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.

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.