chicken in it was so satisfying! A really great dish.

Soul Food: Miyagi Fried Chicken with spicy kimchi mayo
Soul Food: Miyagi Fried Chicken with spicy kimchi mayo

Overall, this was a fabulous meal and very reasonably priced in my opinion. The staff were so lovely, chatty and helpful too which was great (especially Sophie!) The only downfall is that the menu is so brilliant I will have to take many trips to Liverpool and back just to try the rest of it! Next time I want to try their amazing sounding steamed hirata buns, one of their big bowls of Ramen or Laksa AND one of their big plates e.g. Teriyaki rib-eye steak! Gonna have to wear my stretchy pants!

Follow Miyagi on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. And check out their full food menu here. ❤


I paid for my meal in full and Miyagi’s did not know I was going to review the meal.

Tatton Park, Foodies Festival

Being a Cheshire-based food blogger can often be tricky, as it’s such a large space to try and cover. So, when an event like the Foodies Festival happens pretty much on your doorstep, there’s no way you can pass up the opportunity to go see what’s happening.

The weather was pretty good for a start – a little windy, sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast, but most importantly, no rain! A short drive from my house in Mobberley, and we arrived at Tatton Park – one of Cheshire’s most beautiful and scenic country parks, complete with freely roaming deer and sheep along the main pathway approaching the far-end of the park.

The Foodie’s Festival is located near to the parks’ wonderful kids fair and play area. On arrival we were greeted by smiling faces and a free sample of Stella Artois’s fruit flavoured Cidre with ice. It was refreshing, very tasty and got us straight in the mood to start the rounds by heading down the left-hand-side of the festival (where all the bars are!)

This year they had a lovely Pimm’s bar which was shaped like a big red teapot, and the usual big red London bus bar serving a great range of drinks at reasonable prices (£3.50 for a Rekorderlig cider with ice, £4 for a glass of wine, and £4 for a pint). Just down the way was Sloe Motion gin bar serving some amazing sounding cocktails, a Kingfisher truck serving its classic Indian beer, and a gorgeous Festival-style tent called The Cider House, which specialised in Somerset ciders as well as some unusual options such as an Italian cider called Montano (cider with Prosecco). Each bottle of the Montano bought (for £3.50) included a free black plastic tumbler, so I was sold, and it tasted fantastic!

It wasn’t too long before we were ready to eat. Being a huge fan of Curried Goat  (admittedly there are not enough places where you can get it in Cheshire), Bradley’s Dad went for the Curry Goat with salad and Rice and Pea from ‘Big Bird Catering’. The goat was tender and the curry was packed full of flavour. The rice and peas were delicious too, and the guys gave me a sneak-peak of their special – Jerk Pork chops, which I must say looked amazing! They were absolutely huge for a start, as you can see (pictured below, top right). They also had some great smelling Jerk Chicken on the charcoal BBQ and were serving it all up alongside a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice. A nice group of guys, very friendly and serving food for the soul. It was great to meet them. ❤

Bradley and I can be indecisive at times, especially when surrounded by so many epic food options. But, when you know, you know, and we certainly had one of those ‘eureka’ moments when we came across Rad Burger Co‘s gorgeous little burger stall in the middle of the festival. They specialise in burgers using top quality, ethically-sourced produce from Kent (where they are based).

We both went for their “RAD BEEF” a 5 oz ground chuck steak patty with grilled halloumi, smoked streaky bacon, rocket, mango chutney and garlic mayonnaise. They also had lamb, pork and veggie options which to be honest all sounded equally as delicious and epic, but the beef one really caught our attention. The beef patty was tender, slightly pink, the bacon was juicy and thickly sliced and the halloumi cheese was, well, perfectly grilled halloumi ❤

The bun was soft and topped with poppy seeds which looked great and added a slightly crunchier texture than standard sesame seeded buns. The mango chutney was new to us (on a burger), but equally intriguing, but it added a soft sweetness that complemented the juicy meat and salty cheese/bacon perfectly. Just wow. We teamed it with a portion of their Rosemary Fries and ate every last bit. In my opinion, this was street-food burgers at their absolute best!

Follow Rad Burger Co. on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook & scroll down for more on the Foodies Festival, Tatton.

After letting our burgers go down a little, we were ready for a bit more shopping. A stall we were recommended was Continental Cottage who sell specialist German salamis, which get imported from Germany so are authentic, and really, really delicious! I couldn’t find their website (oddly), but we got a selection of 7 different varieties for £10 which I thought was excellent value. We were able to try before we bought too, which I always like to do, if possible.

Next up was a cup of tea. And possibly a slice of cake. We had spotted Daisy’s Vintage Tea Room on the first walk around the festival, and certainly didn’t spot anywhere else nearly as inviting to stop for a cuppa and a slice of cake, so we went back to get our fix. Serving up lovely English tea in bone China cups and saucers and an array of British classics, such as homemade scones with fresh clotted cream & jam and Victoria sponge cake. We tried both of these (pictured, below) and they were both delightful. The Lemon Drizzle cake  however was really disappointing, it was so dry and not all that lemony at all. The dog liked it though!

After fixing our sweet tooth, we were done. We had tried some excellent food and honestly couldn’t squeeze in another morsel. So, it was on to a few more ciders in the sunshine whilst we people watched. We also ended up doing a LOT of dog watching too, as there seemed to be lots more canines there this time compared to last year… Including ours.

A few other noteworthy stalls were the Cooperative’s offering of Procecco & Pizza for just £4 – with all proceeds going to charity. It was good to see one of the big names there doing their bit, and it seemed to be quite a popular choice. The pizza did look lovely.

A further stall I want to mention, but didn’t get chance to eat from was World Food Cafe. Having done a little research, it turns out they are one of the street-food offerings of Plymouth-based event company “Main Event SW“. Their ‘Award winning saffron-infused chicken with all the salad, in a wrap for £8″ was going down an absolute storm. By about 2.30pm, the queue was unbelievably long, so I went over to take a few snaps to see what all the fuss was about! Pictured below (from left to right) is their saffron-infused chicken, the guys on their stall very hard at work and their beautiful array of salads.

A lovely lady who we were sat close to let me take a photo of her epic looking wrap, which was so nice of her and she probably thought I was a bit of a weirdo. Anyway, I’m really glad I did because this photo alone inspired my next recipe post. As we were too full-up to try one at the festival, I decided to recreate my own version at home that evening, a quick and simple version which you can literally knock-up in no time. Watch this space, foodies!

World Cafe's Saffron Chicken Wraps with ALL THE SALADS!
World Cafe’s amazing looking Saffron-infused Chicken Wraps with ALL THE SALADS!

The Kitchens, Leftbank, Spinningfields

So it’s about time I got my head down and wrote about this wonderful event. What with a holiday to Tunisia and then Glastonbury Festival, things have been a little hectic of late, but finally, here goes!

The Kitchens is situated at Leftbank, Spinningfields, Manchester – a retail and residential development which is home to some of Manchester’s biggest names on the Food & Drink scene (Tattu, The Oast House and Iberica – to name a few).  The company behind the development, Allied London, have given 6 of Manchester’s best street food and pop-up traders an opportunity to have their own ‘bricks and mortar’ for 12 months.

After twelve months there will be a winner – the prize will be the backing and partnership of Allied London, so assumedly they will be able to open their very own place, somewhere else. One question this springs to mind is; where will that leave the other 5? No idea, but rather than dwell, let’s focus on the here and now: Six completely awesome indie food-traders have their own space to create fantastic menus and dishes to feed the masses. And based on what I’ve tried so far, the food does not disappoint.

The Area

Leftbank is the canal side of Spinningfields, not far from Scene Indian Street Kitchen and next to The Dockyard pub. The layout of The Kitchens is pretty simple, but not quite what I expected (although I can’t put my finger on exactly what I did expect). The 6 traders are divided straight down the middle, with 3 on one side, 3 on the other, facing each other. In the middle, there is a fairly large (outdoor, but covered) area which includes some grass, and some sand for kids to play in. There is also some outside seating, in the form of beer-garden style benches. Inside, the three traders’ kitchens sit adjacent to each other, and there is some indoor seating in the form of high-stools and window tables (think Starbuck’s style, looking out towards the courtyard).

The Food

Now you hopefully have a feel for what the place looks like overall, let’s get to the main point. The food. At the launch, they were running a special deal where you could dine at one trader for free – you just had to delve your hand into a tub of wooden knives & forks and unwrap them – whichever traders’ name was on the back of the cutlery was your freebie for the event. The one I chose, rather awesomely, had no name. This meant I could choose. So I headed straight over to YAKUMAMA…

YAKUMAMA serve Latin American inspired street food that is all homemade by the lovely Hannah and Marcy – a couple duo who make everything from scratch. I first met them at Altrincham Market and I must say they are a very down-to-earth and genuinely nice couple. Their food is infused with ‘colour, fire and creativity’ according to The Kitchens website, and I cannot disagree with this statement. Their dishes are full of bold, hearty flavours and they have really gone to town to make their kitchen standout. It features a vertical, tropical garden on each side which really fits in with their Amazon forest-like theme.

YAKUMAMA's space at The Kitchens
YAKUMAMA’s space at The Kitchens

I chose the Honey and Lime Chicken Wings with Papaya, Mango and Coconut Salad with Palm Sugar, Roasted Peanuts and a Lime, Chilli and Honey Dressing. OMG. It was as good as it sounds, it was as good as it looks. So fresh, zingy, a hint of spice from the chilli and sweetness from the honey and palm sugar. It came with a huge pile of chicken wings which were so fresh and succulent the juicy meat just fell off the bones. Loved every bite. I also tried a generous portion of their signature Chicharrones homemade Latin spiced pork crackling with Guacamole – crispy, salty, crunchy and delicious. Looks impressive too!

YAKUMAMA Pork Crackling
YAKUMAMA Chicharrones Pork Crackling

At the time, their gas wasn’t working (which was a huge shame – I hope Allied London have pulled their finger out and got this sorted now!) – as the other dish I was desperate to try was their Crispy Calamari with Cayenne & Paprika, Whole Fried Chillies, Lemon Aioli and Maldon Sea Salt. I know. Are you drooling yet? Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

BANGERS & BACON's space at The Kitchens
BANGERS & BACON’s space at The Kitchens

In true foodie style and determined not to just try one of the 6 vendor’s offerings, I decided to visit Bangers and Bacon as I had heard so many good things about them, including their Chef’s Table events. Their kitchen is directly opposite Yakumama, across the courtyard.

BANGERS & BACON do awesome things with pigs. Sounds wrong, but trust me, it is so, so right! Run by trio James and Heather Taylor and Richard Brown –  these guys really do know what they’re doing in the kitchen when it comes to celebrating the wonder that is all things PORK. According to The Kitchen’s website, they are “bacon bandits, sultans of sausage, back bacon billionaires,” enough said, really. On the night of the launch I tried a variety box which showcased some of their signature dishes: Porchetta – Rolled and stuffed Porchetta (middle of pork marinated in herbs garlic and stuffed ) served on a toasted Pletzel Roll with salsa verde and mixed leaves. Mutha Porka – Italian infused pork patty wrapped in homemade dry cured streaky bacon and mature cheddar cheese, on a bun with Slaw and homemade Mustard Pickle. All of which tasted completely divine!

I also tried their Sausage Nuggets – which speak for themselves, Manchester Calamari – which is crispy pig’s ears and Bacon Browniesyes, you read correctly, the most awesome brownies with bacon pieces made by Ginger TartAll of their food was delicious, especially the Mutha Porka burger which was so succulent tasty.

My friend and company for the evening, the lovely Jo from Taste Today, picked out CHAAT CART for her freebie option. These guys serve ‘real Indian street food’ so I think she was pretty impressed with her choice (loves a bit of spice). Chargrilled spicy chicken Kati roll with mint and yoghurt dressing and rainbow salad, which she really enjoyed, and looked delicious…

On this occasion, I was (clearly) too full to feast at any of the other traders stalls. Below is a background of them all, and some pictures that I (probably rather annoyingly) took of friend’s food…

HIP HOP CHIP SHOP are an ‘un-traditional’ fish & chip shop inspired by the inventive ethos of hip-hop culture. You can follow them on twitter here. And feast your eyes on some of their yummy offerings below:

MUMMA SCHNITZEL serve ‘Schnitzel love in a bun‘, put simply as per the Kitchen’s descriptions. I have tried their chicken burgers before at other food events, are they are the Schnitz-niz.

WHOLESOME & RAW according to The Kitchen’s, these guys serve “fruit and veg ALIVE with enzymes and nutrients prepared and juiced before you”. Sounds kind of boring, right? Well let me tell you, on the launch night they were serving up a storm. Their kitchen seemed really popular, and on the specials they were serving up Raw Pad Thai and it honestly looked so fresh and vibrant. It’s great to see such a healthy street food vendor on board too, showing that flavour doesn’t always need to be full of calories!

Overall I really enjoyed the launch of The Kitchen’s and I really wish the guys all the best in finding their ‘bricks and mortar’ feet. Having had a chat to a few of the traders, I think it has taken some getting used to, but hopefully they are being supported by Allied London in any way possible!

Irwell Square,
Leftbank, Spinningfields,
Manchester
M3 3AG

Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.


Luke’s Eating House, Chester

Last Friday, it was date night. So Bradley and I popped on our best frocks (ok, he was wearing trou’) and off we went to dine in our County’s capital, CHESTER. We dressed up a little more than usual, as we knew it was the weekend of Chester Races, so we didn’t want to appear out of place.

Luke’s Eating House is located on 10 St John St, Chester, opposite the Roman Amphitheatre and just down the road from nightclub Cruise. Head chef is Luke Thomas, a young, ambitious and and successful chef who I believe is only in his early 20’s. Luke is Britain’s youngest head chef, and he and a team of talented young individuals aim to “cook rustic, honest, elegant food that takes your senses from classic, old school and nostalgic flavours to reinvented modern dishes”. Having read this on his website and having drooled over the food photography on the site, I couldn’t wait to try some of his food for myself.

Luke's Eating House, Chester
Luke’s Eating House, Chester

On arrival to the Eating House, the downstairs bar was in full swing (our reservation was for 8:30pm on a Friday evening). Downstairs is Gin Rickey’s – a specialist gin and cocktail bar who serve all the drinks for Luke’s Eating House. We were guided upstairs by the host via a lift to the first floor, and there we arrived at the mezzanine floor restaurant.

The Drinks

We were seated in a lovely half-moon booth, with a great view of the kitchen, which is open for diners to see. We first of all took a look at the drinks & cocktail menu which was impressive in it’s choice, descriptions and well-taken photos of the drinks. You really would find it difficult to make a bad choice from this cocktail menu, as the key flavours, ingredients and key flavours are all cleverly mapped out for you.

Bradley opted for the Dark Passion PunchKraken Spiced Rum, fresh raspberries and strawberries, sugar syrup, lime juice, apple juice and ginger ale.  He said it was one of the best cocktails he’s ever tasted, I had a taste to confirm and it really was delicious. The balance of flavours was so well thought-out, you could still taste the alcohol and the fresh fruit was plentiful and just delicious.

I went for the Ron Zacapa Cuzco – Ron Zacapa Rum, Aperol, lemon juice, grapefruit juice and simple syrup. Again this had a great balance between alcohol and fruit juice, and the same for tangy vs. sweet flavours. It was beautifully served and went really well as a palate cleanser between bites of my delicious starter!

The Food

It was tricky to choose a starter from this menu. And I say this, in all honesty, because I would have happily have ordered any one of them. There are about 8 to choose from, plus an option to go for ‘Sliders,’ which was either Smoked Beef or Seared Tuna served on grilled brioche buns with some amazing-sounding accompaniments.

After a little umming and ahhing, I went for the Pan roast scallops served with Katsu curry, mango, coriander & toasted almonds. I’d never heard of scallops served this way before, with Katsu curry (something I love) so I simply had to try it. Bradley opted for the Salt & pepper fried squid with wasabi aioli.

We both thoroughly enjoyed our starters. My scallops were tender, juicy and the Katsu curry was a light and delicate purée beneath them. It wasn’t until I’d finished the dish I realised it was spicy. That gentle, warming kind of spice that builds up to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bradley’s squid was a delight too: hot, crispy and perfectly cooked. Presentation was also lovely for both dishes, Brad’s was served with chopsticks and on a piece of brown paper (which reminded me of the street-food element behind this dish) and mine was served on the most elegant plate topped with baby coriander leaves, which was lovely as it kept the coriander flavour at-bay as to not overpower the dish.

Onto the mains, and as we had also finished our cocktails it was time to order more drinks. Bradley opted for the same again (he liked it that much), and as I was having lamb for my main I opted for a glass of red. From memory I chose a Cabernet Sauvignon – which came served in a beautiful huge glass, and was poured at the table even though I only order it by the glass. I thought this was a really nice touch.

For the main course, Bradley went for the Satay  – twice cooked chicken, peanut & honey, satay sauce, golden raisin and tender stem broccoli. I opted for the Welsh Lamb – a 250g Harissa infused rump, grilled fennel, olive oil mashed potato, tapenade and piquillo pepper ketchup. Both dishes were presented beautifully, the satay chicken piled atop the smooth satay sauce with the vegetables neatly placed on the side. Mine was more a work of art, the mash in the middle with the lamb placed around the edges. The plate elaborately decorated with the bright colours of the vibrant red piquillo pepper ketchup, tapenade, fennel and some greenery.

The Welsh lamb was pink all the way through, and it tasted amazing. It literally melted in my mouth. I honestly don’t think I have tasted lamb rump so flavoursome and tender. The Harissa infusion was delicate but more prominent on the edges of the meat, it was mouth-wateringly good. The tapenade was sharp and rich, and the ketchup was sweet with a hint of spice. The olive oil mash was dreamy, so smooth and rich but it carried the other big flavours really well. Overall, one of the best main course dishes I have had recently.

Brad’s chicken was tender and juicy and the satay sauce was really delicious. The raisins added an extra element of sweetness to the dish, which we were not sure it needed (as it already contained honey), so he didn’t eat all of the raisins to avoid this. Another slight downfall to this dish was that is was also served with a large helping of blanched ribbons of cucumber. This was not in the description of the dish on the menu, so came as a surprise. The steamed tenderstem broccoli was delicious however, so more of this would have been welcomed! Overall though, the chicken and satay parts of the dish were fantastic.

To accompany our meals we also had some side orders ‘For the Table’ (as the menu encourages): Lobster Mac & Cheese and Hand Cut Chips with Truffle & Parmesan.

The Mac & Cheese was delicious, it was a hearty serving size and we couldn’t finish it – which shows it would be substantial enough to serve more than 2 as a side. The pasta was well cooked and the lobster pieces were bigger than I had expected, so overall we were impressed.  The dish did contain a lot of mushrooms – which I loved because, I love mushrooms. Mushrooms were not mentioned as part of this dish on the menu, but they did form a substantial element to the dish.

The chips were lovely too, crispy, soft in the middle and seasoned really well. Not sure the Truffle Oil and Parmesan was worth the extra £1 (taking the total cost of this portion of chips up to £4.50!) but they really did taste delicious.

Our final course of the evening… Desserts. After all this decadent food we feeling pretty full, but there’s always room for pudding (especially when they sound this good,) so we were not about to let that stop us! I ordered the Apple Panna Cotta, served with spiced brioche, salted caramel and stem ginger ice cream. It was amazing. Every bite of it. I couldn’t finish the whole thing, because the portion size was so generous, but in hindsight we should have shared this pudding between us and asked for 2 spoons. The ginger stem ice cream was light and not too sweet, the bites of brioche were really sweet and a little chewy which went with the ice cream well. The panna cotta itself was creamy and very indulgent, but the apple flavour was lovely with everything else going on. The popcorn garnish was fab too, this was a really good pud.

Brad opted for the Lemon Meringue which was Posset & Curd, Italian meringue, smashed raspberries and candied lemon. Overall, he found this dessert overly sweet to the point where is was a little sickly. However, the meringue pieces were deliciously chewy which gave the dish some texture. Next time, one pudding – two spoons, for sure!

Overall, we really enjoyed our meals and date night at Luke’s / Gin Rickey’s and it is certainly a food-destination I would recommend and return to in the future. Luke’s menu is vibrant, fresh and full of bold flavours and the setting is trendy and relaxed. The staff were also really friendly and tentative, so overall a great location for friends, family, dates or even colleagues if you work in Chester.

 

Luke’s / Gin Rickey’s, 10 ST JOHN ST, CHESTER, CH1 1DA

Follow them on TwitterInstagram & Facebook.


*I was invited to review Luke’s Eating House and did not pay for my meal. However, my opinions are my own and I have been as honest as possible throughout this review. 

Makers Market, Knutsford

On Sunday we visited the Makers Market in Knutsford, and I must say it’s one of the nicest markets I have been to for a while. They have so much stuff on offer. First and foremost, an amazing array of different food stalls, all seemingly quirky and charming in their own little way. From ‘cake in a jar’ made by Alex’s Bakery (yes, literally ready-to-scoff jars of sponge cake heaven – in a jar, with a spoon) to Thai-inspired pies from Orn’s Thai Fusions (who use authentic Thai flavours fused with classic British savouries). Other very noteworthy stalls were Hemingway’s Pasta – from whom which I bought the most delicious pesto which is so fresh, made from only 5 ingredients and it’s freezable. Wood’s Butchers stall also never disappoints, which is always situated right outside their shop. They sell some of the most delicious and succulent sausages I have ever tasted. We didn’t buy any this time as we’re fully stocked at home, but they are always very forthcoming with their pre-cooked (to perfection) samples!

An old time favourite of mine, The Great Northern Pie Company were also there, with some dashing new flavours on offer. It was also great to see some very friendly faces from Altrincham Market – Duncan from Bounceback Foods was there with a beautiful new stall, showing off his fantastic new branding and flyers. His stall is aptly located right opposite the Methodist Church – one of Knutsford’s main food banks. Nice and easy for him to just pop over there with his donations after a hard days graft at the market! Perfect!

After a long and relaxed walk up and down the stalls it was time to get our scran on. I was very excited to learn that Nasi Lemak had a pop-up stall at the Makers Market this weekend, so for me, the lunchtime choice was easy; Sambal King Prawn served with rice, peanuts, crispy anchovies and chillies. Delicious, as always. They were so popular, that by mid-afternoon they had completely sold out of everything. Nice work!

Sambal King Prawn
Sambal King Prawn, Nasi Lemak

My friends opted for pizza, and they were not disappointed. Sourdough bases are hand-rolled in front of your eyes, topped with fresh ingredients and popped in the oven – Wood Fire Smoke do make wonderful pizzas, I can confirm 🙂

Funghi Pizza
Funghi Pizza, Wood Fire Smoke

Just to give you a little insight into what we bought and ate, below are some pictures to whet your appetite. I have tried to link you up to each supplier, but in some instances (rather annoyingly!) these guys don’t always have a website or a social media page, so I have done my best!

Orn's Thai Fusions
Orn’s Thai Fusions

The featured image above is one of these gorgeous Thai-style scotch-eggs, made by Orn’s Thai Fusions. Meaty, totally flavoursome and with a hint of spice. They use duck-eggs so the yolk was lovely and big. It even came with a yummy Thai-style dipping sauce. All for £2. Delicious.

Alex's Bakery - Cake in a Jar
Alex’s Bakery – Cake in a Jar

If you hit the market you simply have to buy one of these little ‘cake in a jar’ things from Alex’s Bakery, who I believe are based in Stockport. Only one photo of the little thing as it was enjoyed with a cup of tea as soon as we got home, and it was honestly delicious. So much nicer than a cupcake, great idea and you get to keep the pretty jar! Lovely.

Bounceback Foods
Bounceback Foods

Bounceback Food sell high quality, staple ingredients on a ‘One for you, One for Society’ basis. That means, every time you purchase a product from them, they donate one of the same quality to your local foodbank. I have worked with Bounceback Foods before, so read more about their amazing cause here.

Above are some snaps of the delicious pizza’s being knocked-out by Wood Fire Smoke. We tried the Funghi (Tomato, mozzarella, basil, portobello mushrooms & white truffle butter) and the Nduja (Tomato, mozzarella, basil & nduja) varieties, and were not disappointed by either. Delicious, fresh and they look amazing too.

I am a huge fan of Nasi Lemak, their Malaysian street-food food is authentic, fresh, vibrant and fast. They are always so busy and all of their signature dishes taste incredible.

Next we bought this awesome pesto from Hemingway’s Pasta. With only 5 ingredients, it really is as fresh as it gets. I love making my own pesto, but this week these guys saved me a job. We teamed it with The Cheshire Smokehouse’s bacon offcuts and spinach for an easy mid-week pasta dish.

After our delicious Pesto pasta dish, we treated ourselves to Jo’s Cheshire Kitchen Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert. You get 2 (big) portions from the box which cost £3.95 which is pretty good value for something completely homemade. As you can imagine it is really sweet, but a big helping of double cream helps to tone it down a little. She has gluten, wheat free and vegan versions available too which is a great idea.

I paid for all of the products/food featured in the above article, and none of the sellers knew I was going to review their products.


 

Food at Glastonbury 2015

Food at #Glasto15

So I just spent the last 6 days in a field, at Glastonbury, camping and watching some of the best live music acts I have ever seen. I made some amazing new friends, ate some unusual but tasty food and managed to survive the whole time without a hot shower (which was easier than I thought it would be!)

This isn’t going to be the longest blog post, as at times my phone was so low on battery I couldn’t even take a photograph of my food, let alone video some of the live acts I went to see (Florence and the Machine, The Libertines, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Groove Armada, Andy C, Jamie T and Mary J Blige – to name a few!) So here’s a little summary of what I got up to, including, of course, what I ate…

Food at Glastonbury 2015

Being ever-prepared for pretty much anything, me and my man Bradley took along a stove, kettle, frying pan and some essential ingredients. So, with a chilled cool-box in tow, we were able to make our own food for the first 2 days. This was a great way to save some money, although we generally didn’t find the food on offer at the festival too over-priced (average price for breakfast is a fiver, average price for a main meal is £7-8). Meals during the first 2 days consisted of homemade bacon butties, egg butties and sausages… all served with BBQ sauce (as we forgot the Ketchup). All in all, pretty decent meals which gave us plenty of energy; much needed considering the sheer size of the festival, walking distance from place to place and of course, the all night rave parties…

Each morning, a guy would come round the campsite selling fresh milk. This was a total life saver, as it meant we could make a brew for ourselves and friends AND make use of the cute mini packs of cereal we brought along (Crunchy Nut, Cheerio’s and Shredded Wheat). Winning at life.

If you can pack light, I would certainly recommend taking a stove and some easy, quick and fuss-free meals with you like we did. It saves you having to shell-out for meals everyday, and will certainly increase popularity at the campsite if you can make a proper brew for a your fellow camp buddies.

As the third day approached, our supplies were either low or no longer edible, so, it was out to forage for food in the markets – and BOY were we spoilt for choice…

A breakfast favourite was Tea & Toast. Basically the coolest, cutest, brightest yellow Citron HV van called Nelly. They served totally yummy vegan and vegetarian breakfasts and stunning teas at various sites across the festival (I spotted 2 in total, but the one we frequented was in The Park.) The best cup of tea I had all weekend was here. My friend bought a cup of tea for the same price from a different nearby vendor – and it was literally grey in comparison. I opted for a toastie (Somerset Cheddar Cheese with Sundried Tomato Tapenade). The bread they use is unbelievably fresh and super-thick and squishy. I only wish I had taken a photograph, but the phones were dead and we were desperate to eat, so as painful as it was I had to go without the usual ‘food porn’ shot… Shame, I KNOW!

Next and worth a mention for sure was Jumping Bean Burrito. My (new) friend Johnson was literally craving a burrito, and it didn’t take too long for us to stumble across this place. They had a pretty big queue too, which seemed like a good sign – so off Johnson went to order the Botanas Beef Burrito, which consisted of: a massive soft tortilla, coriander and lime rice, lean beef Chilli Con Carne, sautéed onions, marinated sweet peppers and black beans, mature cheddar cheese, sour cream, spicy homemade salsa and guacamole. Now, as this wasn’t mine, and I was only allowed one bite, I can only vouch for how tasty that bite was. But, having eaten a lot of burritos in my time I can confirm, it was excellent. I later spotted Jumping Bean on a few locations across the site, so they are seemingly a very popular choice with festival-goers!

The next meal certainly worth a big mention is the Chicken Katsu Curry from Notso Sushi. Katsu curry was pretty popular across the festival, and I tried a couple of versions – this one was by far the best. The rice was perfectly cooked, hot and sticky as it should be and the Katsu Curry sauce had a great little kick. The chicken again was hot a fresh – moist in the middle but the crispy coating still maintaining it’s crunch on the outside. To top it off, and what really set this aside from the other Katsu curries (apart from how good the rice was), was the pink pickled ginger and fresh crunchy edamame beans they served on top. Absolutely delicious. The second-best thing I ate the whole festival.

One of the first meals I ate at the festival was a ‘Diner Deluxe’ Beef Burger from Deluxe Diner, served with American cheese and ‘Burger Sauce’. It also included a pickled Gherkin, sliced tomato and was served on a super-soft white bun. The burger itself was cooked well, slightly pink in the middle and I didn’t get ill… Certainly a good sign! I did think £7.50 was a little too steep for just a burger.. However, the beef did seem of good quality, nothing like the cheap frozen burgers I have seen on sale for similar prices at other festivals. It also tasted great – so I was content!

The ultimate food highlight for me at #Glasto15 has to be these little beauties – Vegan Sushi Wraps from Happy Maki. Their sushi wraps are vegan, vegetarian and super-fresh. The van they serve them out of is also one of the cutest at the festival, it certainly gives Nelly’s the Tea & Toast van a run for his money! Happy Maki start off by reminding punters (on a handy sign,) that sushi is rice, not raw fish. A great marketing move, I thought. So the queue was about 30 people long but I didn’t care – I was eating Sushi on the last day of the festival! Boy oh boy was it worth the wait (about 25 mins). It took me the whole 25 mins to actually decide which one I wanted, but in the end I was not disappointed with the Hoisin ‘Duck’ Sushi Wrap. I asked for extra wasabi, and it comes served with crispy vegetarian duck, hoisin sauce, avocado, roasted sesame seeds, spring onion, cucumber and green pepper. So filling, so easy to eat. The best thing I ate the whole festival.

My boyfriend Brad was tempted by some of the Jerk Chicken on offer across the festival. We came across Fancy That Caribbean Food which was located right next to Happy Maki sushi. He ordered the Jerk Chicken and Rice, with a healthy dollop of sweet mango sauce. Although the jerk chicken was good and full of flavour, it was a little lacking in spice and freshness that some of the other jerk chicken stalls seemed to have. As there was no smoke bellowing from this stall, we assumed everything had been pre-prepared, whereas the other stalls were barbequing jerk fresh and serving on the bone. So in this instance, it was more of a jerk stew – but it was tasty all the same!

Whilst meandering from Glade to The Other Stage to watch Ella Eyre perform, we stumbled across this cute little Samosa place, aptly (although not very creatively) named ‘Samosa Indian Street Food’.  We decided to go for their 4 samosa selection, which cost £5 – overall pretty reasonable. The 4 samosas on offer are outlined above, however, upon tasting each of them I am pretty sure we ended up with 2 of the ‘Bangkok Parcel’s’ – which meant we missed out on one of the 4 flavours on offer (the Spicy Lamb one, I think!) This aside, the other 3 we did taste were delicious, hot and fresh. They also came served with a wedge of fresh lime, fresh coriander and one of 3 dipping sauces (Spicy harissa, mint raita or lime pickle). We went for the Harissa which was combined with yogurt, so not as spicy as I would have liked, but generally hit the spot!

I finally want to give a quick mention to the wonderful Soulful Food Co. who specialise in Stews, curries and hotpots. I did see their lovely stall at Glasto but had already eaten – but I already know how great their food is from my previous blog feature on them, which can be found here. Hoping they had as good a time at the festival as I did!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my round-up of the food I ate at Glastonbury festival 2015, and I hope it’s shown you how diverse and varied the food is across the whole event. This really doesn’t do the sheer variety on offer justice! I also want to say a massive hats-off to the stalls who actually cook all their meals on site too, it’s brave and confident and must be so much fun. I sincerely can’t wait to go back next time and get my teeth around more. The independant foodies do so well to feed all of the drunk and hungry festival punters, well done to all of them for doing such a truly great job!