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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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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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.

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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!)

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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

Thai Street Food at Chilli Banana’s Sunday Buffet

I have been eating Thai food until I pop, again. And this time was even more fun than last time. This time, Chilli Banana Wilmslow were shaking things up at their regular Thai Sunday buffet; introducing more street-food dishes including authentic Thai street carts to serve them up in! I got invited along to sample the whole lot and take some photos of the experience. Here’s how I got on….

We arrived just after 1pm and the place was almost full. Busy across both floors with hungry families, groups of friends and couples (old and young) meandering around the place with full or empty places getting their fill of tasty Thai treats. As we looked at the menu we were amazed at the variety on offer. Our table was upstairs on the terrace (that was covered up, with heaters on) directly opposite a cute Thai cart serving up fresh pork noodle soup… I knew what I was going to try first!

The list of dishes on offer featured an impressive 5 starters, 8 main dishes and 3 desserts plus traditional Thai coffee, all of which were being served up throughout the building. Each serving station had plates and an array of appropriate condiments/seasoning’s to enhance and personalise each dish to your liking.

You guessed correct, we started with noodle soup. Each bowl was made fresh to order by a lovely Thai chef. The dish comprised of a stunningly seasoned broth, pork meat balls, strips of pork, bean sprouts, cabbage and rice noodles.

Once chef had served you a bowl of hot soup, it was then time to top and season. Crushed peanuts and sliced spring onions added lovely texture and even more flavour to the dish. Sugar, fish sauce and chillies added an extra depth of flavour that you could tweak until you got it just how you like it.  This was such a stunning dish and I really couldn’t recommend it enough! A great was to whet the appetite!

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Goyteow Moo Namtok (pork noodle soup) the stunning finished product ❤

Downstairs, in front of the kitchen all of the starter dishes were laid out, being readily topped-up by chefs on the busy shift. We sampled the vast majority of them, and there were a few real stand-out dishes. The Kanom Gui Chai was dim sum stuffed with chives and marinated in sweet soy. They were also referred to as ‘chive cakes’ and they really were delicious.

Another great dish from this selection was the Si Ooah – Northern Thai spicy sausage. This was served in chunky slices, and it was spicy. It was packed full of Thai flavours like lemongrass, chilli and spring onions. I’d not tried this before but I really, really enjoyed it.

The marinated pork and chicken skewers were also gorgeous and the peanut sauce served with the chicken was particularly good. There was also salad bits to choose from if you wanted to keep things light. The only disappointing dish I tried was the vegetarian spring rolls, the filling was a little thin on the ground so all you could really  taste was the pastry.

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selection of Thai starters ❤

By this point, we were starting to get a little full. But there was still sooooo many dishes to taste, so we soldiered on. I wanted to try something a little different so went for the Kow Man Gai – steamed chicken and rice served with cucumber and a rich, fragrant sauce.  The chickens were steamed whole on a rotisserie, which made them unbelievably juicy and tender. I’d not tried a Thai dish like this before but I really enjoyed it and it did feel like quite a clean, healthy option that was still packed full of flavour through the sauce.

Back upstairs, and Bradley was getting stuck into ‘the curry shop’. A stall in the upper floor restaurant that was serving up Raan Kow Gaeng – a selection of Thai red, green and a pork stir-fry curry. We tried the Thai red curry and the port stir-fry… The curry was packed full of bamboo shoots and chicken and had a really nice creamy texture and was mild on the spices. The pork was a little on the salty side for me but overall it was a nice dish and the green beans were really crunchy.

As if that wasn’t enough, we still had some more dishes to try. This was one of my favourites, and I think another lighter option for those wanting to watch the calorie intake. The Pad Thai was stunning. This is one of my favourite Thai dishes, but to have it made fresh to order by a Thai chef and to watch him make it in front of your eyes in the middle of the restaurant is really special. I went for the vegetarian (tofu) option, but they also had chicken.

The finished product was stunning, and again you could add bits and season yourself to get the balance just how you like it with crushed peanuts and fresh lime. It was steaming hot, the tofu and egg tasted fresh and the veggies were crisp and delicious. The chef was a really nice chap too 🙂

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Traditional Pad Thai ❤

So after this epic feast, there was just puddings to go. I must admit, Thai puddings don’t really have anything on English, French or American. But we tried all options with an open mind and were in some cases, pleasantly surprised. First up was the Kanom Krok (coconut cakes) which were again being made fresh on a large purpose made hotplate that gently cooked the coconut milk, rice, sugar and spring onion (yes you read that correctly!) and the other dish we tried was the i-teem Kati (coconut ice cream with traditional Thai toppings). The coconut cakes were nice, quite light and sweet. However, I wasn’t keen on spring onion as a topping, I found this a little too savoury for a dessert!

The coconut ice cream however was delicious. The toppings were a little strange (diced sweet potato in a sweet syrup!) but overall this was a lovely way to end traditional Thai feast, particularly when washed down with a cup of kaffee bolan – Thai coffee served with sweet condensed milk. Naughty, but very nice indeed:-)

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed this culinary adventure and enjoyed the vast majority of all the dishes we tried. I think the introduction of street food to the Sunday buffet is fantastic. It adds a new sense of adventure and makes the whole thing a really fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.

There were lots of families there with young children, so I’d say the buffet was a great place for families and a good way to introduce kids to the exotic flavours of Thailand by allowing them try little bits that they like the look of.

This epic feast has also got us planning our trip to Thailand! Thanks very much to Steve and Mai for inviting me 🙂

Find out more about Chilli Banana on their website here, and to book a table at the Wilmslow Sunday Buffet, contact below:

The Chilli Banana Thai Restaurant,
71 Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire,
SK9 5BQ

T: 01625 539 100

E: wilmslow@chillibanana.co.uk


I was invited to the Chilli Banana to sample the new menu and as such the meal was complimentary, However, as with all of my reviews, my thoughts and opinions are as honest and objective as possible.
Cheshire Food Blogger

What the Pho?!

Before Christmas I ate out at Pho, Manchester, with my little sister Hannah B. We had a bit of a feast. Plus wine. We were catching up, it was a Saturday. It was all very fun indeed. Here’s a little more about the scran…

Pho brings Vietnamese food to Manchester’s Corn Exchange

Set in the newly refurbished and very stunning Corn Exchange, this place is a true delight. Over 3 floors, the ground floor welcomes you to high ceilings, super-cool decor (including trendy neon lights) and a little bar in the corner that serves some great wines, cocktails and beers. We tried their version of a mojito, rather aptly named the ‘Phojito’ and it was sharp, refreshing and delicious. I also highly rated their sauvignon blanc, and Hannah enjoyed the pinot grigio blush as we hungrily scanned the menu…

The starter collection is extensive “dipping, rolling and sharing is what our starters and sides were made for” it reads… Chicken wings, meatballs and summer rolls, to name a few.

We opted for the rather healthy fresh rice paper rolls (aka Gỏi cuốn) – king prawns meticulously wrapped in sticky rice paper with coriander, vermicelli noodles and pickles. You can choose from either ‘nước chấm’ or peanut sauce – we opted for ‘nước chấm’, a sharp, slightly sour chilli sauce that absorbs into the contents of the perfectly stuffed rice paper as you dunk.

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fresh rice paper summer rolls with herbs, vermicelli
& pickle

Being seafood lovers, we also shared the ‘Muc chiên giòn’ – tender fried baby squid with a salt, pepper & lime dip. The dip arrives separately and you get to mix it up yourself at the table, adding to it as you wish the array of table condiments (Siracha, soy or fish sauce). The squid was piping hot, juicy and fresh. We thoroughly enjoyed it.  The portion size was also very generous, so if you’re sharing like we were there is plenty to go around.

For the mains, Hannah went for prawns, again. Yes, there is a theme occurring. She chose the ‘Xào’ which was described on the menu as a ‘stir fry of chilli & greens in a mild gingery sweet sauce’. We both enjoyed it – but I would not, in any way, describe the sauce as ‘mild’. The sauce was in fact rich, light in its consistency (pictured below) and absolutely slapped you in the face with a fist full of tangy ginger and dark soy. It was amazing. But, I fear, possibly slightly misleading when described as mild!

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king prawn Xào stir fry of chilli & greens in a rich, gingery sauce

I, of course, decided to go for the Pho. I went all out and chose a house special; Pho dặc biệt: king prawns, tofu & flash fried steak with garlic in beef broth. The broth itself was full of flavour, piping hot and contained loads of fresh herbs and veggies which was delicious. The prawns were also really big, plump and juicy. The flash-fried beef however, was a little on the tough side. And I thought the tofu overtook the dish a little so I had to leave a load of it out. But apart from that the dish was tasty, filling, warming and fresh. Next time I’m going to try one of the spicy seafood broths instead! No tofu!

Overall we really enjoyed our meals and I am looking forward to returning to try more dishes. The staff were very attentive, although it wasn’t too busy as we visited at 4pm on a Saturday, so in between the lunch and dinner rushes.

Have you been to Pho yet? What did you think? Would you recommend any other  places to eat in Manchester’s Corn Exchange?

I was invited to Pho to review some options from their menu, as during the launch I didn’t get any food as there wasn’t enough to go around. 🙂 However, all opinions are my own and I have tried to be as objective as possible throughout my visit and review.

Sophie -x-

Cheshire Food Blog

Review: new PERK!ER Bars

In theme with my healthy approach to eating and lifestyle, I decided to review these lush new snack bars from PERK!ER.

Packed full of 100% plant-based, natural ingredients such as goji berries, chia seeds, cashew nuts and cacao I thought I would give them a go as part of my daily scoffing and snacking routine. Here’s how I got on…

I was sent the full range of 4 flavours;

  • Cashew, Chia & Pumpkin Seed Quinoa Bar
  • Goji & Cranberry Quinoa Bar
  • Cacao & Cashew Quinoa Bar
  • Cranberry & Cashew Oat Bar Enhanced with Sprouted Buckwheat

and I decided that the best way to try them was either as part of my breakfast, mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack game (which I must admit, is already pretty strong!)

As I commute to work for approximately 45 minutes in the car each morning, my breakfast needs to be quick, nutritious, tasty and easy. My favourites are porridge oats with either chia seeds and honey, goji berries and honey or linseeds and, you guessed it, honey. I just love the stuff! Another common breakfast I turn to (particularly if I’m in a rush, or literally need to eat on-the-go) is an oat protein shake with instant oats and a scoop of flavoured whey protein.

On the day I opt for an oat protein shake – I am always full up until lunch time as the early morning dose of protein really does help keep you fuller for longer. Teamed with the slow-release carbs from the oats, it is a match made in heaven if you need to power through your morning and not be distracted by the need to nibble. However, drinking your breakfast and not eating it can leave you feeling a little hard done by – so I substituted a few oats for a Perkier breakfast bar on the commute to work, and it worked a treat. I opted for the  Cashew, Chia & Pumpkin Seed and Goji & Cranberry Quinoa Bars when doing this and they really balanced well. It was so nice to have something equally as good for me and that tasted fantastic. They also don’t leave you on a sugar high at all like many other breakfast bars do!

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

Next up was replacing my mid-afternoon snack. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know my usual suspects for my afternoon snack are grapes, almonds, sliced plum with almond butter, a rice cake with either almond butter or low fat hummus on top or a small avocado scooped straight out of its skin. Mmmm. Or, if I am totally disorganised and craving sugar – it’s a quick trip to the vending machine for a Twix or a Cadbury’s Snack Bar (you know, the shortbread biscuits ones? Yep. #guiltypleasure.

But these sugary snacks aren’t exactly sustainable. They perk you up momentarily but soon comes the sugar dump – not what I need on the long(ish) drive home so I try to stick to what will give me sustained energy. The Cacao & Cashew Quinoa Bar was my absolute favourite for an afternoon snack. The cacao satisfies the choco-craving whilst still being free of sugar and instead packed full of vitamins and antioxidants. The cashews give a perfect balance of crunch and nuttiness that afternoon snacking is made for! Win-win.

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

The Cranberry & Cashew Oat Bar with Sprouted buckwheat was also really delicious. All the bars seem to have a nice mix of texture, chew, crunch and natural sweetness that are balanced really well.

Although the Perkier bars were sent to me on a promotional basis, I would genuinely recommend them to anyone who is looking to enhance their breakfast or to slay their afternoon-snack game with something really satisfying, nutritional and enjoyable (without the hip-hugging calories of chocolate!)

You can buy Perkier bars from Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Tesco, Ocado, Amazon and Wholefoods Market stores nationwide. They start from 75p per bar or £1.90 for multi-packs so seem good value for money too!

Follow Perkier Foods on Twitter @Perkierfoods and Facebook: PerkierFoods. ❤

Cheshire Food Blog

Brunch (again) at Tomfoolery, Alderley Edge

It’s not a coincidence that I’m writing about brunch, again. I love brunch. It’s the ultimate weekend food. So when I got invited to try the brunch menu at Tomfoolery at 34, Alderley Edge, I just couldn’t resist.

Tomfoolery is a fairly new establishment and it’s safe to say it’s a unique little joint, located on Alderley Edge’s very popular London Road. It’s somehow seamlessly a bakery, café and burger restaurant all in one, which has been impressing its critics and customers since its launch in the summer.

It’s definitely got an eclectic style, which Bradley and I liked very much and felt instantly ‘at home’. It’s full of mismatched furniture, bright and colourful paintings on the walls and very retro wallpaper and lampshades. The theme is clearly focused on 80’s and 90’s film and game memorabilia – with miniature versions of Connect 4 and Hungry Hippos on the tables, which instantly take you back to your childhood in a way that really captures your imagination, and make you feel like a big kid again (not that we need any encouragement!)

We started by ordering coffees. It was 11am on a Saturday (Halloween to be precise) and we hadn’t yet ate or drank a morsel so coffee was in order. Bradley ordered his latte and I my cappuccino, both came served in big, cartoon-themed mugs placed on a vintage side-plate as a saucer and both with a homemade shortbread in the shape of a little cute ghost. A nice touch, we absolutely loved the coffee; strong as it should be but super smooth and the froth was silky and perfect. The biscuit was the bomb too.

Cheshire Food Blog
Cappuccino with home made ghoul-shaped shortbread

We also tried a shake. As although it was brunch, it would be rude not to try one. And you get the vibe that ‘anything goes’ in this place so we ordered a Peanut Butter Oreo Shake to share. Oh, my God. It was delicious. Naughty – but very nice indeed.

Cheshire Food Blog
Peanut Butter Oreo Shake ❤

So, impressed by the decor, mini-games, coffees and shakes – we were ready for what we came here for. The food. We browsed the menu, which had plenty to choose from, 2 pages of brunch delights, in fact and a nice little ‘toast’ section where you can build your own brunch by choosing the toast then a range of different toppings such as rarebit, home-made baked beans or smoked salmon.

Bradley, being the waffle-obsessed being that he is – went for the waffles with Maple Syrup. Except, this time – it wasn’t served with bacon. Tomfoolery’s version comes with fried chicken, and an egg – however you want it (he went for sunny-side up).

And me, being the avocado-obsessed being that I am – went for the smashed avocado, lime, pickled chilli and (poached) egg on a muffin. It was great to see such a healthy option on the menu, amongst others I must add.

Both dishes, overall, were lovely. Bradley did find the fried-chicken-instead-of-bacon a bit of a shock, but we had realised there was no bacon on the menu at all. This is because the guys at Tomfoolery at 34 don’t serve any pork in an effort at attract halal customers. I spoke to them about this to find out more, and they said they feel other meats are as good, if not better, for brunch therefore they don’t see pork as a necessity. It’s clear to see (especially from the eccentric theme of Tomfoolery) that they respect tradition but want to put their own spin and creativity on things and encourage people discover something new as a result… And that we did!

The waffles were delicious, as was the fried chicken, which was crispy, very well-seasoned and very juicy. We were not convinced that the egg went that well with the dish – but it was perfectly cooked as you can see from the picture, the yolk was so runny and the edges were a little crisp, just how we like them. It’s safe to say though, that Bradley is a bacon-maple-syrup kind of guy, as you can see from my last post!

My smashed avocado on an English muffin was lovely – the avocado was fresh and I really liked the addition of pickled chillies. The poached egg was slightly over-cooked for my liking, and the texture of the muffin was quite heavy and dense, but overall the dish was tasty and I enjoyed it.

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

I feel bad pointing out the negativities here, as the guys at Tomfoolery clearly do know how to cook. Their other reviews have been raving. I just think the brunch menu could be tweaked slightly to suit all tastes, and that a few things need perfecting to make the overall experience one to totally rave about.

As we ventured downstairs after brunch, we couldn’t help but have a nosy at the incredible looking cake counter. They had all sorts on offer from giant home-made cakes with loads of wonderful flavour combinations and some epic looking cookies too (the white choc chip and M&Ms ones really caught my eye!) We opted for a slice of the rather seasonal 4 tier pumpkin and carrot cake with honeycomb cream – and it really was delicious. So moist and absolutely packed full of flavour!

Impressive cake counter!
Impressive cake counter!
Cheshire Food Blog
4 tier pumpkin and carrot cake with honeycomb cream ❤

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

It is genuinely impressive that everything is handmade in-house at Tomfoolery, and overall I must conclude it was really great to finally visit these guys, and I can’t wait to go back for a burger!

Cheshire Food Blog
Amazing decor ❤
Cheshire Food Blog
Chefs at work in the kitchen upstairs
Cheshire Food Blog
Wild wallpaper upstairs at Tomfoolery at 34

Follow the crazy world of Tomfoolery at 34 on:

Twitter: @Tomfooleryat34
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tomfooleryat34
Or visit the weird and wonderful website: https://www.tomfooleryat34.com/
Tomfoolery at 34 Burger Joint and Milk Bar, 34 London Road, Alderley Edge, Cheshire, SK9 7DZ.
Cheshire Food Blog

Brunch at No. 12 Easton, Bristol

A couple of weeks ago, Bradley and I went on one of our road-trips to Bristol to visit close friends. It was a bit of a Glastonbury reunion and also an opportunity to see our friends’ really cool new house. It was a weekend of epic proportions; they were amazing hosts and we really did enjoy ourselves… probably a little bit too much judging by the enormity of the hangover that was to follow! But, hey, it was all worth it…

We arrived on the Friday evening, ready bright and early for Saturday’s antics. Our hosts, Becky & Craig, know how much we like cool and quirky places to eat, so they picked out somewhere to take us for brunch on the Saturday morning. We needed something tasty, hearty and filling to keep us going throughout the day… So we headed to No. 12 Easton.

A cool, down-to-earth little coffee house and Deli, situated in the Easton area of Bristol, not far from Stapleton Rd station. The place was busy when we arrived (always a good sign) and the girls on shift were quick to welcome us. They helped us find some seats (as there was 7 of us) outside in the, bright, sunny little courtyard.

IMG_4221

Cheshire Food Blog
Impressive selection of free range cured bacon, pork sausages, chorizo and free range chicken ❤
Cheshire Food Blog
Healthy selection of fine cheeses, butters, cooked meats and pickles ❤
Cheshire Food Blog
A stunning selection of cakes – the short bread was absolutely gorgeous ❤

We ordered a range of brunch/breakfast style dishes, and some of the guys opted for more ‘lunchtime’ options with sandwiches.

I opted for the sausage sandwich with mustard & red onion marmalade. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I have an unadulterated obsession with sausages. The bread was incredible, soft but sturdy slabs of white, bouncy bread – perfect to fuel a day of drinking alcohol in the sunshine! The onion marmalade was sweet and sharp, and the mustard was wholegrain which gave it a lovely, savory kick. The sausages themselves were thin, sliced chipolatas, but very meaty indeed. Delicious.

Brad opted for the waffles and bacon with maple syrup, of course! He tells me it tasted as good as it looked (amazing), even though the table was wobbly and he dropped it on the floor, quickly preceded by him picking it up and devouring the whole thing anyway… strictly adhering to the 3 second rule… of course.

Becky and Craig went all out for the sandwich option and both got the house smoked chicken and gammon sandwich with Pitt Cue sauce and pickles. It looked lush.

The cakes on offer also looked absolutely divine. We had a big slab of shortbread and it tasted amazing – chunky, sweet and buttery. It crumbled perfectly then just melted in your mouth as you washed it down with a cup of their delicious coffee, which they source from Extract Coffee  and Round Hill Roastery. I don’t know much about coffee – but compared to the usual Starkbucks or Costa, this stuff had such an epic depth of flavour somehow and really gave you a nice little wake-up buzz from the caffeine.

Cheshire Food Blog
Epic sausage butty and door-stop bread
Cheshire Food Blog
house smoked chicken and gammon sandwich with Pitt Cue sauce and pickles
Cheshire Food Blog
Coffee with a added art, which does look a little bit like a willy! ❤

Overall this place was great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee or cakes. If you’re in the area I would highly recommend!

Follow No. 12 Easton on Twitter.

No. 12 Easton, Bristol, 12 High St, BS5 6DL.

Cheshire Food Blog

Chilli Banana Thai Street Food, Bramhall, Cheshire

This week I got to go to the launch of a really exciting new eatery in Cheshire: Chilli Banana Thai Street Food in Bramhall. It’s the ‘little sister,’ of the already very well established Chilli Banana restaurant in Wilmslow, but this time with a street food twist that’s focussing mainly on take-away dishes complete with delivery service for the surrounding areas.

The launch evening was from 5-8pm, and on offer was a fantastic range of enticing street food dishes inspired by the streets of Bangkok, Thailand. I really couldn’t resist, so Bradley and I rocked up at 7pm (the earliest we could get there due to traffic issues) with empty bellies and open minds towards this new and exciting concept.

Cheshire Food Blog
One of Chilli Banana’s talented street food chefs, making Pad Thai to order

We were greeted by the very friendly face of Dawn, who took our coats and immediately fetched us a drink – there was lots on offer but we opted for a glass of red wine each. A stunning, fruity glass of Merlot which we both agreed was delicious (some launches serve nasty tasting wine so even before we tasted the food, we were impressed).

The place was packed which was really great to see. I have been to a fair few restaurant launches now and believe it or not some actually have next to no food on offer, which in my opinion isn’t great for a restaurant launch. It also makes it impossible to blog about… After all, how can I blog if I have no yummy looking content or tasty experiences to report back with?

This – my friends, was not one of those occasions…

From Bangkok to Bramhall…

The first thing that caught our eye was THAT PORK. This baby had been slowed cooked ‘since sometime yesterday’ according to the owner, Steve, basically meaning that this beast had been slow cooking for a serious number of hours. The meat was so succulent, juicy and the flavours were amazing – you could taste soy, star anise, a sweetness too – it was all perfectly balanced and everybody was totally blown away by it. I thought this was a great dish for owners May and Steve to choose for the opening night; it was a show stopper that really showcased May’s culinary skills and ability to transform a simple ingredient into something truly amazing. Hats off to the chef!

Cheshire Food Blog
The slow-cooked Thai pork belly ❤

Next we tried the Thai red chicken curry – a burst of fresh, spicy, vibrant flavours that really took your breath away and was so moreish. Lots of green beans too so you got a nice amount of veggies to accompany which was a really nice, fresh touch to the dish.

Cheshire Food Blog
Spicy Thai red chicken curry with green beans

We also tried the Thai green curry – much more mellow and coconut focussed but still light and packed full of flavour.

Cheshire Food Blog
Thai Green Chicken Curry with Thai sticky rice and Aubergine curry on the side ❤

There was Pad Thai being rustled-up to order too, which was really great to see one of their talented cooks at work. This was a veggie option with tofu, which was lovely and firm and gave the sweet yet spiced dish a nice bit of substance, overall a great veggie option. Their menu includes a great variety of noodle dishes too – meat versions of the Pad Thai with chicken or king prawns, or their famous ‘Drunken Noodles’ which come served with either chicken, pork or beef. I’ve had these from the Wilmslow branch and they are absolutely delicious, so if you love noodles make sure you give one of these dishes a try.

Cheshire Food Blog
Pad Thai with tofu ❤

Other dishes freely on offer to sample were the miniature Thai spring rolls with chilli dip, chicken skewer bites and also tempura vegetables. We tried the sweet potato tempura and it was an absolute delight.

Overall, Steve and May were very welcoming and it was clear to see from the turn out that the people of Bramhall are really buzzing about this place. It seems likes a fantastic addition to a place which is already full of foodies who appreciate exciting food. I just know this place will do really well.

I want to say a big thanks to Natasta for extending the invite to me via Twitter, Dawn for the very warm welcome and of course to May and Steve whom it was great to finally meet. Bradley and I are now seriously considering a move to within 1.5 miles of Bramhall, just so we can eat super amazing take-out food each weekend. But, for now, the Bramhall branch’s older sister in Wilmslow will do just fine as a still-loved alternative!

Follow Chilli Banana That Street Food on Twitter and take a look at their full menu offering on their website, here.

Cheshire Food Blog
Glass Noodle Dish ❤
Cheshire Food Blog
Crazy-good Thai street food makes us pull funny faces… ❤
Cheshire Food Blog
THAT PORK and the Thai Green Curry in all it’s glory…
Cheshire Food Blog

Meet the Makers, Selfridges Food Hall

Cheshire Food Blog
Canapé plates being prepared by Selfridge’s Food Hall Chefs

Last month I got to go to a great event at Selfridges Food Hall in the Trafford Centre, ‘Meet the Makers’. Events at the Trafford Centre (Manchester’s largest indoor shopping mall) are usually pretty epic; like the time we got to Dine our way around the Dome… man, that was fun. This time, we were focussed on Selfridge’s and Selfridge’s only, and boy does this place have an eclectic mix of local, artisan and bigger more well known brands – all showcasing their individual offerings.

The event was an opportunity for brands both big and small to show off their products to a load of hungry food and drink lovers. Hopefully it will be a regular event, rotating the suppliers each time to give them all a chance to shine!

I went along with my sister, Hannah; and as we arrived we were taken straight over to meet the lovely Sarah, founder of Hey Little Cupcake. She was manning her stall and poised, ready to teach us how to hand-ice the perfect cookie monster Cupcake. We each had a go at making our own. As if that wasn’t fun enough on its own, we also got to take a “Cupcake Selfie” which was later printed on a Cupcake complete with Violet sparkly icing underneath. One for each of us to take home. Off we went to sample further delights whilst our cupcake selfie was prepared…

Cheshire Food Blog
Hey Little Cupcake – making Cookie Monster Cookies

Next up was wine tasting, and the cupcake making certainly got us ready for a little tipple. It was off to The Wine Shop where the very knowledgeable, Carl, gave us a great talk about sparking wine. The talk was focused on the key differences between the ever popular and ‘wine of the moment’ Prosecco and it’s 2 main counterparts – Cava and of course,  Champagne. We got to sample all 3, and I can confirm these three things: I still love Champagne, Selfridge’s own-brand Prosecco is to die for and Cava still reminds me of my Nan (in a good way!)

Cheshire Food Blog
Fizzy Wine sampling at Selfridge’s Wine Shop

After a little tipple we were ready for some more action. This time, Krispy Kreme invited us over to try our hand at icing our own doughnuts. This was fun. It’s sort of a “dunk and swoop” motion that’s required. I didn’t eat the doughnut though… I’m not really a fan, but my boyfriend Bradley is, so I saved mine for him and I’m pretty sure he ate it in about 4 bites when I got home later that evening 🙂

Cheshire Food Blog
Krispy Kreme Doughnut Glazing skills

It was around this time we headed over to Yo! Sushi, to view a sample of their “Sushi School Masterclass” and of course, eat some sushi! Hosted by the lovely Kat and Kai (pictured below), this was a real chance to see some sushi masters at work. At 23, Kat is Yo! Sushi’s youngest Head Chef and Kai, her  eager Sous Chef showed off her speedy wrapping and chopping skills. They made avocado hand rolls, cucumber and avocado Maki and California rolls with salmon and fish roe on the outside. Very clever indeed. It was great to see how they make the different kinds of sushi shapes – I have yet to try making my own sushi, so would be interested in trying out a full-length class there in the future.

We nibbled on sea-salted edamame beans (yum) whilst the sushi was prepared, and also got to try some of Yo! Sushi’s warm dishes. These dishes are made to order if you’re there as a regular diner (i.e. not on the famous conveyor belt). We went for the chilli beef dish – it was warming with a hint of spice and was a really nice addition alongside the chilled sushi. Also up for sampling was some authentic sake which I really love. The perfect way to wash down sushi!

After sushi, it was time to meet more makers! This time though, back to beverages – we met the very friendly Andy from Just Bee Drinks, a Manchester-based duo of friends who love bees and honey. The two decided to make these wonderfully balanced and refreshing soft drinks by infusing spring water with honey and other natural ingredients like blueberry, ginger and lemon. Which is just genius if you ask me. These little bad boys have been on sale in my gym for a while now and I have purchased them on a couple of occasions before meeting Andy at this event.

It was great to speak to maker direct I really wish the two all the best with these lovely little beverages. My favourite is the Apple, Ginger and a hint of Honey. They are all thirst-quenching and flavourful drinks so I am sure they will be flying off the shelves for a long time to come.

Cheshire Food Blog
Just Bee Drinks

To continue with the tour – yes, we ate more food. Last, but not least, was an impressive showcase of Selfridge’s Food Hall’s ‘party food’ offerings. All prepared by their very own chefs who work onsite. We could see the chefs putting the finishing touches to the canapé-style dishes, and although we were full they just looked too tempting not to try them!

Cheshire Food Blog

Cheshire Food Blog

The quiche was still warm which was really delicious, and it was amazing how much flavour came through each little mouthful. My personal favourite was the blue cheese and chutney, whereas Hannah loved the tomato, mozzarella and basil bites. All gorgeous party food I must say.

Cheshire Food Blog
Canapé plates at Selfridge’s Food Hall

To round things off, we ventured back across to Hey Little Cupcake to pick up our Cupcake Selfie (yes, the cupcake with a an edible photograph of our selfie on it) which pretty much blew my mind. Ha. ❤

Cheshire Food Blog
Our Cupcake Selfie – Hey Little Cupcake

Overall this was a fantastic event and a great opportunity to meet and speak to local, artisan food suppliers. All of which were offering a great range of products to try. The more ‘hands on’ elements were particularly fun, and I hope they host another event like this soon!