Champagne Tasting At Reserve Wines, West Didsbury

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If you have read my blog before you may have seen I go to a fair few alcohol tastings in and around Manchester. Usually based around a spirit I find them a great way to try lots of smaller samples of a brand whilst hearing all about it from an expert. So imagine my delight when I realised Reserve Wines in West Didsbury were holding a tasting dedicated to my favourite tipple ever, champagne! I know bits and bobs about champagne but was excited to learn more so signed up.

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The evening was hosted by Simon Hore from Thorman Hunt and kicked off with some history about champagne. Did you know it can only be called champagne if the grapes come from the Champagne region of France? Cava and Prosecco are made in a very similar style but have to be called something different due to not being grown in the region. Also did you know that England may have been the first place to actually create sparkling wine? Charles Merret documented how adding sugar to wine would cause it to fizz way before champagne was first made, or so they say. I love a bit of theory!

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Our first champagne of the night was Gremillet made from 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay grapes grown in the Aube region of Champagne. They have 35 hectares (Moet et Chandon have 1000 hectares to give you an idea of how small this actually is!) of vineyards so this is a small production but boy, is it good. A real easy drinker with a smooth finish and a light taste of biscuit on the palate. This retails at a ridiculously reasonable £23.99 and I came home with a bottle, it was too good not to.

Next was the Veuve Fourny Premier Cru where there are even less hectares of vineyards, just 17! This champagne is 100% chardonnay grape which is called blanc de blanc in the champagne world. Aged for 2.5 years it has peaches on the nose and is a lot fizzier than the Gremillet. On the palate it is sweeter and creamier. Retailing at £29.99 it is still excellent value although not my favourite.

We sampled two other champagnes from the Veuve Fourny range including the Brut Nature Non Dose and the Premier Cru Rose. Both have less bubbles with the rose being a particular favourite of mine for the light strawberry notes and light taste. It is very dry but still wonderfully easy to drink and retails at £33.99. The Brut Nature Non Dose is also less fizzy than the Premier Cru with a lovely crisp green apple taste in the mouth. My friends said it was the sort of champagne they could envisage drinking in a park with a picnic in the height of summer and they are totally right. At £29.99 it wouldn’t break the bank either!

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Stopping for a quick bite we were treated to a mini portion of fish and chips from Fish Bait next door. They were delicious and who’d have thought fish and chips would go so well with champagne? The fat cuts through the creamier notes of the fizz letting the fruity notes come flying through. Lovely.

Anyway back to the fizz itself and we moved onto the Paul Dethune Ambonnay Grand Cru. This was a favourite for many on the night and it isn’t hard to see why. Aged for 2.5 years it is light with very fine bubbles and a hit of sherbet on the nose. So much so I had a bit of a sneezing fit having inhaled too much! The 80% pinot noir and 20% chardonnay grape combination made this similar to the first champagne in a way but with more citrus on the palate. This one costs £33.99.

Moving onto Lallier which hails from the Ay region. It is believed Ay was discovered by the Gallo-Romans back in 344 and it’s wines are mentioned in Pliny the Elder. Can’t beat a bit of history with your fizz! This champagne was the driest so far with softer bubbles making it less harsh on the palate than it could have been. Retailing at £28.49 it is also a good price.

Last and not least for most was the Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2004. Aged for 10 years this was very savoury on the nose with a fresh taste of melon on the palate. It was a little too dry for me but it was certainly a favourite on the night amongst the guests. Retailing at £62.50 this is one for a special occasion.

A fabulous evening was had by all and at £20 for the tasting I am not surprised. we got to try 7 champagnes, eat fish and chips as well as learn lots of interesting facts about the world of champagne. Thanks to Reserve Wines for hosting the event. They hold regular tastings so give them a follow on Twitter and I’ll probably see you there sometime, I can’t wait for the next one although my one piece of advice would be to take a cushion, sitting on wine crates can be somewhat uncomfortable if you have a bony bottom…

This event was paid for in full.

Beauty: Glossybox July 2014 Review

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I’ve not done a Glossybox review for a while. I used to compare Glossybox with Birchbox but I ended up accumulating so many samples I didn’t know what to do with them all. I’ve since unsubscribed from Birchbox and was going to leave Glossybox due to some really poor samples over the past few months. I’m really behind with my Glossydots (surveys you complete to review the products) so decided to get them up to date so I would qualify for my free box. Imagine my delight when I was halfway through America week on the blog and an American themed box dropped through my door? It was like fate! Let’s see what was in my box this month….

Color Club nail polish in Glossy Seal – £8

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I love Color Club nail polishes. They have a thick consistency not dissimilar to my all time favourite nail polish brand Jessica and just as wide a range of colours. They are none toxic and use cruelty free ingredients which is a nice touch and hail from New York City, my favourite place in the world. This colour is a light navy and perfect for the blue part of the United States flag, I feel a bit of nail art coming on! It genuinely only needs one coat and lasted 3-4 days without chipping. It’s a winner for me and something I will be picking up on my trip.

Bellapierre Cosmetics Mineral Lipstick – £20

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As you will know by now I am not a fan of bright lipsticks so I was a little disappointed to see the colour I got in my Glossybox was Mandarina. It is described on the Bellapierre website as a light natural pink but I found it to be a bright orangey red colour, perhaps it is a different shade in the States? It is highly pigmented and wonderfully soft in texture with a healthy dose of vitamin C and E to keep the lips hydrated. I gifted this to a friend who loves it so I think I just need to find the right shade for me. The swatch above is one swipe of the bullet.

Absolute New York Eyeshadow Primer – £4.99

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I love a good primer and am a real convert to foundation primers especially in the summer months. I find they keep my face in place much longer than it would without, my current favourite being Benefit Porefessional. I was excited to see an eyeshadow primer as I do tend to get a fair bit of creasing on my lids. The product is quite thick and needs smoothing on with a fingertip after applying. I have to say this was one of the most disappointing things I have ever used. My eyeshadow creased QUICKER than it would have done without the primer! Absolute fail, I’m so glad I didn’t buy this product and certainly won’t be buying it in the future.

Carmex Lip Balm – £2.60

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Carmex is readily available in our beauty stores and a cult classic in the UK as well as the USA so I thought this was a bit of a cop out on Glossybox’s part. That said I had run out of my last tub so it was a welcome addition to my makeup bag. I love how Carmex is clear and very moisturising with a ‘tingly’ sensation making my lips plumper and redder than normal. A real plus and a bargain at £2.60

NYC Cosmetics Beautifying Blushable Crème Stick – £2.99

I discovered NYC Cosmetics on a haul spree in Duane Reade NYC and haven’t bought anything from the brand since so I was pleased to see a crème blush in this month’s Glossybox. I received the shade Never Sleeping Pink which is a bright light pink similar to MUA’s cream blush in Bittersweet. It is highly pigmented like Bittersweet and the swatches above are just one swipe of the stick. I like a stick applicator to mean less mess but this does need a fair bit of blending due to the pigmentation but it will last an absolute age! The colour lasts all day and has a lovely dewy finish, not like the ‘cream to powder’ it claims to be. I prefer this effect though.

That’s it! I was a little disappointed to see others received a Mary Kay mascara in their box instead of my NYC blush and I was also hoping to learn about new brands I could look up when I go on my trip. I’ll just have to keep looking! Do you recommend any products I need to pick up whilst there?

This product was paid for in full.

Slimmer Saturday: Race For Life With Scottish Power High 5 Challenge

I’m starting to think there must be something wrong with me. I mean Color Run and Race for Life on consecutive Sundays? For someone who said they hate running? But this time it was personal and my little way to give something back.

Race For Life is something I have done many a time in the past few years. A 5km run, walk, jog or stroll for women only raising money for Cancer Research UK. Many people taking part have beaten cancer or know someone who has. Many have lost loved ones to cancer and take part in their memory to raise vital funds in the hope that, one day, this vile disease can be eliminated. Scottish Power, yes the energy people, actively raise funds for the charity as well as sponsor the Race For Life events across the country. Their own campaign Scottish Power High 5 Wave Challenge hopes to raise £30,000 for the charity by encouraging 55,000 people to take photographs of themselves at the race doing a high 5!

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Donning my pink high 5 glove off I toddled to Heaton Park to take part with hundreds of other women. Many had back signs detailing loved ones they were running in celebration of, people who had either beaten or been lost to cancer. It was a hot day and even if I was at my peak fitness I don’t think I could ever run this race in its entirety. It’s hilly, it was hot yes but what was harder to take was the sheer amount of people running for people they had lost. I always get a lump in my throat at how this must affect people and I actually had tears in my eyes seeing a young girl at the start line in a wheelchair with no hair. Surrounded by friends sporting her picture on their back sign she had the biggest smile on her face and was thoroughly enjoying her day, showing that she wasn’t letting cancer beat her by any stretch. Such an inspiration and a reminder to live each day to its fullest.

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Weaving through the walkers we managed to pick up a little pace in some areas of the course choosing to walk in areas to take in the atmosphere. We were presented with medals and had our photograph taken for the Scottish Power high 5 wave, our bit towards their 50,000 waves.

There are still events taking place up and down the country and Scottish Power are 9000 waves off their target. Isn’t it about time you rounded up your girlfriends and did your bit? If I can do it anyone can…

A massive thank you to Scottish Power who paid for me to take part in this event and also gave a large donation to Race For Life on my behalf.

Restaurant Review: Pizza Express, Piccadilly Gardens – Manchester

For me, this blog is about trying things and that isn’t just a top end or local restaurant. There are many times when I’m out with a group of friends and a chain restaurant is the only option to keep everyone happy. Especially in my local village where the local Pizza Express is the only place to eat we can all agree on!

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Luckily for us it was a lovely sunny day when we visited Pizza Express in Piccadilly Gardens so we chose to sit in the window and people watch. To go with the weather I decided on a Hugo Express which blends my favourite Prosecco with elderflower, fresh mint and lemon over ice. I don’t think it needed the ice as a person who drinks at normal speed would find this waters down the drink too much. This wasn’t a problem for me though, oh no, I was thirsty and gobbled this down! It was lovely and light, perfect for the summery weather we are currently enjoying.

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Onto our starters and Charlie decided to try the bruschetta con funghi. I turned my nose up at the sheer thought of it being an avid hater of the mushroom and I have to say I wasn’t expecting the dish that came out. A fluffy pizza style dough base smothered in béchamel sauce and a variety of different mushrooms. It looked disgusted but then it would to be, all those mushrooms, but Charlie tells me it was ok but the balsamic drowned out some of the flavours she was expecting. Perhaps I’d have been ok to try it after all!

I chose the lightest starter on the menu in the form of their leggera panzanella. At less than 250 calories it is the perfect choice for anyone watching their waistline with a medley of tomatoes, cucumber, onion, capers and croutons. The flavours should have been fresh and light but this dish had been doused in far too much pepper for my liking. So much that my mouth went numb and I just couldn’t taste the other flavours at all.

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Hoping for something better we moved onto our mains and both hit the healthy options. Charlie had the leggera salmon salad which balanced the richness of salmon and avocado with the freshness of mixed leaves, rocket, mint, red onion and cucumber. It looked delicious and, at under 500 calories, is perfect for anyone trying to eat healthier whilst still being able to go out with friends for a meal. I also went for a dish from the leggera range with the pollo ad astra. This is the pizza I usually choose when dining at Pizza Express but I usually go for the full sized version. The leggera is smaller with a hole cut out of the middle filled with a dressed salad. For me this meant I wasn’t missing out on a pizza whilst still being able to fill up on veggies. I’d have preferred the salad not to be dressed as I thought the flavours were drowned out a little but the pizza base was thin and crispy with a healthy selection of toppings. I certainly wouldn’t complain and would order this again.

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Onto dessert and Charlie went naughty again with the strawberry and cream glory from the summer menu. The strawberry gelato with fresh strawberries and mint was lovely yet the cream had solified into frozen chunks which weren’t very pleasant. My lemon and blueberry glory, however was a real hit. Lemon sorbet, fresh blueberries and a chocolate straw were jazzed up with a shot of limoncello transporting me to a friend’s wedding where her brother and I downed nearly a bottle of the zesty stuff until 4am. Lovely memories and a lovely dessert that, once again from the lighter options menu, only carries 235 calories. Well without my shot of limoncello.

So not a perfect visit but a firm favourite for groups of friends or family looking for somewhere quick that caters for everyone. And this one does have a pretty good view of our fair city.

We dined as guests of Pizza Express and didn’t pay for our food. We did, however, pay for our drinks.

Say Yes To Summer With Lactofree Featuring Healthy Smoothie Recipes

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If you follow me on Twitter (if not, why not?! You can follow me here) you will know that I have embarked on a new clean eating regime. As a restaurant and food blogger this is pretty difficult and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle some days! Working full time means I can’t always get up in the morning to cook a protein heavy breakfast so sometimes a quick fix is certainly welcome.

This month Lactofree have challenged me to create some yummy smoothies using their semi skimmed milk and I thought it fitted nicely with my breakfast plight! So here you have it clean eaters, two super easy smoothies you can whizz up in a morning to see you through until lunch time.

Green Goddess Smoothie

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1 banana – peeled and chopped roughly
handful of fresh spinach
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 scoop (11g) greens powder (I used PHD Greens PH7) – optional
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 an apple – peeled and chopped roughly
400ml Lactofree semi skimmed milk


Pop all the ingredients into your blender and whizz until smooth. I used a frozen banana so mine was ice cold but, if your banana isn’t frozen, you may want to add some ice cubes. Drink immediately.

I have to say I was dubious about a drink that looks this vibrantly green but the apple, ginger and lemon really help to disguise the savoury flavour. I find adding greens powder helps me to increase my intake of green vegetables throughout the day which, when you live a hectic lifestyle, really helps!

Banana and Peanut Butter Protein Shake

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1 banana – peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of peanut butter (I used natural wholenut with no added sugar)
1 scoop (28g) whey protein (I used My Protein Elle True Diet vanilla)
400ml Lactofree semi skimmed milk
4 ice cubes (or as many as your blender will take without having a hissy fit)


Surely you have the hang of this by now? Yep you guessed it, pop all the ingredients into your blender and give it a whizz!

I absolutely love this shake, the vanilla protein powder gives it a sweetness not dissimilar to a McDonalds milkshake. And on hot summer days like we are currently enjoying, who wouldn’t want that?

What are your favourite healthy shakes? Please leave your links below, I’d love to try them! And remember you can #SayYesToSummer with Lactofree!

Sponsored post

Restaurant Review: Dogbowl, Manchester

There comes a time when an invite drops into your inbox that you partly dread. I mean I’ll happily try new things but there are some things that, no matter how hard I try, I just cannot get right. That thing, my friends, is bowling. I’ve talked about it before when I let Dogbowl and All Star Lanes fight it out for the Manchester bowling crown (you can read the post HERE) but the time had come to go back. And let me tell you… I was nervous.

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Choosing to dull the nerves the only way I know how I chose a porn star martini. I am a huge fan of this cocktail and had my first one ever at Dog Bowl. This one looked a lot different from the pretty yellowy orange drink I am used to with a slightly pink tinge. It tasted good though if a little overly sweet.

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Desperate to get on track with healthier eating I decided to choose less calorific options than normal so we decided to share some starters. The chilli nachos were piled high with a garlicky guacamole and a fairly mild chilli with cheese and sour cream. They were quite good but not the best I have had. I like a mild chilli but I know friends would have been disappointed with the lack of heat. The BBQ shrimp skewers were plump and juicy with a touch of Cajun spice and smothered in BBQ butter. I really enjoyed them but couldn’t quite understand why they were sat on a warm piece of bread. It would have worked if the bread were more toasted but with the melted butter it ended up quite soggy.

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Onto our mains and I had the Big Gun burger on Food Geek’s recommendation. The chicken was chargrilled and juicy with a fresh tomato salsa and lightly spiced South West sauce. I ate it without the bun and didn’t feel like I was missing out which is always a bonus! Unfortunately the chicken was cold and could have done with staying on the grill was longer. The fries could have done with a little longer in the fryer too but they were well seasoned.

Cheryl ordered the beef dip. It looked a bit sloppy on the plate but then the menu does say to eat with a knife and fork! The beef brisket was soft and ‘melt in the mouth’ with jack cheese being a nice touch. I think more stock for dipping would have been welcome but I’m sure it would have been provided had we asked.

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We waited a fair while for our plates to be cleared and the dessert menu to arrive which was a little disappointing especially considering there were only a few diners left at this point. Going for sharing options again we ordered the big bowl sundae and the apple and muscovado cheesecake. The sundae was pretty simple with ice cream topped with marshmallows, brownie chunks, cream and chocolate sauce. It wasn’t what I would describe as ‘big bowl’ but it certainly hit the spot when I was hankering for a bit of ice cream. The apple and muscovado cheesecake was lovely but didn’t really taste as described. The topping was jelly-like in consistency and didn’t really taste of much. The cheesecake itself was delicious with the muscovado flavour coming through heavily so it overpowered the topping quite a bit. I’d rather they call is muscovado cheesecake and leave off the topping personally.

We ended our night here but unfortunately that hadn’t been the plan. We had been booked in to bowl but there was a large group whooping and screaming every time the balls hit the pins who were taking up all the lanes. Now I am not one to break up a party and I’m not sure if it is the layout of Dogbowl but every shriek pierced our eardrums like you wouldn’t believe. It was unpleasant and we weren’t the only ones looking around wondering what the racket was. The noise caused the doorman (on a Tuesday night!) to come into the bowling alley but he didn’t say anything to them. Perhaps a polite, “please can you keep the noise down” would help? It seems the wait staff were also keen to watch the bowling as we waited over ages for our final bill to arrive failing to be able to catch anyone’s eye for quite some time. I guess it was good for me as I got out of having to bowl but it was a bit unfair on the rest of the group.

We were invited to dine as guests of Dogbowl and weren’t ask to pay for our meal. Our comments were passed to the restaurant prior to this review being published so they were aware of the issues and could look to rectify them. We have since been advised these are in hand. As always this is an honest and unbiased review.


Restaurant Review: All Star Lanes, Holborn – London

With America week drawing to a close I thought I’d visit an American style restaurant in our fair capital to give myself a taste of things to come once I hit Orange County. Nothing like getting myself overexcited now is there…

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Tucked away down some metal stairs is the Holborn branch of All Star Lanes. I was in London with a friend and work colleague who had to give a presentation and asked me along for the ride. Never one to miss an opportunity I suggested we hit All Star Lanes for some grub as I was desperate to try their new menu and a branch outside of Manchester.

The venue is smaller than the one in Manchester with the dining area running along the left hand side of the bowling lanes which are lit in neon colours. There aren’t as many lanes either but I did notice another bowling area down the side of the venue, I presume this is the VIP/private lanes similar to the ones they have in Manchester.

We had booked and were seated quickly where my friend decided she had to try the bacon popcorn whilst we perused the menu.

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Perfectly popped and soft it was studded with slithers of bacon that my friend announced were delicious but there wasn’t enough of them. This had my chuckling for ages as she shares a name with the delicious rashers.

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Never one to turn down a cocktail especially one containing rum I had the Rum Runner. This bad boy packs a punch with Ron Abuelo anejo, Blackwell’s, Wray & Nephew, bitters, pineapple, lime and raspberry. Usually tall drinks like this are fairly easy drinking but this one, described as the cousin of the Zombie, had a real hit of alcohol from the various rums sweetened with the fruit juices. I obviously loved it but don’t think I could have drank many more without being decidedly wobbly on my feet!

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Onto the food and we chose very different starters. I had the salt beef croquettes which had a lovely crunchy coating and worked really well with the slightly vinegary dill pickle mustard dip. The meat combined with potato was soft yet still chunky unlike other croquettes I have eaten in restaurants. My friend was very well behaved opting for the summer salad of marinated vegetables and mixed leaves topped with mozzarella and a poached egg. The flavours were fresh and simple with the yolk from the egg providing a lovely creamy dressing once popped. She was very happy with it.

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My friend soon dipped out of the healthy stuff going for the buttermilk fried chicken burger and a side of sweet potato fries for her main. The chicken was soft and juicy with a light batter, a slightly sour fennel slaw matched with a hit of spice from hot sauce and chipotle mayo. I thought it was perfect although my friend is a fan of heat and thought it could be a little spicier. Her fries however, I was not getting near these beauties. She allowed me one before sitting with the pot in front of her happily munching her way through them. The one I managed to wrestle out of her hands was well seasoned with a crunchy exterior. Lovely… and I could see why she wasn’t letting me near the bucket.

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Having seen the chargrilled chicken salad on Twitter and how ‘clean’ it looked I wasn’t going to order anything else. A bed of lamb’s lettuce dotted with quinoa, chunks of chicken topped with rashers of bacon and a poached egg was so good considering how healthy it was. Well minus the bacon. That’s not that healthy I guess. The aged balsamic dressing mixed with the egg yolk was something else and it was all so fresh. If someone could make this for me every day I’d be a happy lady.

Too full for dessert my friend and I marvelled at how quiet the bowling lanes were considering we were sat right next to them. We thought it would distract us massively and interfere with our conversation but we were very wrong. The staff were attentive, efficient and friendly without being overly so. A hard combination to come by but this place seems to be a well oiled machine and I didn’t hear a single person complain.

One thing I will say is the toilets aren’t the best with a few doors that wouldn’t lock and few without toilet roll. Having seen the state of some of the toilets in my favourite bars though it wasn’t a major issue.

The place was busy for a Wednesday night with a large group sat next to us enjoying a meal. Now if only we can get all this custom to Manchester mid week!

I booked in and ate at All Star Lanes with every intention of paying for my meal. The staff here had other ideas and didn’t ask me to pay for this meal. This review is an honest unbiased account of my friend and I’s thoughts.  

Guest Post: Celebrating 4th July With Splendid Sausage

The American theme week wouldn’t be complete without dessert and what better than waffles at Splendid Sausage for 4th July? Cheryl went along for me as I was off elsewhere…

Splendid Sausage Company, John Dalton Street, Manchester

The Splendid Sausage Co is another foodie paradise on Manchester’s thriving scene. Known for their deliciously British sausages served in the American hot dog style and more over their egg benedict fries (oh so nice) they now has another bow to add to its strings. Waffles! Oh Waffles. I am a waffle obsessive. To find out somewhere you already enjoy heading for some nosh is making an attempt at a favourite food, well it would be utterly rude not to try it for yourself.

And so I did. Invited to give their new menu treats a whirl I couldn’t hide my excitement as the first dish was brought over to our table. ‘Born in the USA’ a waffley dish served with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, blueberries, maple syrup and of course candied bacon. I have said it previously and I will say it again. I could suck on that candied bacon all day; it cuts through the sweetness of the rest of the dish and really pulls all the flavours together.


Next up we had the ‘Chocolate Lots and Lots’, well one thing for sure is they are not over exaggerating on the name. What I found most delightful was under the whipped cream was the chocolate ice cream and the beneath that squashed into the beautiful crevices of the waffles themselves, Nutella. A chocolate lover’s dream, better yet the addition of Weeto’s added that much needed crunch.

Finally the last to try was their seasonal fruits, which in comparison was light and fresh with the berries liberally spread across the whipped cream. Again the strawberry ice cream was hidden beneath the mound of creamy goodness and it all worked very well together. Overall I was impressed. The waffles themselves were such a wonderful consistency and just the right amount of density. Created with a specially imported waffle maker from the states, these guys are taking their craft seriously. It is working.

Splendid Sausage Company, John Dalton Street, Manchester

With three extra styles to choose from you will have your pick of waffle delights and I can most certainly recommend them.

Extra suggestions – the PBJ milkshake and the Toulouse sausage.

Huge thanks to Cheryl for attending what sounds like a truly exceptional evening.

I was invited to this event as a guest and wasn’t asked to pay for my food. Thanks to Splendid Sausage for supplying the photographs.

Guest Post: FoodChoice’s All American Sweet and Sticky Ribs Recipe

The first of this week’s guest posts is from FoodChoice Manchester who were keen to share a recipe with you all and I can’t think of a better choice than some ribs! Take it away guys…

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We’re very pleased to do our first guest post for Keeley and join in on her American week. We scratched our head on what recipe to showcase and we think we’ve brought you our very best – American BBQ ribs.

Prepare for sticky fingers, meaty mouths and meat sweats! This recipe isn’t that laborious but it’s a low and slow cooking process; plenty of patients is needed. Ribs are popular in both Chinese & American South cuisine but my love for ribs comes from the classic southern American BBQ – served with sticky and sweet BBQ sauce!

My love for these ribs came from watching too much American Food Network; Man vs. Food – Dinners, drive-in’s and dives & bitchin’ Kitchen - (I’ll have to caveat that this is well before Manchester got American cuisine crazy)

So, after watching these shows I thought American diner food was the truest form of food porn! Completely unhealthy; nevertheless majestic and exciting. After seeing juicy burgers, salty fries, creamy cold milkshakes, tasty hot dogs and stacks of fluffy pancakes, I couldn’t take anymore – I had to get in the kitchen and try to recreate one of these dishes.

Ribs are relatively cheap, easy to prepare and don’t need you watching over them every 10 minutes. We’ve tried dry rubs, wet rubs, slow cooking, boiling and even BBQing pork ribs to discover the best recipe. After about a year of trial and error we have developed a simple home cooks method of serving up sticky, sweet American ribs – no BBQ is needed!


4 x 500g good quality pork ribs

For the dry rub

25 g light soft brown sugar 2 tbsp paprika 1 tbsp sea salt 2 tsp cayenne pepper 2 tsp mustard powder 2 tsp black pepper

For the BBQ Sauce

8 tbsp tomato ketchup 8 tbsp soft brown sugar 2 tbsp soy sauce 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce 1 tsp paprika


In a bowl mix together the dry rub ingredients. Lay all the pork on a board and rub with the dry rub on both sides, massaging into the meat. Place the pork on a low metal rack in a large roasting tin and leave to stand for 1 hour, or overnight if you have time.

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Preheat the oven to 150 fan. Add 100ml cold water to the roasting tin and cook the pork in the oven for 2 hours. Turn on the hour and add a little extra water if the base of the pan becomes dry. (Cover the ribs with a piece of foil if they begin to dry out.)

Meanwhile, put all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Gently heat, then bubble for about 5 mins, stirring util the sauce has thickened.

After the 2 hours is up – remove the ribs from the oven. Brush the ribs with half of the BBQ sauce, until covered.

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Place the ribs back in the oven for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and apply the rest of the BBQ sauce – back in the over for 30 minutes or until very soft and tender – the meat should be almost falling off the bones.

Serve the ribs with whatever you fancy; our favourites are whipped potato, fries or cornbread.


Join us on Twitter – Follow @FoodChoiceMCR or visit our website


My American Road Trip With The American Road Trip Company

This week I decided to theme my posts and with a few American style posts already in the pipeline, it seemed like the perfect theme. It is amazing what you discover when you tell people this is what you are planning, loads of bloggers love the States and will be guest blogging on Phat Cupcake this week! I thought I’d start with my American road trip plans…

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I’ve always loved America. I went to New York for the first time thanks to an award my Mum won at work. We spent 3 days being shown the city but, unfortunately for me, it wasn’t long enough and we were very much tied to the plans of the group. It was amazing to fly over the Empire State Building in a helicopter (even though I hated every minute of it, I have a dreadful fear of flying) and drink champagne at the top of the Twin Towers. To be honest it fuelled my love for New York and I have visited 3 times since. Luckily for me I’ve seen different sides of the city from my 21st Birthday at the Waldorf hotel to a friend living on the outskirts of the Bronx and sleeping on her floor for a week. I loved every second and have been dying to see more of America ever since. I’ve always fancied seeing some of the West Coast having also been to Florida and had thought of doing the Pacific Coast Highway a few times. This year I decided to bite the bullet and book something.

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I’ve looked at arranging my trip myself. I mean how hard can it be? Book a few hotels, arrange a hire car and flights. Problem is I know very little about the West Coast so when it comes to getting a decent deal, I am clueless. That is where The American Road Trip Company has come in handy for me. Not only do they sort all my flights, accommodation, route plans and car hire; they have introduced me to places I simply wouldn’t have known were there.

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In October Nicola and I will be arriving at LAX for our trip of a lifetime. She wanted to see Las Vegas, I wanted to see the Grand Canyon. This has sort of formulated our trip and we get to see both as well as a bit of everything the West has to offer. I love that our trip will take us to big cities, mountains, lakes, beaches and parks.

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We start with beaches namely Laguna Beach where lots of millionaires live, apparently. If I find a man there is every chance I won’t be coming home! I can’t wait to get over the jet lag on the beach.

In a day we will leave the beach and head for the desert seeing Sinatra’s favourite hangout Palm Springs and then over the Joshua Tree National Park. I can’t wait to get some photographs of the weird rocks and trees! We are staying in Lake Havasu which is the home of the old London Bridge which was taken down brick by brick before being transported to the USA. Next up is my choice of destination, the Grand Canyon! I’m not good with heights and it will take a real surge of courage to get me near the rim.

After the Grand Canyon we drive to Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam and part of the old Route 66. Ironically we are staying at New York, New York and the last time I went on holiday with Nicola guess where we went? New York! I am looking forward to seeing the glitzy lights and the huge casinos for myself as well as taking my picture outside 2 of the wedding chapels where friends have gotten married.

Next we travel through Death Valley onto Lake Tahoe where my Dad tells me a lot of The Godfather was filmed. I have since watched the first film and the beginning of the second. It looks so beautiful with it’s mountain backdrop. Speaking of mountains we will have to brave some interesting roads as we head into Yosemite National Park to visit the bears before heading into Napa. I’m super excited about visiting the vineyards and seeing where some of my favourite wines come from.

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Along the coast we drop into San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge before heading south along the All American drive of Highway 1 through Carmel, Big Sur and back into the bright lights of Los Angeles. It is probably very sad that I am looking forward to seeing Rodeo Drive a la Pretty Woman. I can’t wait to see the walk of fame and the Hollywood sign in the hills as well as the tomb where Marilyn Monroe is now resting.

I have 13 weeks to wait, any hints or tips of what to see or where to eat are greatly appreciated. I’m lucky that The American Road Trip Company will supply me with lots of things to see and do but anything else is a bonus. I think we have filled the San Francisco days already with a visit to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co and Alcatraz! I’ll be blogging along the way too with hotel, restaurant and what to ‘try’ whilst there. It’s going to be an amazing journey.

All photos are courtesy of The American Road Trip Company and this trip has been paid for in full.

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