Sunday round up. 28/02/2016

What a week!

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

With love,

Sophie -x-

Cheshire Food Blogger

Thai Street Food at Chilli Banana’s Sunday Buffet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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selection of Thai starters ❤

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

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

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

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

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Traditional Pad Thai ❤

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T: 01625 539 100

E: wilmslow@chillibanana.co.uk


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Bangkok to Bramhall…

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

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The slow-cooked Thai pork belly ❤

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

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Spicy Thai red chicken curry with green beans

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

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

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

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Pad Thai with tofu ❤

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

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

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

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

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

Artisan Market, Great Northern Pie Co. & Pure Origin Chocolate

You would think, the weekend after Easter, I would be fed up of chocolate by now. Well, the truth is, I am. But, something caught my eye at the market today – I just had to have a little taste. Then, I was converted 🙂

It was the lovely stall of Pure Origin, who hand-make a lovely range of milk, dark and white chocolates in Congleton, Cheshire. The company have 2 brands, their Pure Origin flavours, and the Tree Frog Chocolate range. We sampled a few flavours, but two stood out and we really couldn’t resist buying them (despite having 3 Easter eggs at home still uneaten!)

The lovely stall of Pure Origin / Tree Frog Chocolate Co. at Northwich, Artisan Market
Artisan Milk Chocolate: Sea Salt & Caramel and Hickory Smoked Almonds
Artisan Milk Chocolate: Sea Salt & Caramel and Hickory Smoked Almonds

The two we chose were both milk chocolate, Sea Salt & Caramel and Hickory Smoked Almonds. The almonds are smoked by The Cheshire Smokehouse too, which makes it all the more special and it’s great to see the local collaboration. The hickory smoked nuts are delicate against the only slightly sweet milk chocolate, and the crunchy texture is the perfect match for the smooth chocolate too.

Hickory Smoked Almond Milk Chocolate, nuts smoked by The Cheshire Smokehouse

The Sea Salt & Caramel flavour is also so gorgeous, it literally melts in your mouth and has the perfect amount of bite in its texture. So much better than any Easter egg!

The second highlight of the market was The Great Northern Pie Co. Even though these guys have a permanent spot at Altrincham Market House, I have still yet to try one of their Award winning pastry delights.

The Great Northern Pie Co. Spring Menu, Northwich Artisan Market

There were 4 flavours on offer from their lovely seasonal ‘Spring Menu’ but honestly, it was a no brainer. We chose the Ham, Stornoway Black Pudding & Mustard Cream. And boy oh boy, did we choose good. The perfectly seasoned, firm yet crumbly pastry is filled with slow-roast ham, Charles MacLeod’d black pudding, English mustard cream, carrots, tarragon, lemon, paxo ‘stuffing’ breadcrumbs and mustard seeds. It really was the nicest pie I’ve ever tasted!!

Ham, Stornoway Black Pudding & Mustard Cream Pie

Other flavours they had on offer were Meats & Potatoes, Lancashire Cheese & Onion and Goats Cheese, Peas, Lemon & Mint. All sound delicious!

So there is a little insight to mine & boyfriend Bradley’s trip to the Artisan Market in Northwich, Cheshire today. We were on a slight budget, so didn’t go too mad buying loads of different foods, however, we could have spent more as almost all of the stalls had something lovely to offer. We will certainly be returning!


 

Restaurant One Eighty, Wilmslow

On my recent quest to find out more about the North West / Cheshire based contributors to The Great British Cook Book – I discovered an absolute gem of a restaurant. Situated on Wilmslow Road in Handforth, just a short drive out of Wilmslow town centre – is Restaruant One Eighty – part of the BW Plus Pinewood Hotel. This year the restaurant and kitchen alone have received a ÂŁ1.5m renovation, and it shows.

The new 85 cover restaurant, opened in April this year, is visible from the hotel reception and is elegantly decorated with a modern, tasteful touch. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about the menus and dishes. Our waitress offered to talk us through the options; a Seasonal Menu –  which features Executive Chef Colin Starkey’s enhancement of current seasonal produce, all sourced from local suppliers. From this menu you can select dishes individually or sample a 6 course tasting option which Colin has put together, to give a true feel for all the dishes it has to offer.

The second menu option is their A La Carte Menu – a selection of classic starters, lite bites, mains, grills, sharing plates and desserts – all with a modern twist. We opted to combine choices from each menu, to ensure we sampled the best of what Restaurant One Eighty had to offer – and we were not disappointed.

The Food

To start, Bradley opted for the ‘pigs’ in blankets in a sticky mustard glaze. As you can see from the photo, these came served in a cute silver pot stuffed to the brim with juicy, meaty, morish little bites of sticky goodness. He was reluctant, but he let me try one. Absolutely divine, and with a sort of festive feel to them. Not your average starter – but very satisfying, especially for meat-lovers!

I opted for the smoked garlic king prawns, celeriac & pear ‘slaw with dressed lambs leaf. A great sized portion – the ‘slaw had a creamy, mustard flavour which wasn’t at all overpowering and coated the prawns perfectly. A light, fresh, excellent start to get the taste buds eager for the next course…

Beef & Pork Steak Burger
Brioche beef & pork steak burger with applewood cheese, dry cured bacon, onion marmalade and aspen fries
Pink Beef & Steak Burger - slow cooked for 2 hours
Pink Beef & Steak Burger – slow cooked for 2 hours
Aspen Fries, to with truffle oil and grated Parmesan
Aspen Fries, to with truffle oil and grated Parmesan

On to the mains, Bradley AKA meat-lover of the century, OF COURSE opted for the steak burger. And this one did not disappoint.  A brioche beef and pork steak burger with applewood cheese, dry cured bacon, onion marmalade and aspen fries. To say this was a taste-sensation would be an understatement. As you can see from the image (*drools*), the meat was pink throughout, mouthwateringly succulent and it was perfectly seasoned. We later found out from Colin that the burgers are slow-cooked for 2 hours in a water bath to achieve this amazing ‘melt in your mouth’ taste and texture. A really excellent burger – one that would be tricky to replicate at home, so if you’re in the area I urge you to go and try it.  As for the glossy, soft brioche bun – perfectly glazed for that amazing high-shine finish. It just seemed to ‘hug’ the burger so neatly, which is a breath of fresh air compared to many burgers out there which are served on thick slabs of bread, making it almost impossible to pick up and eat properly. The aspen fries (coated in truffle oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan) were also to die for, crispy, soft and a great sized portion. This was a very impressive main course indeed!

Seared Sea Bass with warm fennel, tapenade and sauce vierge
Seared Sea Bass with warm fennel, tapenade and sauce vierge
Seared Sea Bass - beautifully presented
Seared Sea Bass – beautifully presented

I opted for a more ladylike option of Seared Sea Bass with a warm baby fennel salad & new potatoes, tapenade and sauce vierge. What a delight – the sea bass was crispy, tender in the middle and the potatoes were sauteed and slightly buttery.  The sauce vierge was fragrant with basil, a delicate accompaniment to the fish which was seasoned to perfection with beautiful, floral presentation. Altogether an excellent fresh and satisfying main course, leaving just the right about of room for pudding…. 😉

The above dishes were all from the A La Carte menu – however, when it came to dessert time we decided to switch it up a notch, why ever not?! Both puddings were from Colin’s Season’s Menu – it was rightly noticeable that this menu showcases a more ‘fine dining’ approach, and it was so good to be able to combine the two experiences.

Berry Trifle with Limoncello
Berry Trifle with Limoncello

I chose (after much deliberation, as they all sounded so divine) the Black Berry Trifle with Limoncello. The description didn’t give much away – all I knew was I love trifle, love limoncello and was intrigued by the element of mystery and anticipation – so I went for it, and it’s safe to say it was a great choice. The dish was a deconstruction of the traditional trifle – all the elements were present, just not in a way you would expect, which I loved. The edible dark chocolate pot was filled with a silky fresh cream and topped with a sweet biscotti and flaked almonds. Around the edge of the plate were little drops of sweet limoncello blobs, a sharp berry compote and some crunchy dried berries. All in all a great variety of textures and flavours – hats off to the chef!

Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola
Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola

Bradley, once again, chose the richest and most decadent dessert option possible – Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola. Just wow. The chocolate was divine – smooth, silky and felt very indulgent, a real treat. This was offset perfectly by the salty crunch to the granola sprinkles. An absolutely perfect finish to an excellent dining experience!!

The Great British Cook Book (TGBCB)

Colin Starkey, the Executive Chef at Restaurant One Eighty, has also contributed a fantastic looking dish to The Great British Cook Book., and he was kind enough to share some images with me. The pictures below are of his Galloway-breed Ribeye beef steak served with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean sauce to accompany. Doesn’t it just look incredible?!

Ribeye beef steak with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean oyster sauce
Ribeye beef steak with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean oyster sauce

The recipe is available now in TGBCB, and is adapted to be accessible and easy for people to recreate at home, as with many other dishes in the book.

The Final Dish for TGBCB
The Final Dish for TGBCB

Colin’s restaurant has already been awarded an AA Rosette and has also received excellent reviews since opening in April. If you would like to find out more about Restaurant One Eighty and to see their current menus, click here. Colin also posts regular foodie updates on Twitter, to keep updated follow @ColinStarkey37.

On a final note – if you would like to purchase or download The Great British Cook Book, you can do so here (which is the official site, and also the cheapest place to purchase the online copy!)

With love, Sophie’s Scran -x-