Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 - A year of good eating!

I hope this year has been most excellent for you. For me, I've gained experience working in no less than five different eateries. Each one has taught me something new and with that knowledge, I hope to start a very big and exciting adventure. I'm still planning it at the moment but don't worry, you'll be first to know any information!

Here are some of my favourite dishes from 2013!

Mid January I decided to go to Reykjavik, a truly beautiful city full of rich food and stunning scenery.

First choice has to be this pecan pie in Reykjavik - it was delicious gooey.

I had an unforgettable tomato soup at a massive greenhouse. Simply heated blended fresh tomatoes it was delicious.

I did eat well, including the freshest fish sushi

Just look at this incredible crepe at Cafe Babalu Rekjavik

Still in Iceland - Very much enjoyed this gourmet lunch of cured herring and plokkfiskur on rye with rye bread ice cream on the side.
Back in the UK I celebrated my birthday in February with this flour-less chocolate almond cake. It was huge!

I can't forget this delicious vegan breakfast I had in London.  The colours and flavours were so exciting and fresh.

Back in Sheffield for Nosh night market number 2. Enjoyed some horchata...
And a espresso martini from Tamper and Ohara's
These tasty handmade Easter eggs were from Birds Yard Sheffield

Holiday number two was in Madrid! How could I say no to churros?

Plentiful tapas were available too..

Back in UK and off to Leeds where I enjoyed a perfect poached egg

Another poached egg - this time in Manchester
Diddycool was introduced to us late spring. Just in time for one of the hottest summers I can remember!
An unforgettable summer dish was this bream dish from Chef Rico at The Rutland

Suddenly amazing parties were happening every weekend. I was fortunate to try these brigadeiro at one of them.

One of my summer garden parties..
And another.
Drinking champagne in the sun with Jade at Sharrow festival.

Picking fresh raspberries from the garden.

Then I discovered the wonders of raw food at Pure on Raw with this unbelievable mocha pie with clementine gelato
Loved it so much I went back and had the white chocolate pie -still vegan!

This watermelon thai red curry was made for me at a Fancie tasting evening. It was sweet, refreshing and spicy!

Another jaunt to London and more raw food. This time at Inspiral with this pumpkin pie.
Sheffield Markets opened November and I treated myself to some exquisite lychee sorbet with sprinkles at YeeKwan

Some Christmas treats included goodies from Zeds and Steel City Cakes.

 Next year will bring more adventures. Happy new year everyone!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Happy Cook - restaurant review

I had been slightly put off from visiting Happy Cook for a couple of reasons: Firstly, I had a bad experience in the restaurant it previously was (Yuan Shen) and wasn't sure if it was run by the same people or not. Secondly it being right next door to one of my favourite restaurants, Saigon 68 (formerly Pho 68), means that I usually played it safe and went there instead.
Last night however, I was persuaded to give them a go.
The outside is plastered with pictures of their dishes, a wide-screen tv and a large smiley face on the banner. I didn't really know what to expect. Once inside I notice all the other diners are of south east Asian heritage, a good sign. Our slightly bemused waitress shows us to our table and explains to us, in broken English how the system works. There is an offer where you can eat as much as you like for 2 hours for £15 or another where you get a plate of meat/fish weighing 200g and the same of veg plus unlimited condiments and fresh fruit for dessert. We both went for the second option. I chose hotpot and Andy chose bbq.
We shuffled along to the food selecting area. There were various meats including chicken gizzards, pig maw, tofu fish and chicken heart plus some more familiar items such as squid, prawns, chicken and beef. The other side had choi sum, lotus root, tofu skin, daikon radish and more.
I weighed out my food on a little scale and walked back to the table. My hotpot was waiting, as was the grill and a large mound of boiled rice.
In went a few of my chosen ingredients. Some squid, miscellaneous fish fillet which I'm guessing was tilapia, lots of veggies and tofu. I also placed a couple of these skinny, whole sprat type fish onto the grill.

After a few minutes my food is ready and I pile it all up onto my rice. There is a lot here for £7.95! I topped it with some chopped peanuts, fresh coriander, satay sauce, ginger and chilli all from the condiment bar.
I was surprised to open one of the little fish and notice it was 100% tiny little eggs inside! This also made me a little squeamish and also excited as I had no idea what was going on with this crazy fish.
It tasted good however.

The whole meal was just divine. I can honestly say that I felt as though I'd stepped into China when I entered there. It's a great experience on it's own and add to that, the food was really good. I washed my meal down with an iced tea in honeydew flavour. It came with a thick straw and in the bottom was candied orange zest which was a lovely surprise. It was refreshing and moreish.

For my last bit of rice, I added some more peanuts, korean chilli sauce and honey. A great combination. A couple of pieces of white melon ended the meal perfectly. I can't wait to go back to this restaurant. A meal that good, with that refreshing drink and the welcoming staff for less than a tenner can't be bad.

Food - 9/10
Service - 10/10
Value - 9/10

Monday, 18 November 2013

London Trip

A month ago I visited my good friend Louise in Brixton. I'd never seen Brixton before and it was like a completely different city! I loved the multicultural, laid back people with their eccentric clothes and the fact that there were markets all over the place. Brixton village is amazing! Rows of tiny cafes and restaurants all full with people enjoying dishes from all over the world, each of them quirky and with defining character and individuality.
After a very colourful party with awesome costumes, friendly folk and not much sleep, I headed out to explore. My first stop was the closest cafe. It just happened to serve one of my favourite drinks - vanilla chai latte AND they had almond milk!! It was liquid heaven and rid me of any hangover. I watched the browsers and shoppers of the market as I supped my hot cup of comfort.

Brixton market under the bridge

Inside Brixton village.
 Next I met up with another friend, Simon and we went for some food in Brixton village. I had a spicy scrambled egg breakfast with plantain which was exciting and unusual.

Camden lock market
 Once I was hungry again, later in the day I visited Camden lock. I found a stall that served these beautiful white corn rolls filled with shredded chicken, guacomole and more plantain!

 More exploring = hungry again so popped into this vegan and gluten free bakery near Camden. They had a rockabilly style and various awards so I tried their peanut butter chocolate chip cookie which was super sweet but tasty. It lasted me three days!

Vegan gluten free peanut butter chocolate chip cookie

 A bit more exploring of Camden with the owners of numerous stalls thrusting samples of their food on a stick outwards towards passers by. I also browsed the clothes stores. I love the unique style of some of the clothing and the fact you can haggle down prices

 Last stop was the incredible InSpiral lounge. The atmosphere and vibe here is great. They're big on ethical food, everything is vegan and most of it is raw. They host dj nights and open late, makes me sad that there is nothing like this in Sheffield. I had the raw pumpkin pie which was light and festively spiced.
Canal with InSpiral lounge on the right

Already I miss the excitement and activity that London has to offer. Sheffield feels so un-happening in comparison. I do love Sheffield though, it's my home after all and I have so many things to be grateful for here.

Next trip is Scotland!! See you soon readers x

Fancie's Veggie Curry Supper Club - Review

My stomach was grumbling. In preparation for Fancie's seven course feast I'd eaten what I intended to be a small amount but still probably more than most people eat. Anyway it did the trick and I was actually hungry - a rare feeling for me.
An exciting evening was planned. First Fancie's supper club and then off to see Chuck Palaniuk - one of my favorite writers - presenting his new graphic novel at the showroom.
I was invited to dine via Twitter and after telling them about my restricted diet they reassured me that it would be fine.

I notice personalized name tags on the bottles on our table that were a nice touch. Inside feels half like a cafe and half like someone's amazing kitchen, very intimate and cosy with exposed brick walls and cookbooks that add character. The staff are really friendly too.

Me and my friend Dave discussed the origin of macanese and chatted for a few minutes. I love the exposed wooden walls and candles, little touches like this really create a warm atmosphere.
It did feel odd not choosing from a menu and just waiting for your food, also kind of exciting.
Twenty minutes later the first course came and after seeing the samosa, I checked that they got it written down that I don't eat wheat or dairy but unfortunately they didn't get the message.
The problem was however, very quickly rectified and I was brought a new plate within a few minutes. It was lightly spiced and tasty.

Next was the popadoms with biryani which was more spicy than the last course. The almond added a nice texture. I liked the popadoms, which were made with gram flour. My friend commented that he usually gets sauce with biryani, having never had one before that night, I wouldn't know about sauce anyway.

Following that was a watermelon Thai curry which was unusual but I absolutely loved it. The coconut on top is great and the sauce was delicious. My friend who spent time in Thailand said it's very authentic. Altogether that was my favourite dish of the night.

Tagine was next and was very sweet with cinnamon and plump raisins balanced by the savoury olives, the accompanying salad was crisp and fresh.

Nepalese chickpea and goats curd was the next course. It wasn't as flavorful as the previous ones and they'd added goats cheese which I can't eat but my friend gladly takes off my hands. It would have benefited from some acidity. Perhaps the goats cheese provided that.

 The last curry was very spicy and perfumed. Really delicious and I love the cabbage and star anise. Everyone around was sweating and downing their water.

 I'm very impressed the chef managed to adapt the menu and prepare something for me at such short notice.
Pudding was a meringue with lime and blueberry. It was really light and finished my meal perfectly.   I had nothing to worry about in regards to eating too much. I was pleasantly full but not bloated.

 Overall a great atmosphere and delicious food. Easy to see why the chef won young chef of the year with inventive dishes like these!

Food - 8/10
Service - 10/10
Value - 8/10

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Aagrah Restaurant Review

Last week was my lovely cousins birthday and to celebrate, a trip to Aagrah was arranged.
We arrived at 7pm to the Leopold Square based restaurant. Aagrah has good neighbours, Leopold Square is home to a selection of good chain restaurants including Wagamama and Tropeiro.
For a Monday, the absolutely huge dining room was very busy and had a lively atmosphere.
With sleek black tables, large mirrors and walls, the decor is really swish and modern.
Everyone choose the buffet so I joined them. Hot silver containers held a wide selection of dishes and they all tasted very authentic. I liked the fact that the vegetarian curry changes frequently and there was a selection of dahls, rice and little salads. They also helpfully label which dishes contain wheat or dairy.

My cousin shared this plate of desserts with her friend
The masala fish was particularly good and I went back for seconds. Great value as you only pay £12 including a dessert.
A selection of fresh fruit and small glass ramekins of puddings such as cheesecakes and jelly is available plus hot gulab jamuns and a pipe your own ice cream with various toppings which the kids loved.
I enjoyed a bowl of fresh pineapple, melon, persimmon and grapes plus a nibble of my nieces orange jelly. It finished my meal nicely.
All in all a good standby Kashmiri restaurant in a great location.

Food - 7/10
Service - 8/10
Value - 9/10