Roast Dinner Pies: Sunday Best @ Pieminister*

Yep. You read it right, roast dinner pies! I was invited to try out Pieminister’s latest offering, the delicious ‘Sunday Best’ this weekend.

It’s basically a beastly stack of mash, pie of your choice, Yorkshire pudding, mashed swede and stuffing balls or pig in blanket and crackling. Oh and gravy. Delicious.

I opted for the ‘Wild Shroom’ veggie option which was asparagus and mushrooms in a rich creamy sauce. My friend went for the Free Ranger so we could see what the meaty option was like too.

The ‘Wild Shroom’ filling was gorgeous, really rich and creamy and went really well with the savoury gravy. It felt really indulgent for a vegetarian pie and isn’t a filling I’d thought of before, I’ll definitely be trying to recreate. The Yorkshire on top wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but the swede and stuffing balls more than made up for it. It’s a really unique way to enjoy a roast!

The Free Ranger chicken was equally lovely with its own chicken gravy (don’t you hate it when somewhere just has one standard gravy??) and soft leeks cooked into a creamy sauce with the chicken. Perfectly yummy and the pasty on both pies was exceptional!

It was a really different way to enjoy a roast, though we were incredibly full afterwards! If you’re looking for a new take on the roast, especially if you’re veggie, give your local Pieminister a go! They have a vegan option too and plenty other veg versions to choose from.

*Gifted meal in partnership with Pieminister

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Eating around Skiathos – 2018 Edition

You may have read my previous post (also titled ‘Eating Around Skiathos‘) but as this was written a couple of years ago now and we discovered so many yummy new places this time around I thought it was worth an update!

If you haven’t been, you must go visit this beautiful island. Skiathos Town is so pretty with taverna after taverna of authentic Greek cooking, and twinkling cocktail bars as far as the eye can see.

The island is also home to quite a few kitties, some of who are even friendly enough to sit on your lap!

We nicknamed her Maple.

We stayed at La Piscine Art Hotel as we have done in previous years, this is such a wonderful boutique hotel just 10 minutes walk from the main town. It’s also home to one of the top rated restaurants on the Island, Crazy Cow, which was every bit as wonderful as the last time we went, though is a much more expensive and ‘proper’ meal than you’ll find in the local tavernas.

Anyway let’s get into the food…

Taverna Folia

Ok so we eat at this lovely little family run restaurant pretty much every time we go but this was our first time trying their feta saganaki, recommended to us by the waiter over the fried feta. I’m definitely going to do this at home, from what I could tell it’s simply feta melted in the oven with some onions and peppers, olive oil and lots of oregano.

We were a bit disappointed with the mains as they seemed to have changed the way they do their kleftiko, it came wrapped in vine leaves and had had a very heavy hand with the lemon. It was still nice though and extra points for the street kitties that came out from every shadow as we started to eat.

Lo&La

Now rebranded as Lola on the outside this Italian is one of the top rated on the island. We enjoyed wonderful friendly service (kisses and hugs when we left!) and the best Carbonara ever! Just up the street from here was a tiny puppy playing. One of our best meals during the time we were here!

1901

We hadn’t eaten here before and on the Tuesday night were confronted by a huge thunderstorm which was causing really heavy random rainfalls every couple of hours. We had a reservation at The Windmill which was closed, so had to go out on a limb. We’d seen this place with queues the night previous and thought we’d try our chances as we guessed not many others would be risking the rain. We were right! We got a cosy table inside, although we had to dash through heavy rain and streets awash with 3 or so inches of water to get there.

We both went for the special which was this wonderful oven cooked lamb shank with wine and lemon and came (surprisingly, for Greece) on a bed of garlic mash with gravy. On a rainy night it was just what we needed!

To Polouki

Again a new one on us, this was just down from 1901 in some of the nestling little side streets. We had the best tztatsiki and hummus starters, both deliciously garlicky.

This was followed by swordfish for Gary and then the hottest moussaka I’ve ever eaten, it was a real struggle!

Overall though this was a delicious meal and extremely cheap. Would highly recommend this one if you’re trying to get into 1901 and it’s too busy! They also had a lovely resident cat and free limoncello at the end.

We did eat at some other places but those were the main highlights I’d say. We’re back home now sadly but determined to visit Skiathos again (again), do let me know if you’re visiting and need any recommendations!

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The Deer Park, Roundhay Review

A couple of weeks ago we decided to venture through the snow to try out The Deer Park’s new menu. We’re regular visitors as it’s our local, and the food has always been really nice, I especially recommend their Sunday roasts! They recently added a handful of new dishes to expand their menu and we couldn’t resist going to try.

I started with the kiln-smoked salmon tacos. The portion was just right with two tacos served in those handy taco holders. They looked great, with sour cream, pickled beetroot and peppers, but they were unfortunately fridge-cold. This really affected the taste as you couldn’t really get any of the flavours, except the beetroot which was sweet and delicious. I think these could have been really nice if they were served room temperature or even slightly warm.

Gary had the lobster and king prawn pot which was really good! Served as a mousse, it a lovely texture accompanied with gorgeous crunchy ciabatta toast. Yum. I definitely had food envy!

For mains, they didn’t have the chicken pie I’d ordered (though they explained the snow had affected their deliveries) which I was really sad about because who doesn’t want pie when it’s snowing outside?? I opted instead for the chargrilled lamb and balsamic kebabs, with chips instead of the couscous salad. The lamb kebabs were really well seasoned with a slight hint of spice, though they were a little bit on the oily side.

Gary went for the roasted pork belly which came with scallops and dauphinoise potatoes, and a rich jus . I’m not a fan of pork belly, but did try a little bit in the interests of the review. It was really tender and the jus was full of flavour.

Pudding was the real star of the show, we chose to share the the Dulce de Leche lava fondant served with peanut butter brittle and praline ice cream. The fondant oozed beautiful Dulce de Leche, we found ourselves spoon battling for the last bite. It was one of the best puddings I’ve ever had!

Overall the new Deer Park menu is good and service was excellent as always. There’s a lot more to choose from now and some really nice sounding dishes that we didn’t try such as the buttermilk chicken and a pan fried seabass, and of course the pie that my heart was set on! I’m sure we’ll be back again to sample some more dishes soon.

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The Ivy, York Restaurant Review

A well-known London staple, The Ivy have recently opened up several new restaurants in the north, including York. Me and my friends awaited the opening excitedly and decided to book for a Saturday night in January.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a friendly front of house team who took our coats before showing us into the restaurant. Warm and romantic, the restaurant has low lighting and a pretty, botanical theme. Tables are intimate and not too close together, giving you plenty of room to enjoy your own corner of the restaurant.

We were shown to our seats and promptly offered some water for the table which was a really nice touch as one of my party had a cold, and really appreciated being offered a drink so quickly. A few moments later we were asked if we’d like any cocktails (which we did). I ordered the Ivy Royale which was a wonderful combination of hibiscus gin, sloe and Cremant. It was so refreshing, the perfect aperitif.

Next up we ordered the courgette fries and sourdough bread to share as a starter, while my other friend ordered the scallops which came with truffle and sweet potato crisps. I didn’t get a sample but this was later described as ‘the best starter I’ve ever had’.

The courgette fries were shoe-string style, served in a large basket with a yoghurt and chilli dipping sauce. They were really nice, beautifully crispy and nicely salty, but really needed a wedge of lemon to cut through and add a bit of sharpness to an otherwise quite creamy, fried dish. The bread was really good, basically a whole loaf cut into four pieces, but had an incredibly salty crust which ruined it a bit.

Next up was the mains. I ordered the slow roasted lamb shoulder, which had a wholegrain mustard and herb crust and came with creamed potato and a rosemary sauce with glazed vegetables. The sauce was more like a gravy if I’m honest, it didn’t have a lot of rosemary taste, and as the waiter poured over the meat on serving, it kind of ruined the ‘crust’ness of the lamb. It was still really delicious with the lamb falling apart on the plate. My friend had the chicken salad, and my other friend had the special which was a game pie. Overall the mains we agreed were ‘only OK’ in comparison to the excellent starters.

For pudding we shared the chocolate bomb which I managed not to get any pictures of, but it was a melting chocolate mousse bomb with salted caramel sauce. A real showstopper, it was absolutely delicious.

Overall eating at The Ivy was a really pleasant experience, it’s definitely a great place for date night or a special occasion. I just wish the mains had been a little bit better, but the fantastic starters and puddings really did make up for it. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a fancy meal out in York.

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Best Eats of 2017

In the year that was, in many respects, ‘pretty bad’ it was actually a good 12 months for eating and cooking. Now that the Christmas festivities are dying down and we’re in that awkward in between bit, I’ve had some time to reflect of the best eats of the year. In no particular order…

Pizza at Santa Clara, Ciutadella, Menorca

Undoubtably the best pizza I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve eaten a fair few) in a wonderful ramshackle, romantic old restaurant. Holiday eating at its finest.

Pulled beef brisket

The first main thing I made in my Pressure King Pro. This was beautiful meat, absolutely falling apart and SO delicious served in its juices on top of a bed of creamy buttery mash. Perfection.

Jinos Thai Cafe, Headingley

The pork fried rice we had here was so incredibly savoury and packed bwith flavours you could never even hope to achieve at home. A fantastic lunch that’s left me dreaming about this dish ever since.

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato fritters

I was so incredibly proud of the way these turned out! I’d never made anything fritter-y before and these were a delight to make and to eat. Also, fantastic cold the next day. Make them!

The Witchery, Edinburgh

The most romantic restaurant I’ve ever been to, and also one of the darkest. I have appalling pictures of the food in this place but trust me it was delicious (though pricey). A must-do dining experience in one of my favourite cities.

Breakfast at Chapter, Cardiff

Everytime I visit my sister I insist on visiting this wonderful arts space next door for breakfast. Chapter breakfasts are unrivalled, still one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever eaten. I love that the beans come in their own pot and the hash browns are excellent.

Beef Enchillada, Pinche Pinche

This restaurant is such an amazing find. Their Mexican tapas is crazy good, but so are their Beef Enchilladas. Covered in cheese and spicy sauce, they’re so satisfying and delicious. Plus their fries con queso are out of this world!

What did you enjoy eating this year?

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Fanoosh The Indian, Street Lane, Leeds Review

This place used to be an only ok Turkish restaurant called Istanbul Mezze, which shut down in the summer and has now reopened as Fanoosh. I’m pretty excited about it as Street Lane has a severe lacking in Indian restaurants, and it’s great to be able to go out for one rather than order in.

We visited one busy Saturday night and were glad that we’d called ahead to book, at one point all the tables were full! The decor is pretty nice, a bit extravagant but matches the name as we learnt ‘fanoosh’ means chandelier or lantern in Urdu.

We went for poppadoms first with dips, which were pretty standard and tasty. Then we had the Chicken Tikki Kebab which was minced, spiced chicken shaped into little patties. They were REALLY nice, sort of crispy with soft juicy centre, though two between us felt a bit mean portion wise and we wished we’d ordered more.

 

For mains we shared the Lamb Karahi and the Chicken Haandi, plus rice and garlic naan. The chicken was described as the ultimate ‘comfort dish’ and it really was the star of the show. It was served on the bone and covered in a gorgeous thick ‘spicy shorba’ sauce. The lamb was falling apart into a blend of tomato, curry, garlic and coriander. Both dishes were really good but again the portions weren’t huge, and we were glad we’d gone for double carb. I could also have maybe done with some raita or yoghurt as they were pretty spicy, so be warned if you prefer it mild!

All in all it was a really good meal and the restaurant itself seems warm and friendly and welcoming. Service was a bit slow but the food was so good we forgave them, it was a very busy night and you can expect teething problems with any new restaurant.

If you’re on the fence definitely give Fanoosh a visit, I really hope they stick around!

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iPhone X – Is It Worth It? A Food Blogger’s Review

So I ended up getting an iPhone X by accident. When I say accident, I meant to call up EE to go onto pay as you go as my contract finished. What happened was, when they answered the phone, grown up decision making went out of the window and I straight up just asked for a good deal on the iPhone X. So here I am, typing out my first blog post on my brand new phone.

The unboxing experience is as pleasant as any other Apple product, with everything neatly presented in the iconic box. Set up wise, as soon as I turned it on, it detected my old 6s next to it and used it to set up itself with me only confirming a couple of things. We are truly living in the future.

I’ve had it for a week now and I thought I’d do a quick review for bloggers thinking about upgrading. For me, the main pull is that it’s meant that I’m no longer considering a DSLR because this bad boy takes a mean picture. The 12 megapixel camera is the same as the iPhone 8, if you’re wondering, but has the new TrueDepth feature which auto focuses your picture. Let me show you this taco.

I’ve never been able to take a good picture of a taco. But with this phone, I can. That’s a veggie bean taco by the way with home made guac, natural yoghurt, cheese, spring onions and BBQ sauce.
Here’s another one of a mince pie:


The selfie camera, if you’re into that, is just as good with 7 megapixels and HD video. A word of warning though, all those pixels mean those accidental chin selfies look a hell of a lot less flattering.

The facial cognition unlock is incredibly useful, with the option to only display notification details on the screen if it recognises your face. This means no more embarrassing messages flashing up on your lock screen, or needing to turn your phone over.

The no home button and subsequent user experience isn’t that difficult to adapt to at all. I had to google a couple of things like how to do a screenshot (hold volume and power button) and how to close apps (long hold and swipe) but otherwise it’s really simple to get used to.
If you’re on the fence about the iPhone X because of the cost vs the iPhone 8, I’d really recommend trying to get your provider down on the price. Most providers will give you bespoke plans to keep you with them so it’s definitely worth just trying and seeing what they can do for you. This is a gorgeous phone for anyone but even better for bloggers, or other shutterbugs!

 

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Review: Ham & Friends, Grand Arcade Leeds

Primark is filled with tinsel. Lattes are only served in festive cups. The heating is officially ‘on’. Yes friends, Christmas is coming. This is my absolute favourite time of year. I love the dark, cosy nights lit up with candles and fairy lights. I love the chill in the air and the sense of magic around the corner. The busy calendars, the parties and of course, THE CHEESE.

Ham & Friends of course opened in Leeds last year, but we unfortunately haven’t had chance to visit until last night. Having tried to get into Friends of Ham (v optimistic at 6.30pm on a Saturday evening), and with charcuterie on our minds, we thought we’d given Ham & Friends a go.

We showed up with no reservation and they happily seated us, though we had to leave the table within an hour or two as a big party was coming in. Not a problem for us, as the bar looked really welcoming for us to move into after.

We opted for the cauliflower cheese croquettes, as recommended by the waitress, with some bread and butter and then a sharing plate of two cheese and two meats.

The bread was delicious and crusty and served with an absolute mountain of fresh, salty butter. I could have just eaten this and been happy!

The croquettes were incredible – a gorgeous breadcrumbed bullet of cheesy joy, with soft pieces of cauliflower nestled in a cheesy sauce. I couldn’t put my finger on the cheese but if I had to guess there was something gooey and slightly smelly in there like an epoisses or raclette.

For the sharing platter we ordered the Vacherin Mont D’Or, the Monte Enebro (Spanish blue goats) with the Jesus Pays de Basque salami and the bresola. It was great to be able to include the Vacherin on the sharing platter – this is my all time favourite cheese. At their sister bar, Friends of Ham, it’s often only available as part of a pre-made up board and is also usually served fridge-cold (v upsetting). The Vacherin was pleasingly room temperature and definitely ripe. It was delicious with the crusty bread. The Monte Enebro had a lovely chalkiness that goats cheese has and definitely had lots of character. Meat wise, the salami was good but the bresola really stole the show, it was so savoury and melt in the mouth.

My only niggle would be that the same boards at Friends of Ham come with cornichons and crackers as well as bread, and if we hadn’t ordered extra bread we might have been a bit short.

The overall interior is really cosy, with lots of fairy lights and very Instagrammable marble topped tables.

The service was quick and friendly and with drinks included we spent around £25 each. You would struggle to get a better meal and atmosphere for that in many places in Leeds, we’ll definitely be coming back!!

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Jino’s Thai Cafe, Headingley Review

Jino’s has always been on my list to visit, having always heard amazing things about it. Despite living in a mile radius of this place for four years I didn’t actually make it until a couple of weeks ago for my dads birthday and it was everything I had hoped it would be.

It’s very small, very unassuming, with minimal decor inside – very much a cafe vibe. We had booked for 1pm and were the first people through the door, leaving us wondering if we should have booked at all. Our fears were quickly subsided though as it rapidly began to fill up with families and students. It’s BYOB, by the way.

We started with spring rolls, a couple of rounds of chicken satay and some sweetcorn fritters which for me were the star of the show. Deep fried, incredibly sweet and incredibly savoury at the same time, they were little rounds of puréed sweetcorn with a chilli dipping sauce. Gorgeous.

Then onto the mains. We like to share, so we got a few different plates and all dived in. We had a beef massaman curry, a special duck red Thai curry, a chicken pad Thai and a pork fried rice (Khao Pad). The pad thai was delicious, just the right amount of peanuttyness and a gorgeous, sweet sour sauce. The red Thai curry had a proper kick to it and delicious, well cooked duck.

My favourite though was the pork fried rice, it had that delicious smoky wok flavour and loads of fresh vegetables. Absolutely savoury and moreish!

All in all the food was absolutely delicious, properly Thai and excellent value. You can also bring your own booze, which again makes it a cheaper affair. I’d really recommend Jinos if you’re looking for Thai outside Leeds city centre.

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The Best Restaurants in Ciutadella, Menorca

It’s holiday post time! Yes, ok, I’ve been back for two weeks, but these things take time. So, we recently holidayed (is that a verb?) in the beautiful city of Ciutadella, in Menorca. Menorca is next to Majorca in the Balearic Islands, and we found it to be quite similar in terms of vibe and touristy-ness. We had originally booked Cala’n Bosch not realising that it’s VERY touristy and built up, not really the authentic experience we like on holiday. So we ended up rebooking to Ciutadella which looked much more Spanish.

We weren’t disappointed. Ciutadella is a beautiful place, with authentic tapas restaurants spilling out onto ambling paved streets, a lively harbour with marketplaces and music, and gelato shops on every corner. The only downside to our visit was that everyone else thinks it’s a beautiful place too! In peak season, the city gets very busy. We visited in the last week of August and found ourselves on the first few nights queueing for the popular restaurants, or having to settle for places we maybe wouldn’t have chosen. So some tips if you are thinking of visiting – try to go outside of the school holidays, get to the top rated TripAdvisor places early, or try to make reservations for the following night if you see somewhere nice.

Here’s a quick run down of some of the places we tried, most were rated well on TripAdvisor…

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