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.
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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!

Yard & Coop, Manchester

If you live in Manchester, you’ve probably already heard – there’s a new kid in town in the uber cool Northern Quarter. You may already know from my own recipe, I LOVE Buttermilk Fried Chicken, so when I heard about this place I was so clucking eggscited I just had to go see what all the wing flappin’ was about… SORRY, I’m bad at that, I will stop now I promise!

Yard & Coop is the brain-child of Carl and Laura Morris, the co-owners who are actually not married, or even related for that matter! Carl has a background in Sales & Marketing having worked for Revolution for over 10 years, and Laura has formerly worked for Northern Quarter’s Terrace and Simon Rimmer’s Greens in Didsbury. The pair saw the trend of quality fried chicken taking off in America, and wanted to bring the hype back to the wonderful city of Manchester. And boy are we thankful for it.

Carl has spent the past year perfecting the recipes – from the signature seasoned crumb, Buttermilk frying technique and all the homemade speciality sauces and sides that go with it. On the launch night I also met the lovely Clair, Carl’s wife and also front of house manager for the new fried-chicken shack. She’s also in charge of their social media, so chicken-puns-a-plenty: and yep, she’s really clucking good at it 😉

The Food Menu

Let’s waste no time and get straight to it, the chicken. The menu itself is easy to navigate and starts with their main offering – Buttermilk Fried Chicken with their secret crumb recipe. First you chose from Breast or Thigh (£6 and both boneless, yay!) or for veggies you can opt for ‘Not Chicken Nuggets’ – crumb coated nuggets of halloumi cheese which are absolutely delightful. I tried both the thigh and breast varieties and I must say both are super-succulent, although I think the thigh pips the post everso slightly. Next up you chose your ‘style,’ you can keep it simple with the Yard & Coop classic, or chose from their extra seasoned varieties; Chip Shop Curry, Cajun or Afrika Bombaataa which are all seriously good and distinctive in their own ways. Personal fave is the classic, followed by the curry-style for something a bit different. It just works really well (pictured below coating a fat, juicy thigh!)

For the finishing touch – you choose your speciality sauces. On offer is Bourbon BBQ (a surprise favourite for me), The Bee’s Knee’s (which is Cayenne pepper, lime and honey) or the classic Blue Cheese. All the sauces are light, packed full of flavour, shiny as you like but without being sticky. Absolutely nailed it.

Next you pick from ‘Small Plates, Sides, Bits and Things‘ which is a deliciously colourful mix of light and tasty side orders to accompany your chicken. A few noteworthy options we tried were ‘Peas and Love’ (£2.5); garden peas with fresh mint and chilli, ‘Thai Street Salad’ (£3.5); red cabbage, cauliflower, carrot and red chilli, ‘Heritage tomato salad’ (£3); chunky heritage tomatoes, red onion and fresh basil in their home dressing, Chips (£3) which come with a topping choice of Chip shop curry, Monterey Jack cheese or gravy. And finally ‘Battered Salty Jalapeños’ – salty, pickled peppers lighted coated in crispy batter.

I must say, the peas are delicious. My sister and I totally fell in love with them and found them very addictive. They are served cold, the mint is super fresh which is nice between the bites of chicken. The Heritage tomato salad is also deliciously fresh and sweet, and the slaw is crunchy, vibrant and healthy. Really nice to see such fresh sides with such a variety too.

Another stand-out section of the menu is the Wings and Balls section (personal fave) but don’t be alarmed, it’s not an entire section dedicated to deep fried chicken offal. The Wings come in 2 varieties (both £4.50) Bourbon BBQ and Bee’s Knee’s. The ‘Monkey Balls‘ are in fact one of their bestsellers and are their take on the American ‘monkey fingers’ dish (tender bits of chicken deep fried and apparently popular on Halloween!) Yard & Coop style they are balls of buttermilk fried chicken served with 2 of their speciality sauces for dipping (£6.5). Originally intended as a bar snack, these balls were merely meant to be nothing but a nibble between friends over a pint, but the chicken-lovers of Manchester have insisted they are a firm favourite as a sharing side to accompany main dishes! WHY NOT!

Monkey Balls with Bee's Knee's and Bourbon BBQ speciality homemade sauces
Monkey Balls with Bee’s Knee’s and Bourbon BBQ speciality homemade sauces

Other offerings are their Large Plates which includes a range of Burgers, Wraps and Salads (£8.5-9.0), all complete meals so no side orders required. But I BET you order the Monkey Balls anyway… it would be rude not to. In true chicken-restaurant style they also have a sharing bucket, complete with beers, which I think it a great option and awesome alternative to a KFC or a Maccies.

The Drinks & Cocktails

As well as a totally epic food offering, these guys have also properly thought out their entire drinks selection. I will soon be returning to sample more of their cocktails – but for now I can tell you that the following ones are awesome;

Jimi Hendrix; invented by Paul the barman and I must note what an absolute GENIUS he is. El Jimador Blanco tequilla, Hendricks Gin, Fevertree Elderflower tonic garnished with cucumber and watermelon. So refreshing and summery and LOVELY.

Mini Jimi Hendrix Cocktails
Mini Jimi Hendrix Cocktails

Rule the Roost; Lychee and rose liqueurs with Lychee Rubicon topped with Prosecco and garnished with rose petal. A very lady-like and pretty tipple. Sweet but not overly so and very pleasing on the eye!

IMG_2662
Rule the Roost ❤

Juice Springsteen; Vodka and Blue Curacao with lemon juice and cherry bitters topped with apple juice. Extreme refreshment and very thirst-quenching which was delicious.

They also have a range of Hard Shakes – alcoholic milkshakes all served in their signature Yard & Coop paper cups with a straw. We tried the Pina Colada and and Salted Karamel, each feature lashings of silky smooth vanilla ice cream, spirits, juice and/or syrups. They are light and fluffy in texture but pack-a-punch in terms of alcohol content which is perfectly balanced to make them very slurpable indeed. Three words: Who needs pudding?!

I haven’t yet tried the wine, but fell in love with the simplicity of the menu and its options. Dependant on your budget, simply choose ‘Great, Better or Best’ and check the board for the most recent wines available. Simple, effective, helping indecisive wine-pickers since 2015. Nice work, guys!

Visit Yard & Coop’s website and give them a follow on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook by chickin’ these links 😉

37 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HW
0161 710 2570


I was invited to review Yard & Coop on a complimentary basis, however, all opinions are my own and are completely honest.

Crazy Pedro’s Part Time Pizza Parlour, Manchester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow these crazy cats on Facebook and Twitter.


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

Miyagi’s, Bold St, Liverpool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Kitchens, Leftbank, Spinningfields

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

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

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

The Area

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

The Food

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

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

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

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

YAKUMAMA Pork Crackling
YAKUMAMA Chicharrones Pork Crackling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irwell Square,
Leftbank, Spinningfields,
Manchester
M3 3AG

Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.


Pranzo Delitalia, Supper Club, Manchester

This weekend I went to my first ever supper club, and what an absolutely delightful experience. I first found out about Pranzo Delitalia on Twitter, they called themselves the Secret Supper Club – very intriguing indeed. I had made contact with Valerio (one of the two fine hosts,) who told me that after their recent trip to Italy to visit family they were coming back to Manchester with new recipes, authentic Italian ingredients and a desire to cook up a storm in the kitchen for some hungry food bloggers. Excited and armed with a bottle of Italian red for the hosts, off I went…

Pranzo Delitalia is run by a cool and trendy young couple, living in Manchester city centre. On arrival we were greeted by Valerio, who met us at the door and escorted us up to their very stylish first floor apartment. Our coats were hung and we were seated. A charming yet modern, open-plan kitchen and living area – with a table in the middle set with beautiful white crockery, fresh flowers and cute little napkins hand-wrapped with strands of wicker. An apt playlist of Italian music was playing through the speakers and we were offered soft drinks to accompany our meal (they don’t have a licence to serve alcohol, but if you do wish to drink it you’re welcome to take along your own.)

Cooking for us on the night was Nadia – Valerio’s other half who’s joined him on his trips back to Italy to attend cooking courses there and pick up all the insider tips from the experts – Valerio’s mother and Grandmother. Nadia does all the cooking for their Supper Clubs, and what a talented lady she is.

We had been sent the menu a few days in advance, so it was clear the hosts were well-prepared to feed us a delightful Italian feast. And so it was.
 
The Food

Antipasto – Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Cooked aubergine and caciocavallo cheese covered in Nonna’s passata 

I am a real fan of aubergine because of it’s versatility, so to image it cooked with cheese and tomato passata sounded wonderful. The aubergine itself had more bite than I had expected, but this ‘al dente’ style served the dish really well, as sometimes when overcooked aubergine can by soggy. It was thinly sliced and lightly covered in a rich, beautifully seasoned homemade passata. The cheese was a finely grated dusting on top – a sharpness to it that cut through the rich tomato really well. Portion size was perfect, as there was also a fresh baked loaf, soft butter and olive oil to accompany.

Primo – Tortellini alla Panna

Meat-filled parcels of tender pasta prepared in a rich cream sauce

After a short wait, allowing some time for us to properly acquaint ourselves with the other guests, it was onto the next course. This time we were treated to homemade pasta – light, yet rich in colour and the flavour the pasta itself was absolutely beautiful, as good as I have eaten in some top Italian restaurants. Gently filled with soft Prosciutto, this has got to be the ultimate Italian combination. The rich cream sauce was just a very, very light coating – apparently exactly how it is supposed to be served the authentic Italian way in Emilia-Romagna. And just how Valerio’s mother serves it. So delicious and well executed I could have eaten the whole thing three times over.

Secondo

Filetto di Maiale – Emilia-Romagna pork fillet cooked in a rosemary and white wine sauce served with potatoes

Our plates were cleared and after another break we were suitably ready for the next delight. Thin and tender pork loin wrapped with the most delicious stuffing, including sage and other herbs. The sage was pungent but went well with the light rosemary and white wine sauce. The sauce itself was a delicate accompaniment and not too heavy at all. The potatoes were served mashed – creamy and buttery and very well seasoned. As a second course I thought this dish was perfectly balanced between the natural saltiness of the meat, the fragrance of the fresh sage and the rich and creamy potatoes. Lovely portion size too.

Dolce – Panna Cotta alla Vaniglia

Vanilla seed and passion fruit panna cotta

After our tastebuds had been relished to a wealth of savoury delights – it was time for something sweet. As my sweet-tooth isn’t as finely tuned as others, I was very pleased to see there was passionfruit involved in the dessert course, as it adds a slightly tart sharpness. Some of the other guests, whom which confirmed their sweet-tooths are well exercised on a regular basis (naming no names), confirmed this dish also hit the spot for the sugar-lovers. Served with a lovely homemade ginger biscuit and a dollop of fresh cream. The Panna Cotta was light, creamy and the vanilla came through nicely which balanced well with the tart of the passion fruit. Five completely empty dishes (and the same can be said for all of the courses) confirmed this was a winning dessert for all. Delicious.

Overall the menu, cooking, setting and ambiance of the whole night was really enjoyable. I would highly recommend Pranzo Delitalia Supper Club to anyone in the area who is looking for a dining experience a little bit different to the usual restaurant dining. Both Nadia and Valerio were welcoming and friendly, making us feel right at home from the outset. I think they did a fantastic job of the whole evening and would certainly consider returning for more Supper Clubs at their place in the future. Thanks very much to them both for all their efforts.

 


I was invited to Pranzo Delitalia on a complimentary basis as they were looking for a critique on their food from a food blogger’s perspective. I can however honestly say that I would love to return to one of their Supper Clubs in the future as a regular guest.

Review: Splendid Kitchen, Manchester

A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend, his friend and I ventured out of Cheshire and into Manchester to get a proper ‘scran’ on and make the most of Splendid Kitchen’s 50% off food bill in April. In their own words:

“Splendid Kitchen serves a very British take on the best of American cooking. Our hot dogs are made using only the finest locally sourced butcher’s sausages and our beef burgers are hand made in house, while our Big Plates take influence from both Britain and the United States to create something we like to call ​’Northern Soul Food.’ “

So we were greeted & seated by very lovely, friendly staff. Great first impression. The place is casual, cool and trendy, which I liked a lot.

First off, the corn dogs were amazing – so fresh, perfectly seasoned sausage and the corn coating was light and fluffy, with a great mustard dip. Seeings as these guys specialise in sausages, and have their very own company, The Splendid Sausage Company – I expected nothing less, they really were fantastic.

 

Splendid Sausage Corn Dogs – yum!
  
Corn Dog with homemade mustard
  
Slider Sharer
 

We also tried the Slider Sharer and this was great, however I did think the half-brioche buns tasted a little stale, but, saying that – this could be because they are a part-bread, part-brioche mix which I am not used to, so that could explain the difference in texture!

 

A damn good tasting/looking chicken burger!
 
Monkfish Tacos
 
Onto the mains, a highlight for me was that chicken burger. It looked fantastic and tasted great too. Crispy, well seasoned and perfect amount of salad/slaw. The Porklife hotdog was also epic. Slight meat sweats induced afterwards but I would expect nothing less from such a mighty meaty morsel. I went for the Monkfish Tacos – slightly disappointed with these as the Asian slaw didn’t live up to much – but, I had plenty to be getting on with with my Pizza Fries, which were fantastic, and actually tasted just like PIZZA!

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Pizza Fries
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Chilli Fries with homemade Guacamole
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Pork Life Splendid Sausage Hotdog!
Other sides we tried were the Pulled Pork Mac n Cheese, and the Chicken Bites Mac n Cheese – both a little on the salty side but overall my friends enjoyed them. Naked fries were lovely, and the homemade Guacamole was delicious, fresh, very yummy.

Finally, the puddings. Bradley and I shared the Malteaser Chocolate Sundae, which was absolutely was heavenly – especially welcomed after such a savoury feast! It had loads of ice cream, fresh cream, toffee sauce and sprinkles, but somehow wasn’t too over-facing (despite what the photo my suggest!) The Blondie with ice cream and cream was so lovingly devoured by my friend that I can only but image he enjoyed this too. Don’t share dairy, kids!  As if we hadn’t had enough by this point, there was still room for a little strawberry milkshake, which was also delightful and I drank the whole thing in one.

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Epic ‘blondie’ for dessert
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Malteaser Chocolate Sundae was to die for!
 
A cheeky little strawberry shake to wash it all down
 
Overall, we really enjoyed the meal and would return. Next time I hope to attend one of Splendid’s Kitchen Takeovers, the Nasi Lemak on in May if I could but I am on holiday then! (It’s 18th May, a date for your diary!

We paid for our meal in full, less the 50% discount which has been on offer throughout April to celebrate Splendid’s birthday.


 

My take on Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie

On Sunday, I made this wonderful cottage pie recipe from the Hemsley sisters website. It is my birthday next week, and their book is now firmly on my wish-list, as this recipe was so damn lovely. Cottage pie is not something I make often, but with this recipe in mind I will certainly be making it again, which is making me excited for winter again already….!

I found this version a lot lighter than the usual recipes, perfect for these cold (yet sunny) Sunday’s after an afternoon of pottering about and a walk to the local pub.

Due to the contents or my fridge and larder, I had to improvise slightly, as I only had 1 cauliflower in and no courgettes. So instead of doing a full cauli mash (which uses 2 full cauliflowers), I substituted one for a sweet potato and combined the two. It worked a treat! Instead of the diced courgette, I used frozen petit pois.

Below I have provided the full, original recipe and have added my tweaks in brackets. The recipe takes about 2 hours from start to finish and serves 4. It is suitable for freezing. 

What you need:

For the Cottage Pie Filling-

  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or butter (I used butter)
  • 500g of good quality, lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion/leek finely chopped (I used onion)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium courgette, finely diced (I used petit pois instead)
  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon of dried or 1½ teaspoons of fresh thyme plus some to garnish (I used dried thyme, and seasoned with fresh parsley)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried or 1½ teaspoons of fresh, roughly chopped rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A small handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 350 – 400ml of hot good quality beef, chicken or vegetable stock (I used a Kallo Organic chicken stock cube)
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • 1 large pinch black pepper

For the Cauliflower/Sweet Pot Mash-

  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large cauliflowers, remove outer green leaves and roughly chop the into equal sized pieces (I only used 1 cauliflower)
  • (1 medium-large sweet potato, washed, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of butter to blend and 2 teaspoons of chopped up butter to top the mash
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • 1 large pinch black pepper
  • Optional 2 teaspoons of chopped chives or 1 finely sliced spring onion (I used spring onion)
  • Optional 60g of mature cheddar cheese, grated (I used 30g Parmesan cheese)

Serve with-

Steamed buttered greens: I steamed some tenderstem broccoli and some fresh spring greens.

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie - filling in progress
Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie – filling in progress

What to do:

  1. Brown the mince in half a tablespoon of butter (or ghee) and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the remaining butter and sauté the onions, celery and carrots, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and gently fry for a further minute.
  4. Return the mince to the pan and stir in the  tomato puree and red wine. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced.
  5. Add the stock and simmer with the lid on for at least 30 minutes – we like to slow cook for up to an hour adding more stock or water if it’s starts to get dry, (which I did – slow cook for 1 hour if you can).
  6. Once cooked, stir through the petit pois and fresh parsley and taste for seasoning.
  7. Add the peas after the rest of the filling is cooked to avoid over cooking
    Add the peas after the rest of the filling is cooked to avoid over-cooking them
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C.
  9. Add the chopped sweet potato to a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 10 minutes until tender, drain and set aside to allow the steam to evaporate.
  10. In a saucepan, steam the cauliflower and whole garlic cloves with just a few tablespoons of water, lid on, for 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Use a knife to check.
  11. Remove the saucepan from the heat, drain any excess liquid and add the sweet potato, butter, grated cheese and mustard. Blend or mash until creamy and smooth. If it’s too sloppy or wet allow the mash to evaporate on a low heat. (I just used a potato masher – the consistency wasn’t completely smooth, but it was well-mashed with a little texture)
  12. Season to taste and add the spring onions or chives.
  13. Take a large oven dish or individual dishes and fill to two thirds of the beef mixture, then top with the cauliflower mash. Use a fork to criss cross over the top and dot with bits of butter.
  14. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden. Finish with a sprinkle of chives or some some fresh thyme leaves (I finished with fresh parsley, as that’s what I had in, it was lovely).
The dots of butter make all the difference :-)
The dots of butter make all the difference 🙂

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie - the finished product.

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie – the finished product.

Hope you enjoy! Love Sophie -x-


The Italian Awards come to Manchester

english-logo

So, the day is almost here. Tomorrow is the day I finally get to meet Michael and the team in person – the organisers of The Italian Awards UK. In their own words;

“Italian Communities across the UK are a vital and integral part of our hospitality industry; everyone has their own personal favourite Italian, and here at The Italian Awards we aim to recognise the true favourites across the country.

We strive to recognise excellence, and pick out the very best in categories ranging from “Best Pizza” to “Best Interior Design”. Giving initial voting power to the general public allows us to generate finalists that truly are the nation’s favourites, battling it out to become the best of the best.

Come join the family and help us decide this year’s worthy winners.”

Exciting concept, right? Well, this year, 2015, is the very first time The Italian Awards are coming to Manchester. Usually based out of Glasgow, the awards are a spectacular event celebrating all things Italian food in the UK. I’m am delighted to tell you that I have been chosen as an official blogger for the awards. I will be helping Michael and the team along with Taste Today and a few other great bloggers from the Manchester area. The awards themselves are set for September this year…Very exciting times!

Photo credit: http://scottishitalianawards.co.uk
Aldo Zilli, photo credit: http://www.scottishitalianawards.co.uk

I should also tell you that they have a celebrity judge on board, who joined them last year in Scotland and will again this year in our very own Manchester… The one and only Aldo Zilli! (@AldoZilli on Twitter). If you don’t already know, Aldo Zilli is an award winning celebrity Italian chef and restaurateur. He was the founder and chef-patron of some of London’s most exciting and innovative restaurants, Signor Zilli, Zilli Fish, Zilli Green, Zilli Café and Zilli Bar. He has also done consultancy work to help out other famous Italian restaurants such as Prezzo, and he has released many fantastic Italian cookery books. He’s also done countless TV appearances, and in 2012, he helped launch the upmarket Italian restaurant San Carlo Cicchetti in Manchester and London’s Piccadilly. He is now in partnership with San Carlo Group, who have 14 restaurants in the UK and four overseas. IMPRESSIVE!

Please keep posted for more regular updates on this wonderful affair. After tomorrow’s initial meeting, I will be able to tell you much more about our plans. If you think you can add value to the awards in any way, please feel free to contact me on sophiesscran@gmail.com, and I will be happy to see if there is something you can assist us with!

Ciao for now!

Sophie -x-