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!
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.
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! 💓😍💓
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.
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).
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lamb Sliders mini lamb burgers in a toasted brioche, garlic mayo, cucumber raita and pickled onions
Chilli Imli Chicken Wings ginger-tamarind glaze and cracked black pepper
Super Green & Quinoa Salad with kale, tender stem broccoli, poached pear, asparagus, chilli and candied pistachio
Beetroot & Avocado cumin yoghurt and garlic toasts
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ok so I forgot to post my weekly round-up yesterday, whoops. Here it is, in a nutshell, with pics. ❤ #HappySunday
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!!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Kow Man Gai
Thai red curry and pork stir-fry
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 🙂
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,
T: 01625 539 100
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.
I thought I would treat you all to a last-minute Christmas gift guide. I am not the most organised of shoppers, usually opting for a hectic dash around the shops the week before…
So if you’re doing your Christmas shopping this week, like I am, these gifts might just make it in time for Christmas!
notonthehighstreet.com is a great website if you’re looking for something a bit different.
Their lovely food-themed framed images would brighten up any food lovers kitchen or dining room. I think the British foods map or the one that just says FAMILY, FRIENDS, FOOD, FUN are particularly stylish/charming. And reasonably priced.
Personalised food jars
Both Marmite and Nutella are offering personalised jars this year. You can do the Marmite ones via their Facebook page and Nutella have stall in most Selfridges stores where they label them while you wait.
Great little stocking fillers, and they can be washed out and kept afterwards to store pencils on your desk. Cute!
Food Photography Workshops
If you know someone who enjoys photography and loves eating street food – this is the perfect, practical gift. A Street Food Photography Workshop where you get a guided tour around London’s street food hotspots snapping images along the way.
Sounds like a fun, visual and culinary adventure and an opportunity to learn and make friends too.
For the organised foodie
If you know a foodie who likes everything just-so, then they might appreciate these. These mini Kilner jars means they can organise their spices, and even store them outside of the cupboard on a shelf for easy-access that looks good too!
These are also kind on the environment as they encourage you to then buy the re-fill packets instead of new plastic or glass jars each time – so in the long run better value for money too. Win-win for the practical food lover.
Gifts for Dads of Grandads
Food-themed gift boxes – men are notoriously difficult to buy for, but also quite ‘easily pleased’ if you get it right. My advice is to keep it simple when buying for the men in your life – be it brother, boyfriend, dad or grandad. If they like food and drink (most men do, right?) then something like ‘The Man Box’ from the Portly Grocer should hit the spot!
The Portly Grocer also make these wonderful wooden cheese larders, which are beautiful if you know someone who appreciates good cheese and is passionate about it. They are perfect for a dinner party too, with a bottle of port and some grapes. Yum.
And if you’re still left scratching your head…
Then buy something that will really benefit someone else. Oxfam sell an amazing range of ‘Unwrapped’ gifts. A few caught my eye but the ‘Pile of Poo’ stood out. It isn’t just any pile of poo. It’s the ideal mix of manure, organic fertiliser and training in eco-friendly farming techniques to help a family grow a lot more crops. This means regular meals and a more varied diet, ultimately helping people out of poverty.
I have already purchased it for someone in my life who I think will find it funny, and will really appreciate the good cause.
Buying this gift supports Oxfam’s ‘Making a Living’ projects, and I really think this is charity gifting in its best form. The gifts also suit any budget so if you’re stuck for a materialistic gift this Christmas, this might just be the answer!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
We also tried the Thai green curry – much more mellow and coconut focussed but still light and packed full of flavour.
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.
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.
Chicken satay pieces
Thai spring rolls
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.
Last night I attended another Supper Club. I am beginning to get a little obsessed with these types of dining experiences. Not so long ago I went to an authentic home-made Italian food supper club in Manchester and before that another pop-up supper club featuring some amazing Malaysian home-cooking which was also a really special experience. My taste buds concurred.
I find that Supper Clubs are so much more of a food adventure. Everybody eats the same menu and it’s great to meet new, like-minded people and have a good old chat over some really delicious scran. Last night was no exception.
Last night’s event was arranged by Inca Pop Ups (run by Claire Kerkham) who specialise in sourcing, organising and hosting such food events, usually in unassuming but very cool settings which Claire hunts down and hand-picks herself.
The Setting and Host Chef
Last night’s event was at the Yard, Alderley Edge. A really beautiful café, shop and event space that focus on ethical, healthy products and delicious, wholesome foods in their ‘conscious kitchen’ café. Tucked away behind the main high street in this glamorous, Cheshire village, it’s the perfect spot to host an event of this size with it’s large, open kitchen and rustic dining area.
The real star of the show last night was no less than Robert Owen-Brown, ex-head Chef of the famous Mark Addy pub and now seasoned pop-up chef, this man really knows how to cook ‘real’ food. He prides himself on using only the finest quality, locally sourced ingredients and transforms them into hearty, classic dishes that really do blow you away with their simplicity and earthiness. He foraged the wild mushrooms from the beef dish himself from Delamere Forest, and the partridge in the game terrine was sourced just up the road (not far from Dunham Massey). It was fantastic to eat truly local food, cooked by a local chef in a wonderful local setting just 10 minutes away from my house. ❤
We were greeted by the Inca Pop Ups team with a glass of Prosecco and Kombucha with a blackberry which was delightful. We were seated on a large, rustic, wooden table right next to the kitchen where we could see chef hard at work, but still managing to look collected and relaxed. I was with Jo Cooksey from Taste Today, and after acquainting ourselves with the lovely guests on our table (Lucy Hope, aka The Chanteuse and the professional photographer for the evening Simon Brown, aka Travelling Simon) we were ready to eat.
Before we were served, chef said a few words, talking us through his menu choices and why he uses seasonal produce. He also mentioned there might be some butter present in each dish (to keep things healthy) and he might have admitted to eating fish food as a child, a very humble man with a great sense of humour indeed!
Robert also mentioned his new cookbook ‘Crispy Squirrel and Vimto Trifle’ which a few of us bought, and he signed. It was great to hear from him before the feast commenced.
The first course; Hand dived scallop with celeriac and coral cream (and razor clams).
This dish tasted as good as it looked. The delicate orange coloured sauce was perfectly seasoned, and made from the roe of the scallops (the best bit!) which Robert pointed out many restaurants discard. It was great to taste a complete dish that resourcefully uses the whole product with very little wastage. The celeriac also delicious, crunchy and firm.
The next dish was a real contrast; Classic game terrine with hedgerow berry chutney.
Succulent, juicy bits of top-quality game snuggly moulded together with the welcomed edition of black pudding which really gave this terrine a lovely other dimension. The seasonal berry chutney was only slightly sweet, which complimented the savouriness of the meat so well.
It was at this point one of the other guests at our table, Margaret, showed us her beautiful bottle of Rioja, which she kindly let us try. The Yard serves alcohol, so you were welcome to buy a bottle from their selection (they also had chilled beers) or pay just £2 corkage to take your own, which is what Margaret did. One of the nicest red wines I’ve had the pleasure to taste. Thank you, Margaret!
After a short rest (and a look around The Yard’s beautiful shop, images below) we were ready for the main course; Lightly smoked fillet of beef, wild mushrooms and good king henry.
The beef was outstanding. It was so tender, seasoned to perfection and melted in your mouth. The gravy was packed full of rich flavour, but still light. The potato fondant was delicate but substantial and the wild mushrooms were earthy and added great texture. The ‘good king henry’ is an edible plant, chef likened it to a mixture between spinach and kale and it really was delicious, as were the sweet, mini, sculpted carrots. A hearty portion size too – an outstanding main course and again, empty plates all round.
On to dessert; Dark chocolate and wild honey ‘Cambridge cream’, orange fudge and vanilla froth.
This is honestly one of the nicest chocolate desserts I have eaten. Cambridge cream is the English crème brûlée. Here, Robert made a dark chocolate and honey version which was somehow light and not at all sickly. The hint of orange flavour from the orange fudge was beautiful and the vanilla froth really topped it off nicely, the presentation looking like a freshly poured Cappuccino. The home-made flapjack on the side was divinely buttery (as expected) and just melted in your mouth. Both flavours and presentation, this pudding was very clever indeed, and not at all pretentious. I loved it.
Last but not least, the final course; Cave aged goats cheese & Camembert with thyme waffle
As a lover of all things savoury (and cheese, of course) I was delighted to see this as the final dish of the evening. The thyme waffles were an absolute delight, slightly sweet but a fantastic contrast to the savoury sharpness of the aged goats cheese. A wonderful, creative take on the classic (and now seemingly boring!) ‘cheese and biscuits’. Hats off to the chef.
The Tea Alchemist
To round things off, we got the choice of one of the wonderful Alchemist Tea’s. Each came served in a teapot, teacup and saucer that complimented the nature of the tea. I went for the Dragon Well tea; which came served in this wonderful cast-iron teapot and oriental iron cup. The taste was delicate and refreshing, and it really worked well to cleanse the palette after such a wonderful meal.
Overall this was an absolutely delightful evening of food, drink and great company in a wonderful setting. It was the ultimate celebration of local produce and down-to-earth, hearty, good food that doesn’t hide behind fancy names. Excellently cooked, seasonal ingredients from our wonderful Cheshire surroundings.
I look forward to attending future events hosted by Inca Pops, you can do so by keeping a close eye on their Facebook page. Many thanks to Claire, Robert and the team for hosting such an outstanding event.
A few other images of the Yard and event can be found below;
I attended this event as a guest of the host and as such received a complimentary meal. However, all my opinions above are my honest interpretations of the evenings offerings.
Looking after yourself is important, we all know that. The mantra that ‘you are what you eat’ is becoming increasingly apparent to me as I get older, and so recently I have been favouring an intake of more lean protein, ‘good fats’ and fibre, and in turn less sugar, saturated fats and unnecessary carbohydrates.
All the big dogs seem to be on the health-hype too. Deliciously Ella promotes a healthy lifestyle with her “clean-eating, gluten free” recipes. The Hemsley and Hemsley sisters also promote a healthy approach with their #TheArtOfEatingWell campaign, and I have recently taken to following @TheBodyCoach (Joe Wicks) on Instagram, as I love the way he is revolutionising quick-and-easy meals for gym buffs with his “#LeanIn15” recipes.
Jamie Oliver has also recently released his Everyday Super Food book, along with a full series on Channel 4; really promoting a healthy approach to food to the masses. Another firm favourite of mine is Gizzi Erskine, she’s always promoted healthy eating and her newest cookbook, Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite, shows us how healthy can be delicious and doesn’t always have to be rabbit food!
I love all of the above chefs and foodies and have taken tips from all of them (as well as recipes, of course) over the past 12 months. My version of the Hemsley sister’s light cottage pie makes use of cauliflower and sweet potato mash instead of the usual mashed white potatoes. And Gizzi’s roast duck and noodle soup is low on calories but doesn’t compromise on flavour whatsoever.
My approach to healthy eating is simple, I try to follow a sort of 80:20 rule (eating more considered 80% of the time, and relaxing it a little for the remaining 20%). When I first started my blog, there was a split between ‘Mid-week rustle up dinners’ and ‘Weekend gourmet’ dishes – so I am going to be focussing more on this approach going forwards. It works for me and can work for you too!
Below is a short list of some of my favourite bloggers who promote a healthy lifestyle:
www.spamellab.com – Pamela focusses on gluten-free, high protein, healthy AND tasty recipes, made from clean ingredients. Her #IndulgingInnocently campaign proves that you can have your cake and eat it, its shows that sweet treat don’t need to be packed full of sugar and additives.
www.tessward.com – Tess says ‘Count colours not calories and goodness not grams with simple, unprocessed, stripped back dishes.’ Her ‘naked’ recipes are vibrant, simple and gorgeous.
www.thebodycoach.co.uk/blog – I mentioned him earlier, and I will again. You can catch most of Joe’s amazing #LeanIn15 recipes on Instagram for now, but I mean it when I say his recipes are SO QUICK, SIMPLE, LEAN and taste fantastic.
www.minimalistbaker.com – these guys are so cute, and their ethos is simple: easy-to-make, delicious food, all recipes either require 10 ingredients or less, 1 pot, or 30 minutes or less to prepare. Many are vegan and/or gluten-free too.
How do you define healthy eating, and which approach do you prefer? Who are your favourite bloggers, cooks or chefs that inspire you to eat well and use fresh, quality ingredients?
In my next blog post I will be sharing my key tips for keeping your diet healthy, fresh and interesting. Make sure you stay posted our subscribe so you don’t miss it ❤