These are a few of my favourite things…

blog, creative, festivals, lifestyle, nottingham, ramble, reviews, Uncategorized, wellbeing

I’m not going to say anything that will shatter the earth in this blog, because it’s all already been said. I think maybe my generation are starting to listen a little bit more too. I believe it’s so important to support independent business/creative ventures. I am lucky to have a bunch of friends that are INCREDIBLY talented.

My friend Karen is the owner of a papercut company – she makes the cutest art work, but there’s such an in depth process behind it. She uses card and a scalpel to cut out her designs – making greetings cards, prints and even the blog header at the top of this page. How she has any finger tips left, or any patience for that matter, I’ll never know. Her Gilmore Girls, Stars Hollow map was recently featured on a buzzfeed list of items every Gilly should own. Her stuff is intricate and so, so cool.

My friends Scott, Ben and Carl are in a band that satisfies every ounce of my endless desire to experience the beat era. Their band is called Lucille, named after BB King’s guitar, and if that isn’t the coolest thing in the world I don’t know what is. I first saw them play when my sister was bartending at an open mic night and she recommended them. Since then I haven’t left them alone, and have essentially forced them into being my buddies.  But it’s just that honestly, their music makes me SO happy. It takes me out of 2016, and into 1958, where I’m partying with Jack Kerouac, standing up against oppression and ‘fighting the good fight’. I struggle with the mundaneness of adult life sometimes. I try really hard to make it not mundane, but sometimes, in order to keep the bills paid and the wolf away from the door, it kind of is. Lucille’s live show isn’t a complete departure from the roots of reality, it’s more like an acknowledgement that it exists, and then says fuck it, let’s dance.

Since getting to know Lucille, Ben, their drummer has also joined a band called Cold Water Souls. CWS create music that is heavy but melodic, dark, moody and has these insanely powerful but beautiful vocals that will permeate your bones and sink in for days afterwards. Their live show is an atmospheric haze. Whilst Lucille allow you to dance your troubles away, CWS lift them out of you and burns them into a cloud of navy blue smoke that swirls into patterns above your head. Metaphorically, obviously. Please do not smoke indoors at CWS gigs, this has been a public service announcement.

Whilst I also love my iphone, starbucks and Beyonce, I just think if you want to really customise your life experience, you won’t find that richness at the bottom of a Christmas red cup which you specifically bought to pad out your instagram feed. For me at least, it’s found in those independent creators who haven’t been polished to the Nth degree, and don’t have a huge marketing team behind them.

Anyway, as I say, this isn’t really anything earth shattering. Partly I was just thinking about all the awesome things my friends are up to, but also I just think people expect creativity for free too often these days. If like me, you have attachments to independent creatives who enrich your life, show them some love. Support them. Don’t expect shit for free. They might do what they do for the love of it, but sacrificing time to create, when you’re a grown up, can be hard to manage, and they deserve mega praise for doing it.

And if you are purely a chain consumer, oh my god look around! Try an independent restaurant, watch an indie film, go to a local gig. Not saying this to preach, I just think it’ll make you happy 🙂

Anyway, go and check out what the guys I spoke about above are up to:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/OhCutItOut

http://www.facebook.com/thebandlucille

http://www.facebook.com/coldwatersouls

 

And in a directly opposing note, i got a new phone and a new lipstick today and i’m v pleased about this.

Peace.

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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.

 

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!