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!

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

Enjoy!

Join us on Twitter – Follow @FoodChoiceMCR or visit our website http://www.FoodChoiceMCR.com

 

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.

Giveaway: Win A Family Ticket To The International Cheese Awards

This year’s International Cheese Awards is just around the corner with a record breaking number of entries hitting 4443 compared to 4268 last year!

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The cheese awards is part of Nantwich Agricultural Show taking place on the 29th and 30th July. The largest cheese show in the world welcomes entries from around the world with 27 countries currently showing their finest fromage. In 2013 283 categories were judged with Long Clawson Dairy winning the coveted ‘supreme champion’ prize for their Claxtone Blue. Other winners included Belton Cheese with the highest number of gold awards and Marks & Spencer who won the ‘supreme retailer’ award. I, for one, can agree with this as a huge fan of their white Cheshire!

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This year is the 117th show and is going to be bigger than ever with lots of cookery demonstrations from the likes of James Martin and Sean Wilson taking to the stage. The full schedule is below and you can buy tickets for each performance via the website for £5:

10.00 a.m. Jonathan Harrison

11.00 a.m. James Martin

12 noon Will Holland

1.00 p.m. Sean Wilson

1.45 p.m. Jonathan Harrison

2.45 p.m. James Martin

4.00 p.m. Will Holland

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A family ticket to the event costs £35 in advance or £45 on the door and allows entry to the show for 2 adults and 2 children. You can buy your tickets here … http://nantwichshow.co.uk/buy-tickets/ or enter my giveaway below to win some! Good luck and I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one hovering around the Spanish cheeses as well as the goats cheese; 2 of my favourites.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Photographs courtesy of the International Cheese Awards website.

Rum Club At Revolucion De Cuba With Bacardi

This week saw the return of one of my favourite regular events in Manchester, RUM CLUB! I’ve been to a few now at Revolucion De Cuba and this month saw Bacardi taking to the main stage. This was a bit strange for me as I had heard a lot about the Bacardi brand at the Untameable Party earlier in the year so thought it would be all the same spiel. Still fun obviously, there is rum involved, but I thought it would be a fairly none eventful night in terms of rum education.

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I knew I was wrong about the lack of rum education when I saw this line up on arrival. I knew I hadn’t tried all of these blends so I started to get a little excited, I’m not going to lie.

Ozzy introduced herself as our host for the evening from the Bacardi brand and introduced us to the founder of Bacardi Don Facundo by way of his life story. I had heard a lot of this before and you can read it in my previous blog post if you are interested but she also told us 2 of his children had died in a cholera epidemic which had forced the family to leave Cuba and go back to Spain. Facundo’s wife had come into a large inheritance which Facundo encouraged her to invest in his new idea, to make rum that tasted good. It took Facundo 10 years to perfect his spirit as the rum available at the time was known as the ‘poor man’s drink’ tasting pretty awful. After the 10 years of design and when Facundo was ready they opened a small distillery and planted a tree outside. This tree survived until the family left the distillery in 1962 and the family have planted a tree at each of their distilleries since.

It was also Facundo’s wife Amalia who had the idea for the fruit bat symbol. I talked about them finding the bats in the rafters of the distillery in my last post but what I hadn’t realised is that they symbolise family union and prosperity, hence the decision was made for the logo. At the time there was a high level of illiteracy in Spain so many asked for ‘the rum of the bat’ rather than Bacardi.

During prohibition many flew from Florida to Cuba at a price of $24 for the booze cruise of their generation. They were met at the airport by the Bacardi rep who proceeded to take them back to the distillery to drink rum, and lots of it. Suffice to say the revellers thought this was amazing and Bacardi became the talked about rum of its time in the USA.

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Starting with the simple daiquiri made with Bacardi Superior I was in a very happy place. Citrus and a slight warmth from the rum is just perfect for me. This white mixing rum is aged for 18 months then filtered so it is clear. There are notes of white chocolate and cream soda on the nose whilst the taste is sweet and creamy.

Onto Bacardi Gold which I see most often on a back bar. This has changed slightly in the last few months and is now 40%ABV instead of 37.5% of old. Aged for 3 years the higher ABV makes this more spikey with a little smoke from the barrel and burnt sugar on the nose. This version of Gold is only available in London and Revolucion De Cuba Manchester so it is worth popping in for a try!

Onto Bacardi Black which, as you can probably tell by the name, is very dark in colour. This comes from the heavily charred barrels it is aged in for 4 years and gives a Christmas cake taste on the palate.

Last but definitely not least was my favourite; Bacardi 8. This used to be reserved for the Bacardi family only until in 1981 they realised their stocks were high enough to sell it to the public. And oh how pleased I am… when served at room temperature this is really smooth with a syrupy taste of honey and caramel. Just perfect and so tasty I could have sipped it all night.

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No rum club is complete without a bit of cocktail interaction and guests took to the bar to make their own espresso martinis (very rich and much less sweetness than the ones I have drank in the past) as well as a rum old fashioned. I have to say the latter was my absolute favourite with the orange peel just rounding off the flavours of the Bacardi 8 perfectly.

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With another rum club over we headed upstairs with our drinks to mop up some of the alcohol with tapas style dishes. As always the food was as yummy as the rum. Now I am told there are many a variety of Bacardi that isn’t available to the public and is just for family consumption. I wonder if the Bacardi family has any eligible batchelors…

This event was free and available to anyone who wished to attend. Keep your eyes on the Revolucion De Cuba website for the next one.

Restaurant Review: The Nag’s Head – Haughton, Cheshire

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This week saw me driving into the country to visit The Nag’s Head. Nestled in a quaint little village of Haughton I expected it to be empty on a Tuesday evening, I was wrong! There were lots of diners chatting over wine with their friends and family, such a lovely thing to see mid week in such a remote location.

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The interior is typical ‘country pub’ with feature walls and patterned chair covers. It reminded me very much of The Ram’s Head in Disley including the beautiful fireplace and pretty outside seating area.

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Choosing what to eat was quite a challenge with such a varied menu. I have to be honest and say I could have chosen several things for each course and been completely happy with it. The Nag’s Head are proud of their local producers too, so proud they have their images on a wall!

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Whilst perusing the menu we chose to share one of the nibbles to help the decision making process and the sweet and sour tomatoes with black pea houmous and breads made the cut.

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Priced at £5 we were expecting something much smaller, this could have been a normal starter! The black pea houmous could have done with a touch of seasoning but the black peas were a lovely change to chickpeas. I wanted the sweet and sour tomatoes to be softer but Charlie loved them and hovered them up. That said, I loved the garlicky spicy oil they had been marinated in and this was mopped up with the gorgeous homemade breads.

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Choosing the lightest starter I could find (I’m trying my damnedest to find healthier options in restaurants so I can still eat out whilst trying to lose weight!) I went for the chicken rillette with avocado. Obviously not the most healthy thing being cooked in fat and all but the scorched baby gem and avocado convinced me it was the best choice. The dish worked so well altogether with the freshness of the salad and slightly spiced chicken. It’s a superb summer dish. Charlie opted for something a little more stodgy with the eggy bread topped with Burt’s Blue cheese. It was perfect; soft and squishy egg soaked bread with beautifully rich gooey cheese melting on top. Good job I hadn’t ordered it as I would have needed 3 or 4 of them!

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For my main I went for a lighter option off the summer specials menu with the seafood platter. Not surprisingly the star for me was the mackerel pate. Well it was topped with butter and wonderfully creamy after all! The smoked salmon was soft and melted in the mouth whilst the prawns thermidor were juicy and lightly spiced. It was a summery fresh dish that would be perfect enjoyed in the garden here with a good glass of white wine.

Charlie let out an audible sigh when cutting into her venison. The meat just fell apart and was cooked beautifully. It needed a bit more sauce but then, no amount of gravy is ever enough for Charlie! The mash topped with black pudding was the nicest thing I have put in my mouth in a long time. I little my mash well seasoned and buttery, just the way my Mum makes it and this one is just that. With a bit of added cheese for richness, I could have eaten the whole thing and would have done had Charlie not been throwing me daggers across the table. I’ll go as far as saying it is the nicest mash I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant.

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Onto dessert and Charlie decided to test the menu with the cheese board. She has had some great ones but also some stinkers so it is always interesting to compare them. I went for something healthy sounding with the peaches and blueberry. Sweet peaches topped with crunchy granola and a side of Guernsey milk yoghurt was light and refreshing. I liked that the yoghurt was served on the side so I could decide how much I wanted with my dessert. I tipped the whole thing on it was that good!

The cheese board had a fig chutney on the side which was slightly different to what you normally get and was really good. Cheese wise the waitress had told the chef that Charlie had enjoyed the Burt’s Cheese so he included the Burt’s drunken blue for her to try along with a smoked Chorlton cheese. They were delicious and almost tailored to Charlie’s taste, something I’ve not seen in a restaurant before.

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As the sun set over the Cheshire countryside we took some snaps of the beautiful outdoor dining area and promised to return, unfortunately the transport links out here aren’t great so I will need to bring the car. With their superb wine menu that is a real shame, now to find someone else who can chauffeur me so I can sample the whole thing… with more of that amazing mash.

We were invited to eat as guests of the Nag’s Head but paid for our drinks. This is an honest and unbiased review. When you try that mash you will believe me…

Montpellier’s Presents: Chairman’s Reserve Caribbean Calling

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Montpellier’s, named as one of the best hidden bars in Manchester by Design my Night, has joined forces with Chairman’s Reserve and Drinks Enthusiast to bring you a night of rum fun.

Taking place on Friday 19th July the evening promises a taste of Caribbean culture with an informal 3 course dinner paired with specially designed rum cocktails to compliment. There will be tastings of the full Chairman’s Reserve range including the rare ‘forgotten casks’ compered by Emporia Brand’s John West, Montpellier’s Adam Westbrook and the cocktail expert Dave Marsland aka the Drinks Enthuiast.

It promises to be a night of rum filled fun with Chairman’s Reserve cocktails discounted after the event and music provided by Montpellier’s so you can carry on your night in style. Whilst we can’t guarantee the weather of the Caribbean we can certainly provide the taste! Want to come?

The event is being held on Friday 19th July between 5.30pm-9.30pm and is priced at £20 per person. Grab your tickets here before they sell out, it’s going to be a cracking night … http://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Manchester/Montpellier%27s/Chairmans-Reserve-Caribbean-Calling/12217376/

You can contact Adam Westbrook at Montpellier’s for further information by emailing him at bookings@montpelliers.co.uk or calling him on 0161 832 3146.

The Happiest 5km in the World – The Color Run UK

I’ve never been a fan of running. I’ve done numerous Race for Life and Great Manchester Runs. Hell I have even done the Wilmslow Half Marathon yet I hated every minute of it. I’m not a natural runner. I get out of breath so quickly and have to do the whole ‘run and walk’ thing meaning I am also incredibly slow. So when LV asked if I wanted to do the Color Run I was actually fully prepared to say no and that it wasn’t for me. Then I remembered the fun Charlie had doing the run last year and my plight to get healthy in time for my America and thought, sod it.

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Called ‘the happiest 5km in the world’ the pack certainly started in a fun way with the arrival of a t shirt to run in, a temporary tattoo, a sweat band, a poncho and my number. It reminded me of the Ethiopian 10km I walked (the altitude and a fellow charity worker in hospital meant there was no way I was risking my health!) where all the runners had to wear the same t shirts. It was so amazing to see a sea of colour flooding the grey concrete streets.

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Here we all are at the start line! Not only is this the happiest 5km in the world but it is also the most relaxed. The only rules? Turn up in a white t shirt and get coloured. You can walk, run, jog or skip the run, this isn’t a race. There are no marker points, no timings, nothing competitive apart from just how coloured you can get.

The colour is in powder form and thrown over you at various points throughout the route. I was prepared in sunglasses (yelp ones at that) to keep my eyes clear but did end up coughing a fair bit! It is all natural though so no nastiness here, they couldn’t call it the happiest 5km in the world then could they?

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The sun shined down on the Etihad as we took to the course. I chose to walk, jog and run in equal measures having not ran for months and you know what? It felt good. Friends who run regularly tell me it isn’t just good for your health but also your mind. There is nothing like pounding the pavements after a tough day to either think about your life or blank it all out and clear your mind. I have to say this is the first time I have finished a run and felt just like that. I wanted to do it again, I felt so good. Sure my legs were aching, I was bright red and my fingers had all swollen up but I felt like I had the best workout and so much fun at the same time.

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As for paint coverage I got well and truly involved. So much so that when I pulled my headband off I could see just how much colour powder had been tipped over my head… I have Miss Pond to thank for that…!

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With the paint washed out of my hair and my t shirt back white I have to say I had the most fun I ever have when running. So much so I can’t wait for the Race for Life I am doing this weekend. And you know what? I will be keeping this running malarkey up. The further I got, the easier my breathing was and the longer I could run for without my legs wanting to give way. Now if someone can find me the happiest marathon in the world I’ll start my training, consider that a challenge!

You can read about LV’s top 5 fun runs here … http://www.lv.com/life-cover/lv-love-life/family-fun/top-5-fun-runs

I ran The Color Run UK with #LVLoveLife who kindly covered the cost of my entry fee. With a huge grin on my face still on the day after I can guarantee this is an honest and unbiased review. I’ll see you at the start line next year.

 

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