Chillies and empowerment, #WithOxfam

As you know, I love chillies. Anything spicy – I’m there.

In my eyes, chillies are a super food. But what makes chillies so great? And why should we be using more of them in our diets?

Here’s my top 5 reasons to eat chillies followed by an awe-inspiring case study from Oxfam; which really proves that chillies are going a long way to becoming a true super food. The little fiery red capsicum’s are being used in Bangladesh to empower women to make better lives for themselves and overcome poverty caused by adverse weather conditions in that part of the world.

red finger chillies

Why I think chillies should be considered super-scran;

They contain a lot of vitamin C (up to seven times more than the average orange)

They add flavour, vibrant colour and warmth (but not always hot-heat) to a variety of dishes

Chillies can increase the speed of your metabolism, and help burn fat

They aid sinus congestion, which is why your noes runs after a hot curry!

There’s such a huge range to choose from, there’s literally a chilli for everyone and every dish!

habaneros variety
habaneros variety

Chillies in action #WithOxfam

So chillies might be good for our health, metabolism and taste buds, but when Oxfam contacted me to see if I wanted to hear more about how they coordinate projects across the world and use chilli farming as a way to empower women out of poverty, I was excited to find out more.

In Bangladesh, many of the poorest people live in areas badly affected by terrible weather conditions like flooding, cyclones and heavy storms. These conditions make communities in the area vulnerable; there is little work and many people are forced to go hungry as their crops and cattle get washed away with the floods.

Due to food being scarce, women need additional support as their husbands are away for long periods, seeking work in the cities.

Oxfam work with their partners in Bangladesh to help flood-hit communities earn an income through growing chillies.  Amazing, right?

Joygun Islam, who’s pictured above, is directly affected by Oxfam’s work. She said:

“We eat less food when there is a flood. We mostly eat dried food, and we try to save some rice if we know the flood is coming.

“Sometimes we have two meals a day, but some days we only have one meal.

“I’ve benefited a lot from growing chillies. I now eat better than I used to before. I wouldn’t be able to eat before but I’m getting good quality food now. I now have some disposable income to spend on things like chicken and fish.”

Joygun is now vice president of her local community based organisation (CBO). The CBO uses chilli production as a practical catalyst to improve peoples lives in these badly affected villages. She’s received full training on how to grow chillies, which she says has given her confidence and self-belief. Her husband now recognises the important contribution she makes to the household income, and this financial boost allows them a more varied and nutritious diet.
Chilli (10)
I fully support this sort of project work and feel that more should be spoken about these incredible projects and how a regular donation can really improve people’s lives in the simplest but most effective ways.
Cheshire Food Blog
Joygun Islam spreads chillies out to dry in the sun, they take between 3 and 11 days to dry thoroughly. The dried chillies are then sorted for quality, colour and size. Only the best go to market.

What can a regular donation do?

£9 can provide a family with manure, organic fertiliser and training in eco-friendly farming techniques.
£24 can provide a family with the tools, seeds and training to set up an allotment, helping them to feed themselves.

Empowering people to help themselves is key to a sustained solution to overcome poverty. Women like Joygun can now give their children nutritious food and prepare for future disasters.

I hope you have enjoyed this read and finding out more about this type of project. This is just one of many, many initiatives Oxfam run to help beat poverty across all corners of the world. The next story I am going to feature is about coffee production in Honduras, so keep your eyes peeled for that one and in the meantime follow Oxfam on Twitter for their latest project updates ❤

Dried Chillies for sale in the market <3
Dried Chillies for sale in the market ❤
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Sunday round up. 28/02/2016

What a week!

This was the week I really upped my overnight oats game, all part of a blog feature I’m doing at the moment in collaboration with Holland and Barrett. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that this week I posted an image that started a little bit of debate. The below image is of my overnight oats with a dollop of manuka honey on top. Some people thought it was an egg yolk… You’ll just have to take my word for it; it wasn’t!

Cheshire Food Blog

This week I also attended a fantastic cookery class in Wilmslow, run by the lovely Gemma AKA You Say Tomato. She showed us how to cook 3 really easy ‘Deliciously Doable’ dinners, and we sat back and relaxed whilst she whipped them up in front of our eyes.

Quite the hostess, there were nibbles and drinks provided too, and it was all based at her lovely house.

I discovered how utterly divine polenta can be when cooked right (image below of Gemma’s “lemony mushroom ragu on oozy polenta with kale pesto“) which really, honestly, blew my mind. Read more about my evening at You Say Tomato on the blog later this week.

Cheshire Food Blog

So what else has happened this week? I reviewed some Bombay mix flavour crisps and wasabi flavoured popcorn on the blog. Which were very scrumptious snacks indeed.

I also watched the Brit Awards, did you? I have officially decided I’m a ‘Bieliber’ now too, his performance was great. James Bay played guitar for him on stage, which made it for me and really captured my attention. I also thought Rihanna killed it, and the tribute to David Bowie at the end was awesome.

And to end a great week – we had family friends over to stay. I cooked a Moroccan feast, in a tagine from Morocco and using all the authentic spices. Keep your eyes peeled for the recipe to follow.

Our friends brought their puppy along to stay (she’s called Billie and she’s a blue Staffordshire Bull Terrier), and I thought, as it’s Sunday, you might enjoy another doggy picture. So here you go…. JUST LOOK AT HER! 💓😍💓

Cheshire Food Blog

Finally, I had a CRACKING gin and tonic at the Bull’s Head, Mobberley (my local) which was beautifully garnished with lime peel and juniper berries.

Cheshire Food Blog

I hope you’ve all had a great week too.

With love,

Sophie -x-

Ten Acre snacks.

I really love crisps. They are my ultimate favourite snack, ever. Did anyone read this recent article in the Guardian, about the potential fall of crisps due to the rise and shine of posh popcorn? Well I did. And it made me a little sad. I for one don’t think Brits will ever fall out of love with crisps. And I don’t think they will every be fully replaced by ‘poshcorn’ either.

Which is exactly why, when a company called Ten Acre snacks (who specialise in both varieties of snack) contacted me I was excited to taste them, and see just how a brand can target both crisp lovers and popcorn addicts simultaneously.

Surely one product would be stronger than the other? Surely most flavours would be savoury, thus making them not so appealing to all the sweet-toothed Tessies out there?

I simply had to investigate…

A Manchester based company with a ‘free from’ attitude

Brought to us by Yumsh Snacks who say they make snacks that everyone can enjoy, and when they say everyone, they mean everyone. Pioneering a concept they call ‘free-from plus’ their snacks boast an impressive list of things they are free from:

Gluten, dairy and MSG. Plus, they are vegan, halal and kosher.

So, if that’s what they are free from, the what are they full of? First of all they are British. All of their potatoes, flavourings and packaging are sourced from the UK. And they are made in small batches in the UK too, which I think is very impressive.

I was very generously sent their full range of 10 flavours of hand-cooked crisps, and seven flavours of hand-picked popcorn. Here’s my summary of their stand-out flavours (the full list of flavours is at the bottom of this post).

Crisp taste-testing

The Secret Of Mr Salt – Ready Salted Crisps

I know what you’re thinking. Why is she starting with the boring flavour? Well, my friend. These are not boring. They were the first packet I sampled and they were delicious. It was mainly the texture that got me (which is applicable to all other flavours I sampled).

They have the most delicious crunch – but aren’t too hard like some other hand-cooked crisps out there. Lightly salted but enough so that the seasoning can cut through a decent scoop of plain hummus (which I enjoyed alongside the packet). A fine bag of crisps indeed.

When the Pepper Crack’d – Black Pepper and Sea Salt Crisps

As above, but with lashing of freshly ground black pepper. Which gives them a great little kick. Also sensational alongside a good pot of hummus for dipping.

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beautiful Bombay spices

When Bombay Got Spicy – Bombay Spice Flavour Crisps

I love Bombay mix, and have honestly never come across a bag of crisps this flavour before. They were delicious, warming, spicy and a great balance of flavours that really did remind me of a handful of Bombay mix. These would be great by the bowlful when you have friends over as something a little different and unexpected.

Pastrami In The Rye – Pastrami Flavour Hand Cooked Crisps

These little beauties were peppery and salty and meaty, all with the same great texture and crunch. Again, another well executed and innovative flavour. Making Walker’s weird and wonderful range look even more horrendous!

 

The Story of When the Cheese Met the Onion – Cheese and Onion Flavour Crisps

Cheese and onion are my favourite flavour crisps, and I have to admit I like the Walker’s variety. Other attempts at cheese and onion just seem to take it too far. Kettle Chips’ mature cheddar and red onion are too intense: too cheesy, and too onion-y. These ones however don’t try to be overly fancy. They are just cheese and onion, very well done.

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delicious crisps with a crispy crunch (that doesn’t break your teeth)

Popcorn taste-testing

Sweet and Salty 

I’m starting with this one, as in our house, we consider ourselves connoisseurs of sweet and salty popcorn varieties. I know that’s not a thing, but trust me – it should be. We have tried alllllllll the brands. And we have our favourite. Here’s how this one holds up: The balance between sweet and salty is good. The sweet pieces are in the form of crystallised chunks that have a light crunch to them. And the rest are dusted with a light salty powder.

So they haven’t quite replaced my favourite brand yet, but their other inventive flavours more than make up for it…

Wasabi 

Well, this flavour is amazing. The best wasabi flavoured product I have tested to date (apart from the real thing). Hot, spicy, gets up your nose a little bit like English mustard. Again, this flavour features the light, crunchy, crystallised kernels which had an almost sweetness to them. Mindbogglingly full of flavour. Nailed it.

Cappuccino

I took one look at this flavour in the extensive collection and thought ‘no’. Just no. Cappuccino flavour? That will be awful, I said. There’s no way that one will work, I said. So I left it until last. Boy, on boy, was I wrong. It was my second favourite after the wasabi and completely different. Much sweeter than I had imagined, with a subtle coffee flavour that added a welcomed bitterness. Delicious and very clever indeed. Hats off, chef.

Overall, I really enjoyed this taste test

The fact that these products are made self-contained here in the UK is great – it’s nice to see a company really embracing what we have here instead of importing bits and bobs from elsewhere.

I thoroughly enjoyed both the crisps and the popcorn, but slightly more so the crisps as they are pretty much my Achilles heel. Their flavours are inventive, well executed and their branding is cute and honest. Packaging lovely. I am not surprised they have won awards. They are a really great product, and there is something for everyone.

You can read more about Ten Acre snacks on their fun and cute website.

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All available flavours:

  1. The Secret Of Mr Salt – Ready Salted Crisps
  2. When the Pepper Crack’d – Black Pepper and Sea Salt Crisps
  3. When Bombay Got Spicy – Bombay Spice Flavour Crisps
  4. Pastrami In The Rye – Pastrami Flavour Hand Cooked Crisps
  5. How Chicken Soup Saved The Day – Chicken Soup Flavour Crisps
  6. When the Chilli got Sweet – Sweet Chilli Flavour Crisps
  7. The Story of When the Cheese Met the Onion – Cheese and Onion Flavour Crisps
  8. The Amazing Adventures of Salt and Vinegar – Salt and Vinegar Flavour Crisps
  9. When Hickory Got BBQ’d – Hickory BBQ Flavour Crisps
  10. The Day Sweet and Sour Became Friends -Sweet & Sour Flavour Crisps
  11. Cousin Maisie’s Fennel and Lemon Popcorn – Fennel and Lemon Flavour
  12. Ambrose Popperley’s Wasabi Popcorn – Wasabi Flavour
  13. Aunty Winifred’s Sweet and Salty Popcorn – Sweet and Salty Flavour
  14. Captain Theodore’s Lime and Sea Salt Popcorn – Lime and Salt Flavour
  15. Cornelius Popperley’s Sour Cream and Chive Popcorn – Sour Cream and Chive Flavour
  16. Lucia Popperley’s Cappuccino Popcorn- Cappuccino Flavour
  17. Cousin Penelope’s Strawberry & Cream Popcorn – Strawberry & Cream Flavour

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Sunday round up. 21/02/2016

This week has been a little up and down.

Mainly ups, but some downs. Then I read this article thanks to my best friend, Jodie, and things seemed to gain a little perspective. If you haven’t yet read it, I urge you to. I think it’s applicable to most people. It’s addressed “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind In Life” but is a particular good read if you’re possibly, potentially, maybe having a brief  ‘mid-twenties’ crisis. You’re welcome.

A highlight of this week, without a shadow of a doubt, was curry night at my old man’s. It’s also his birthday today – so shout out to Pete and happy birthday from your number one favourite blogger, Sophie’s Scran!

Dad loves curry. He always has done, always will do. His recent stint living in north Manchester and desire to take a ‘healthier’ approach to eating curry almost daily, saw him ditch the takeways and has started making his own from scratch instead.

Curry Night at Dads (9)
chicken tikka, wholespices and spices simmering in the pan with masala gravy

Inspired by a cookbook he got this Christmas (Atul Kochhar’s Curries of the World), he’s been experimenting will all sorts of new, authentic Indian flavours and techniques. So on Wednesday he made Atul’s British chicken tikka masala complete with homemade chapatis and chickpea dhal. Served with wholespice infused basmati rice. We even tweeted a picture to the twice Michelin starred man himself (Atul, that is), and he kindly tweeted back with his approval. Well done, Dad!

 

Curry Night at Dads (10)
homemade fresh chapatis, ready to be dry-fried in the skillet
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puffing up to perfection, Dad’s homemade chapatis
homemade masala gravy - the basis of many curries in Atul's book
homemade masala gravy – the basis of many curries in Atul’s book
the finished feast ❤

Sticking with the positives, we are dog-sitting this week for Brad’s parents. It’s so lovely to have their staffy/collie cross, Vinnie, with us this week. We took him on a three hour trek around Tatton Park yesterday, which also gave me the opportunity to browse their food offerings…

In the Housekeeper’s Store they sell all sorts of fancy local ingredients including venison reared on site. I’m making a Moroccan tagine for friends next week, so picked up some mutton, which I thought might be nice instead of lamb. All will be revealed next week!

In the meantime, here’s a cute picture of Vinnie absolutely living the dream after his walk!

It's a dog's life!
It’s a dog’s life!

Have YOU had a good week? I sure hope so. Happy Sunday, anyway.

Sophie -x-

Korean pancakes with leftover roast beef

As you can probably gather from my blog, I don’t have the sweetest tooth. In fact, I’d go as far to say I’m not really a fan of sweet things. THERE, I SAID IT!

I wanted to share with you my version of these savoury pancakes I made last night, a variation on this great recipe from the Three Little Pigs blog ❤ thank you, ladies!

This version serves 2 and takes about 20 mins from start to finish. It’s a great alternative to sweet pancakes, and possibly the best way of using leftover roast beef EVER.

What you need

For the dipping sauce

  • 1 tsp of sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 ½ tsp of rice vinegar

For the pancake mix

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water, plus a splash extra if the mixture is too thick
  • 1 large egg (preferably free range!)
  • 100g of cooked beef, shredded or thinly sliced (reserve some for serving if desired)
  • half a courgette, spiralized or use a peeler to cut into ribbons
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • handful of coriander leaves, for serving
  • Sunflower oil for cooking

What to do

For the dipping sauce, mix all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

For the batter, combine the flour, water and egg. Add a splash more water if the mixture is too thick. The add in the remaining ingredients, mix well and season with a little salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, ladle in half of the mixture and spread around the pan so it cooks evenly.

Cook on a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes until the bottom turns golden brown. Shake the pan every minute or so to ensure it doesn’t stick. Flip the pancake and fry for a further two-three minutes on the other side, until the cooked through and the pancake is crisp.

Repeat the process one more with the second half of the mixture. Cut the pancakes any which way you like, or serve whole. Top with the coriander leaves and extra shredded beef (if reserved), drizzle on some of the dipping sauce and serve with the rest of the sauce to dunk!

Garlic-roasted veg with whole wheat fusilli

In my opinion, meal prep is the only way you can guarantee eating healthy, tasty lunches throughout the week. At work, I’m super busy, so I don’t have time to faff about going out for lunch. Plus, I don’t want to spend unesseccery money on stuff that doesn’t make me feel good about what I’m eating.

This is one of my favourite desk lunch recipes. It’s quick and easy, full of texture and flavour and can be made ahead in bulk. Plus it’s a great way to use up nearly-stale bread instead of wasting it. Just wazz up one to two slices in a food processor and you’re away.

This recipes makes 2 hearty lunch portions and takes about 20 mins to rustle up.

I was recently sent some healthy infused rapeseed oils from Borderfields as part of their #IsBetter campaign. I already really rate rapeseed oil as an alternative to olive oil, as it’s much lower in saturated fat but still great to cook with. These infused oils are lovely and will be cropping up in a few of my recipes this month. Thanks to Bordefields for sending them over!

What you need

For the roast veg:

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 peppers (whichever colours you prefer)
  • 2cloves garlic, whole
  • 2tbsp. garlic infused rapeseed oil (I used Borderfields)
  • handful of cherry tomatoes

For the pasta:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic infused rapeseed oil
  • 140g whole wheat fusilli
  • 50g fresh brown breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano all work well)
  • handful of fresh basil, roughly torn, plus extra to serve
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Roughly chop the veg and arrange in a roasting tin along with the 2 cloves garlic. Drizzle with the oil and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to make sure everything is coated. Pop in the middle of the oven for 35 mins, tuning once halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta until al-dente. In a large saucepan, heat the other 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the breadcrumbs, dried herbs and minced garlic, stir well. Heat gently until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, but make sure they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil leaves.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir well to ensure everything is coated. Add a little hot water if you feel the mixture needs loosening a little.
  4. Separate the pasta mixture in to two Tupperware’s and top each with the roasted veg and a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese. Keeps in the fridge well for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or re-heated in the microwave for lunch!

What are your favourite pasta dishes, or healthy make-ahead lunches? Use the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Cheshire food blogger

Sunday round up 31/01/2016

So, it is finally here. The end of January. I think I speak for us all when I say. THANK. GOODNESS!

It’s been 6 long weeks of ‘dry January, or ‘Veganuary‘ and all sorts of other efforts people make to change their lifestyle habits for the better. As you probably know, I haven’t participated in either this year – but I have been keeping an eye out on the experiences of others. And feel like I have learnt some lessons (all be them vicarious) in the process. Here’s my round-up of January happenings…

 

Veganisim is probably on the rise. You know I love meat. And cheese. And eggs. But, saying that, I also love meat-free feasts on a regular basis too. And do make a conscious effort not to overindulge when it comes to eating meat (for reasons related to health, budget and sustainability). Brighton-based food blogger Cate in the Kitchen went on a Vegan-adventure this January. It was very interesting to watch. She came up with some cracking recipes and also failed quite epically one on occasion when she ate a cheese burger with all the toppings from Meat Liquor. Very entertaining indeed. Catch up here.

Food waste is still a trending food topic. It’s still making the headlines. It’s still a huge issue. And I can’t tell you enough how much I absolutely hate food waste. In an attempt to minimise food waste in my house, I have started to use Google Sheets to plan meals, build my shopping list and make use of things I already have in the cupboards/fridge/freezer before buying more. These efforts, along with online shopping, are so far working well to keep food waste in my house to a minimum. If you would like £20 off your first shop at Ocado…. click here. If you would like my recipe for this bacon, pea and spinach pesto pasta for the Staple Food Challenge click the image below:

Bacon, Pea and Spinach Pesto Pasta (4)

Pescatarianism kind of sort of appeals to me. A little bit. Watching Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Food Fight this week made me really crave seafood. As did my visit to the Seafood Pub Co. I eat seafood quite often as I really do love it. But I don’t incorporate it into my diet regularly enough. This week I have ordered some mackerel, seabass and have cod and king prawns in my meal plan for the week so will be experimenting with some new recipes. Whether or not I can give up meat to go entirely pescatarian, however, is another matter. But a damn sight easier than veganism! That’s for sure.

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Giving up booze is one thing. But moaning about it… is another. I’m sure giving up booze for January is a great way to detox and lose a few pounds. But I have seen so many people on Twitter (and in person) moaning about it. IF YOU WANT A GLASS OF WINE JUST HAVE ONE!

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And finally… I booked a holiday. A trip to Northern Italy. To flounce around eating red meat and carbs and cheese and drinking the finest of wines. And I can’t bloody wait.

What have your thoughts been on January and it’s many trials and tribulations? Are you as glad to see the back of it as I am? Share yours thoughts (and rants, if needed, in the comments below!)

Sophie -x-

Cheshire Food Blogger

The Fenwick, Lancashire, Seafood Pub Co.

The Fenwick is set in the quaint, Lune Valley village of Claughton which is between Lancaster and the more picturesque Kirkby Lonsdale. Part of the Seafood Pub Company group who have seven pubs across Lancashire (four of which offer rooms to stay over), it’s rooms have recently been refurbished. The main building is over 250 years old, which means lots of character both inside and out with oak floors, beamed walls and ceilings, and stunning open fireplaces. The traditional but stylish décor and friendly staff also add to the overall charm of this wonderful place.

Cheshire Food Blog

We arrived at 5pm and were greeted by Chris, a very friendly face who signed us in, offered us a drink at the bar and showed us to our room. He explained that all rooms were in the out-buildings, which was a very short walk round to the side of the pub’s main entrance.

Cheshire Food Blog

The room was beautifully welcoming, very nicely decorated and smelt just a little of fresh paint. Scenic black and white framed photography adorned the walls and the general colour scheme was cream, light greys and charcoal with gingham throughout. We stayed in the Deluxe Double Junior suite, which comprised of a double bed, dressing table, small bay window and a hallway that lead to the bathroom. The room was carpeted and had a lovely flat screen TV on the wall and a great selection of speciality and traditional teas and coffees, with fresh milk available if requested.

The soft furnishing were particularly luxurious, from the thick, super-soft and warm woollen throw to the lovely cushions on the bed. I also really liked the wooden wall cladding which really added to the stylish feel of the room.

The room had a big wardrobe built-in to the wall in the hallway that connected the bedroom to the bathroom. Ideal if you were staying for a couple of nights and a good use of the space, I thought. The door to the bathroom was a stunning dark oak with a black latch; which matched the polished, oak-cladded floor in the bathroom and the beautiful beamed ceilings throughout the main bedroom.

The bathroom was stunning. The floor was warm and welcoming, the towels were pristine, white and fluffy and the shower was huge; with one giant head then a smaller head which could be removed and used separately. The bath was also very generous, roll-top in style with the traditional taps and shower-head in the middle. Definitely room for two!

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

As we arrived back downstairs for dinner, we were greeted by a busy, bustling restaurant and a queue at the bar – always a good sign! I ordered a gin and tonic, and Bradley a cider. I was offered a choice of gins, and I must say, I am not much of a connoisseur so I opted for Bombay Sapphire and Bradley had a pint of the Aspall’s Harry Sparrow cider; a lovely, medium-dry taste.

The gin was delicious. It was garnished with fresh orange peel and served with Fevertree tonic which is just divine. The orange peel really added a beautifully fragrant taste to the drink, which I drank the vast majority of before remembering to take the photograph… Oops!

So – onto the food. As it’s the Seafood Pub Co. we thought ‘when in Rome,’ and being avid seafood lovers we were really excited to see so many enticing dishes on the specials board. However, note that The Fenwick is named a ‘Steak and Seafood Pub’ and there was an impressive steak offering on the menu too – all cooked on their Robata grill (a Japanese style grill which uses fire and flame to cook meat and fish with maximum flavour).

Cheshire Food Blogger

To start, I opted for the mussels, which were actually served in a creamy cider sauce with bacon pieces and toasted brioche (our server, Harry, explained the dish had changed since the specials board was written!)  Bradley went for the king prawn bruschetta (from the normal menu) served with cherry tomatoes on garlicky toasted, crusty bread.

Both starters were delicious. The mussels were HUGE, juicy and so clean with the beards fully removed (an absolute must if you ask me). The brioche was lightly toasted and not too filling, which I thought was an excellent accompaniment. The sauce was delicious and a really lovely consistency that was perfectly seasoned… I practically licked the bowl clean. 🙂

Brad’s prawns were also humongous. Juicy, meaty and cooked to perfection. He devoured the entire thing, even all the tomatoes, which surprised me as he’s not the world’s biggest fan of vegetables… A really delightful and satisfying pair of starters.

Onto the mains, and I just could not resist the black cod. It tasted as good as it sounded on the specials board, and as it looked. Two big pieces of black cod were served on a bed of noodles, and although the flavours of the dish were strong – the cod held its own in being the centre of attention with its silky texture and naturally buttery flavour. A hint of spice from the fresh red chilli was excellent – one of the best fish dishes I have eaten.

Brad opted for the tuna steak, again from the normal menu rather than the specials board. Harry asked how he would like it cooked – pink or cooked-through. Having opted for pink, when the dish arrived we both agreed it was the largest tuna steak we’d ever seen! Extremely succulent and full of flavour and seasoned really well. The creamed spinach beneath was also delicious, and the Parmesan fries were the cherry on top. A really great dish.

We ordered a bottle of the Chablis to accompany our meals. It was light, crisp and slightly fruity and went really well with all of the dishes we ate.

For pudding- we kept things really simple. We chose the caramel chocolate pot with salted peanut praline. It was like eating a posh Snickers bar. Really delicious and a nice way to end an excellent meal.

Cheshire Food Blogger

After a great night’s sleep in the comfy bed (with plenty of decent pillows) we were down from breakfast at the agreed time for 9:30am (you could choose any time from 7-10am). Fresh fruit, juices, bread to toast, cereals and fresh milk were laid out on a table for you to dig in which accompanied the main breakfast, which you selected from the menu.

We ordered coffees, the Lancashire Breakfast and the Wild Mushrooms with poached eggs on toasted brioche. Both dishes were delightful – the breakfast was so fresh and a nice touch was that the hash browns were home made, and delicious. The eggs were as fresh as they get with bright orange yolks, and the mushrooms on the toast were full of flavour and varying ‘meaty’ textures. My only gripe would be that the coffee wasn’t great. A simple cafetiere of coffee with a sugar cubes instead of sachets would have been a nicer touch than the machine coffee, but other than that I really cannot complain.

After a truly hearty breakfast to set us up for the day, we were ready for an adventure. We decided not to do the local walk as we only had wellies and the floor was too icy for a hilly trek. So we drove along the beautiful countryside to Kirkby Lonsdale and then up to Lake Windermere which in total is about a 40 min drive up the road. Kirkby Lonsdale had some lovely, quirky shops and restaurants and Windermere was it’s usual, picturesque self (especially in the snow!)

Cheshire Food Blogger

Cheshire Food Blogger

Cheshire Food Blogger

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Fenwick and would highly recommend it as a romantic getaway or a trip away with family or friends. The staff were a lovely bunch with an excellent sense of humour. The food is of excellent quality; from sourcing the finest seafood and ingredients, to creating a menu that is varied, creative and very well-executed. The rooms, decor and finishing touches are also to an excellent standard.

I very much look forward to visiting more of the Seafood Pub Co.’s establishments and trying some more of what they have to offer.

To book a table or room at The Fenwick in Lancashire, visit seafoodpubcompany.com for more information.


We stayed and dined as guests of The Fenwick and paid for all optional extras. All opinions and images are my own. ❤
Cheshire Food Blogger

The Railway Cafe, Alderley Edge

This place is kind of a dream. I visited late last November with my good friend Becky to celebrate her birthday. We both love adventurous food, gin, cocktails and decent restaurants with a bit of character so we thought this place sounded perfect. We visited on a Saturday taking advantage of their early bird deal: 20% off if you order before 6pm which I thought was a really great offer.

From the outside, the place looks warm, cosy and inviting. You walk in through a dark, curtained porch then straight into the bar and dining space. The place has plenty of character: the dark polished wooden floor has panels of intricately pattered tiles and the general décor is rustic and trendy. When a place gives me ideas for the decoration my own house, I automatically feel at home.

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When we arrived, the place was empty, but it was early and the staff were seemingly preparing themselves for a busy evening ahead. They gave us the best seat in the house; a cute table for 4 in the middle of the restaurant, opposite the bar.

We first perused the impressive cocktail menu – a great mix of gin cocktails; some short, some sweet, some with a spicy twist (guess which one I went for?). As it was back in November, and I can’t remember exactly which ones we chose: all I will say is that Becky’s was sweet, mine included chilli. They were both delicious. We drank 2, each.

Ready to eat – we studied the menu. It’s a mixture of snacks/nibbles, small plates, large plates (you can tell roughly by the price of the dish how big in size it is likely to be – advice from the manager who gave us the menus and offered to talk us through them). As we were spoilt for choice we decided on a mixture of small plates to share.

We ordered/devoured:

  1. Lamb Sliders mini lamb burgers in a toasted brioche, garlic mayo, cucumber raita and pickled onions
  2. Chilli Imli Chicken Wings ginger-tamarind glaze and cracked black pepper
  3. Super Green & Quinoa Salad with kale, tender stem broccoli, poached pear, asparagus, chilli and candied pistachio
  4. Beetroot & Avocado cumin yoghurt and garlic toasts
  5. Gunpowder Chips hand cut and served with garlic mayonnaise

It was kind of a feast. We could have done without the chips, but they were beautiful, and we thought it’s Becky’s birthday so ‘f*ck it’. No regrets.

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The lamb sliders were amazing. The meat was slightly pink in the middle, absolutely packed full of warmth and flavour from a gentle array of seasoning and spices and the accompaniments really complimented and enhanced the flavours. The buns were so, so soft and squidgy too. They were delicious.

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The chilli imli wings were also divine. So fresh and steaming hot, they arrived first with finger bowl to-boot. This was going to be messy. Sweet, sticky, meaty morsels of satisfaction. The portion size was impressive too.

The quinoa salad was an explosion of sweet, healthy flavours that did well to cleanse the palate between mouthfuls of the other dishes. In it’s own right, it was a big bowl of goodness that was filling enough to eat with perhaps just one other small plate as a main course for one person.

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The beets and avocado were lovely, so many layers of flavour and texture from the crunchy toasts to the sliky texture of the beet/avocado salsa on top. The ‘gunpowder’ chips were chunky, fluffy in the middle, crisp on the outside and seasoned really well with a dusting of chilli and paprika.

Somehow we had room for pudding, but again, we opted to share. We went for this delightful little chocolate and coconut mousse with coconut shavings, strawberries and big shards of thin, dark chocolate that just melted in your mouth. It was light but delicious and a great way to end such an absolute feast.

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Overall I was really impressed with the exciting and well-executed menu that The Railway Cafe has to offer. These guys also own two excellent Indian restaurants in the area (Mughli in Knutsford and Rushholme – the latter being my favourite of the two because of it’s more laid-back style). Find details on them both and Railway Cafe at them at www.mughli.com or tweet them @mughli. ❤


Note: We paid for our meals and Railway Cafe did not know I was reviewing their food.
Cheshire Food Blogger

Sunday round up. 17/01/2016

Ok so I forgot to post my weekly round-up yesterday, whoops. Here it is, in a nutshell, with pics. ❤ #HappySunday

  1. In the news this week experts suggested labels be added to food packaging to show how much exercise is required to burn the calories consumed. In all honesty, this idea shocked me. Can’t people be trusted to find out for themselves?! And what if someone generally lives a healthy lifestyle but eats the odd pizza on occasion. Do we really need to be guilt-tripped into an oblivion? No. We do not. LEAVE US ALONE!!
  2. My fluffy eggs recipe got featured in a proper recipe eBook which features “Breakfast in Bed” recipes from nine food bloggers from around the country! Exciting times indeed. Download the FREE eBook here.
  3. I ate black cod for the first time, at a wonderful pub in Claughton, Lancashire. It was delicious. More on that on the blog later this week!
  4. I discovered Evelyn’s, a new restaurant in Manchester and it was stunning. The menu is full of deliciousness, but I tried their Korean fried chicken and seafood ramen and mdog.me has added it to the #JanuarySales section on his site…. Check it out and grab 50% off their amazing food while you can!
  5. I went to the Lake District. It was proper snowy up there. Real, crisp, bright white snow. Everywhere. It was a wonderland ❄️ and must have made a welcome change to the sodding rain for the locals.
how many calories........? WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!
how many calories……..? WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!
Cheshire Food Blogger
Black cod. What a thing of beauty ❤
Cheshire Food Blogger
delicious seafood ramen at Evelyn’s – get 50% off in January whilst you can