Emilio’s – Arnold, Nottingham

blog, depression, dinner, drinks, Fish, food, lifestyle, nottingham, restaurant reviews, reviews

During my day job, I work in an office

During my evenings and weekends, I desperately try to build my own identity using scraps of traits that I love, but are originally owned by Nigella Lawson, Rory Gilmore, Kristen Stewart and Hayley Williams.  But tales of my ongoing identity crisis are really besides the point.

Going back to the office day job: once upon a time a few months ago, I volunteered to be in charge of our social calendar. That’s right, I am the most insufferable human you have ever come across! As part of my role as ‘social secretary’ (nobody calls me that); I plan an office night out every other month.

This month, we went to Emilio’s in Arnold, Nottingham for a mezze night. I’m still relatively new to Nottingham, having lived here just over a year. Apparently Emilio’s is a long standing establishment, which has been described to me as ‘great for a cheesy night out’. The words Butlins and Hen Do were also thrown around with this description, so make of it what you will. To be honest I thought it sounded like a laugh, so I booked us in.

We’d ordered the set mezze in advance, which cost about £18 a head. Let’s get one thing straight, I fucking love mezze. I love Greek food and most days I have the appetite of a 6’10 rugby player. Mezze caters to all of this. We started with a Greek salad, pita, tzatziki, and taramasalata. As it turns out, I still hate taramasalata. It tricks me every time. I see a pink food in front of me, and it immediately reminds me of tubby custard from the Teletubbies and I feel compelled to eat it to reengage with my childhood. Take that adult life! The salad was awesome though. I mean granted, Greek salad will never be quite as good experienced in the midst of an October chill in Nottingham, as it would be sat, gazing out to the stars settling above the warm, softly lapping waves of the Mediterranean sea. (I genuinely just had to google to which sea borders Greece to check that was right. Jesus.) But yeah, this was still pretty bomb.

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Next up was calamari, and some garlicky prawns in a sort of tomatoey, caper type sauce. I’m not going to lie, neither of these were exactly to die for. The calamari was definitely not home made, which I thought was a shame, as it had that inevitable chewiness of frozen calimari. Weirdly, the best calamari I’ve ever had was at Ask Italian. Who knew? The prawns were definitely the kind of baby prawns you buy in the freezer section in Asda for about £3 a kilo, which would have been fine but sadly, they’d been a little bit overcooked. I will say though, that the sauce had a really lovely flavour to it.

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I swear, this was actually tastier than it looked!

Now from here on out the evening gets a bit blurry. After 2 years spent as a none drinker due to it exacerbating my depression to an unbearable level (mega lolz), I’ve recently started having the odd boozy night out again. I’m generally a bit happier these days and I thought I’d revisit my old frienemy, Merlot. In all honesty I’m not sure it’s a decision I’ll stick with because when I have one sip of alcohol, that’s it. Party Lucy is out to play. I recently watched all 3 of Iliza Shelsinger’s comedy sets that are on Netflix, and she refers to this as her Party Goblin. One sip of liquor and the Party Goblin takes over and bad decisions will be made all damn night. So at this point in the night I’m a glass and a half of red wine in and the Party Goblin is gearing up to do some dumb shit.

I know that the next things that came out were mini spanokopita – filo pastry parcels stuffed with spinach and feta. Mine was actually a bit burnt but I mean, come on. It’s feta and pastry, like I give a shit. There’s not much you could do to that combo to make it taste bad. There was also vine leaves stuffed with lamb and rice, meatballs which I really enjoyed, and a weird triangle of fried halloumi which was definitely reminiscent of a McDonalds hash brown. Again, I’m not complaining. I like halloumi, I like McDonalds hash browns, I see no problems here. Chorizo was the main player for me though. I bloody love chorizo and this one didn’t let me down. Typically, this is the one thing I didn’t photograph.

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To be honest, by the time we’d done with these I was 2 large glasses in and getting to the point of drunk where I wasn’t that bothered about food. Shockingly, that is occasionally something that happens to me. Weird things huh? I just seem to reach a level of buzz where I just get excited and want to exert some energy. Like when kids have been forced to sit through a car journey and then a tedious browse through the kids menu at pubs with play areas; and 1o minutes later they’re tearing around a ball pit with the look of the devil in their eyes. That’s me after a couple of drinks. So of course for some reason, myself and two other members of our party decided to have a plank off. Yes. A plank off. Because what goes well with drunkeness and an abundance of greek food? Ab exercises. I swear to God…

So at some point in the timeline, some chicken kebabs came out. I want to call them souvlaki, but I’m not sure if they technically have to be in a pita with salad to truly be called that? If any Greek’s happen to be reading, please alleviate my ignorance? It’s a shame I was so toasted by this point, because I reckon if I hadn’t been, the kebabs would have been the high point of the meal for me. They were (from what I remember) marinaded beautifully, juicy and tender.

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The photos on my phone suggest there was also a dish of rice with something that looks like chilli in a separate dish, but who can be sure? Not I, that’s for sure. I definitely didn’t try whatever it was, as by this point, I was stuffed to the brim and ready to get my dancing shoes on. Which I did. With gusto. And that my dears, is something nobody need hear about or mention from now until the rest of eternity.

Thank you and goodnight.

Time Out Cafe – Nottingham

blog, dinner, food, lifestyle, naughtiness, nottingham, restaurant reviews, reviews

One of the many benefits of being with Andy, is his weird habit of needing to go into town to have a ‘wonder around’, every. single. weekend. Personally, trying to navigate my way through Nottingham City Centre, amongst the hoards of teens and yummy mummies is enough to make me want to fling myself from the nearest multi storey car park, but I suppose it wouldn’t do for us all to be the same. It was on one of his grand adventures that Andy stumbled across a sandwich board outside a door way, with a sign above it that read ‘Time Out’. See Exhibit A.

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Time Out is next door neighbours with Poundland, and honestly when we first stepped through the door I wondered if we’d made a mistake and had accidentally stepped into a corridor leading to a teenage band’s rehearsal space or something. But really, as soon as you head upstairs, the slightly dubious corridor just serves to add to the charm of Time Out.

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Life affirming messages in the corridor.

Time Out’s decor is quite frankly, an instagram wet dream. Crisp white walls create a clean canvas for quirky, ‘f you’, style phrases. There’s a coffee table with old Nintendo games for guests to play if they want to. Time Out’s decor really achieves it’s name sake. As soon as I sat down, I immediately felt detached from the rest of the hustle and bustle of Saturday afternoon Nottingham, and like I could relax.

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Time Out feels quirky, but gentle and welcoming – and whilst that’s lovely, I think it would be gross blogger misconduct if I didn’t push those qualities aside to absolutely gush about the insanely good food they serve up. Time Out isn’t just a cool studenty type place. It is that, but it’s also so much more. I can hand on heart say that the food I had at Time Out is without a doubt, the best food that has ever passed my lips whilst eating out. I remember feeling legitimately giddy when I took my first couple of bites, the way you do when you’ve just kissed someone you’ve fancied for ages for the first time. Seriously. It was THAT good.

So, let’s break down the menu. You can go tapas, or you can go regular main courses. Or if you’re Andy and I, and you’re indecisive, greedy little assholes, you can do both. And to be quite honest, the prices are so reasonable that it’s really not going to break the bank either way. Tapas is 3 dishes for £14, and the main courses cost about £7-9 each, if I remember rightly. I was actually amazed at our bill of £37.40 for 4 tapas dishes, 2 main courses and 2 drinks. Bargain!

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Clearly he was chuffed with the bill.

Our order was:  pork gyoza with melty cheesy drizzle, panko crumbed prawns, salt and pepper chicken wings AND salt and pepper fries. Apparently we were very fond of our basic condiments that day. As I’ve been working super hard on warrior training, I tried to be a little more restrained in how much I ate. Moderation, innit bruv? I had e one gyoza, one wing and 2 prawns but let me tell you, that was enough for me to make the technical assessment that this food was bomb AF. Everything was  freshly cooked, piping hot, crispy where it needed to be crispy, never greasy and every single mouth full was packed to the rafters with flavour.My particular favourites were the ebi fry (prawns), which almost bought a tear to my eye they were so delicious.

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For the main dishes, I chose a marinaded sticky beef noodle dish, whilst Andy went for a lime and lemongrass scallop spaghetti – a choice I’m fairly confident he made on the basis that I’m allergic to scallops, so wouldn’t have been able to ask for a taste. After almost 2.5 years of being with me, it seems he officially knows me too well. God damn. Given that I couldn’t taste Andy’s food, you’ll have to accept his review of ‘this is so good’, and just go with it.

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I can tell you with 100% certainty though that my main was an actual, real life, taste sensation. My ramen noodles were swimming in a pool of delicate, 4 hour beef broth, and topped with the most delicious, tender, yet sticky sliced beef in the entire world. It had that perfect umami taste that’s sweet and tangy, and I will never be able to master at home, no matter how much I try. I also had a laugh at how stupidly British I am,  when I took one of the salt and pepper fries to dunk into my egg yolk. I mean. I thought it was funny.

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Salt & Pepper Fries. AKA, Egg Yolk Dunkers.

And so that concludes our eating at Time Out. I’m not sure that anything I could write would really do my experience justice. It was just phenomenal, and I wish the owners, staff and chefs all of the success in the world – although selfishly, I hope it stays my secret little hide away a little while longer. Just in case it does becomes a jam packed foodie haven in the near future, Andy and I have decided to visit again on Friday lunch time. In our defence, we’re not usually this frequent or decadent with our eating out, but we’re both on annual leave this week so it seems only fair that we….blah blah blah, as if I need a justification. Just know this. On the menu, there is Korean carbonara that I think I need to investigate for reasons of science.

SO. Scores are in!

Ambience: 9/10

Food: 10/10

Bang for Buck: 10/10

Would I Go Again: If I could guarantee no weight gain or financial implications, I’d visit every week for the rest of my natural life.

 

Lucy Warrior Princess

blog, cooking, dinner, excercise, exercise, fitness, food, Health, healthy, lifestyle, weightloss, wellbeing

My first week of warrior training is officially under my belt!

At 7.30pm on Monday, instead of running through my usual week night routine of pj’s > netflix > bed, I whipped out my gym leggings and an old Paramore Fan Club tshirt. I stopped *just* short of smearing war paint on my face and and fashioning myself a tin foil shield – although I bet it would have been a great ice breaker.

Our 8 week training plan includes 3 workouts a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Our group consists of about 15 people with a good mix of ages, genders, shapes, sizes, motivations. In all honesty I’m probably the heaviest in the group but bitch plz, it’s been 26 years, I’m used to it. Our coach, Toby, seems to have energy in such excessive amounts that it’s easy to soak in. On Thursday in particular I was feeling really sleepy. Within 5 minutes of stepping into the gym I was raring to go – which was handy because that session was an energy circuit, and it was hard. as. fuck. I felt like I was going to throw up at the end, which weirdly felt quite satisfying.

One of the biggest changes that’s taken place this week though, has been my eating. I don’t know if anybody else can relate to this, but for me, if I’m working out regularly, I just feel so much more motivated to eat healthily. If I’m sat on my ass doing nothing but watch TV, it’s like my mouth is a magnet for everything that would make my GP raise his eyebrows at me in judgement.

I constantly feel confused by research on nutrition. There are approximately a billion and twelve conflicting pieces of evidence on the topic, so you see my problem here. Toby posted a YouTube link in our warrior whatsapp group, which led to me watching a 25 minute video of a seminar being given by John Beradi. Beradi’s talk went into the different body types, and how each one tends to benefit from a different nutritional habits. In terms of body type, I definitely fall into Team Endomorph. I store fat stupidly easy, I’m 5’3, but have almost comically short limbs; and dammit, my hips do not lie. Beradi mentioned that endomorphs tend to benefit from a low carb, high protein/fat diet. And would you Adam and Eve it, that seems to kinda, sorta, fit in with the type of diet I followed a few years back when I lost 4.5 stone. Wonders never cease. So that’s the direction I’ve been trying to head in this week. I’ve not gone quite as low carb as perhaps I have in the past, but it’s quite a big change really. Over the last year, pasta and I have become such close friends we’re considering getting matching tattoos. So…steady as she goes and all that jazz.

I took some photos of what I’ve been eating for blog purposes, but for some reason, the camera on my iphone seems to have depleted in quality. Which is v. convenient timing, given that the iphone 7 info was released this week. I see you Apple, and your conspiring ways *shifty eyes*.

For breakfasts I’ve been tending to stick with half of a small avocado, a piece of toast and eggs of some sort. Nothing particularly to write home about. The thing is though, I always find that the problem with being an early riser is this: I’ll eat breakfast at 06:30, and by the time I’ve settled into work, it’s 09:30 and I’m ravenous again. And my God, I swear if the world wanted to test my will power, they chose the right week to do it. This week at work, our office has had several people return from their holidays with sweets and biscuits to share round, and our office manager brought in a tray of doughnuts and 3 bags of cookies. It’s amazing how a kind and generous gesture can occasionally make you want to sew your own lips together. Normally, by 10am I’d be one doughnut down and looking forward to lunch, but not this week. This week, I am a warrior. This week, I gritted my teeth, and ate a tub of mixed berries that I’d thankfully had the foresight to pack for myself. Like…berries are alright, but they aren’t doughnuts are they?

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For lunch I’ve been buying Aldi’s prepacked salads. Not the ones that come laden with chicken and bacon in a mayonnaise that is so unhealthy you might as well just eat a stick of butter and be done with it. These are the ones you find near the lettuce. They come in a little plastic box, in either Mediterranean style, or British garden. The fact that they’re individually packed suits me, because in our house, if I tried to get Andy to eat a salad for lunch he’d probably pack his bags and move out, and buying full portions of everything just leads to waste. So instead of living the Bridget Jones singleton life, I take these and then at work I’ll  add in either a tin of tuna, chicken breast or some mini mozzarella balls and sometimes a bit of avocado if there was any leftover at breakfast. I’ve got a bottle of balsamic dressing on my desk so it’s not quite as depressing as it could be. The cleaners must think I’m a right fruitcake.

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Dinners have been where I’ve been having my main carb intake. I might try and amend this a bit as my training goes on, but this week I’ve had fairly standard meals – nothing that will inspire the gourmet chefs among the blogosphere. Grilled turkey burger with home made sweet potato fries, a mushroom omelette with baked beans and a garlicky tomato pasta with lean minced beef, spinach and peas were a few of my dinners this week.

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And then Saturday. The cheat meal. On Saturday night, if you’d been a fly on the wall in my kitchen you’d have never seen someone so overjoyed to be making a curry. Saturday night tea was an awesome Thai Green chicken curry with mange tout, baby corn, mushrooms, noodles and prawn crackers, followed by a very naughty piece of cheesecake. The thing is, yes it’s not a perfect thing to include in any diet plan, but now I’ve had that treat I do feel motivated to eat well for the rest of the week now.

Happy days.

 

Weirdo Quinoa – Recipe

brunch, cooking, dinner, Life, lifestyle, recipes, salads, weight loss, weightloss

So quinoa is weird, isn’t it? Yep. That’s my opening line and I’m sticking with it.

Much like cous cous, I find quinoa tastes like actual granulated cardboard if you don’t do something cool with it. I think that’s the reason a lot of people think they don’t like it. This recipe is different though. (Why does my recipe now sound like its two Malibu and cokes away from telling you it isn’t like other girls?) Try it – if you don’t like it, you can slap me in the face should you ever happen to see me out and about. (Pre-warning – please tell me the slap is as a result of this blog post, just so I know I’ve not accidentally offended somebody. Again.)

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The Mighty Weirdo: Quinoa – this is what you’re shooting for when you cook quinoa, fyi.

This recipe is great for a couple of different reasons. First of all, it’s delicious, so…yeah, always a bonus. Second of all, it pretty much covers all of your food groups. You’ve got your protein in the beans and quinoa, you’ve got veggies, you’ve got starch, you’ve got a little bit of the commonly known food group – nummies, in the feta. It’s an all-round winner.

And for even more bonus points, it’s vegetarian, and can easily be made vegan if you omit the feta. ***Yayyyy for knowing that some of your food choices haven’t contributed to the pain and suffering of innocent animals and are also v fashionable right now.***

People often seem to be in one of two camps about veganism – either the gung ho, ‘you will vegan or else you are dead to me’ camp, or the ‘*rolls eyes* but humans are carnivores’ camp. I’m neither. I like vegan food, I feel better when I eat vegan, I see and agree with all the ethical arguments; but being raised as meat eater for the majority of my life does make it very hard to make the commitment full time. And yes, I know that makes me a pussy. Baby steps.

This recipe is also good for making a big batch, then putting it in the fridge to use for packed lunches. If you’re one of those people who struggle for inspiration in that department, this might be a nice departure from the land of ham and cheese sandwiches and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.

Anyway! Sales pitch over!

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

  • Quinoa – 2 cups (dry)
  • Water – 3 cups
  • Sweetcorn 
  • Black beans 
  • Feta
  • 1 punnet plum or cherry tomatoes chopped in half
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped v finely
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped v small
  • 1 green pepper chopped into small squares
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Coriander – small bunch
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Here’s how this is gonna go down.

Start by chopping up your pepper, tomatoes, garlic, onion and jalapeno. Transfer to a mixing bowl. I just find it’s easier and somehow ends up creating less mess if I get all the chopping done first.

If you’re using canned black beans, whip those out at this point and give them a rinse in a sieve before adding those to the veggies, along with the sweet corn and feta. Give it all a jumble together. If you’re anything like me, at this point you’ll be taking a second to admire the pretty colours. This step is optional, and entirely dependent on how much of a hippy you feel like being on that particular day.

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Can you paint with all the colours of the mountains? Can you paint with all the colours, of the veg? (Guess I left out the black beans)

Next is the quinoa. You’ll need to rinse this before you cook it so that it doesn’t taste bitter. Put it in a sieve, under running water. I’m never 100% sure why, but for some reason, it seems to produce little bubbles which then go away when it’s rinsed. Oooooh bubbles.

Then you want to boil your water in a sauce pan, add your quinoa, pop a lid on top of the sauce pan, reduce the heat and simmer away for about 10-15 minutes until your quinoa is soft, fluffy and has absorbed all the water. Separate the quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool down a bit, whilst you make the dressing.

I prefer making the dressing in the nutribullet, because I am a lazy, millennial so and so. If you don’t have a nutribullet, or a blender, you can still make the dressing – just use a sharp knife to chop up your coriander and give it all a mix in a bowl – simples. As it stands, I just pop everything into the nutribullet, whiz away for about 30 seconds, and there you have it.

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Looks like mould, is actually delicious dressing.

Your final step is to mix the cooled quinoa into the veggies, stir in your dressing and then try not to eat the whole bowl in one sitting. Also – try serving this with nachos and using this as the ‘dip’. So. Damn. Good.

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Oh mama.

Enjoy your weird quinoa, y’all!

 

 

The Bull’s Head – Repton, Derby

blog, cookies, dinner, food, lifestyle, restaurant reviews, reviews

I recently took a week off work and decided with my usual brand of reckless abandon: nerd edition, to change my long, dark brown hair style into a short, platinum blonde hair style. After several years in my late teens during which I bleached the s*** out of my hair at home, and then dyed the frazzled leftovers orange in a failed attempt to resemble Hayley Williams; I knew that booking a salon appointment was essential. (Hopefully I have a slightly tighter grasp on reality now too). My hair dresser, Ben Brown, is nothing short of a miracle worker, so I booked myself into his self-named Derby salon. As I was in the area, I decided to grace my mum with my presence. Lucky lady. Things just got better and better for her, when I graciously allowed her to take me out for lunch. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

On the outskirts of Derby is a small village called Repton. You might be familiar with its boarding school. It’s the one where Roald Dahl went to school. And Jeremy Clarkson too, but the less said about that the better. In addition to having an exceptionally fancy school, Repton is also home to The Bull’s Head, a pub come restaurant that has a collection of local and regional foodie awards under its belt.

The Bull’s Head is bloody lovely. Their mantra is ‘Seriously Good Food in an Unserious Way’ and it definitely practises what it preaches. It’s the type of place where you can order from a selection of gins, rather than being immediately given the house choice; but also order a speciality cocktail which comes served in a mini bath tub. Whilst the Bull’s Head feels like a slightly more upmarket place, you could comfortably visit in your jeans and vans of a lunch time and not worry about looking under dressed. Yes, it has to be said that given its close proximity to a boarding school; you do occasionally come across a gaggle of customers with upturned noses; who generate a slight whiff of Lacoste Por Homme and faux arrogance; but don’t let that put you off. The staff always go out of their way to make everybody feel welcome. They are the same type of friendly that is usually reserved for Starbucks baristas: warm, accommodating, accepting of all.

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My Nan would be proud!

The Bull’s Head has two kitchens – the main kitchen, and the pizza kitchen. I’ve ordered the pizza before, and can confirm that it is indeed awesome, but for me it’s the main kitchen that really sets it apart from the gastro pub crowd. On this visit, we started with some honey and soy glazed chorizo. I still think about that chorizo a lot when I’m feeling down. Instant joy! Juicy, tangy, savoury, sweet, meaty goodness. God, I can’t even put into words how good they were. Which is a pretty poor show for a food blogger, but let’s sweep that one under the rug and move on.

When it came to ordering mains, I went for a crushed chickpea, cheesy tofu and avocado sandwich; which was served with a generous hand full of proper, homemade chips like Nan used to make. Now, I know tofu might seem like a weird choice for a sandwich filling, and I know it has close connotations to tree hugging vegan types; but seriously, it was SO good. Plus, I think it’s probably time we all took a leaf out of the vegan handbook anyway, but that’s a tale for another time. (I know how ridiculous that sounds coming from somebody who regularly uses the thought of chorizo as a tool for happiness). Anyway! There was a happy contrast between the fresh, creaminess of the avocado and the melty, gooey, naughtiness of the cheese. The crushed chickpeas were just warmed up with a hint of spice.  It was a taste sensation, let me tell ya!

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A particularly friendly member of staff called Abbie (Hi Abbie!), recommended the chocolate skillet cookie for a sharing dessert, and oh sweet mama. I am not a particularly religious person, but after tasting this dish I think I’m a believer. The dish was comprised of rich, gooey, just cooked cookie dough served warm in the skillet; topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fudgey chocolate sauce. I’m fairly certain I gained 5 pounds that day, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t worth it.

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Whilst you’re probably safe to head to The Bull’s Head for lunch on a week day without a reservation, you’ll need to book ahead of time for dinner bookings or weekend lunches. One of the downfalls of undeniable popularity I guess. In terms of how much you can expect to pay at The Bull’s Head, you’ll pay significantly more for a meal from the main kitchen than you will if you order a pizza; but that’s just the cost of ingredients and skill required from the chefs I suppose (happy to be corrected!). So if I’m going for dinner it will be for a special occasion; but as I’ve said in other reviews, you pay extra for the higher quality food and service. It’s as simple as that. Scores on the doors as follows:

Ambience: 9/10

Food: 9/10

Bang for Buck: 7/10

Would I Go Again: Without a doubt!

 

Baresca – Nottingham

blog, dinner, food, Life, naughtiness, nottingham, restaurant reviews, reviews, tapas, Uncategorized

 

In our house, the 4th of July marks the anniversary of Andy becoming the luckiest human on planet earth, when I blessed him with the opportunity to be my boyfriend. I know. He’s very lucky, and I am VERY humble. I’d done a bit of ground work, researching a potential destination for our anniversary dinner and had heard rumblings about an amazing tapas place called Baresca, situated in the Lace Market region of Nottingham city centre. Baresca has recently picked up a couple of awards in the 2016 Nottinghamshire Food & Drink Awards: Best Newcomer and Best International, so I was eager to try it out. I think great tapas is up there with the most inconceivably awesome culinary experiences a person can have. Granted, it’s probably more magical when being consumed in an exposed brick and terracotta clad hide away on a cobbled side street in Barcelona, but we can’t have it all, now can we?

On the 4th of July, I whipped out the red lippy and cat eye liner and Andy….well. Andy removed his beanie, which is essentially his version of wearing a full tux. As soon as we set foot in Baresca, I knew it was my kind of place. It just felt so chilled. I can’t tell you how important that is to me as a customer. My self-confidence has peaks and troughs much akin to Oblivion – the vertical drop roller coaster at Alton Towers. Some days I want to propose to myself; and on others, I feel so rubbish I’d prefer to stay under the duvet for the rest of my natural life. Yay mental health. Pleasingly though, Baresca is the kind of place where you can get great food, without feeling self-conscious about what you’re wearing or whether you’re ordering appropriately. You go Baresca!

I ordered a virgin apple mojito, and Andy had a homemade lemonade – neither of us really drink, so the mocktail menu was much appreciated. I love a Pepsi Max as much as the next aspartame addicted white girl, but it’s nice to have options, you know?

mojito baresca

I am a fancy lady.

And then the food. We ordered 6 tapas dishes to share:

  • Buttermilk Fried Squid
  • Chilli and Garlic King Prawns
  • Mushroom Risoni
  • Halloumi Fritters
  • Chorizo Patatas & Fried Egg
  • Chagrilled Beef Skewers

Unfortunately I was possessed by a greedy, food obsessed gannet when the first wave of food came out, so I didn’t manage to photograph everything. If we’re talking highlights though, I will say the halloumi fritters were life changing. In a sort of ‘reduce your life expectancy by about a decade’ kinda way. I can’t even lie though, I reckon the 10 year loss would probably be worth it if I could have those bad boys every day. Think rectangle sticks of halloumi, coated in a light tempura style batter, super crispy on the outside and buttery soft on the inside. Jesus, I’m getting slightly aroused thinking about them. Don’t mind me.

prawns baresca

Another highlight came in the form of showing off my prawn shelling skills to Andy. Whilst he was slightly concerned about the fact the prawns on our plate still had their heads on, I was a fearless woman. You see, in about 2003, my parents took us on a family holiday to France, where we stayed in a stationery caravan. My parents are the kinds who like to get out and experience the culture when abroad, and had somehow come to acquire about a kilo of king prawns that they planned to use for that night’s dinner. Being 13, I was thoroughly unimpressed by literally everything, but for some reason had no objection to sitting on the caravan deck, shelling prawns for 45 minutes. Going for a nice stroll along the beach in the evening? Christ no. Removing the heads from a bag of shellfish? But of course, no problem! I was a weird teen. Sorry Mum! The prawns Baresca served up were no disappointment. The chilli and garlic were just powerful enough to wake the prawns up (not literally, obvs, they were dead), without overpowering their flavour completely. Definitely recommend!

choriza patatas baresca

Chorizo Patatas with Fried Egg. In.Sane.

Overall the food was delicious. The only thing I was a tiny bit disappointed by was the churros I ordered for dessert. Once, at Download Festival, I had the MOST incredible churros. They were warm and fresh and coated in cinnamon sugar. Nothing like the kind of food you imagine finding at a metal festival. They were hands down the best churros I’ve ever had, and ever since then no churro has ever quite measured up. Like a modern tale of a thwarted, dough based romance – *sigh*. But honestly, even a bad churro is still great, so I wouldn’t let this sway your opinion of Baresca.

churros baresca

I reckon I could eat at Baresca once a week for the next year and I highly doubt I’d be sick of it. As with all good tapas places, you get what you pay for. Eating at Baresca wasn’t dirt cheap, but I’d have been concerned if it was. The cost of 2 mocktails, a garlic bread starter, 6 tapas dishes and 2 desserts was around £55. If it wasn’t a celebration we probably would have just had the tapas and drinks, which would have obviously brought the price down. We visited on a Sunday, and I noticed their specials board advertised a roast dinner sharing platter which I’d love to try too; but I already had my heart set on tapas that evening. I suppose I shall just have to go back!

Ambience: 10/10

Food: 8/10

Bang for Buck: 8/10

Would I Go Again: Oh hell yes.

Healthy Junk Food: Lamb Kebab

dinner, food, Health, healthy, recipes, Uncategorized

I wish I could with 100% honesty claim to be one of those people who loathes the thought of a greasy kebab. But alas, I am by nature somebody who loves junk food, and I’m not especially discriminatory against any particular type. What I don’t love though, is the feeling I get after I eat a kebab. For anybody who didn’t spend their late teens and early twenties falling out of Britain’s nightclubs at 3am and into the local takeaway, you might not know exactly what I’m on about. Please see the picture below, for reference.

  Whilst you might recoil in horror and ask yourself who in their right mind would eat something so unrecognisable as a food stuff, it’s worth remembering that this is actually a fairly tame representation of the standard doner kebab. I dare you to google image ‘doner kebab’ and not be horrified by some of the results. The thing is, as disgusting as they look, the combination of high fat, low quality lamb, soft, carb loaded flatbread, crunchy salad and garlic/mint sauce to top off, actually makes for a drunk 21 year old’s dream food. 

But honestly, the fact is when you buy one of these the portion size could usually feed a family of 4, the lamb is the poorest quality you can imagine with a horrifyingly high fat content, and the sauces are usually laden with oil. Health food, they are not. 

However, I decided to make my own version. I went to the shop and bought 2 lamb steaks. These were handily in the 3 for £10 section on meat and poultry, so that was a bonus. After marinating them in olive oil and oregano for about 2 hours, I pan fried for about 2 minutes on each side, then wrapped in foil to rest. Whilst the meat was cooking, I made up a simple flatbread recipe – it’s a Jamie one, you can find it here. The great thing about making your own flatbread is that because it’s a yeastless recipe which isn’t designed to rise, there is no need to knead (hardeehar) or prove for hours at a time. Once the dough was rolled out into something that resembled 2 circles, these were cooked in a frying pan sprayed with frylight over a high heat. I then zapped back to the lamb, which I sliced relatively finely in homage to the dodgy kebabs of my youth.

I decided to cook one side of the flatbread a little longer than the other. This gives one ‘crispy’ side, and one soft. On a plate, I then topped the soft side of the flatbread with carrot, coriander, spinach and the lamb. It just seems to make the eventual folding of the kebab a bit easier if the inside is softer. To make the flatbread ‘stay’ once it had been folded, I plonked a plate on top of it whilst I griddled some asparagus. By the time the asparagus was cooked and ready to be served as a side, the  weight of the plate had forced the flatbread to stay put. Yay physics! To boost the veggies (fruits, whatever) I added in some baby plum tomatos; and I finished with some leftover shredded mozzarella and grilled halloumi. Not needed but it would have gone to waste and it was treat night dammit!

Put it all together and whadaya get?!

This.