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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

TFW – Past Half Way!

excercise, exercise, fitness, food, Health, health,, healthy, Life, life,, lifestyle, nottingham, ramble, running, weight loss, weightloss, wellbeing

I’m now over half way into my Training for Warriors programme! Ohhh it’s so sad. I don’t wanna say that I’ve love(d) the programme – past tense, because we do still have a couple of weeks to go. But I have loved it. Up to this point it has been such a great experience. I’ve pushed myself mentally and physically.

Actually, I want to talk a bit about that. People will often tell you that mental challenges are good, and that they help you to see how far you can push yourself. Don’t get me wrong, to some extent I agree with that. There’s a lot of truth hidden behind cliche phrases, and I think the phrase, ‘there’s no growth in the comfort zone’ is insanely applicable in life. But it comes with constraints. What happens when you push yourself to your limit, and you still aren’t good enough? Let’s not be naive here, it happens. Cliche number two: ‘be comfortably uncomfortable.’ I feel like the moment of positive change is a sweet spot on a sliding scale. At one end of the scale there’s your ultimate comfort zone – I dunno, eating Chinese whilst watching Gilmore Girls or whatever your equivalent is. At the other end, there’s the zone that is so uncomfortable  that it cripples you. Somewhere in the middle, is that sweet spot where you’re a long fucking way from any prawn crackers, but you aren’t so far away that the level of discomfort is preventing you from moving forward. For me, that was getting up on a Saturday morning to run 16 miles knowing full well I’d hate every minute that took place past mile 6, and give myself hell for a poor performance for the rest of the week, so by the time next Saturday came round I’d be just ever so slightly more miserable than before, and the cycle would repeat.

TFW has so far been pretty fucking sweet spot centric. I’ve done things I didn’t even think were possible for me, but because of the environment you’re in and the supportive nature of the group, it seems much more realistic. Like, the other day we did pull ups. I definitely had help, but fucking pull ups. Who knew? A couple of weeks ago I also learned how to get on a treadmill whilst it’s already running – and I didn’t break any limbs or anything!!!

TFW  has allowed me to become part of a group of people who just want to improve themselves. We’re a pretty diverse group of people and I guess we all have different things we want to achieve from the programme. I just wanted to feel confident again. I’m not going to lie and say I’m all the way there. I’m a long way away from slaying like one of Ru Paul’s drag queens, but I do feel better about myself.

I guess this post is pretty gushy and I’m not sure it has a real point other than to update on my progress so far. I’ve not had mid way measurements done or anything. I wanted to wait until the end and see the extent of my progress. I’m not sure it will be massive because it will only have been 8 weeks, and I’ve definitely had a couple of cheat meals here and there, but still. I feel like I’m turning a corner.

It’s about time.

 

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.

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

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!

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

image

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.

 

Hurricanes Hurt My Feelings. (Training for Warriors: Weeks 2-3)

blog, Breakfast, cooking, excercise, exercise, fitness, food, Health, health,, healthy, Life, lifestyle, nottingham, ramble, salads, weight loss

Weeks 2 & 3 of warrior training are officially complete, 5 to go!

On week 2 perhaps the most notable thing to happen was that we were given a 3 day challenge to photograph everything we ate; and then whatsapp the images to our coach, Toby. Some of my fellow warriors seemed a bit dubious about photographing everything they ate, but the self absorbed, millennial, food blogger in my head was doing back flips in front of a landscape of 4th of July style fireworks. YES. A legitimate reason for taking photos of my food! My entire life (post invention of Instagram) had been leading up to the moment, and by God I intended to make the most out of it. It didn’t take me long to realise though, that when you also have a job, taking photos of literally everything you eat/drink is actually quite frustrating. Try as I might, it’s pretty darn tricky to achieve that quirky, tumblr aesthetic when snapping a green tea served in a slightly cracked mug that says ‘This Is What An Awesome Baker Looks Like’, in front of the keyboard on my work desk. Alas, I made the most of what I had and sent the pictures through. Typically, during the 3 day challenge we had a baby shower at work for my colleague Becky. I baked maple cupcakes with pink and blue swirled buttercream (gender TBC). Whilst I did manage to refrain from dunking my entire head into the tray of cupcakes,a la Bruce Bogtrotter;  I caved at the sight of pork pie and pringles. I’m not even just saying that for alliterative illustration, that genuinely was where I cracked. I’ll be interested to see what Toby makes of THAT nutritious feast.

Whilst we’re talking food, I have still been trying (in between the pork pie and pringles) to stick to a lower carb, higher fat diet. I’ve not cut carbs out completely though, because seriously, what would be the point in life? Instead I’m trying to have carbs with just one of my meals, which is usually dinner. I’ve been making a lot of recipes from that snazzy Lean in 15 fellow whose name escapes me…Joe Wicks, that’s it. I followed his insta account after a girl at training recommended it. I was actually pretty amazed that most of his recipes do only take about 15 minutes. Tonight I made his italian lemon chicken and mate…for real though, it was a party in my mouth. I feel like I’ve said that phrase several times in this blog. Dear god lets hope I don’t ever get a decent following, I’ll be strung up for lack of originality quicker than you can say boo to a goose….that’s not a phrase is it? Anyway.

Here’s photo spunk (sorry mum) of some of the stuff I’ve been eating over the last couple of weeks. Eggs and avocado have been my pretty much standard breakfast – for ease more so than anything. The weird orange concoction in the top right hand corner is something I’m using slight artistic license in naming a deconstructed fish cake. Sweet potato mashed with 10g lighter mature cheddar, garden peas and a tin of tuna, all mixed together. And yes, it might look like something that has already been digested once, but it actually tasted lovely. The bottom right picture is of leftover tandoori chicken with salad and half a packet of microwaveable rice. I knowwww I know that cooking stuff in the microwave will eventually give me intestinal AIDS and turn me into a 2 headed zombie, but sometimes you just have to pick your battles, OK? Time was of the essence and that was that.

Moving into week 3, the workouts turned into real monsters – monsters who, I’m fairly confident were trying to bin me off. On Monday, I was tired, but dragged myself out of the house knowing that I’d feel better eventually. Monday sessions are referred to as Hurricanes. When I search for the word hurricane on dictionary.com, one of the definitions is this: a storm of the most intense severity. And whilst I think that tells you all you need to know about how tough Monday’s work out was, I’d also like to really drive the point home by letting you all know I 100% had to scarper to the loos mid workout so that I could throw up my guts. Delightful, right? We were doing a lot of sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell exercises, followed by sprints, followed by kettlebell excercises and yeah. Midway through the second lot of sprints I quickly realised I’d way overestimated how fast I could go and for how long. Egrh. Lesson learned. I will say though, one thing I’ve noticed is that there have been times when I know, if I was working out by myself, I would have taken it down 10 notches and had a rest period. Whilst yes, there are rest periods during warrior training, when you’re working, you are bloody well working and that is that. So I guess that’s good.

And, to sign this off I will leave you with this.Today I tried on a pair of trousers I couldn’t do up a few months ago. They now fit.

*Que marching band, fireworks, confetti canons and mickey mouse on a freakin’ float wearing a gym kit*

 

 

 

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?

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

 

A New Challenge

excercise, exercise, fitness, food, Health, health,, healthy, lessons, Life, life,, lifestyle, london, london marathon, mental health, nottingham, running, weight loss

For the last couple of months, Andy has been lovingly nagging the shit out of me to check out a gym he’s been going to. H3 Performance is based just outside of Nottingham city centre, near Sneinton. They run an 8 week Training for Warriors challenge. The creator of the programme used to train MMA fighters, and eventually formed the programme to suit us normos. There is little I love more than pretending I’m super tough, so the thought of training like an MMA fighter suits me down to the ground. The deal is this: you pay £150 and for 8 weeks, you attend 3 group workout sessions a week. Same group of about 10 people every time, to build comradery I guess. Your measurements are taken, there’s a whatsapp group for support outside of the gym and you are given a nutrition guide. The works, basically. So, sort of to shut Andy up, but sort of because I need this, I signed up for the challenge. On Thursday last week I went to my orientation to meet the group. We also heard from an incredible woman who had completed the challenge previously. She has 5 kids, and looks better than I have ever looked in my entire life – superwoman! I think the orientation was partially intended to help ease any pre-programme anxieties, but honestly I’m so excited to get back on the health and fitness wagon I feel immune from any fear.

I want to take just a minute to get real here. My mental health has been less than optimum this year. I didn’t complete the London marathon due to a knee injury, but even during training I was struggling. The long runs were a psychological battle that I rarely won. They left me feeling lonely and useless. I didn’t believe in myself and I felt like nobody else did either. I felt my confidence plummet. One particular Saturday, I was embarking on a 13 mile long run. The weather was unseasonably hot, although it had rained the entire previous day. The lake I was running laps of had tonnes of gnats hovering its circumference, sticking to my sweaty forehead and getting in my mouth and eyes. My nike run app kept randomly pausing, and I momentarily contemplated hurling my phone into the water in frustration. I have found that if I run in my glasses they slip off my face, so I just didn’t wear them. I clearly overestimated how well I can actually see without my specs, and eventually I tripped and fell in the mud. It was this delightfully elegant moment I can now pinpoint as the lowest low of my training. I had to limp for a mile back to my car trying desperately not to cry. I felt like an idiot. And, just to add insult to injury, not a single sodding dog walker asked if I was ok! Ohhh sure they were happy to stare at me like I was the abominable fucking snowman, but god forbid they ask if the limping woman, covered from shin to boob in mud was ok. GOD FORBID.

I’ll probably talk more about my marathon training experience in a later blog but for now, just know that ever since then I’ve found it hard to feel motivated or get into a good routine. Slowly I’ve watched myself slip back into a life of Friday night takeaways and exchanging gym sessions for Netflix binges. My self-esteem probably hasn’t been this crap since secondary school. So now, I’m 100% ready to start this new challenge. The irony that I was supposed to run the marathon to raise money for a mental health charity is not lost on me, believe me.

I am SO ready to get back into shape, for both my physical and mental health. I once lost almost 5 stone (70ish pounds) and even though I was still chubby at a size 16, I felt so strong and confident that it didn’t matter to me. I could walk into any room and feel like I deserved to be there. I could make decisions with clarity. I could operate more smoothly, I was less clumsy and more focused. I just felt like a sharper version of myself. I felt like a respectable person. I now feel sluggish and heavy, and my self-esteem is pretty much none existent the majority of the time. I think knowing the difference between how good I can feel, and how bad I feel now is what makes dealing with how I feel now so tough. You can’t miss what you never had right? But I did have it once, and god damn. I miss it.

So.

Here’s to turning things around, and getting back on track.

 

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.

image

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!

+image

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.

image

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!