Southport & The Vincent Hotel

We were recently invited up to Southport to try out Warehouse Restaurant so decided to turn it into a lovely little one night break so we could check out the area, somewhere that neither Lee or I had been before.

We decided to stay in a lovely little boutique hotel called The Vincent, helpfully situated only a 5min walk from the restaurant and abut 10 minutes from Southport Pier.

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We were really impressed with the hotel from start to finish. We pulled up outside, and the car was parked for us by a valet and check in was smooth and seamless. Our room itself we loved. The colours were quite dark and monochrome, with a huge bed and luxurious chaise long, and one wall had an floor to ceiling amazing painted canvas, which actually pulled across the window to act as a black out blind. Lee was in love with the Nespresso machine, while I was simarlily in love with the bath tub! Not to mention the little rubber duck! The bathroom was filled with lovely White Company products too.

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We even received some really yummy complimentary choccies!

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Venturing down into the lobby we saw signs for their restaurant and sushi bar – which looked very sleek and modern, but our destination was the bar with a fabulous cocktail menu! We went for a Long Island Iced Tea (lee) and a Porntstar Martini (me) and both were delicious.

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In the afternoon we wandered out into Southport and were lucky enough to catch it in glorious sunshine. We meandered all the way to the end of the pier, looking out to Blackpool in the distance bathed in sun but being a bit battered by the wind at the same time.

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I loved some parts of Southport, but I must admit other parts were a bit different – some would say tacky, but I like to think of it as a throw back to a retro British seaside resort – penny arcades, sweet & candy floss shops, hall of mirrors, crazy golf and of course, a mini theme park! We didn’t partake in much of this, but did indulge in a round of crazy golf with a stick of rock! Who doesn’t love a bit of crazy golf?!

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On our second day up on Merseyside we stopped off in Crosby, just north of Liverpool to go and have a look at Antony Gormley’s Another Place public art exhibition – 100 cast iron statues of men covering a wide are of the beach,looking out to sea. I must say I was really impressed with this and we spent quite a while wandering up and down the beach looking at the barnacle ridden statues.

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We finished off our weekend with an excellent lunch at recently opened Albion in Crosby, recommended to me by a fellow blogger, and boy am I glad they did. I’ll tell you all about that soon though, so stay tuned!

Roz  :)

 

 

Better with Brita: The Winners

Over the summer I’ve been telling you about Brita’s Campaign and competition – the aim was to discover cooks, bakers and food makers from across the country who shared BRITA’s passion for making great food as it ought to be.

Each of the competition entrants used filtered water to get the best taste possible and on 31st July a live cook off was held where 10 finalists were invited to cook for a panel of five expert judges –  Rebecca from delicious magazine, Felicity from Big Feastival, Fiona from the Kids’ Cookery School, Lucy from BRITA and Karen from Lavender and Lovage.

After a hard days judging three winners were chosen who will now go on to be able to sell their produce at the Big Feastival, and these are……

Emily’s cupcakes
At 15 Emily was the youngest person to enter the competition. Emily used to run her own baking website, Emily’s Home Bakes, but gave it up to concentrate on her GCSE’s. The judges were impressed with the bespoke cupcakes she designed for each of the judges, especially a miniature BRITA water jug made out of icing.
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Alex’s gluten-free brownies
Alex created his gluten-free brownies after discovering that there was a lack of sweet treats available for his gluten intolerant sister. He’s passionate about people enjoying food and wanted to get the best out of his ingredients by using BRITA filtered water. The judges loved the moist chocolate centre of the brownies, as well as the interesting addition of peanut butter.
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Rekha’s samosas
Rekha’s samosas are handcrafted, from the spices to the pastry, to ensure a perfect parcel of taste. Her creations are a favorite amongst her local farmers markets as people love her Indian cooking style. She’s a perfectionist cook and ensures a golden glow by using the best ingredients, including BRITA filtered water.
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The three winners received a BRITA tap to enable them to continue to discover the results of cooking with filtered water and they used a BRITA Talori tap at the cook-off. BRITA taps are the most convenient way to get filtered water in the kitchen.
Each winner will now be able to follow their dreams and sell their creations at the Big Feastival, supported by BRITA at the brand’s stand, for one day between 31st August and 1st September. So if you’re heading over to the festival – make sure you check them out!
Roz :)

Review: Le Monde, Birmingham

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to one of the launch nights of a new restaurant in Birmingham, Le Monde Fish Bar & Grill . Le Monde is a long standing resident in Cardiff, but this is the first venture elsewhere. Birmingham (not surprisingly given its landlocked location) is not at the forefront of fresh fish offerings so this has the potential to really fill a gap in the market.

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I’m not treating this as a review as such, I don’t feel it’s entirely fair to review somewhere thats been open less than a week and nit pick at all the little teething issues that aren’t quite right, but hopefully it will give you a feel for the place!

The restaurant itself is really large, kitted out with lots of dark wood and elegant fittings with a large open kitchen and fantastic large glass counters with tremendous displays of fresh fish and meat.

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You have the option to order from the menu at the table, or go up to the counters and choose your meat/fish, size and sides. For me this felt a little weird, I think I’d prefer one or the other, never one for decisions, me.  I was worried that at peak times there would be long waits to order front he counter, but to be fair this didn’t seem the case at all. When you order at the counter, if you opt for salad with your meal you get given a bowl to fill up at the salad bar (a bit Harvester-esque…) but the salads on the whole were very tasty, particularly the potato salad!

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Moving on to the main event, the food. We couldn’t fault any of the cooking our fish – the prawns, scallops and tuna that I had were lovely, as was Lee’s whitebait and sea bass. The latter of these was cooked whole and filleted at the table by the staff, which was done very well.

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Whitebait

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Prawn & Scallop Skewers

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Seabass

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Tuna Steak

Puddings were very traditional and also got a thumbs up.

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Sticky Toffee & Banana Pudding

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Eton Mess

Overall the food was well cooked and tasty,  its not fine dining, but you’re sure to get a decent meal. I’m sure all the other bits will fall into place and the place has great potential. The prices are at the upper end of the market for sure, so be prepared for this before you choose the biggest lobster from the display…!

Red Velvet Loaf Cake

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Red velvet cupcakes can be found in abundance now on blogs and recipe websites on the net, but they’re all basically the same, with varying quantities and little additions here and there. My fail safe always has to be the one from the Hummingbird Bakery which you can find online here. Instead of cupcakes I thought I would try making the same recipe into a loaf cake instead. I used the same quantities as in the above recipe for the sponge – it worked well and there was a little mix left over – enough for 2 cupcakes which i used to then crumble over the top as decoration. I halved the quantities for the icing and this was a perfect amount too.

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It really is important to use a really good quality red food colouring for the sponge, the only ones I’ve found give a good enough colour are the Dr Oetker ones or sugar flair. Any others you have to add copious amounts and this can lead to a slightly odd flavour to the cake. I love the rich chocolatey flavour of the sponge withe the contrast of the cream cheese frosting which cuts through the cake and keeps the whole thing from being too sweet.

Happy eating :)

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Review: Warehouse, Southport

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Last weekend we took a trip up north for a sneaky night away as treat. We stayed in the Merseyside Coastal town of Southport, maybe most famous for it’s nearby golf course, Royal Birkdale. I’ll tell you more about the town, and lovely hotel where we stayed in future post, but for now I’m going to focus on where we ate – Warehouse Restaurant.

The restaurant has been around for many years, and undergone quite a few revamps over the time. Now at the helm in the kitchen is chef Matt Worswick, who comes with positions at some excellent restaurants in his wake, including Michelin starred Glenapp Castle and Le Champignon Sauvage.

In a quirky backstreet location, the outside of the restaurant gives way to a luxuriant interior, very stylishly fitted out, with a warm and vibrant atmosphere.

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From beginning to end, the staff were friendly and all seemed to know their individual jobs really well. They were attentive and pleasant without forcing their personalities upon you.

We were treated to a couple of cocktails to start with – a mix of elderflower, apple and gin, which was delicious. The have a really extensive wine list with some great affordable bottles up to the more luxurious. We had a bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir which came in at £32 and was excellent. To nibble on while we looked through the menus some Cauliflower Beignets with Curried Mayonnaise were sublime, and it was all I could do not to stick my fingers in the mayonnaise when the cauliflower was gone.

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The Warehouse offers 2 menus; a lunch and early supper menu with 2 courses for £15 and then the normal A La Carte. We ate off the former, but obviously went for a pud as well!

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To start I chose Miso Sticky Ribs with Coriander Salad, while Lee went for the Ham Hock Terrine with Piccalilli. My ribs were succulent and juicy, and the meat came off the bone easily whilst the glaze was sticky sweet and delicious. The coriander salad was a hit with me too – shredded mooli, carrot and cucumber, vast amounts of coriander with a thai style sweet, sour and spicy dressing – one of my favourite things. I couldn’t fault it. Similarly with Lee’s starter, he declared the piccalilli probably the best he had ever had!

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For my main I chose the Cod Scampi, Duck Fat Chips, Tartar Sauce. The cod was very well cooked, and the tartar sauce of good quality. They paid attention to detail well – the lemon was wrapped in muslin to stop the seeds falling on your food. And the duck fat chips, well, no more need be said. Yum. Lee’s Sirloin Steak, Peppercorn Sauce, Watercress Salad, Roasted Tomatoes, Duck Fat Chips was a perfect cooked medium rare, and the peppercorn sauce really decent too. If you’re feeling even more extravagant, the sound of the A La Carte menu is amazing as well, for example Beef Tartare, Wasabi Cream, Garlic or Braised Lamb Neck, Lamb Bacon, Roast Apricot, Toasted Almonds!

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Moving on to puddings and possibly they were they best course of the night!

I had Chocolate Délice, Burnt Milk Ice Cream, while Lee went for Strawberry Parfait, Shortbread, Elderflower Sorbet. The delice was light as air and the ice cream had a wonderful flavour to it. Lee said that the sorbet with his dessert was fabulous, and the flavour of the strawberry in the parfait was really intense.

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Overall our meal at The Warehouse was really fabulous from start to finish. Those lucky enough to live nearby who haven’t been, what are you waiting for? And to everyone else…get planning a trip up north!

http://www.warehouserestaurant.co.uk

 

Disclosure: We were invited to dine at the restaurant free of charge as their guests. We were not required to write a positive review. All opinions are our own, and as usual, if there’s something I didn’t like, I’d tell you about it!

Prawn & Coriander Dim Sum

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This was my first ever attempt at making some little dim sum dumplings, following on from last weeks visit to Chung Ying Central, it got me inspired! Lee got me a bamboo steamer for Christmas and I’m ashamed to say this is the first time its been used, but I think thats going to change from now on. The dim sum wrappers I got from an Asian supermarket, I’ve never been able to find them in a mainstream one, so if someone has seen them, please let me know! For this first attempt I decided to go for some classic flavours, and ones that I particularly love. Maybe next time I’ll be more adventurous. The dumplings turned out really tasty and made for a fantastic supper. They were fiddly though and I think I over-steamed them a little. It will take a few attempts to get a good feel for when they are perfectly cooked I think. If you’ve never had a go at something like this, I’d definitely recommend it!

Note: you will need a bamboo steamer for this recipe

Makes 8

Ingredients:

  • 8 King prawns, de-veined
  • 1 small handful coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • about 10 chives, finely chopped
  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 1tbsp shoaxing rice wine
  • pinch salt
  • pinch sugar
  • pinch cracked black pepper
  • 8 dim sum wrappers

Method:

  1. Finely chop the prawns, or roughly blend them in a food processor.DSC_0023
  2. Lightly fry and soften the chopped garlic for about 2 minutes then drain on some kitchen paper
  3. In a bowl, combine the garlic, spring onion, chives, coriander and chilli in a bowl with the oil,rice wine, sugar, salt and pepper and mix thorouhgly
  4. Add in the minced or diced prawns and stir well to combine.
  5. Place a spoonful of mixture in each wrapper and close into a half moon shape, press the edges together with damp fingers and crimp the edges a little
  6. Place into a bamboo steamer lined with parchment over a saucepan of simmering water and cook for about4-5 minutes until the prawn mixture is cooked through
  7. Serve with a simple dipping sauce of your choice

Happy eating :)

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Review: Raja Monkey Cafe, Birmingham

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Our first trip to Raja Monkey has been a long time coming. Part of Aktar Islams’ Lasan group, we had been hearing for ages about the great authentic food they were doing but just hadn’t managed to get over there to check it out. Probably because its a little way out of town in Hall Green, not the simplest place to get to from us over in Tamworth.

I really wish we hadn’t waited so long, because it really was some fantastic Indian food.

I didn’t take too many photos because it was quite dark in the restaurant, they weren’t coming out that well.

To start we ordered some Papad (papadoms) with a selection of salad and chutney. The chutney and pickle selection was excellent, as were the papad themselves, you could tell they were freshly cooked.

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To start we ordered both the Fish and Vegetable starters. The first composed of FISH AMRITSARI, SALMON MAHI & FISH TIKIYA and the second SHINGARA,(potato and pea samosa) MAKKI-KA TIKKI (potato and seetcorn cake) & ONION BHAJEE (onion spinach and lentil fritter) 

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All elements of both were perfectly cooked, and delicately spiced, some packing a punch and a couple a little more mellow. The little fresh zingy salad, tamarind sauce and mint and coriander dip that came with was also so flavourful.

Raja Monkey’s speciality is Thalis – basically a complete meal on a tray – curry, rice, bread, veg and dhal. Who could ask for more. I went for the Hyderbadi Beef Biryani Thali whilst Lee had the Rajastani Mutton Thali. Both were thoroughly enjoyed. Particualr plaudits went to the lovely little vegetable dish that came with both Thalis, and Lee’s falling apart mutton meat.

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A real triumph of Indian food, and we won’t leave it too long until we’re back again.

http://www.rajamonkey.co.uk

 

Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own