Saturday, 21 April 2012

Friday at Johnny Fontanes

On Friday evening we went to the soft launch of Johnny Fontanes, a new American-style diner in the Great George Street area of the city.  The official opening date hasn't been set yet as, rather sensibly, they want to iron out all the glitches before opening to the masses.

We were invited to try some of the food and drinks on offer.  The food is freshly made every morning and sticks to the American classics of burgers, pulled pork, chicken, wings and fries.  The drinks menu has a good range of American beers and bourbons and offers ciders, milkshakes and fresh lemonade.

The premise is a bit a-la-Nandos.  You order food and drinks at the bar and are given an electronic alert, which flashes when the food is ready.  You then collect it from the order point near the kitchen.  As long as this is explained clearly by the waiting staff on arrival, this should work in theory.

Given they are still in the trial stage, I expect things will change before the opening, but I hope they keep doing the burgers as they did last night because both Joe's and mine were very good.  I had the classic cheese burger with fries, which came in a tasty bun and the burger was obviously home made (in a good way), served with some salad.  Joe had the bacon double cheese with spiced fries, which as you would expect was similar to mine, but man-sized!  Being honest, the fries could do with a little work but that's one of the creases that will be ironed out before opening.  I also had a little preview of the chicken burger, courtesy of Rebecca (@reallygoodfood) and hope that when they open, they put the same salad in the chicken burger as in the beef. 

The drinks were a definite plus point - both beers were tasty and unusual.  I also love the branding which is hyper-50s style.  They are obviously very keen to make sure everything is running as well as possible on opening, and took on board the little issues that we raised.  Once open properly, we probably will give them another go and hope everyone else does the same.

bacon double cheese with spiced fries
That good branding
And our beers

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Thursday - Veggie haggis with peas and an egg

I promise this isn't as weird as it sounds!  We have a selection of lovely Macsweens goods in the fridge, including haggis, black pudding and vegetarian haggis.  I've never eaten vegetarian haggis, and quite honestly always thought the concept was a little strange, so this seemed like an opportunity to give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised - it's not as strong as real haggis and is a little reminiscent of a nut roast - but I really liked it!  It was served on a bed of pea and parsley puree and topped with a poached egg and tomatoes.  Sounds like a strange combination but it really worked.

Vegetarian haggis on pea puree with a poached egg and tomatoes
As an absolute shock horror, we have also run out of biscuits.  I'm sure, given our blog name, this should be illegal, but we appear to have had a shopping fail.  No fear though, we had some trusty pop corn kernels so our dinner was salvaged by some tasty home made popcorn!!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Wednesday - Stir-Fry Noodles and a Spicy Grilled Chicken

It's been a bit of an adjustment getting back into the swing of normal life, but I think I managed it today with a solid day at work followed by a lovely evening with Jo who made stir-fry. The only fly in the ointment is that Chelski are currently winning in the football but that may still change! Over the next few weeks things will get a little bit more hectic with Mum, so I am glad for some quiet time so I can give her all the support and energy she needs when treatment starts!

Stir-fry noodles
Spicy grilled chicken
My plate (number one)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Tuesday turkey meatballs

We're back on track after an emotional few days and just want to say thanks to everyone for their kind comments and wishes.  I have Joe back in Leeds, and welcomed him home with a late night at work (woops) and some tasty turkey meatballs!  They were done in a rich tomato sauce and with some new potatoes and salad, which although sounds weird, was quite a nice combination.

Turkey meatballs with new potatoes and salad

Monday, 16 April 2012

Monday - Cautious Optimism for Mum

To keep the blog real, I need to write about some bad news our family and friends had over the past week or so, as it will be impossible to continue without mentioning it. I am on the Wirral with Mum at the moment and I have discussed it with her; she is comfortable for us to be upfront and open with her situation and for the journey to be documented along with other stuff that we talk about here.

On Thursday 5th April Mum got diagnosed with cancer which was a huge shock to us all. Today we went to Arrow Park Hospital to get a clearer picture of what we are dealing with along with a plan of action. This is not the time to go into all the details but she has ovarian cancer and a treatment plan of chemotherapy over coming months.

Mum is a fit and strong lady with a natural optimism that has helped her through some very challenging situations in the past. I have absolutely no doubt that she will draw on her own strength and the strength of all the family and friends in fighting the cancer. We will be there every step of the way xx

Me and Mum today

Mum did make me dinner yesterday (with the help of Auntie Karen) - good effort considering!!!xx

Sunday night

Joe is back on the Wirral at the moment so I'm hibernating in Leeds, reading books and watching trash tv (well you've got to sometimes, haven't you?)  I'm not usually one to say personal things in public, but I'm taking the opportunity of him being a hundred miles away to say that I'm the luckiest girl in the world.  There are rare people who have total dedication to their family and loved ones and will be there for them, through all the good times and the bad.  This has been a bit of a nervous week and  Joe is a real superstar. I'm super happy to have him and his family in my life.

Anyway, promise not to embarrass myself (or anyone else) further, so here's my lonely dinner from Sunday!  Pasta with smoked mackerel...probably a good thing no one else was here!!

Pasta with mackerel and salad

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Saturday - victory at the Hub and squid stuffed with black pudding

This weekend there was a momentous event in the calender - the Liverpool v Everton FA cup semi final at Wembley.  As you may have noticed, Joe is quite a dedicated Liverpool fan, and over the course of our relationship has suckered me in too.  I always maintain that we wouldn't be where we are today if I hadn't embraced football - it would have made for some fairly lonely weekends and a constant Saturday night battle for the TV (Match Of The Day always wins). 

So on Saturday we headed to the Hub in Chapel Allerton to have some drinks and watch the football, with a certain amount of trepidation because Liverpool haven't had their best season this year.  We were joined by Dave Bro, another Red, and Paul, a filthy Arsenal supporter who was very keen for Everton to win - fun all round. 

After a nail biting 94 minutes Liverpool were victorious, making their way to the FA cup final against either Chelsea or Tottenham with a 2-1 win over Everton.  We celebrated with some beers and a tasty bar lunch at The Hub of a Real Greek burger with curly fries for Joe and a Puppy Love Bratwurst hot dog for me, which were both awesome and a great accompaniment for the beers. 

We also stuck around for the Grand National, but the less said about that the better - out of six horses picked between us, only three finished, and only one of those was top four and I had bet on the nose!  Oh well, it was a lot of fun anyway.

The Real Greek burger, with lamb mince, coriander and tzatziki
The puppy love bratwurst - simple and effective
Andy Carroll - the new love of Joe's life
After all that, we retired home for an evening of the papers and some reality tv (don't tell anyone but Joe is a HUGE fan of The Voice) and some dinner.  I've been telling Joe for ages that I wanted to make stuffed squid, and finally got round to it this weekend.  Our dinner was baby squid stuffed with Macsween's black pudding, turkey and brown rice, accompanied by a squid, tomato and chargilled pepper stew. 
Stuffed squid
Squid, tomato and chargrilled pepper stew
Stuffed squid, stew and rice

Friday Night G-Wu takeaway

On Friday night Joe and I decided to treat ourselves to a cheeky Chinese take away.  I had originally wanted it last weekend (for my first dinner back after THE ILLNESS - which I will never mention again now, thanks) but circumstances prevented that so Friday it was.  Now, I can be a little lazy when choosing places to eat - when I find somewhere I like I have a habit of wanting to revisit that place rather than trying somewhere new - trying to avoid potential disappointments of crap food.  Anyway, Joe is rather different to me and likes an experiment, so persuaded me to find somewhere different from our usual take away haunts.

Step up G-Wu on Harrogate Road near Moortown corner.  It's only been open for a few months and I know a few people who have been and said good things.  I'll be honest, the silly name of the place has put me off so far, and when running past it always looks a little too shiny and white for my tastes.  Appearances can be deceiving though so we picked a couple of dishes and tucked in.

For starter we had the fried pork dumplings which were simply fantastic - tasty filling meaty with pork, light pastry and a lovely sharp soy dipping sauce.  They reminded me of Tibetan momo dumplings as the pastry was soft rather than crisp.  So far so good.

For mains we had prawns in a Szechuan sauce and crispy beef with chilli and garlic, which for me is a nostalgic treat from my childhood.  Both were pretty good - good chunks of beef with a chilli kick and some lovely plump prawns.  It's not something I could eat too often, but for a treat I was quite impressed.  Oh, and they do the best prawn crackers I've had in a while so that's a plus too.  There's nothing on the menu that is going to challenge the senses or push the boat out, but it was a perfectly pleasant Friday night treat.

Pork dumplings
Crispy beef
Szechuan prawns
Joe's plate - Szechuan prawns, chilli beef, crispy noodles and jasmine rice

Sunday to Thursday - a round up of treats

Apologies for the slight sabbatical from the blog this week - we've been engaged with other things so this is a round up of Sunday to Thursday this week!  We're still trying to be relatively healthy, although I was making the most of finally being able to eat a full meal so you'll have to excuse Monday's fish and chips, but here it is...

On Sunday we had Joe's stir fried udon noodles with teriyaki salmon, and very nice it was too!  I love it when Joe cooks, and bless it seems to have fallen to him a bit more this week.
Teriyaki salmon and udon noodles
Monday was the naughty fish and chips.  Joe and I didn't really celebrate the bank holiday this year - whilst I had some work to do, Joe went home for the day to spend some time with the family.  By the time he came home the last thing we were in the mood for was cooking (how very unlike us!) so it was straight to the freezer for fish and chips.  At some point I'll cave and let him go the chippy for some real fish and chips, as the freezer version is always a bit disappointing, but that'll only be after A LOT of running and a very healthy week!
Fish, chips and peas
On Tuesday I was back in the kitchen, knocking up stir fried noodles with spicy black bean prawns with yellow pepper and spring onions.  It was pretty healthy and went down very well, especially with a nice glass of chenin blanc...woops.  I think the booze ban may be delayed until May after all!
Spicy black bean prawns
On Wednesday Joe was back in the kitchen.  Bless, he had run home after a long day at work so was already pretty tired, and then received a call from me saying I was going to be working late so dinner was up to him!  He did surprise me though, making a pasta bake with broccoli and cauliflower, which was very tasty.
Pasta baked with broccoli and cauliflower
And finally on Thursday we headed to the Adelphi for @homage2fromage's latest cheese night - challenging cheese!  I've been telling Nick for a while that I thought they should do some really filthy cheese.  My favourite cheeses tend towards the face-melting, walking off the plate variety, which is often difficult to locate in the UK.

Well Nick and Vickie certainly came up with some pretty challenging cheeses - there were 8 to try and I liked all but 2 of them.  My least favourites were the Stinking Bishop and the Oxford Isis, which had something of an air of cabbage/fish about it...gross!  The best one by far was the Epoisses, which is washed in brandy and is banned on public transport in France for being so whiffy and the Reblechon was also very nice (I can see a trend with the French cheeses here).  There were some superb varieties on offer and it was a great evening all round.
Just some of the rind washed cheeses