Wednesday, 22 June 2016

BBC Good Food Show Summer, NEC Birmingham - June 2016.

Last weekend, I was invited along to the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC in Birmingham as press.
This meant that I was able to go along to the exhibition with a plus one and see what there is on offer. As I've never been to a Good Food Show, I was so excited and really grateful for being picked. 

The 2016 summer show ran from Thursday 16th - Sunday 19th June. I headed over on the Saturday as it was most convenient for me. I'm not a fan of driving anywhere that far (I know it's only around an hour from where I live but still, I don't like it) so I booked train tickets from Derby to Birmingham International which is directly next to the NEC. 

I wanted to make sure that I was there for 9am when the exhibition opened as The Hairy Bikers had the honour of cutting the ribbon on the day. I tried to get as close as I could to the front but even though I was wearing my press pass, nobody was willing to let me through the crowd, boo! 

With hundreds of stalls to get through, I got straight to it. When it comes to free samples, I'm there. It wasn't long before I spotted Belvoir. As I don't drink alcohol, I always love to see and try great drinks for a teetotaller. 

Jim Jams also caught my eye as I'd spotted that they produce a chocolate hazelnut spread but containing a lot less sugar than others such as Nutella. I've recently run out of Nutella so decided to buy one of these to try. So far, so good!

The next stall that caught my eye in particular was Popcorn Shed. I'm sure if you've read all my other posts, you'll know by now that I'm obsessed with sweet & salty popcorn. After giving the samples a go, I took away a box of these. They were gone by the end of the day so that says it all really!

As well as wandering around the stalls, I wanted to go and watch one of the live cooking sessions of the day hosted in the Super Theatre. We had a choice of the Hairy Bikers or Michel Roux Jr. From what I've seen on TV, I much prefer Michel, sorry Hairy Bikers. 

After a good 6 hours, it was time to head home. I had a fantastic day at the BBC Good Food Show and really want to attend the one in Winter too! 

Top Tip - Take something to carry all of your goodies in. I learnt the hard way & now know for next time!

Thanks for letting me tag along! It's was great to be press for the day and I really enjoyed the goodie bag on the way out.

Have you been to a BBC Good Food Show? What did you think?


Monday, 13 June 2016

The Flying Childers - Chatsworth House, Derbyshire.

Recently, I was very kindly invited along to Chatsworth House's latest eatery, The Flying Childers.
Having only opened back in April, The Flying Childers is a restaurant specialising in luxurious afternoon teas in partnership with Staffordshire based pottery company Wedgwood.

Housed in the old stables, the building is packed full of history and looks stunning with the exposed stonework. The perfect place to relax after a stroll around the grounds.

After a little confusion over the time of our reservation, we were seated towards the back of the restaurant, handed menus and talked through the days treats. With 13 different loose leaf teas to chose from, you really are spoilt for choice. Although I don't really like tea, I decided to try the Wedgwood Original purely because it was the one which was described as the sweetest. I mean, it wasn't bad. It was just tea to me! I'm not the person to ask about all of that.
The waiting on staff would top up your teapot through your time there and you can even swap to try a variety if you wish.

A few moments later, we were served Beetroot Macaroon with Goats Curd. One of my favourite combinations so to me, this was perfect. I certainly wasn't disappointed.
My first ever macaroon experience was a success. The Beetroot taste really came through and had a delicious sweet flavour. Crunchy on the outside with a slight chewiness in the centre. The combination of this texture with the Goats Curd (which wasn't too overpowering for all of those who aren't too keen) was perfect.

Up next were a selection of finger sandwiches. There were four set fillings on the menu, however the chefs are more than happy to cater for any dietary requirements that diners may have.
The Roasted Ham and Tomato Chutney was a personal favourite but we also had Free Range Egg Mayonnaise and Cress, Cucumber and Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon with Dill Mayonnaise. I didn't try this one. Salmon isn't my thing. They looked so cute though all lined up with the crusts cut off.

Now for the part I'd been waiting ever so patiently for! I'm a sucker for anything sweet so a selection of cakes and fancies is right up my street.
The top tier of the stand contained a duo of scones. A classic fruit scone and a Stilton & Walnut scone. Both were incredibly soft and full of flavour. The Stilton & Walnut came with some butter alongside and the Fruit Scone came with the most incredible Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream to die for. Almost as good as that in Cornwall.

A selection of 6 miniature cakes followed. We were advised by our waitress to start with the Passionfruit one in the little white pot first to act as a palate cleanser. It was super sweet and creamy so a little pot like this one was a great size. I think any more would've been too much.
The big blue Macaroon was Earl Grey Flavoured and decorated in the Wedgwood Blue design. It was nice. I didn't really taste Earl Grey but nevertheless, it was alright but not really my thing.
The Bakewell Tart Cheesecake was divine. Even more so with it being baked cheesecake. The base contained some kind of Almond flavouring and it just seemed like a great locally themed addition to the fancies.
The White Chocolate, Pistachio and Raspberry Florentine was another favourite of mine as they are three elements which I love.
I wasn't too keen on the Spiced Chocolate Mousse. It reminded me of Christmas flavoured food and I'm really not a fan of that.
Finally, a miniature Mint Savarin (kind of like a Rum Baba) topped with a strawberry and Gold Leaf. 

Overall, the afternoon tea was lovely. I think something like this would make a great present or treat for a loved one. It's certainly one you're going to remember.
The experience comes in at £35 per person or £45 if you add champagne to the occasion. It's definitely the priciest afternoon tea I've had but when you consider your surrounding, the quality of the ingredients, the execution and the use of the Wedgwood, it kind of makes it feel more worth it.

Take a look at what's on offer for yourselves on their website, here.

Tell me, where did you enjoy the best afternoon tea that you've ever had?


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Ilkeston Food & Drink Fair - May 2016.

Hello everybody!
Sorry I haven't posted recently. I haven't really been in the mood so thought it was better to stay away from blogging for a few days to avoid forcing anything out and returning when I'm ready. Today is that day!

Last weekend (29th May), myself and Ashlea headed into Ilkeston to attend their bi-annual food fair. If you can remember, I attended in October 2015 and had a great time, so really wanted to go back and try out some new goodies.

The doors were set to open at 10am so we got there for then really due to Ashlea being at work that afternoon. It was great to already see so many people there queueing to get in!

Our first stop was The Beeston Brownie Company who you may have seen recently featured on my blog. When I knew they were going to be at the fair, I wasn't leaving without some more after being so impressed with their Brownies. 
Between us, we ended up with 4 flavours including my favourite, White Chocolate - so good!

It wasn't long before Ashlea spotted the Derventio Brewery tent. He's been a fan of them since last year and couldn't resist a pint of their Cleopatra. Yes, at 10am! 

Next door to Derventio were Steep Hill Wines from Lincoln.
They were selling this interesting looking citrus Spicy Monk Cider. Ashlea ended up buying one and is yet to try, but from the sample he drank, it's all good!

I couldn't visit without getting a little something for Bob the Beagle. Anibake were on hand to provide some scrummy handmade treats for the pooches. I've not heard of Anibake before but after chatting to owner Lucy, I discovered she's new to the food festival world. I'm sure I'll be seeing them popping up again as the treats were great. Lots of choice and Lucy was very knowledgeable about all of the contents of her creations. 

The Notts Nut House were also pitched up at the fair with their amazing flavours of peanuts. Another local business that you may remember as being featured on here. 
It was great to finally meet Allan after chatting over Twitter for so long! I took away a small bag of the Salt & Vinegar which was my favourite flavour from before and Ashlea took a large bag of the Bacon. 

We didn't stay too long. As I mentioned, we had to be back for Ashlea to go to work but we still had chance to get around all of the stalls (apart from Halo Donuts who I somehow managed to miss).

Another great morning at Ilkeston Food and Drink Fair - see you again in October!


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Get To Know The Chef - Liam Woodward.

Who? Liam Woodward - Head Chef, Nottingham Theatre Royal.

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

"I was young sort of 5 years old, my dad was the head chef at the Rose & crown, Smalley so kind of grew up with it. He used to come home with his whites on. Back in the day, he used to have a huge hat (a thing of the past I suppose) but I suppose that inspired me."

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

"In 2001 at the age of 16 I walked up to some big doors at Chatterley House Hotel (now closed) and said do you have any jobs chef? He set me on as a kitchen porter. I loved it! Over time I was trusted to do various veg and I've been in a kitchen ever since.
I did however wash woks in a Chinese take away when I was 14 I don't suppose that counts but first time in a kitchen."

3) What's your favourite dish to cook?

"Well this changes all the time, depending on time of year and the seasons, so I'll pick my favourite starter, main and dessert at the present.
Starter I'm a huge fan of chicken liver pate, to transfer something as cheap as chicken liver into something so rich and amazing you can't beat it. I suppose it works all year round too.
Main course got to be lamb and Derbyshire lamb is amazing, we serve a three bone centre cut rack pink fondant potato and Irish cabbage, port jus, beautiful!!
As for pudding well I haven't a sweet tooth so I'll always have a nice cheese board with a glass of port."

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

"Oh that's easy….. Butter. It's married to everything, enriches everything, glazes, garnishes, thickens, gosh without butter I'd be lost."

5) What's your perfect comfort meal?

"Oh I love a great quality full English breakfast! Good local sausages and bacon, George Stafford’s black pudding, eggs and beans you can't beat that. I have it most Weekends at some point."

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

"From Marco Pierre White – he said “ if you're not extreme then people take shortcuts as they don't fear you” makes so much sense in a kitchen"

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

"Combo oven, got to be!"

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

"I was useless at pretty much everything at school. I wasn't bad at art and technical drawing so maybe a graphic designer."


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Get To Know The Chef - Matt Gabbitas

Who? Matt Gabbitas - Head Chef, Masa, Derby

1) When did you first realise that you started to have an interest in cooking?

"Many chefs fall in love with baking and cooking as a child with the parents and grand parents for me this was not the case, infact as a child and my early teens I would avoid being in the kitchen as much as possible! At 16 I got a job at a local hotel whilst studying business, one night the kitchen were short and I was asked to step in and help, this is were the love affair began!"

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

"16. After a few weeks of helping in the kitchen at the Posthouse Forte Hotel, I decided to end my Business Studies and take on a full time apprenticeship and I've never looked back."

3) What's your favourite dish to cook?

"I love to cook lots of foods, when working in North Yorkshire the amount of feathered Game I would get in from mallards to woodcocks that was absolutely fantastic and working at masa with my suppliers to ensure we get the best beef around and the most fantastic crabs and turbot, to the dishes which I create with my teams. I also love to make our homemade breads and our own receipe black pudding But my favourite dish to cook is Bavette of Derbyshire Beef cooked sous-vide and glazed in balsamic and soy with caramelised onion puree, Duck Fat Onions, Chanterelles, leek & sausage Wellington, garlic & escargot butter."

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

"Mushrooms! I absolutely love them, to the point for my birthday my chefs brought me a kit to start growing my own oyster plourettes! I love the different varieties, the tastes, how with each season the selection of mushrooms changes the next few weeks are great with morels and st George's mushrooms bang in season, the verity of colours and how they can lift a dish to the next level! I really believe in pairing the right mushroom to enhance a dish rather than just having 'wild mushrooms' on a menu."

5) What's your perfect comfort meal?

"Takeaway Pizza! After a long day at work a pizza is defiantly my go to comfort food!"

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

'you are only as good as your weakest link, invest in your team' 

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

"All bits of kitchen equipment are important from my waterbaths to my 12 year old Wusthof chefs knife but the most important part of my kitchen are my Sous Chef Jack and Pastry Chef Richard, without them my vision of dishes would never make it on to the plates never mind to the customers!"

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

"I've never really thought about it, I'd never planned to be a chef, I sort of fell into it and fell in love with it at that time i had real idea what I wanted to do and I imagine that would still be the case if I wasn't a chef."

Big thanks to Matt for taking part in Chef Sundays! 


Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Beeston Brownie Company - Nottingham.

A couple of days ago, I received an exciting package through the post containing these little bad boys.
A variety of eight individually packaged home baked brownies from The Beeston Brownie Company.

The Beeston Brownie Co. use only the finest ingredients in their creations to ensure the highest possible quality at all times. Their Belgian Chocolate contains no less than 70% cocoa creating a deliciously rich taste.
With a range of over 10 flavours - there's something for everyone. Plus, they're more than happy to cater for dietary requirements meaning that nobody gets left out - yay!
I felt so lucky to be sent 8 different flavours from the range and I couldn't wait to get stuck in! 

Once ordered via the online shop, their talented bakers get to work creating these masterpieces and are sent through the post 1st class. This is to ensure the brownies are as fresh as physically possible when they arrive at your door. 

I sampled all flavours along with Ashlea, splitting into two halves.
I'm just going to say to begin with that all of these brownies were amazing quality. They had a slight crunch on the outside and a moist, chewy inside. In my eyes, that's exactly how a brownie should be!

I'll start at 12 o'clock and work my way clockwise - First up were these:

I'm not a huge fan of nuts with chocolate but I wanted to give all of the brownies a go, so got straight to it.
To begin, there was no real flavour, the after taste is where it's all at. The taste really reminded me of a Bakewell Tart and for Ashlea, Amaretto. Wasn't expecting to like this flavour but I really enjoyed it.

Wow! Amazing creamy taste of the Oreo biscuits and they visually look great on the brownie's topping.
The biscuits don't remain crunchy unfortunately, but I'm guessing that happens during the baking process. Still, an amazing brownie nevertheless.

Salted Caramel
I thought this brownie looked great. You can see the little valleys filled with the salted caramel. The sweet and salty craze is a big thumbs up for me so absolutely loved this one.
It wasn't too salty, but there's always a subtle hint.

Chocolate Orange
The orange flavour comes through instantly and tastes just like a good old Terry's Chocolate Orange. I was so pleased that the orange flavour didn't taste artificial - I hate that. For some reason, this brownie was slightly dryer than the others but didn't effect the flavour in any way. It was just a little crumblier.

Rocky Road
Out of all of the flavours, I'm sad to say that this one was the most disappointing. It certainly looks great from the outside having the components of a rocky road placed on top but it just lacked flavour really. Sad face.

Peanut Butter
I'm not a fan of PB at all. Ashlea is though, so I've relied on him for this part of the write up. This brownie was really nice as the peanut butter didn't overpower the whole thing. A great balance of chocolate with that subtle nutty hint.

White Chocolate Chip
Stop everything. This is my favourite flavour and possibly one of the best brownies I've ever had. There's so much white, creamy chocolate rippled throughout. I don't know what else to say other than that I'm in love.

Last but not least, walnut. A nice simple nut filled brownie. The nuts add a great crunch and there's a strong flavour throughout. Can imagine this would go great with a fresh cup of coffee.

Overall, I was very impressed with the range of Brownies that The Beeston Brownie Company produce. I think they're amazing and would definitely purchase some more.
A variety box like mine will set you back £12.95 which works out at around £1.60 per brownie.
Some may find this quite pricey for a little square of cake as yes, there are others that you can get which are larger and cost considerably less.
However, I think this price is perfectly acceptable and would pay this myself when you consider the fact that they are home baked and locally produced.

Keep your eyes peeled at food festivals over the upcoming months, The Beeston Brownie Company are set to attend Ilkeston Food Festival, Beeston Farms Market and Trinity Square Market in Nottingham.

Also, check out their website here.

Thanks for the brownies guys & thanks for reading.


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,

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