Saturday, 12 May 2012

Thursday - Mario at Homage2Fromage (and some other stuff)

On Thursday I attended Homage2Fromage at the Adephi in Leeds, and it was great! Our host for the evening was Mario (Gusto Italiano) who is a passionate Italian food maker with roots in Sardinia and a love for all things Yorkshire. Over the past few months we have become friendly with Mario (at Christmas we won a load of Italian goodies in a competition that Mario ran) and he a lovely guy. I have misplaced the list of cheeses that we had on Thursday but 99% were winners - the only one I didn't like was a smoked mozzarella but I seemed to be in the minority on that score. The highlight was Mario's live cheese making demonstration that everyone loved and I am sure will inspire a few to try it themselves. He makes his own cheese (and other delights) that he sells at Farmers Markets so go pay him a visit. He also runs a monthly supper club that is really picking up - we are going next month and can't wait!  - all in another great cheese event from Vickie and Nick.

Mario's artisan cheese
Joe and Mario
Hunter Pig
Live cheese making
As we no longer blog daily I thought I would mention how Mum is doing - and the answer is really well so far with the chemo not stopping her from being her usual brilliant self! See you next weekend Mum x

Sunday is the Leeds Half Marathon for me - it's a training run I suppose before the marathon at the end of the Month but I am still hoping for a PB which would be sub 1hr 40! Fingers crossed. My pre long run routine is pizza (any excuse) and Jo is making one from scratch this evening - can't wait. I have been told that beetroot juice will increase my endurance so I will be drinking a shot of Beet-It one hour before the run and I have been getting through the big bottle this week - it's really quite nice! - you can get it from Millies (cheaper that the chains - fact!)

We have decided not to blog daily, but here are some of the things we had for dinner this week;

Have a lovely weekend - Joe and Jo.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

German Friendship Cake

Last weekend whilst in Edinburgh my mum bestowed on me some German friendship cake batter.  She had already given it some TLC, having received it from Else, a dear family friend who had in turn brought it from Holland!  In case you haven't had one, essentially it is a living batter mix.  You stir it every day for ten days, feeding it on days 4 and 9, before dividing it into four, turning one into a cake and passing the other three onto friends.  And so it goes on...!  Mine have gone to James Smartie, Sue and Sue's friend Pauline, who have all promised they will take good care of it.  Hopefully I might even get it back at some point!

And here is my effort - baked with apples, sultanas and almonds, and it is (not to blow my own trumpet or anything) awesome.  I left half with Sue so she can treat her friends and brought the other half home so Joe and I can get fat and happy on cake!

The finished product - German friendship cake
My latest serving suggestion - cake with stewed rhubarb and yoghurt

Monday, 7 May 2012

Nawaab Khan, Oakwood

After driving back from the Wirral and a few drinks in Stew & Oyster, the last thing we wanted to do on Sunday night was cook.  Luckily for us, next door to Stew & Oyster is Nawaab Khan, self proclaimed "probably the best curry in Yorkshire".  Now, I'm not really in a position to judge whether that statement is accurate - I've eaten a lot of good (and some rubbish) curries whilst living in Leeds.  However, I will say that I did like this one. 

We opted for takeaway treats (Joe finally getting his way after what feels like months of asking), although on Sundays they do a "mega Asian buffet" for £10.95 per person.

Nawaab Khan is a family run restaurant serving Pakistani and Indian dishes.  We were relatively restrained in our ordering and could have gone for a lot more.  What I did note is that the menu doesn't give much of a spice indication - its fairly clear what is mild from the ingredients list, but what is spicy is less clear. 

We went for poppadoms and a pickle tray as a little starter and the pickles were great.  There was a lovely little coriander pickle which I haven't tried before, and was really tasty.  The others, although more standard, were also very good.
Poppadoms and pickles
For mains we went for Punjabi chicken, which is a Rajastani dish made with green chillies, cloves, cumin, black pepper and coriander, and was full of flavour and not too hot despite all the chillies. We also had lamb madras, which had sweet lamb in a lovely warming sauce full of flavour.  Both served up with pilau rice and a plain naan, it was a lovely dinner.  I was stuffed to the rafters but it was well worth it!  They are definitely giving the other Indian restaurants in the area a run for their money.
Punjabi chicken (left) and Lamb Madras (right)

Stew & Oyster on a Sunday

We did promise we'd revisit Stew & Oyster this weekend, to give it a real go after the opening.  We made the long walk (approximately half a mile) down the road and popped in on Sunday afternoon on our return from the Wirral.  

It was nicely busy, with most tables full of people relaxing with a drink and the papers.  The building itself is lovely - at the front there are high ceilings and huge windows which let in tons of light.  It occupies the old HSBC building and makes the most of the space.  It feels light and airy and altogether good for taking it easy and whiling away the hours.  As well as the tables downstairs, there's more room upstairs with comfy sofas and good people watching specs. 

This time we had a proper chance to check out what is on offer drinks-wise.  Apparently it had been a busy few days as they were out of one of the five white wines on offer, but I was able to try the pinot grigio rose (nice and easy drinking) while Joe made his way through some of the beers on offer.  These included Stew & Oyster's own brewed ale, another ale from the Burley brewery, and a pint of Vedett.  Anyone keeping their eye on twitter yesterday might have seen that the Vedett stirred up a bit of a debate - it's a bit on the pricey side!  The warning that should (and wasn't) given is that a pint of Vedett in Stew & Oyster costs a slightly inflated £4.95.  No worries if you really fancy a Vedett, but perhaps their beer prices should be a little clearer - it was more expensive than my wine, which was a first. This coupled with the fact that a very small plate of pistachios costs £2.00, and I was in a bit of a grumble for a while - it feels a little mean compared to what you get elsewhere in the local area.  Roundhay might be affluent, but it doesn't mean that people don't value their cash.  I only point these things out as constructive criticism as I like the place and want it to be a success.

Anyway, these were my only real negatives - it's a great space, the rest of the drinks are nice, and the food that we did see looked fantastic.  I spotted the pork pie plate, the Sunday stew topped with an enormous Yorkshire pudding and the ploughman's platter complete with pork terrine, pork pie and cheese, as well as some tasty looking oysters.  I'll have to get some more drinks in Joe before he will join me with the oysters unfortunately!
The oyster menu
The stews on offer - I haven't spotted the blackboard yet but it will be there somewhere
The £2.00 pistachios
Vedett - which is probably off the drinking list now!
Me trying the Burley ale - not quite my tastes!
In case you haven't seen it so far...the outside

Lunch at the Red Door, West Kirby

This weekend we were back on the Wirral to spend some time with Joe's mum and catch up with friends (including watching the football - the less said about that, the better!)  Joe's mum was on great form and it was lovely to be back.  We made the most of a non-rainy weekend by some running - me doing a paltry six miles compared to Joe's 18!  The last long run before the marathon so things are looking good for a strong finishing time.**

After all that hard work we (well, Joe) deserved a nice lunch so we headed for the Red Door in West Kirby.  It's a great "neighbourhood bar" serving solid food and a great range of drinks.  It's kitted out really well - stripped back decor, cosy without being stifling and looks like an excellent place for spend a Friday night checking out some of the very interesting rums and tequilas they offer.  The music, even at a Saturday lunchtime, was great and it had a really nice buzz.
Joe and Sue - thumbs up!
Me and Sue with our lunchtime wine

Food wise, they offer a limited, but good, range of small and large plates.  There's deli boards, including a compile-your-own option of various meats, cheeses and vegetables such as home dried tomatoes, waldorf salad and mustard seed and red cabbage coleslaw. They also do a range of "ploughmans boards" which include the traditional, a daily quiche, pate or a old spot pork pie.  If looking for something more substantial, the menu has larger plates of whole or half chicken, fish and chips, kebabs and burgers with a selection of rubs and toppings.

The wine menu is either by the bottle, or they class their glasses as cheap, decent or good (a red and white of each) which means they can change the wines on offer without messing up the menu.  I tried the "decent" white - a South African Sauvingnon Blanc which was indeed quite decent. The bottled beers also look good and Joe enjoyed a couple of post-run Staropramen.

For lunch, Sue tried the daily quiche, which although she only asked for salad, also came with a rather large pile of chips (many more than on the picture - they ended up on Joe's plate).  The quiche was good, nice and light and a good size for a smaller appetite.  I had a small chicken Caesar with chips (we didn't need quite so many!)  The Caesar was very good - juicy chicken and not all breast which is a good thing for my tastes, crispy leaves and a light but tasty dressing.  I'm always a bit disappointed when my Caesar doesn't have fresh anchovies, but they're not to everyone's tastes.  The chips are awesome - crispy, well seasoned, far too easy to eat.  Joe had the beef burger topped with beetroot and horseradish.  He was offered a choice of pink or well done (pink, obvs), and although there was a little hiccup at the beginning (that beetroot and horseradish topping being missing) it was quickly rectified and we had a great lunch.

Overall, I'd recommend the Red Door to anyone looking for an easy lunchtime or evening dinner and drinks - the staff are friendly and attentive and clearly care about giving good service, and it was a very good experience.  A solid 8.5 out of 10.

** sponsorship for the marathon is still very welcome - a lot of hard work for a great cause:

Quiche, salad, and some more chips
Chicken caeser
The beef burger