Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Walkabout - Derby.


G'day Sheila! Last week, me and Ashlea headed into Derby one night after work and after receiving an invitation for a meal at Walkabout in Derby, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and do them both in the same night. Made sense to me.

Now, when someone mentions Walkabout to me, I think of a night out in Derby, cramped sticky dance floor and Jager Bombs. It's never been a place that I've associated with food or even considered when looking for somewhere to eat in the centre.
When an email popped into my inbox inviting me along, I thought it was a great opportunity to try somewhere new!

We had a table reserved at 6pm and I go so excited when I saw that the above was waiting for us on the table. I felt so special. Even more so because we had the comfy cosy table which were obviously the best seats in the house.
Menus are already on the table and our server took our drinks order before swiftly returning with them.

I was so surprised to see so much choice on the menu - I really was not expecting it at all. There are Burgers, Hot Dogs, Salads, Steaks, Ribs - all sorts really.
It took me so long to decide what to have! We placed our order with our waitress (usually this would be done up at the bar) and I had a snoop around to take some pictures.

The theme throughout is very much Australian as you'd expect - kind of like a surf shack. It's a well known venue for watching sport, so big flat screen TV's take up the majority of the wall space. Luckily, we avoided any sports crowds. 

A short while later, our food arrived.

I chose to have something quite light as I'd had a big lunch at work that day. I went for a classic Caesar Salad but added on some Grilled Halloumi to give it a little more oomph. 
It was delicious! I was so glad I went for this dish. The lettuce came slightly shredded meaning it was a lot easier to eat, the dressing was full of flavour and the Halloumi perfectly squeaky. I added on a side portion of Fries too which were also very nice - not the most amazing but not the worst I've had. 

Ashlea had a Full Rack of Ribs - This dish is one for the very hungry as it was huge! The ribs come smothered in a BBQ sauce and he added on a Hot & Spicy dip to go alongside and upgraded to Spicy Fries. 
He absolutely demolished this. Ashlea told me that the ribs were very tasty, falling from the bone. However, there was a lot of fat/ gristle along the top of them. He left this, but we couldn't work out why the ribs had been served with this on?

We decided not to go for dessert as this was just a flying visit. If you're looking to dine at Walkabout, it's worth noting that they offer 50% off selected food and drink everyday from 5-7 ... winner! 

Thanks to Walkabout for inviting me along and for a delicious week night meal!

As always, thanks for reading,


Sunday, 22 May 2016

Get To Know The Chef - Chris Parry.

Who? Chris Parry - Private Chef, Derby.

1) When did you first realise that you had an interest in cooking?

"I've always loved food but as a 16 year old I really got the taste for it, trying to impress a girlfriend at the time I think! It didn't always go to plan! "

2) When did you first start working in a professional kitchen?

"Although I had a 2 year stint on a flambé trolley at a 2 rosette restaurant when I was 18, I didn't officially work in a professional kitchen until 2010 when I was 24."

3) What's your favourite dish to cook?

"Professionally I would say a halibut dish I had on my last menu with Iberico chorizo, black lentils, confit shallot and a tarragon cream. At home I love to cook meals such as spaghetti bolognese and sweet and sour chicken! "

4) Are there any particular ingredients that you like to use and why?

"Most people that know me would say that I over use beetroot! I love the stuff! For me though I would say eggs, butter and sugar as they are a staple ingredient that every kitchen needs to function. "

5) What's your perfect comfort meal?

" A decent pizza or curry!"

6) What's the best piece of advice that you've been given by a fellow chef?

"To follow my dream"

7) What do you consider to be the most important piece of equipment to have in the kitchen?

"Blimey, tough one! It has to be the stove top! "

8) If you hadn't become a chef, what would you like to have been doing as a career?

"I would have probably gone into personal training or some kind of job in fitness. "

Thanks for taking part Chris! Recently, Chris has begun a new venture which involves private catering, pop up restaurants and consultancy, so if you're interested in any of those then be sure to drop him a line!


Saturday, 21 May 2016

#DerbyBloggersBrunch at The Cosy Club, Derby.

A couple of months ago, I made a decision to attempt to organise a meet up for bloggers across the region. I decided to chose Derby as the city to host it in as not a lot happens here. Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham etc. are always hosting blogger events - Derby has nothing really. 

After attending the launch night celebrations at the new Cosy Club venue a few weeks back, I knew this would be the perfect place to hold the event. It's spacious, they have a great menu selection and with it being a new restaurant, it's something different for everyone. 

After advertising the event on Twitter and Facebook, I had more interest than I ever imagined I would get. People from all over the region willing to attend an event that little old me thought no more than 3 people would be willing to go to.
All in all, we had 15 guests (unfortunately a few had to pull out due to unforeseen circumstances which was a shame) who were all set to arrive for our 10:30am reservation. 

I decided to make the sign above as a way for attendees to know where I was. Plus, it looks good in a photo. It's just a shoebox lid that I spray painted black and wrote on in a metallic silver sharpie marker pen. I then displayed it in a little easel that we use at home to hold a picture frame. 

Once everyone had arrived, we were taken through to our table. As I'd arrived earlier than everyone else, I was able to sneak in and pop a little goody bag for everyone on there as a thank you taking the time out to come along. These contained a variety of foodie treats from Propercorn, The Treat Kitchen, Snact, Eat Your Photo and a pair of socks that were kindly donated by The Cosy Club themselves. Huge thanks to all of these brands for gifting these items towards the event. 

Shortly after, our brunch arrived. I'd given Cosy Club a pre-order to make things run smoothly on the day. I thought it was great that the waitresses served the food by name (I'd written these next to everyone's choices). This made it so much easier than the whole 'who ordered what saga'.

As the food came out, so did everyone's cameras and phones - bloggers eh!? 
I chose to have Triple Stacked Buttermilk Pancakes with Smoked Streaky Bacon and Maple Syrup. I wanted something that was going to be a treat. These pancakes did not disappoint, the Pancakes themselves were fluffy, the Bacon crispy, just how it should be on a dish like this. I have a real thing for the whole sweet and salty thing at the moment. 

I'll definitely return to the Cosy Club for their brunch menu, it was superb. Nobody had any complaints throughout and the staff were great with us. 
Big thanks to all of the bloggers who attended my #DerbyBloggersBrunch - it was so great to meet you all. 

So, what do you think? Should I organise another meet up? Let me know!


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

TAG: 25 Questions For Foodies

I recently came across this on a random blog whilst having a snoop around and although I haven't actually been tagged to complete it - I thought I'd give it a go! Plus, you get to know me a little better too!

1. What's your favorite breakfast?
For a day to day breakfast, my favourite is the Sainsbury's Balance cereal which is their own brand version of Special K. If it's a special breakfast, I love pancakes with syrup and crispy bacon.

2. How do you drink your coffee?
I don't! I'm not a fan of coffee or tea so don't drink either. If I'm having a hot drink, it's Hot Chocolate.

3. What's on your favorite sandwich?
I love a good BLT - I know that's bacon again but you can't beat one of these on a lovely fresh cob.

4. Soup or Salad?
Has to be Soup. Much more filling in my opinion.

5. What's your favorite cookbook?
I'm not really someone who cooks. I don't own any cook books.

6. No more sweets or no more hearty foods?
That's so tough. I definitely have a sweet tooth so I'd have to cut out the hearty foods.

7. What's your favorite Cuisine (country)? 
I love Chinese takeaway. I know it's not exactly what you'd eat in actual China but a Saturday night isn't complete without one of these. My go to dishes are Crispy Shredded Chilli Beef, Egg Fried Rice, Crispy Seaweed and Won Tons.

8. What's your favorite food movie?
Food Movie? Erm.. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory maybe? I don't know what you'd class as a food movie.

9. What's your most guilty pleasure?
Ooh that's chocolate. Whether it's a chocolate bar, cake - you name it, I'll eat it. Must be Milk or White though. Dark Chocolate is Eww.

10. What's your greatest inspiration source?
I don't have one really. I just do what I do and that's how it is.

11. Cooking at home or going out for dinner?
Going out for dinner - have you not read my blog!? I'm always eating out because I love it!

12. High end or low profile?
Is it bad that I don't know what that means? If you do, let me know.

13. What's your favorite restaurant?
Stones in Matlock. I can be really fussy when it comes to fine dining but I've never had a bad meal here, it's always superb. I've never written a review of my visits - but it is amazing. 

14. I do my grocery shopping at:
Sainsburys. It's the closest supermarket to my house.

15. The tastiest food I've ever eaten was:
That's far too hard to answer!

16. What's your favorite cocktail?
As a teetotaler, I'd order a mocktail. Anything fruity is a winner for me. Mango and Passion fruit are great in a mocktail or an Apple & Raspberry Mojito.  

17. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal?
Heston. He's so crazy! I'm not a movie/ George Clooney fan - he's a little before my time.

18. What should not be missing in your kitchen?
Food - duh!

19. What's your favorite snack?
At the moment, it's Banana Chips. They're so addictive but very misleading. Although they're Banana's they're full of fat as they're fried in Coconut Oil. I like the ones by Jumble Bee.

20. What's on your pizza?
I always have Margherita with Sweetcorn.

21. What food do you really dislike?
Fish. I really do not like fish. Tuna Mayo is the most daring I'll go.

22. What's your favorite food blog?
I don't have one specific favourite, I love ready other local foodie blogs like mine though.

23. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
I'm not overly adventurous when it comes to weird things to eat. I like to stick to things that I know that I like. I had a quails egg not too long back. Right now, that's the strangest thing I can think of.

24. What's on your food bucket list?
I would love to go over to America and experience their weird, wonderful and HUGE dishes. Think Man v Food. Yes. Sponsors welcome to fulfill this dream. 

25. I couldn't live without:
Potatoes. There are so many this you can create with potatoes, they're so versatile. You can make a different style every day!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Get To Know The Chef - James Duckett.

Who? James Duckett, Samuel Fox Country Inn, Hope Valley.

1) When did you first realise that you had an interest in cooking?

"I come from a family where food is more than just a means to survival and eating together around the table every day is an important social occasion. So, I guess this was a good start. However, I never planned to be a chef or had any real interest in cooking as a youngster. On leaving school I enrolled in a BTEC ‘hotel, catering and institutional management’ course at my local FE college, without any particular passion but influenced a little by a distant relative who worked front of house in an hotel. The college also ran professional chef courses and I became increasingly interested in work in the college kitchens and found I had an aptitude for cooking. Despite this, I continued with my BTEC course and actually pursued the business management aspects of hospitality further gaining first an HND and then a BA at Nottingham Trent University."

2) When did you first start working in a professional kitchen?

"Throughout my time in further and higher education my interest in cooking became even more intense and I would spend every ‘work based period’ and holiday working in the best kitchens I could find, initially in a local hotel and then in France, in Arcachon and then Bordeaux. It was my boss in Bordeaux, an old friend of Albert Roux who recommended me to Albert and led to me, upon graduation, moving to Amsterdam to work in one of his restaurants."

3) What's your favourite dish to cook?

"I like working with cheaper cuts of meat to create something just a bit special. Meat from the neck, belly, tail or even feet can yield some of the most flavoursome of dishes. Some of my favourites are neck and breast of lamb, pork belly, oxtail, pig’s feet and, of course beef shin and cheek. A favourite dish of mine, and one that is well received by customers, which looks as good as it tastes is braised beef cheeks in red wine with ox-tongue croquettes, violet potatoes & roasted root vegetables in pancetta parcels; a winter dish to bring a smile to anyone’s face."

4) Are there any particular ingredients that you like to use and why?

"This is a tough one; as the seasons unfold and the fields yield new produce, so my favourites change. However, one all year round favourite is Shipton Mill’s organic white flour. In various proportions it finds its way into all my breads. I used to use exclusively French flour for my breads until I experimented with Shipton Mill’s products, milled in Gloucestershire. It’s a quality, stone milled flour that’s a pleasure to work with and which gives consistent results, time after time."

5) What's your perfect comfort meal?

"As a chef, I’m big on comfort meals, most are one pot wonders born of a blend of what’s available after service or what may otherwise go to waste. However, given a
free reign there’d be nothing better than a gutsy meat stew, something like a daube of beef or coq au vin with some buttery mash and maybe some crusty bread to mop up some of rich sauces. Better not forget the glass or so of Rioja or Ribera del Duero either."

6) What's the best piece of advice that you've been given by a fellow chef?

"Don’t walk before you can run; the same advice that I would offer to young chefs today. Learn the basics first and develop yours skills. If you love cooking and you have an aptitude for it, try to learn from the best. Don’t be tempted to end your training/apprenticeship at the earliest opportunity to earn a little more money. What’s another two years when you’re barely 20? Picking up new ideas and honing your skills will stand you in good stead; it’ll open up opportunities and enable you to make an informed decision on how you wish your career as a chef to develop."

7) What do you consider to be the most important piece of equipment to have in the kitchen?

"A good set of well sharpened knives is, of course, every chefs’ essential in the kitchen and I’m no exception, with the classic chef’s knife in constant use during prep for cutting and chopping. You can pay the earth for knives but a Victorinox 10” chef’s knife at about £28 will serve you well However, to add to the knives I couldn’t live without a couple of speed peelers; simple, cheap items available from any cook shop for a couple of pounds. I have a coarse peeler for use in peeling potatoes and root vegetable. It allows me to peel cleanly, quickly and with minimal waste. The other is a fine peeler which I use preparing more delicate vegetables, such as asparagus, for removing lemon zest without any of the pith, or for shaving chocolate to garnish puddings."

8) If you hadn't become a chef, what would you like to have been doing as a career?

That’s another tough one. As a youngster I was pretty good at golf, but working as a chef even as a student left me no time for such pursuits. I would have loved to have played golf professionally but now I’d settle for a couple of rounds a year. However, I’m sure that even if my time in the kitchen had not nipped my golfing career in the bud I doubt I’d have had quite the talent to make it as a golf pro. Given the hours I work now, mainly antisocial at that, and the relatively modest rewards, I think I could be tempted by something less demanding of time. I’ve hear there are people who work just 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday with five weeks or more paid holiday. That’s tempting at times."

Big thanks to James for taking the time to answer these questions! Here's some of his work:


Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Evolution of McDonalds.

Last week, I was kindly invited to an event for bloggers at McDonalds in Clifton, Nottingham. The idea of the day was to learn a little more about McDonalds as a franchise and how they've evolved over the years. As a fan of a good Maccies every now and again, I jumped at the opportunity!

Once everyone had arrived, we were introduced to Jerry who is the franchise owner of not only this restaurant, but 6 around the local area so is very well known in these parts and knows exactly what he's doing! He was accompanied by manager Claire who took us on a tour.

First of all, we were introduced to the new self serve touch screen ordering kiosks which are located directly in front of you when you enter. 
Using these machines, you select the items that you wish to order and can be customised to be just the way you like it. For example, if you don't like sauce on your burger or salt on you fries, you can easily remove these on screen. You can even remove your fries from your meal completely and swap for a fruit bag. Although at the moment, you can not add additional items to your food e.g. extra cheese. We were told that this is something that McDonalds are currently looking into though.
Throughout the process, you can see what you have ordered so far (in case you've forgotten) and can even use in different languages. 
I personally think they're a great idea and certainly take the stress out of ordering as you can process at your own speed. 
Once your order is complete, you select the zone in which you are sat (number can be found hanging from the ceiling) and your order will be bought over to your table once ready! Crazy - who would have thought that McDonalds would do table service!? So much better than standing around the tills waiting for you order. 
At the moment, the self service screens only accept card payments or Apple Pay.

Another new feature within the restaurants are the tablets attached to the kids tables. A great way to keep the little ones entertained whilst having a meal and available to use completely free of charge. Don't worry, adults can use them too!

 Next up, it was time to head backstage. We were taken to the Crew Room (staff room) where we were provided with hats (with personalised name badges) and aprons. Well, we had to dress for the occasion didn't we!? No stars for me just yet.

After transforming into a member of the crew, we were shown around the dry store cupboard where items such as sauces are kept, the walk in fridge for the fresh produce and walk in freezer where you find your meat patties. I will not be heading back in there in a hurry - it was so cold!!
Out the back, we had a little chat about they way in which McDonalds recycle as much as they possibly can which even includes the cooking oil. It gets gathered up in a container and recycled into Bio-Diesel for the delivery trucks. 

Our tour then took us into the kitchen where were able to see all of the crew members hard at work. I couldn't believe how fast paced it is working in here. I know it's 'fast food' but I've never actually stopped to think about the guys cooking it all! They were all so calm, knew exactly what they needed to do and when which showed they'd all been trained really well. It was a great thing to see.

Above you'll see the burger patties being cooked (from frozen). Did you know they are cooked in just 42 seconds? Now that is fast! Lots of efficiency.

Then, it was our turn!! We were given the opportunity to make our own legendary Big Mac with a little help from assistant manager Tom. 
He went first, showing us all how it's done, then handed everything over to us (he did guide us all the way).

McDonalds have a very strict procedure for constructing their burgers which absolutely must be followed at all times - even down to the weight of the shredded lettuce that you use. Something that seems a little harsh when you're first told that information, but you have to think about how important it is to maintain the same quality for the customer every time that they visit. If something is the slightest bit different to the usual, chances are, they aren't going to leave happy.
Overall, I didn't think I did too bad! 

After our tour, we went back into the restaurant to eat some food for ourselves and have a chat about our time at the restaurant. 
It was great to be invited along to see the changes happening within McDonalds and how they are always on the look out to improve their service. Eventually, this will be the way that they all operate throughout the country, so keep an eye out for the introduction of these in your closest store.
Whenever I visit McDonalds, it's for a drive through. I very rarely go inside. However, when I do, I'll be sure to give the self service a go for myself. 

Big thanks to all of the staff at McDonalds Clifton, you were great hosts!

For further information, have a read here http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/whatmakesmcdonalds.html

Thanks for reading,

This blog post is sponsored however all opinions remain my own.


Monday, 9 May 2016

Revolution - Derby.

When I received an invite in my mailbox to take a trip over to Revolution in Derby for a mini cocktail masterclass and some food from their new menu, I was so excited!
After the masterclass that I took part in next door at Revolucion De Cuba, I couldn't wait to give it another try with some new drinks and when there's food involved too - I'm there!

We'd arranged to visit at 6pm on a Friday evening - it was really quiet with just another group of girls having drinks so can see why it was the perfect time to get me in to avoid a busy rush.

Upon arrival, we were taken over to the left side of the bar where their specially trained mixologists show and teach you how to make your own cocktails! I told the guy from the beginning that I don't drink alcohol but he assured me that there were plenty of mocktails that could be made instead.

As well as a newly launched food menu, the drinks menu has been updated too in the run up to summer meaning that the choice of drinks that we could make was huge!
We were able to pick what we wanted to make and we got cracking.

I had so much fun making my drinks - I made one with alcohol in to begin with which was a classic Cosmopolitan (Emily ended up drinking it) and then a mocktail (above) called Naked Sunset which was delicious. It's full of fruity flavours such as Mango & Passionfruit finished with a dash of lemonade for that slight sparkle.

Emily had a great time too making (and consuming) the drinks. She made a Vodka Martini to start which contains purely alcohol - no watering down in that drink. She did like it, but was far too strong for someone driving back. Next up for her was It's a Rum Ting. Creating this cocktail involves pouring out some of the can of Ting, mixing together with a combination of Rums (one banana flavoured), Cointreau for the Orange flavour before carefully straining back into the original can and garnishing. 

After completing our mini masterclass, we took a seat in the bar and had a look over the new menu whilst waiting for a sharing Mezze Board to be bought over.

These Mezze Boards make a great sharing starter or even just for nibbles. It comprises of crispy Tortilla Chips, Skewered Chicken, Slices of Chorizo, Houmous, Goats Cheese Bon Bons, Garlic Bread and Guacamole. This went down a treat, both of us loving the garlic bread in particular! 

We soon realised that we were hungrier than we thought, so decided to go ahead an order a light main course each. A Fish Finger Sandwich for Emily and a Southern Fried Chicken Wrap for me. Now, these don't come with fries automatically, so we ordered two portions of those too.

In all honesty, they didn't look amazing. Beige. However, the skin on fries were very tasty/ crispy.
Nothing else to say really other than it was food! Nothing amazing, nothing terrible. 
If I was to have food here again, I'd make sure it was on a Monday as they do 50% off. I'd be more willing to pay that than full price any other day. 
Speaking of deals, if you head to Revolution for Lunch during the week, they guarantee that your meal will be served in 15 minutes or less, or you get your money back! Perfect for your work's lunch break if you fancy something different to your cucumber sandwiches. 

With so many Revolution bars up and down the country, I'm sure you'll never be too far away from one when you fancy stopping by.
In the mean time, take a look at their website here.

Thanks for reading & thanks to Revolution Derby,

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