Sunday, 11 December 2016

Turtle Bay - Derby.

Turtle Bay is always one of those restaurants I've always steered away from simply because I'm not a fan of spicy food. I never thought I'd find something I'd eat and most importantly, enjoy.
When I was invited along to the Derby restaurant to give their food a whirl, I decided it was a great time to take the plunge and go for it.

If you're not aware already, Turtle Bay is a Caribbean restaurant and bar taking it's name from a cove in Jamaica. When you think of Jamaican cuisine, theres rice, spice, heat and meat. Then you have the tropical vibes too like your mango and your passionfruit. That's what Turtle Bay has to offer.

When we entered the restaurant, it felt like stepping into somewhere a lot further away than Derby that's for sure. The reggae tunes were on, all of the staff were cheerful plus it was great to see the bar so busy. Turns out they have happy hour until 7pm which is something to keep in mind. It went a lot quieter after this time.

We got some mens and ordered some drinks. I chose to have a Passionfruit Cooler Caribbean Soft from their mocktail style menu and Emily had a Reggae Rum Punch as suggested by our server. Both were deliciously refreshing and as I mentioned, it was happy hour, so Emily got two.

When it came to ordering food, I decided to stay safe. The 'lunch & lighter' section on the menu caught my eye with the Goats Cheese & Mango Flatbread which comes topped with Tomatoes, Sweet Onion Chutney and hot sauce. I love all of these toppings so even though thad hot sauce, I decided to try it.
I was pleasantly surprised. Although I personally would've liked more Goats Cheese (I really do love the stuff) it was a really great combination. The hot sauce had a kick but wasn't overpowering and with my side of sweet potato fries, went down a treat. Sweet potato fries aren't usually a side I'd chose but after having them recommended to me, it was a wise decision to go for these. They were actually crispy which is usually why I don'y like them so this was excellent.

One of Emily's favourites is Jerk Chicken. She's had it a few times when we've been out together but having never been to Turtle Bay before like myself, she was keen to give one from a Caribbean restaurant a try to see how it compares.
Opting for the half chicken, this is marinated for 24 hours before grilling to ensure all of those delicious flavours are soaked up. Along with a side of Spiced Fries which are seasoned for a different take on the usual, Emily told me she loved her main course.

Now, with me, there's always room for dessert. When I saw Warm Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice-cream, I was sold straight away. I know it doesn't really keep with the theme of the restaurant but what the heck!? Oh it was good.
The Brownie was the perfect temperature to melt the ice-cream and the two together are just a match made in heaven for me. It was rich, but not at all bitter with that slight crunch on top, soft on the inside and just tasted amazing. A winner in my eyes. I could've eaten it twice. 

My first Turtle Bay experience went down a lot better than I imagined. Although the food isn't really my thing, the atmosphere was welcoming, lively and the staff were all as helpful as can be. 
If you love all things spicy, then this one is definitely for you. For me though, it won't be somewhere I rush back to but I wouldn't say no in the future.

Find out more about Turtle Bay Derby here.


Fancy trying Turtle Bay for yourself??

One lucky winner will get receive a three course meal for two plus a drink each at the Derby restaurant! Amazing right?

To win, just head over to my Twitter (@MonetBrooks) and check out my pinned tweet.
You just need to follow me and retweet by 6pm on Sunday 18th December to be in with a chance.

Good Luck!


Sunday, 4 December 2016

BBC Good Food Show Winter, NEC Birmingham - November 2016.

You may remember, back in Summer, I attended my first ever BBC Good Food Show at Birmingham's NEC arena. Well, now was the turn of the Winter show!
I grabbed my press pass and headed for the halls to see what was in store this time around and decided to bring you along on my journey.

The first stop on our journey was the Good Food Stage where throughout the day, various celebrity chefs perform cooking demonstrations. Luckily for us, Mary Berry was due to take the stage in 5 minutes time, so we hung around to watch the queen of cooking in action.

The BBC Good Food Show is an amazing event and I'd absolutely recommend any food and drink lover to attend if you get the opportunity.
With hundreds of stalls all showcasing independent brands, you come across so many that you've never heard of before and wonder how you lived without them. Plus, you get lots of free samples!

Here are a few of my top tips if you're thinking of visiting:

- Take the train. The NEC is walking distance from Birmingham International train station.

- If you decide to drive, pre pay for your parking. Parking costs £12 and can be bought online in advance. If you pay for it online too, you avoid the queues to pay on site. 

- Avoid leaving the NEC at closing time on the last day. The traffic is horrendous as this is the time that all of the exhibitors are leaving too.

- Take plenty of cash. Although some exhibitors do take card payments, a lot of the don't so you will need cash. The ATM machines on site charge £2 something for withdrawals.

- Take a big bag. You will buy a lot of stuff and aren't going to want to carry everything. So, take a big backpack or even get one of the fold up mobile boxes that everyone seems to have. It will get used.

- Wear comfortable shoes. You'll be doing a lot of walking around and the last thing you want is achy sore feet.

- Barter. Most of the time, prices are hiked up at events like this and there's absolutely no reason you can't barter for a cheaper price. Even if it is only 50p off your chocolate spread, it all adds up. After all, exhibitors want to be taking back as little stock as possible with them and don't want to lose out on a sale. 

As always, thanks for reading,


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Caketoppers - Personalised Cupcakes.

Recently, I was sent some personalised cupcakes from Caketoppers who create mail order cakes which you buy online and have delivered directly to your door as quickly as the following day. Fantastic.
With a choice of absolutely anything to be transferred onto your cake, it was a little tough for me to decide what to have on my samples. My dog, Bob recently turned 2, so thought it'd be quite cute to have his gorgeous face on them.

There are both classic sponge and chocolate flavours to chose from, you can't really go wrong. I was lucky to get one of each.
The image printed onto the icing surprisingly well! I'd say you're better to go for a lighter image than a dark one to ensure the quality comes through but overall, I was really pleased with how they looked. 

It was so hard to resist ripping off the metallic foil casing any longer, so I got stuck straight in.
Each cupcake has a melt in the mouth thick topping which for an icing lover like me, went down a treat. This also helps to keep in the moisture, meaning that your cupcakes remain fresher for longer. 
The sponges are exactly that, spongy! No sign of dryness at all and taste amazing. The regular sponge is obviously a classic and certainly doesn't disappoint but the chocolate is every chocoholics dream. So rich.

I think what's great about personalised cupcakes is how they are individual to the person receiving one and can be designed to suit any kind of occasion or purpose for example birthdays, weddings and even corporate gifts. 

Why not give them a try for yourself!? You can get 10% off your order by using the code MWM10 at the checkout. Just head over to their website now. Click here.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Local Christmas Markets 2016.

If there's one thing I love about the run up to Christmas, it's definitely the Christmas Markets. They're great for foodies as there's always so many stalls featuring local food producers alongside lots of other fun things too.
After doing a similar blog post last year, I've decided to put together another list of Christmas Markets for you to visit around Derbyshire to get you into the festive spirit!

Derbyshire Christmas Market

Where? The Roundhouse, Derby
When? 12th & 13th November
Entry fee: £2
View Website.

Bakewell Winter Wonderland

Where? Bakewell Show Ground
When? 18th-20th November & 9th-11th December
Entry fee: £7 or discounted if pre-booked online
View Website.

Belper Christmas Food Festival

Where? King Street, Belper Town Centre
When? 4th December
Entry fee: n/a
View Website.

Chatsworth Christmas Market

Where? Chatsworth House
When? 12th-30th November
Entry fee: n/a 
View Website.

Ilkeston Food & Drink Fair Christmas Market

Where? Ilkeston Rugby Club
When? 11th December
Entry fee: £1
View Website.

Ashbourne Dickensian Christmas

Where? Ashbourne Town Centre
When? 4th December
Entry fee: n/a 
View Website

Are you visiting any Christmas markets this year? Let me know where!


Monday, 31 October 2016

The Blacksmiths Loft - Derby

Blink and you'll miss it. Secretly tucked away in the Old Blacksmith's Yard just off Sadler Gate in Derby's city centre is the Blacksmiths Loft.
One Thursday, me and mum headed over for an evening meal eagerly awaiting to see what's in store.
After a trip up the stairs and a little confusion as to whitch way the restaurant was, we were greeted by our host who let us pick where we wished to sit. Our table was booked at 7pm and we were the first to be seated however it certainly wasn't long before pretty much all tables were occupied.

We were handed our menus and our drink order taken. It was great to see there two and three course set menus available. At £15.95 for two and £18.95 for three, how could we refuse!?
Once we'd deliberated, a bowl of Wasabi Peas made their way to our table. I'm not one for heat and spice but was strangely tempted to give these a go! They were a lovely little nibble to keep you going before your meal.

Mum decided to go for it and have three courses so for starters, opted for the Crispy Squid which is accompanied by Pickled Cucumber, Heritage Cherry Tomatoes and a Squid Ink Emulsion.
Squid is a firm favourite of mum's and this dish went down a treat. Although when the dish arrived, the Squid rings didn't look very crispy, they were! One thing she did mention to me is that she wasn't too keen on the Ink Emulsion unfortunately. There was far too much and became slightly overpowering.

For mains, I'd had my eye on the Creole Corn Fed Chicken Breast. It came with Chorizo and Quinoa, Cornbread and Sour Cream.
It was lovely. Although having quite a kick which like I mentioned, I don't usually go for, this dish was full of flavour and I really enjoyed it. The sour cream was very much welcome for me!
The chicken was tender, the cornbread however didn't do anything for me. It was really bland and I couldn't quite work out it's place in the dish. Portion size was incredibly generous! I couldn't manage all of the Quinoa Jambalaya.
I also ordered a portion of the Beef Dripping Chips as they sounded right up my street. Although very tasty, they didn't live up to my expectations in terms of crispiness and originality.

Mum went for the Fillet of Derbyshire Beef (£5 supplement) which is served with Mushroom Duxelle which is a sort of mushroom paste, Smoked Bone Marrow, Jus and Beef Dripping Chips.
The steak was cooked perfectly, seasoned well and really juicy. She told me it was a great meal and is just as it says really.

What's great about the food at the Blacksmiths Loft is that it's sourced as locally as possible. Just one independent business, supporting others. 90% of their ingredients are sourced within a 30 mile radius which is very impressive.

Now for my favourite part, dessert! I have such a sweet tooth and find it hard to resist having one.
One thing I noticed is that there was no chocolate based dessert option. Nethertheless, I went for the Lemon Meringue Cheesecake for a refreshing end to the meal.
When it was presented, it was different to see one deconstructed. Not too long back, deconstructed dishes were really popular but I haven't seen one for ages.
The Mascarpone ice-cream was incredible. I've not had anything like it before, so creamy and unusual. The Lemon Curd & Gel were tangy, the Meringue was melt in the mouth with a great snap upon breaking and all in all was delicious.

Mum was a little unsure as to whether or not to go for a dessert, but after having a read, decided to go for it. She sure wasn't disappointed with her Creme Brûlée 
The textures were perfect, the crisp glazed top and the Brûlée itself was super silky. The accompanying shortbread complimented this excellently being light, crisp and melt in the mouth buttery. 

Although I wouldn't say my meal at the Blacksmiths Loft was outstanding, I would definitely return as I've heard from others that this place has a lot more to give. Maybe myself and the menu just didn't get on and I'd be better in a different season, we will have to see.
Couldn't fault the service at all. Our host was really friendly and attentive, plus the food arrived with no issues to report. 

Find out all about the Blacksmiths Loft here.
Have you visited before? Let me know how you got on!

Thanks for reading,

P.s. I'm sorry about the low lighting pictures. I did the best I could with what I had.


Monday, 24 October 2016

The Lion at Basford - Nottingham.

If you've been a reader of my blog for a while, you may remember that I reviewed The Lion in Basford well over a year ago now.
One Friday afternoon, myself and Bob the Beagle took a ride over for some lunch and a catch up with my uncle Greg, who just so happens to be the landlord here.

The Lion is well known in Nottingham and beyond for their vast selection of ciders, real ales & craft beers which change on a regular basis. Many of which are from local breweries. You can also keep up to date with what's up next on the chalkboards. 

It's not all about the beer though, here at The Lion you can get your hands on some pretty impressive grub. Their American style Rock 'n' Roll Burger Co. menu features a huge selection of Burgers, Hot Dogs and snacks to keep you going.
Since my last visit for food, the menu has changed a couple of times. 
I decided to go with the Memphis Belle which in effect is a classic cheeseburger. I didn't want to leave it at just that though so ordered some Halloumi Bites in a homemade beer batter and a pot of Sweet Chilli plus a portion of Mac & Cheese. You have to push the boat out sometimes right!?

Can I just say now, I did not eat all of this despite giving it my best attempt. 
The burger was juicy, flavourful, filling and cooked perfectly. The fries super crispy but still remained fluffy inside. 
The Halloumi bites are a firm favourite of mine from the menu at The Lion. They're always so good and never let me down. The beer batter is delicious and I must say, now that they are served with sweet chilli rather than chutney, they're even better.

As well as ales and food, The Lion is very popular for their entertainment and regularly host quiz nights, live music, festivals and so much more so it's definitely one to try if you haven't before. 
Whats handy is the fact that the tram stop is directly opposite so finding your way couldn't be easier. 

If you pop by, make sure to let Greg know that Monet sent you!


Monday, 10 October 2016

Pitcher & Piano - Derby

Until a few months ago, I'd never been to Derby's Pitcher & Piano before. You may have seen previously that I attended their VIP terrace launch night back in July and had myself wondering why I had never visited. 
Although Pitcher & Piano is a chain, I've found from the few that I've visited that each one is very individual i.e. no two are the same and all have their own little quirks which is lovely to see. 

I met up with my friend Emily for a post work catch up on Friday evening around 6pm. When I arrived the place was already quite full and had a great atmosphere. 
We took a seat in the bar for a drink before heading over the the restaurant for food. 
I ordered one of their mocktails, the Passionfruit Cooler. I had one of these at the Nottingham P&P and fell in love with how refreshingly fruity it was. For a non-drinker this is amazing. 

We'd been reserved the cutest little booth table at the rear of the restaurant. It was so private which I prefer in a restaurant, plus it has comfier seats. The surrounding walls were decorated with little knick-knacks giving it a very vintage vibe. 

After a top up of my Passionfruit Cooler, it was time to get some grub. I was so hungry and ready to go. Pitcher & Piano have just launched a new menu ready for Autumn/ Winter with dishes to suit those looking to indulge or even those who are just after a light bite. 

I decided to be one of those people who want to indulge and chose to have a good old Burger. In particular, the Maple Glazed Bacon Burger. If you read my reviews often, you should know by now how I have a love of the whole sweet/salty food trend, so to me, this was a winner. All of their burgers now come served in these delicious brioche buns and with a side of Rosemary & Sea Salt Fries which I must point out were incredible. I loved the seasoning. All in all, a big thumbs up from me. 

Emily is a big fan of Jerk Chicken so went for this slightly different take on just that. By being covered in breadcrumbs, this dish is pretty similar to a Kiev and although not as spicy as you'd be expecting, it's still packed full of that Jamaican flavour. 

After being so stuffed from the main courses, there was no way I could fit in a dessert. That was until I saw those three magical words 'Sticky Toffee Pudding' which came with a big scoop of Vanilla Ice cream. 
It was a great end to my meal. The sponge was so soft, not dry at all. The whole thing was just perfect. I may even go as far to say that it's possibly the best STP I've ever had. 

So, if you've ever considered a meal at Pitcher and Piano in Derby then I'd say go for it! I had a great time with delicious food and attentive service from all members of staff. 

Take a look at them online here & as always, thanks for reading!

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