HonestlyLucy – Hitting the Market?

baking, blog, career, childline, cookies, cooking, cupcakes, doughnuts, festivals, lifestyle, naughtiness, naughty recipes, nottingham, wellbeing

Recently I’ve been having a think about my career, and whether or not I’m on the path I want to be on. Not headache inducing at all, she says, words dripping with the thickest sarcasm known to man. The thing is I do enjoy my job. I like the team I work with and I’m pretty lucky to be given some quite cool opportunities. I’ve been working in my role for about 2 years and I like to think I’m pretty damn good at it. It’s taught me an awful lot about working in an office and at events, the importance of details and the art of juggling professionalism with a ‘quirky’ personality; and I’m really grateful for all of that. The thing is, as much as all of those statements are true, my job is largely an admin role, and it’s not really what I did my degree for. At uni I studied Psychology with English Literature, whilst volunteering as a counsellor at Childline and an assistant at The Stroke Association’s weekly group meetings; whilst also being a programme rep for both the Psychology department and the English department. It was hectic but I really, really loved it. I’m used to having a billion and one things to juggle, and right now I only have a couple, and it’s starting to make me itch. So it’s time for a new challenge.

The idea of selling the things I bake has been loitering around the jumble sale that is the back of my mind for months now. I’ve even got a food standards agency certificate for my kitchen to prove it – 5 stars I’ll have you know! I just haven’t known where to start. The closest I’ve ever got to studying business is watching The Apprentice, and I’m fairly confident that Sir Alan has no interest in my cookie topped brownies. I’ve had fleeting thoughts about maybe applying for a stall at Summer food festivals, which I’ve then shooed away. I’ve attended enough of those to know that they get busy as all hell, and I don’t know that I’m quite ready for that yet.

I’ve worked enough manically hectic Christmases in a discount store to know how to handle a queue of customers – I ain’t scared! The retail side of things I can solidly say, I have down – references upon request. It’s more the production I’m concerned about. How much of everything do I need to bake? Do I buy boxes to put customer’s stuff in, or are bags better? Do I need an adapter for my phone so I can take card payments? I have been knocking around good old planet Earth for long enough now to know that these are the kinds of questions that can only be answered with experience. I’ve also picked up and dropped enough hobbies to know that it’s all too easy to end up severely out of pocket with not a great deal to show for it if you move too fast, too soon. And hello, I’m a broke millennial, I ain’t got time for that!

When I first moved to Nottingham, Andy discovered a company called Phat Doughnuts (which swiftly changed to The Nottingham Doughnut Company after a few name related legal implications). Their premise was essentially: doughnuts on delivery. We ordered from them for my birthday one year and fell in love. In addition to the delivery service, they traded at local markets. That company eventually grew into a pretty massive business success story. Within about 18 months, they went from delivering doughnuts by hand, to running a hugely successful store and having several employees. These days I am 100% convinced that they are the sole reason I will never be a size 8. Seriously. If you’re ever in Nottingham you absolutely NEED to track them down and try one. Anyway, I find their story really inspiring. They really did start from nothing and build what has the potential to be an empire. Far be it for me to assume that every story will be as successful as theirs – this much I have learned from Sir Alan. But it certainly gives me food for thought – no pun intended. Ok, pun definitely intended.

So I had a think about the local markets they used to trade at, and paid a visit to the vegan version of Sneinton market which takes place on the first Saturday every month. I imagine the vegan market is a bit smaller than the regular market, but visiting helped me to realise that it’s not out of my reach. With all of that in mind, I’ve just submitted my application to trade there, which feels very bizarre. I’ll have to wait to hear back of course – maybe they have no use for yet another baked goods stand? But if they do, I shall be sure to blog about it.

 

 

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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.

 

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.

Monkfish Nuggets, Chips & Mushy Peas at Cod’s Scallops

dinner, Fish, food, lifestyle, naughtiness, restaurant reviews, reviews, Uncategorized

Now, let’s get one thing straightened out here before we begin. I’ve seen numerous comments from people who don’t live in Britain about how disgusting our greasy fish and chips are. First of all, can you not? But second of all, yeah ok, actually, occasionally the chip shop experience can be a bit…off putting. But it’s important to differentiate between the crap sorts of chippies that stay open til 4am & also serve pizza and kebabs; and the places like the cod’s scallops in Nottinghamshire. Comparing the 2 is much akin to comparing Rebecca Black with Beyonce. These places pride themselves on using the freshest fish they can possibly find, perfecting their batter to a crisp, golden crunch and accompanying it with chips that will make you fall to your knees and thank the potato gods. Seriously though.

I went for my first, long awaited visit to the Cod’s Scallops on Bramcote Lane on Monday night to celebrate my Grandad’s 78th birthday. Good old Grandad. The first thing I noticed when I arrived was how small the place is. I’d definitely recommend booking a table to make sure you’re not disappointed by a long wait to sit down. Or alternatively if you fancy it, you can order to take out. 

The little details found throughout the restaurant really set the scene. For example, the kitchen is open, and the staff working there all wear handkerchief type things in their head, tightened at the 4 corners, which makes them look very ‘men at sea’. In fact the whole place ha a very nautical theme. I now wish I’d taken more photos but it was quite busy when we went in at 7pm, so I didn’t want people to think I was some weirdy creeper person taking photographs of them eating…..

  
Our waitress was lovely. She was bubbly and friendly without being in your face and fake. Also, when she came to bring our food, she told my Nan she couldn’t remember if she’d ordered mushy peas or not, so she had put some in a pot on the side of her plate just in case. (As it happens my Nan had ordered peas at the last minute, so yay).

  
There’s also a raw fish counter where you can buy fish to take away and cook yourself which I think is a nice touch. Living smack bang in the middle of the country means that REALLY fresh, good quality fish can be difficult to come by. God, thanks Geography. 

One of my favourite things about Cods Scallops is that you can order your fish fried or baked, with chips or potato salad. As we were celebrating, I went for the naughty option, but I have friends who have been and ordered the baked fish and said it was cooked and seasoned beautifully. 

  
As I said, I went for one of the naughty options and ordered battered nuggets of monkfish, served with chips cooked in beef dripping and a pot of mushy peas. There were a lot of fishy options available – choosing one was a bit of a struggle to be honest, much to the exasperation of my family. But seriously, you could choose from salmon, cod, haddock, sashimi grade tuna, scallops, lobster, swordfish – and that’s just to name just a few. How is one supposed to make that decision quickly?! This shit is important! If you want to have a look at the full menu, you can find their website here. If you live in the midlands, or fancy a trip here, definitely check this little gem out. It really felt like an experience rather than just a trip to the chippy. 

White  Chocolate Oreo Fudge

baking, cooking, food, naughtiness, naughty recipes, recipes

This is my idea of perfection because a) white chocolate and Oreos, duh; and b) it consists of 3 ingredients and requires precisely zero faffing around. 

You melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water, add the condensed milk, add the crushed Oreos, flatten into a baking pan and Bob is your proverbial uncle. All you have to do from there on out is resist the urge to cram the whole pan into your face before it has set into delicious, delicious fudgey goodness. 

Here’s how I set about creating the best treat in the world:

Melt 500g white chocolate in a bowl, above a pan of simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water!

When the chocolate is melted, add in one tin (approx 400ml) of condensed milk. I used the lighter version, but to be honest I kind of felt like I was applying a barbie plaster to a severed leg. 

Once mixed together, add in your broken/crushed Oreos. I like mine to be chunkyish, but you could play around with a blender to get different consistencies if you prefer.  
If you manage to complete this step without snaffling a square of chocolate, then you are a better person than me.   

Load your mixture into a baking tray or Pyrex dish lined with grease proof paper, and spread out. Pop in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. 

  I’m particularly fond of the way that the condensed milk sort of semi seizes the chocolate so that if you only have enough ingredients to make half a pan, you don’t have to worry about making the world’s thinnest fudge. Also, very much enjoy feeling like Moses parting the sea. 

 Remove form the fridge and cut into chunks. Above you can see the finished product. Filthy, isn’t it?

Red’s True BBQ – Nottingham

barbecue, food, naughtiness, naughty recipes, restaurant reviews, reviews, Uncategorized

Let me start by saying I am of the belief that if pulled pork were a person it would be a squeaky clean child star, living a fast and exuberant life, experiencing the world, being admired and envied by hoards of adoring followers. Until one day, it all becomes too much. The fresh faced child star we once knew and loved can’t cope with the demands of their relentless schedule and gradually vanishes before our eyes, leaving behind a mere shell of an MDMA addicted twenty year old, realising their career peaked when they were 12, leaving them no choice but to crank out cheap rom coms or dub step albums….

Basically, I think it’s overdone to shit, and the majority of the stuff out there now is simply cheap cuts of slow cooked pork mixed with an additive loaded BBQ sauce from a bottle. Aaaand the same can be said for a lot of BBQ food since it became popular in the UK.

  
Well, the meat at Red’s is no has been child star. If the meat at Red’s were a celeb it would be freakin’ Beyoncé. Prime cuts of meat, aged, rubbed and smoked to absolute perfection. Myself and the lovely boyfriend went for an anniversary treat. I had the brisket and burnt ends sandwich with 2 giant onion rings and slaw. I legitimately want these very sandwiches served at all future birthdays, my wedding and my funeral.

  
The brisket was deliciously savoury, melting in my mouth the moment it touched my lips. The burnt ends were like little nuggets of smokey BBQ heaven. And DEM ONION RINGS….

  
100% recommend the restaurant not only for its day making food, but also for its quirky, almost industrial style decor, friendly staff and the true ‘experince’ of eating out. Worth every penny.

Try not to drool as you ogle the food porn.

The Phat Doughnut Co. – Nottingham

doughnuts, food, naughtiness, reviews


 The Phat Doughnut Co., had caused Mr Boyfriend and I to lust and drool over their doughnut porn pics on Facebook for weeks, but until April this year we hadn’t bought any for lack of a good reason to put ourselves in sugar induced comas. I’m seriously almost fearful that I now live within reach of a doughnut delivery service. Yup, Phat’s handily(/dangerously), deliver doughnuts right to your door. In fact, their delivery service is the foundation of their business, because they don’t have a retail outlet (yet!).

However, April rolled around and Mr Boyfriend decided to surprise me with a box on my birthday – because if you can’t make terrible nutritional decisions on your birthday, when CAN you?! So here goes the review:

The Phat Doughnut Co. – Nottingham

Delivery Service – 1/5

The Phat Doughnut Co. are very new to the market – literally in their opening quarter, yet their business has sky rocketed. Phat’s is a two man operation, and as such those two men are very, very busy little bees. Our delivery wasn’t without a couple of hiccups. First they arranged a delivery for a day that they had already scheduled to be at a food festival – something my boyfriend realised after seeing them advertise their presence at the food festival on Facebook. He’s a chilled out guy, and rearranged the delivery for 7pm Saturday. We’re still none the wiser as to why the delivery turned up at 2pm Saturday, but luckily we were in to accept it. The cold hearted, Hillary Duvey in me wants to chastise their poor business practise and sneer about how simple it is to get hold of an hour by hour diary. The empathic former counsellor in me however, realises that they’re a brand new company who have had far more success than they anticipated in a very short amount of time, and are learning how to be the best that they can be. We all make mistakes, right?!

Taste: 3/5

Hit and miss. Certain flavours such as lemon meringue and peanut butter and jelly stood out from anything Krispy Kreme have to offer, and made me contemplate a long, healthy life VS a life of eating doughnuts all day every day. This enormous high was unfortunately let down by the s’mores doughnut, which was literally just a plain doughnut topped with chocolate glaze and a single marshmallow on top. I mean for God’s sake, the marshmallow hadn’t even been toasted! Do they know nothing of the sacred practise of s’mores making?! Whether or not it’s because we’re on UK shores and s’mores still aren’t really a ‘thing’ over here, I’m not sure, but I just remember being really disappointed by this one. Similarly, the white chocolate and cookie crumble had a thin layer of white chocolate flavoured icing and a small pinch of finely crushed cookie crumbs on top. I mean, technically, yes, it’s a white chocolate and cookie crumb doughnut, but when something has such a mouth watering title, you kind of hope for more. A white chocolate ganache centre swirled with cookie butter maybe?

Appearance: 5/5

Like a fat kid’s dream. Huge doughnuts with shiny glaze. No frills or fanciness, just good old doughnuts. I loved it. In a world of precious cupcakes so daintily decorated you don’t know if to eat them or put them on the mantel piece, it’s nice to have a treat you can just shove in your gob and greedily enjoy.

Dough: 5/5

Basically perfect. I really can’t say much more. Perfect density, well cooked, not too greasy – truly scrumptious!

Total Average Score: 2.8/5

Would I order from Phat’s again? Absolutely. Will it be in the next few months? Definitely not. I genuinely believe that the problems highlighted in my review are the results of a lack of experience and an unexpectedly successful launch. I’d imagine that over the next year the bakers behind the doughnuts will tighten their admin, take on board the feedback given to them on Facebook and grow more creatively in flavouring their doughnuts.  I hope they do, because if they can do that, I really do think they have a heck of a lot of potential. Watch this space, doughnut lovers!