Sunday, 26 February 2017

National Margarita Day with MEXIco - February 2017.

Last Thursday, I was invited along to MEXIco in Derby along with some other local bloggers to celebrate National Margarita Day alongside some tasty dishes prepared by Chef Johnny Hernandez.

Now, if you know me, you'll know I don't drink. So, why did I attend an event all about Margaritas? Well luckily for me, Johnny and the team were more than happy to knock me up some non-alcoholic versions to ensure I wasn't left out. Perfect.

We started the evening catching up with each other over what felt like an endless supply of delicious stone ground corn chips which were accompanied by dipping pots of Salsa Verde and Salsa Roja. Very moreish.
Johnny came out to greet us, gave us an overview of what to expect during the event and headed off back to the kitchen to prepare his dishes. MEXIco use only the freshest ingredients in order to make sure you as the diner, get the best possible taste experience. The true taste. Then, the drinks began flowing.

Our first dish was yet again more nachos but this time topped with Chicken Tinga and Ground Beef layered with melted Monterey Jack Cheese and a homemade Guacamole. Both were divine. If I was to pick a favourite, I'd go for the Chicken. It was much lighter.

Next up was a sneak peek into one of Johnny's new dishes - Prawn Ceviche. What I found really interesting here is that the Prawns are technically raw but 'cooked' in Lime juice. When the Prawns marinate in the Citrus Juices, the reactions 'cooks' them. I say 'cooks' because there's no heat involved yet the Prawns are no longer raw. Confusing. 
Although this wasn't one for me, my fellow bloggers seemed to love it. 

Next up were Tostadas. One Pulled Pork and the other Pulled Chicken Tinga. Although very similar to the Nachos earlier on, these Tostadas comprised of completely different flavours and combinations. 
I loved how great these were to eat as finger food. 

Our last savoury dish of the evening were Stuffed Roasted Peppers. Another sneak peek into the ideas that Johnny coming up for MEXIco. We were able to sample the Beef & Feta in a Sweet but Spicy tomato based sauce. Although the filling went down a treat, I did have to leave some of the pepper. I was so full by this point.

We ended the night on Churros. I was so hoping we'd get the opportunity to eat Churros. They're one of my favourite desserts. Topped with Chocolate Sauce and a Dulce De Leche, these crispy little bad boys were gone before I'd had chance to take a good picture. Sorry, not sorry. 

So, if you're in Derby any time soon, be sure to pop by MEXIco for a delicious Margarita and superb authentic Mexican food.
Did you know that MEXIco do a lunch menu? You can get 2 courses for just £9.99 which is crazy value for money. 

Also, Johnny is currently in the process of developing a 'to go' style menu as it's been very highly requested by diners recently. Luckily, the majority of dishes transport really well so there's pretty much no reason not to right!? If I worked in Derby, I'd be taking full advantage of that! 

Big thanks to Johnny and all of the MEXIco Derby staff for an amazing evening - I'll be seeing you again soon. 


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Carluccio's - Intu, Derby.

intu Derby has so many restaurants nowadays, that when you need to refuel during your shopping trip, there's so much choice with a variety of different cuisines. 
Carluccio's wave the flag for Italy following their opening in October last year and since then has been a welcome addition.

Me and my brother headed over for a meal where we were shown to our table in the window, perfect for me as I love people watching! Or server was super friendly and chatty and bought over our drinks. A craft cider for Camden and a Summer Garden Apple & Elderflower soft drink for me.

The interior is very clean, fresh and welcoming. It feels light and airy despite being inside a shopping centre which is great as you forget where you are for a moment. 

We ordered starters but held back on mains as Camden was yet to make his mind up. I liked this because it meant we didn't have to delay on the food as I was absolutely starving!
Camden went for Crab Macaroni which is a recent addition to their menu. Perfect for those who love their sea food. It was delicate but packed full of flavour.

For myself, I had the Sicilian Arancini which are basically deep fried balls of risotto rice, these with a duo of flavours. One, Mozzarella & Basil and the other a Beef Ragu. I was so sure that the Mozzarella would be my favourite but I was wrong. The Beef Ragu had so much more flavour in comparison to the Mozzarella which almost became bland at the side of it.

For the main courses, I went for my all time favourite Italian dish which is Lasagne and of course a side of Garlic Focaccia. I was satisfied with my Lasagne. The presentation wasn't anything special and I've had better, I've had worse. No complaints from me.

On the other hand, Camden's Seabass in Padella (which means pan fried) looked delicious. It screamed flavour. He was recommended this dish after asking our server which she'd prefer out of this and the Steak. I think he was glad to have chosen this dish as it was something different for him. As the Seabass was filleted, it meant no worrying about bones either.

Obviously, I can't skip a dessert. Eton Mess is an absolute must for myself when it's on a menu so when I spotted the Meringa Al Frutto Della Passione, I was sold straight away. The combination of the Passionfuit Cream and Raspberry Coulis was so sweet and tasty. The Meringue was crunchy, crumbly and melt in the mouth but with a chewy centre.
Camden went for the Chocolate & Rum Fudge Cake which was soft, rich and had a perfect balance of rum. Nothing too overpowering.

I didn't realise myself until visiting that Carlucco's has it very own deli to the side of the restaurant selling all sorts of foodie goodies from Oils and Drizzlers to Chocolates and Pasta. They also sell those incredible Meringues which were in my dessert. Definitely going back for one of them next time I'm there! 

Overall, I had a lovely time at Carluccio's. It was my first visit to the chain and I'd definitely return. The staff were all so friendly, welcoming and really want to do everything they can to give you the best experience. The food was great and with a super extensive menu, there's something for everyone. Even my brother who doesn't usually like Italian cuisine enjoyed all three courses of his meal. 

Thanks for having me Carluccio's! 


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Nando's House Warming Party - Intu, Derby.

If you've been to the intu shopping centre in Derby lately, you may have noticed that Nando's have had their doors closed for an excruciating three weeks whilst undergoing a well deserved make over. 
I was kindly invited to their relaunch party to get one of the first looks at the new and improved restaurant.

The vibrant interior is welcoming to anyone who walks past and the new layout makes the place seem so much bigger than before. After introducing additional larger tables, they can now seat up to 160 diners.
Throughout the restaurant, there's a South African theme including the multi coloured woven lights which were made especially for Nando's Derby and pieces of stunning original artwork lining the walls. 

It wasn't long before I was dying to order some food and get stuck into some of their Peri-Peri goodness. Nando's is one of my all time guilty pleasures. 

After a couple of combo meals and a bottomless drink each we were good to go. Bellies full and certainly satisfied as per usual. 

So, next time you're doing your shopping, be sure to stop by at Nando's to check out their new look.

What do you order from Nando's? - everyone has their favourite, right!?


Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Horse & Jockey - Wessington, Derbyshire.

Back in December, The Horse & Jockey in Wessington re-opened it's doors after undergoing an extensive refurbishment and it's purchase by the same people who own another restaurant I've reviewed before, The White Hart at Moorwood Moor. 

Me and my friend Emily took a ride over on a Saturday lunch time to chance a walk in table. 
When we arrived, it was great to see the car park quite full, usually a good sign, and the we rushed inside to escape the cold.

The interior of The Horse & Jockey is very similar to that of it's sister with the exposed brickwork and chunky wooden furniture. There's a copper theme throughout which you might be able to spot from the draught fonts which gives it that extra dash of class.
I also spotted these delicious looking homemade sausage rolls on the bar.

We were told there'd be around a 45 minute wait for a table which was fine by us, we just grabbed a drink and chatted in the bar. 20 minutes later, one became free and we able to take a seat.
Our table was in the ground floor restaurant as opposed to their second one down in the basement.
After comparing the two, I'd have preferred to sit in the basement as it had more of a cosy, relaxed feel. The ground floor restaurant felt very much like a canteen.

The menu is surprising extensive with a range of snacks, lighter bites, twists on pub classics and a children's section too.

I went for the Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto topped with a dollop of Creme Fraiche which from the moment I scanned through the options, I knew this was the one.
I absolutely love Risotto and as you'd expect, it was very filling - I couldn't manage the whole dish but it was lovely. The Butternut squash had a slight crunch to it, the rice was full of flavour and the Creme Fraiche finished it off perfectly. Thumbs up from me.

After debating whether to have Fish & Chips or The Jockey Burger, Emily chose the latter. Served in a Brioche Bun with Bacon, Cheese and a Smokey Relish, you can't really go wrong with The Jockey Burger. I had to steal a chip though, I couldn't not. Again, very nice. Crispy and fluffy.

For me though, it's all about the dessert no matter where I visit. I was originally going to go for a Sticky Toffee Pudding but after finding out it has Dates in it, I opted for my back up, a Chocolate Brownie Sundae with Crushed Honeycomb and Caramel Sauce which is served in a Kilner Jar.

I definitely had eyes bigger than my belly for this one. I was determined to polish it off but it became too sickly. The Honeycomb was amazing though. I could've eaten a bunch of that all by itself. This is definitely my idea of the perfect dessert. 

After a friendly chat with the manager, we settled the bill and headed back home. The new and improved Horse & Jockey is certainly a welcome addition to Wessington, especially following the closure of The Peacock, Oakerthorpe just down the road. 
I'd definitely return, but I'd book and I'd also ask for a table in the Basement. 

As well as a restaurant, there are also fourteen boutique country style rooms which you're able to stay in. I didn't get a chance to look around them, but from the images I've seen online, they look stunning. Something to bear in mind if you're after accommodation in the area or just a little overnight getaway. 

Take a look at what's on offer at The Horse & Jockey here & as always, thanks for reading,


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!

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