Thursday, 8 February 2018

January 2018 Monthly Eatings

January was another busy month food wise. I checked out restaurants in Shropshire,  Worcestershire,  and Staffordshire.
Shifnal Balti - Shropshire

Giraffes - Manchester

Hickory Smokehouse - Kidderminster

Bear Grill - Stafford

The Bridgewater Arms


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Bouzouki By Night, review.

I have never tried authentic Greek food before, by that I mean Greek food cooked by a Greek person or a person of Greek heritage. I have only attempted to make two Greek dishes at home, Moussaka and Greek Chicken but never really tried anything else besides this, unless you count supermarkets Greek olives and feta cheese packs. There are a few Greek restaurants in the West Midlands but as I regularly visit Manchester and found Bouzouki By Night on my favourite discount website, Groupon, decided to embark on a culinary change and visit a restaurant that I would not usually visit. The deal £25 (50% off) for a 15 dish Greek mezze to share between 2 people is fantastic value for money and also includes a live band and evening entertainment. I would however, visit again at the non discounted price of £25 per person as the food was simply divine.
Located in the city centre the restaurant is accessed via several stairs and you are greeted to a fairly dark, yet welcoming restaurants with several pictures and photos of Greek islands, alongside soft playing Greek music. There is a set seating time of 8pm, presumably so all the dishes can be served at once and upon our arrival we were quickly seated by a friendly waiter. All tables feature a dimly lit candle, intimate setting, although I felt the restaurant is slightly dark.
To start, we received a selection of homous, tzatzki and beetroot dip, Greek Style Salad, small pieces of pitta bread, alongside a three bean Greek selection. I particularly enjoyed the unusual flavour of the beetroot dip which I took great pleasure in topping the pitta breads with. The homous and tzatski also went down well. The Greek salad was far superior than any shop brought Greek salad and came with sweet peppers, velvety feta cheese and juicy olives. I've never had a three bean salad whilst eating out and this was a welcoming carbohydrate to my selection of starters.
Selection of dips

Greek salad

Selection of starters
The selections of starter set my taste buds going and was eagerly pleased when the next round of mezze appeared. Stifado (beef stew) and a chicken dish was the next selection for the meat part of the mezze dishes. The sausages were mildly spiced, my only suggestion was that I could have done with more as it was so nice.
Stifado (beef stew)
The next meat dish was the chicken and lamb kebab, apologies for the blurry picture, yet I felt this dish had to be shared as these kebabs were a world away from the usual perception of kebabs from the takeaway. Meaty, flavoursome and well cooked these kebabs were served on top of couscous.
If you are not a big fan of meat, there was also a selection of calamari, deep fried vine leaves and white fish which offered a contrasting refreshing flavour to the meat dishes.

Calamari and white fish
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the next round of mains, moussaka,  keftethes (meatballs) and Yiouvesti (rice pasta), they were all equally dishes and I was especially impressed by the yiouvesti. 

Finally, if you have room, there is a serving of ridiculously sweet baklava with double cream.

Positives: Fantastic value for money, large selection of flavoursome food, friendly staff.
Negatives:  There are numerous stairs to access the venue which is not the best if wearing heels. 
Disclaimer: I visited this restaurant as I enjoy eating out and I have already booked another visit to this fantastic restaurant. 
Bouzouki on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Cake and Bake Show Manchester 2014

The Cake and Bake Show returned to Manchester for the second year and was held at Manchester Exhibition Centre. I did not visit Cake and Bake last year but after reading last years reviews on various blogs and seeing the numerous cake pictures, I was determined to go this year. I walked into Manchester Exhibition centre to large crowds of men, women and children holding onto goodie bags and promptly made my way into the arena to visit the variety of stalls. I was pleasantly pleased that the stalls included a variety of not only sweet treats but also there were several bread and stalls selling savoury goodies - there was a balance between sweet and savoury.
There were 3 demonstration theatres which were free to watch, the first being The Competition Theatre where on Saturday featured baking challenges from Mich Turner and Peter Sidwell, alongside this years Great British Bake Off contestants and during each show 2 members of the audience were chosen to bake alongside these baking experts, no pressure there then!
The second theatre, the Cake Theatre featured demonstrations from headlining chefs making  sweet treats including John Waite, Eric Lanlard and Rosemary Shrager. I watched the key lime pie demonstration by Eric Lanlard and he made this sweet pie look super simple to make and it looked so luxurious with all the condensed cream.
The third theatre The Baking Theatre shared chefs who have a great knowledge of bread making and savoury baking. I watched Andy Bates demonstration of chicken and pie which would make a lovely weekend evening meal.
I also bumped into a couple of the celebrity chefs who were very friendly.

There was such a large variety of stalls and one of the stalls to really catch my eye, was known other than the Primrose Bakery stall where the co-owner of this famous shop, Martha Stewart was there and was happy to sign copies of her popular baking books. I tried one of her chocolate cupcakes which was simply divine, I must pop into one of their branches when I'm next in London.

I was delighted with the large variety of bread stalls, as I'm more of a savoury person and can gorge on bread all day long, the selection of bread was amazing. I discovered a stall that sold beautiful, large loaves with some unique flavour combinations such as chilli, lime and coriander and garlic and herb stromboli.

I watched the first of two demonstrations, the first being from Andy Bates who is known for his Street Feasts series on Food Network. He showed the audience to make chicken and ham pie, using chicken thighs for extra flavour and he decorated the top of the pie with berries (once removing the top part), a unique twist to a British Classic. I interviewed Andy after the demo and will share this in a later blog post.

As it is a cake and bake show, there was the opportunity to enter into a cake competitions and there certainly are some very talented bakers, sculptors and decoraters.

A stall that really caught my eye was Cameo Cakes who offered a large range of blingtastic cake accessories, decorations and even none cakey stuff like key rings (which my cousin brought).

As a big fan of chocolates I was blown away with the posh and decadent chocolates from master chocolatier Anneesh Popat, how stunning are his chocolates?

To another master chocolatier Paul Young had a very decadent stall, features beautiful flavours of chocolates I was looking forward to (hopefully) bumping into Paul even brought my book for him to sign but must of just missed him. These chocolates were so tempting, it was difficult to resist.

Elise's May brownies had some sweet treats, I didn't buy anything this year, but hopefully she will return next year so I can sample some of her goodies.

Perhaps my favourite stall was Teahive  who have their own shop in Chorlton. The salted caramel chocolate cake was AMAZING!!! I've never tried anything so rich and addictive in all of my baking years. I loved this cake so much and when I'm next in Manchester will have to visit this tea room.

Solreno were selling chocolate based liquiors which my cousin (as I was driving) stated tasted lovely and sweet.

If you love fudge, Toms fudge would be the stall for you, carefully handcrafted fudge with sublime flavours are perfect for all the fudgeaholics out there.

Last but not least, I purchased a selection of donuts, Belgian buns and cakes from Sprinkle king.

Disclaimer: I attended the Cake and Bake show on a Press Pass, although all thoughts and opinions were my own.

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