Restaurant Review: The Ness, Shaldon

A nice summery post for you today – fingers crossed the weather isn’t as gloomy today as it was at the weekend. I love watching rain, but I hate, hate, hate cloudy grey skies that don’t seem to do anything. Give me thunderstorms any day!

Anyway, remember a few weeks ago I posted about a lovely weekend away in Devon with my family? I promised a review of the pub lunch we had, and finally here it is. Worth the wait I promise – and if you decide to visit this lovely not-so-little but still quaint pub then the scary roads are worth it too! Just look at that view…

 photo 2014-07-19144402_zps1663e375.jpgWe wandered here after a sunny morning on the beach, thirsty and hungry. We were impressed with the welcome we all got, included the dog. We were offered a clean bowl from the kitchen (nothing annoys me more than places leaving out a single dirty dog bowl!) and pointed to a outdoor tap where we could fill it up as needed. Someone was impressed!

 photo 2014-07-20143824_zps39af775e.jpgAfter browsing the menu, I decided to be awkward and ask about various dishes as I wasn’t immediately sure which ones were tomato-free. A little disappointingly a lot of ingredients are bought in – though they are from a butcher (bonus) – and so they couldn’t guarantee they were safe for me. Said butcher labels with ‘herbs and spices’ which isn’t helpful! On a better note they were very accomodating and I was able to have a ‘starter’ of whitebait with some fries as my main. The drinks selection was also pretty impressive, especially given the precarious position of the cliff!

 photo 2014-07-19143632_zps7263bf26.jpgWaiting staff were a little confused, most people were sitting on the unnumbered tables outside which led to wrong meals trying to be delivered – but when ours came out (relatively quickly, but not suspiciously so) everything was all together. My sister ordered a massive Cornish pasty (half became dinner), mum had a gorgeous looking unfortunately-tomato-laced steak pie, and dad ate a fish-and-cheese baked dish. However…

 photo 2014-07-19150528_zpsb97ba80e.jpg photo 2014-07-19150537_zps4e12851b.jpgMine was absolutely stunning. Simple whitebait, so, so fresh. Not covered in a batter, just crunchy by itself. Salt and fishy without being overpowering, with the best tartar sauce I’ve ever had. Chips (skin-on fries) were also fresh tasting. One of the nicest pub lunches I’ve had. Pinterest worthy presentation too!

Have you been out for a meal recently?

Restaurant Review: Hula Juice Bar, Edinburgh

 photo 2014-06-19133846_zpsca93462d.jpgI’ll be totally honest with you, this is one of my favourite places. Ever. This may sound like an over exaggeration, but it really, really isn’t. I’ve had some wonderful moments with my boyfriend in this little cafe, chatty lunches, romantic brunches, and more than one cake stop. Its only downfall is that it’s in Edinburgh, and I live in the Midlands. Needless to say we visited virtually every day on both our holidays to Edinburgh and I have no doubt we’ll continue to do so.

 photo 2014-06-19124453_zpse373bd43.jpg photo 2014-06-19124447_zps92a1745e.jpgThe menu isn’t exactly varied, but its got enough variety to keep everyone happy (especially in the juice department!), and they will happily make changes to menu items – although only for dietary requirements during busy periods like the Fringe. I’ve tried a couple of the juices and smoothies and although I have my favourites, none of them have been bad.

 photo 2014-06-19130601_zpsfb30a92e.jpg photo 2014-06-19130537_zps0fd4262e.jpg photo 2014-06-19131039_zps270c5d86.jpgMy favourite meal there has to be lunch – or the soup with cheese and toast to be precise. They generally do two different soups a day, one is always vegetarian, and there’s generally one that is gluten-free. My favourite? The Potato & Haggis. Its smooth apart from the Haggis-y lumps, not sweet (a huge problem with soups for me) and with a great pepperiness. Great in the August rain or the June heatwave. And the cheese on toast…I think the photo just says it all! It’s amazing, though the bread itself is gorgeously oaty. Needs to be tried to be believed! I’ve had other gorgeous soups (Mushroom & Stilton springs to mind) and my boyfriend really enjoyed his photographed here, I think it was Courgette and Pea.

 photo 2014-06-21095517_zps5b7e4b3f.jpg photo 2014-06-21095539_zps1c8a21f3.jpgWe’ve also visited for Brunch, which was delightful. Not so delightful was paying the bill at 10.20am and realising we still had to pack and be out of the apartment (the other end of the Royal Mile) by 11am… We both ordered porridge. Bananas, honey and cinnamon for him. Chocolate and chilli for me. Both combinations were great, but I loved mine. Sweet, rich and the perfect amount of spice to wake me up, I have to create a similar recipe! I was daring and went for a green juice – the Tah-ti Kicks – and really enjoyed it. I’m definitely going to try converting myself to green juices!

 photo 2014-06-21150932_zps22c6b153.jpg photo 2014-06-20145234_zpsab6887c6.jpg photo 2014-06-21190140_zps833cdd73.jpgNow, I can’t review Hula without mentioning the cakes. They do a fab selection baked daily, and every time I’ve noticed vegan and gluten-free options. Will had a fabulous looking Vegan Fruit Slice (I didn’t get a look-in), but I generally stick to the brownies. I wasn’t convinced about the Oreo Peanut Butter concoction – both elements were fine on their own, but together it felt a bit confused. The Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie was something else. It was absolutely glorious. So much so  I bought an extra to eat at the top of Arthur’s Seat and another for the train journey home. I’m contemplating baking my own. Or I will be doing as soon as I can afford ingredients!

 photo 2014-06-19133901_zps9367f090.jpg photo 2014-06-19124518_zps9ce46b36.jpgThe prices are reasonable, not the cheapest but the quality is definitely high, the atmosphere is amazing, and unless it’s Fringe its generally not too crowded. It’s definitely my favourite place in Edinburgh, and I highly recommend you visit! Now I’ll be off to crave another Nutty Professor…
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Would you like to see a Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie Recipe?

 

Restaurant Review: Pork & Co, Canterbury

 photo Shop_zpscb5c96fc.jpgRight at the beginning of the year I remember reading a (Daily Mail, guilty pleasure!) piece about a pulled pork shop that had had to change its slogan due to avoid offending people of the nearby Cathedral. I must’ve been tired or hungry when reading it, as I was completely oblivious to the fact that this shop was in fact due to open in Canterbury. I’m actually pretty distraught as it opened close to exam season (no chance of getting into town then!) and this year, when I’m out on placement as of July and won’t be in Canterbury *sob* until September 2015. Or rather, I hadn’t planned to be, but I think visits to friends and a certain Pork Shop may now be on the agenda…

 photo Pork_zps672be255.jpg photo Cob_zpsb1499cd1.jpgPork & Co really one have one regular thing on their menu, and that’s their Pork Cobs (or Rolls, Buns etc, I’m from Leicestershire and they are cobs!). They are pretty pricey, but the £5 includes a meat stuffed, gravy soaked, apple butter spread cob, and a topping of your choice (I recommend black pudding). Don’t quote me, but I think a slab of crackling is also included, but this may count as your topping! They do occasionally offer another choice – Beef Brisket. At £6 for a Brisket Cob with slaw, its even pricey, but this is definitely my favourite. I also struggle to finish it, so it’s well worth those pennies! Both meats are tender, incredibly flavourful, and just wonderful.

 photo Sauces_zps78c18957.jpg photo Eggs_zps1aba3abc.jpgI highly recommend the hot sauces too! Espeically with the scotch eggs…

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Also available are a variety of sausage rolls and pork pies. I have to say I am particularly taken with the sausage rolls, they are rich, meaty and the pastry doesn’t fall apart and get everywhere (I’m looking at you, Greggs!). The fennel flavour is subtle, but they are really delicious. I’m not sure I can think of an excuse to visit Canterbury soon, but I sure am trying!

 photo Crackling_zpsd615c901.jpgOf course, any Pork shop isn’t worth it’s crackling if they didn’t sell pork scratchings. Now I have two little secrets to tell you;

  1. I went into Pork & Co around an hour after my last exam, devoured a Brisket Cob, and bought five bags of pork scratchings. The guys in the shop laughed. It was pretty embarrassing. But…
  2. I don’t actually like pork scratchings!

Something about the texture just don’t get on with me, but my parents and boyfriend love them, so every time I’ve visited the shop I’ve bulk-bought scratchings. Nearly caused an issue travelling home, as bags in St Pancras were being randomly checked by sniffer dogs… If you’re a scratching fan, I’d highly recommend these. I really wish I liked them!

 photo Slaw_zpscb94e737.jpgI highly recommend Pork & Co if you’re ever in Canterbury – it’s truly a hidden gem! Please note that all of the photos in this post were taken from their Twitter feed, I’ve tried to use only ones they have posted by if I have inadvertently stolen anyone’s please contact me and I will remove it or credit/link the rightful owner!

 photo Pigs_zps776edf3b.jpgBack to the pork…it’s delicious! Moist, meaty, and incredibly messy to eat (don’t wear white, you have been warned…). One of the best things about it is that all the pigs are raised by the people behind Pork & Co themselves – whilst I don’t particularly enjoy looking at the pictures of the pigs (I find them really, really cute!) its lovely to know they are having a brilliant quality of life, and I think that really shows in the quality of the meat. Let me know if you visit Pork & Co!

Have you found any ‘hidden gem’ eateries nearby?

Recipe: Leek & Potato Soup

 photo 2014-03-09114308_zpsf5cb9baf.jpgNot quite the lightest of spring recipes, but I love a good soup! When the weather is warm I often crave lighter, healthier meals (I’m looking for some exciting and filling salad recipes, so if you have any please comment with a link!) but I also love my comfort food. Coupled with the fact that coming up exams the last thing I want to do is have to spend time cooking dinner, I’ve filled my freezer with homemade soup. A veggie packed meal on hand for lunches or dinners, all I need to do is heat it in a pan and stir for a little bit.

This is one of the easiest soups to make – I often find vegetable soups can be a little flavourless but this is always tasty. It just takes a little peeling and shopping, some simmering time, then a whizz in the blender. In less than half an hour you can have plenty of soup – this recipe made me six servings – for the freezer, which is time well spent in my opinion. My only point is to say that it needs vigorous stirring when you reheat, as it separates and looks rather unappetising for a bit. It does come back together though, I promise!

Ingredients for 6 Bowls of Soup

  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 3 leeks
  • around 800g of potatoes – 6 should do it!
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock

Now Let’s Make Some Soup!

 photo 2014-03-09114947_zps8615282a.jpgFinely dice your onion and celery, then slice your leeks – just mainly the white part and discard the green ends.

 photo 2014-03-09115423_zpsdcf80161.jpgMelt the butter in your largest saucepan, and slow cook the onion, celery and leeks until soft. photo 2014-03-09120736_zps84757b55.jpg

 photo 2014-03-09120058_zps2a523737.jpgMeanwhile peel and dice your potatoes into roughly 2cm chunks.  photo 2014-03-09120744_zps4c5b18e4.jpg

 photo 2014-03-09121103_zps7a7e7e99.jpgAdd your potatoes to the pan, followed by the stock and some seasoning – I used a little dried thyme and a bayleaf. Simmer for around 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

 photo 2014-03-09132032_zpsb294b17d.jpgTransfer to a blender (you may need to do this in batches) and whizz until smooth. Leave some chunks if you like, but I like my soups completely lump-free. Pour the whizzed soup into a clean saucepan to cool for freezing, or serve.

I like to serve mine sprinkled with black pepper and some crisp bits of fried bacon. And plenty of bread for dipping…

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What’s your favourite soup?

Recipe: Fried Pea Sandwich (a.k.a. A Cheat’s Samosa)

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My boyfriend’s dad is currently taking part in an Indian cookery class, and luckily for me I was able to sample some of the things he made before I left for university. One of last week’s goodies was what I can only describe as a fried sandwich with a filling of spicy peas. I loved it – it was spicy, fresh, crunchy and warming with an almost summery hint coming from the peas. And of course I asked for the recipe.

Reading the recipe I came across a big problem. I’d never even heard of some of the spices (hing anyone?!) and I definitely knew that most students’ budget wouldn’t cover them. Mine definitely didn’t! So I decided to improvise. This recipe is what I came up with, and for about 10 minutes of work and some very cheap ingredients it was damn tasty! It makes a perfect snack or light lunch, so give it a go as something different!

I’m just going to go straight into it and give you the recipe, its so simple you don’t even need an ingredients list…

In the morning, get a handful of peas out to defrost. Get your bread out too – you want it slightly stale for this as it will go crispier.

2014-01-19 13.28.15Get some spicy out on a small plate. I used curry powder, cumin, tumeric and crushed chillies, but even just curry powder would do!

2014-01-19 13.32.44Tip your peas onto the spices, and crush with a fork. The original recipe said they should go like breadcrumbs, mine didn’t look that way! As long as they aren’t whole and they aren’t mush they should be fine…

2014-01-19 13.35.57Press the pea mixture into a slice of bread. Try and press it down as much as possible as this will prevent the sandwich from falling apart.

2014-01-19 13.39.23Top with the second slice of bread (pressing down well!) and then fry in a preheated oiled pan for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy.

2014-01-19 13.48.37This is delicious served on its own, but I’m thinking it will be even better with a cucumber-yoghurt dip. Watch this space!

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I never would have thought to try making a ‘samosa’ from a fried sandwich, but this really works. Let me know if you give it a go!

EDIT: by request, I’m adding this to Deena Kakaya’s Fabulous Fushion Food Challenge – a challenge which to be honest is right up my street! There’s already some great entries for this month, so please do have a look at them!