River Cottage- B R E A D!

Other Adventures, Uncategorized

The second day was slightly different to the first, primarily because we spent a lot of time prepping and tending to our bread we were making. I won’t go into loads of detail in regard to the bread, but here is a little rundown of what we did.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_12c0

River Cottage Cats!

We were baking two loaves, a wheat loaf and a sourdough. Although bread making isn’t something I have ever been particularly interested in, I think I saw it more as a hobby for those who stay at home, I did find it strangely therapeutic. Also, as it was unlike anything I have ever done before, I was very proud of my accomplishment when it was finished.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_12aa

Prepping my sourdough!

We actually started prepping our sourdough on the Saturday as it had to be left overnight in the fridge for proving. I think the thing that has always put me off a bit with bread making is the time you have to put into the whole procedure. The folding, and kneading and cooling and proving, and this wasn’t any different.

With precise timings, on the Sunday we had to fold our sourdough each half hour, ensuring there was lots of air so that the bread wasn’t dense. With the wheat loaf the method was slightly different, and we spent around 15 minutes kneading the bread and stretching out the gluten on our worktops. Connor showed us a few different methods and poo-pooed Paul Hollywood’s technique when he is on the TV. It was a lot more labour intensive than I had imagined, however, like I said, it was therapeutic.

One of the methods we showed us involved slapping the bread onto the metal worktop, I must say this did seem a favourite with the men in the group. There must be a link between asserting your masculinity and slapping a sticky wheat bread dough onto a steel work surface?

yzKCT6zYShmLpg3g9FD8MA_thumb_1300

Bread moulds!

Anyway, after all the different techniques had been used, finally both the sourdough and the wheat loaf were ready for cooking. After using some fancy proving baskets and rolling techniques, the loaves were shaped and put into the oven. First the wheat loaf was baked, turning the bread 180 degrees after 15 mins, it was ready in about half an hour. Although mine had a slightly burnt bottom it had actually come out very well- I was pleased anyway.

The sourdough was cooked in a big le creuset dish. This enabled the loaf to keep its round shape, whilst keeping the steam in the dish to improve the baking. Instead of spinning the loaves, this time we removed the lid of the le creuset dish and cooked the bread further, allowing the top to crisp up.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_12dd

My loaves!

I have missed out quite an important point, so I will interject it now. Before both loaves went into the oven it was really important that they were scored. Scoring meant that the direction the bread expands whilst baking can be controlled. This method gives a loaf of bread the curve on top that you see in bakeries and supermarkets.

Both of my loaves came out looking lovely, and they are now sliced and bagged ready to go into my freezer back at Uni. I have tried some of Mum’s sourdough, which was super yummy. I love the almost tangy flavour of the bread. Once my wheat loaf was sliced last night I made myself a lovely chicken and avocado sandwich for my train journey home today which I am very eager to try. However, as I am writing this now, I think that eating my lunch at 9.16am probably isn’t the best idea!

Although I will not be rushing home to become Brighton’s best bread maker, I do really appreciate the time and effort that goes into baking and will think about this for each mouthful of bread I eat.

A Celebratory Meal- The Pig at Combe, Devon

Other Adventures, Uncategorized

After first visiting The Pig near Bath for my 21st birthday in September, myself and my Mum decided it would be our goal to visit them all. Our stay was luxurious, surrounded by beautiful countryside, and spoilt for choice with amazing food and great wine- the company was rather good too.

As we now live in the South of England, there are a few branches of The Pig in the surrounding areas, and soon to be more as they are expanding in three more counties: Kent, West Sussex and Cornwall in 2018/19.

JTegkVOPRpqDNWxF3ZhOug

2 pigs and a pink-legged lady!

As I said, on our first visit I was amazed by the service, the buildings, the setting and the amazing dining experience- our second visit delivered the exact same.

 

In a small village in Devon, The Pig at Combe is surrounded by beautiful green hills, large trees, and of course all of the fresh produce grown in the gardens. The long driveway leads up to a huge country manor with large chimneys, and of course, the pig statues guarding the front entrance.

IMG_2096

The large building was filled with huge ornamental features. Amazing chandeliers hung from the high, carved ceilings; stuffed animals perched on mantel pieces and large butterflies were beautifully displayed in frames around the wooden walls. Each table was different, with the antique wood giving the old building an authentic feel.

We were taken to our table straight away by a lovely member of staff- in fact, all the staff were helpful and friendly, and provided just the right amount of attentiveness throughout our meal. The room was light and the large windows allowed the gardens to be viewed from the warm comfy dinning room.

ntcg6powsnqotnxthfmya.jpg

We started off with tap water and freshly baked bread, and shortly after followed my espresso martini, and Mum’s non-alcoholic gin with watermelon and cucumber tonic. I am not sure how I feel about non-alcoholic gin, but she said it was refreshing.

All the food that came out looked great and smelled great, so choosing what we wanted took careful consideration. They had a selection of small plates to start, piggy bits, fishy bits and veggie bits. From the options we picked ham hock scotch eggs, sardines and sourdough and crispy kale.

 

The scotch eggs were perfect, with the yolk still runny and warm. The kale was salty and delicious, and the sardines were very fishy. Alongside our bread basket there was smoked salt, made in their smoker in the garden, and herby oil, infused in-house too- all the flavours perfectly complimented each other.

As it was a Sunday we both had our sight set on a hearty roast. When I saw that the roast of the day was beef, I said to myself, straight away, ‘that’s what I am going to order‘. All of the ingredients are sustainably and locally sourced, and I know being so close to the sea its a shame not to choose fish, but the Yorkshire puddings had already caught my eye.

In the end, we both chose beef roasts.

IMG_2098

Roasts

The pink beef was served with a large, but slightly dense yorkie, Brussel sprouts, red cabbage, parsnips and green cabbage. It wasn’t drowned in gravy which meant we could add more ourselves to make it just right. Mum’s came with roast potatoes too, but, slightly greedily, I opted to swap mine for an extra yorkie- I didn’t even manage to finish it!

The horseradish came in a small side dish, and was the perfect amount for the two of us, I always find it a bit annoying when you have to ask for more. It was really spicy and flavoursome, however some mouthfuls really made my eyes water.

The slices of beef were lean and pink and the knife sliced through everything with ease. After our light-bite starters I did manage to clear most of my plate, however I hadn’t left any room for dessert.

To accompany our meals we each had a glass of wine, Mum’s was a full-bodied red, and mine a crisp light white- I haven’t quite got into red wine yet.

The dessert menu was also full of choices. From thick, sticky sponge puddings, to light G&T jellies and a wide range of local cheeses, it was another tough decision to make. Like I said, my wine and beef had filled me up perfectly, there wasn’t even room in my dessert stomach. Mum had strategically left some beef, which we finished off in a sandwich later in the evening, so she could taste one of the inviting puddings.

ddgJk1QgS2+e2tq5o%KDLQ

Pudding

It was a choice between the chocolate mousse and the iced walnut terrine… the terrine was triumphant.

On an ornate glass plate, the iced walnut pudding was beautifully presented, and it tasted great. I know I said I didn’t have any space for dessert, but I had to give it a try. The crunchy nuts balanced the smooth creamy texture of the terrine, it was a perfect, light dessert after a rich meal.

IMG_2097

After our meal we had one last wander around the house, exploring the rooms downstairs, and headed off into the garden. At this time of year there aren’t many types of veg or herbs growing, and sadly we didn’t see any pigs. Despite the bitter chill in the wind, the blue sky shone through, and it really was an idyllic end to a lovely afternoon.

I cannot wait to try the next one…

 

One of the best breakfasts I’ve E V E R had!- The Avocado Show, Amsterdam

Other Adventures, Uncategorized

I had seen the vids on Facebook and the pics on Instagram of The Avocado show, and I knew that I had to visit- I just had to!!

I love avocado, and truly, this restaurant gave me an even stronger love I never knew existed. Dramatic I know, but you get my gist- it was bloody good!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_c0f

The Store Front!

Located slightly outside the main central area of Dam, this eatery was in a seemingly quiet neighbourhood, and was really quite tucked away. Due to our breakfast destination I did suggest get up and active quite early, as I don’t know how/if I would’ve coped with the disappointment if we couldn’t get a table. Luckily, for me, and Jack (as there were no meltdowns), we arrived at the very green, cosy restaurant and managed to get a table.

The walls were concealed in leaves, shrubs and flowers, along with neon lights and products they sold in their store- I will come onto the store later, one exciting thing at a time.

Food is served all day, but as we arrived before 12pm we were given a breakfast menu. The only issue with this menu was that I couldn’t decide what to choose, what a first world problem I know. It sounds silly, but I was surprised at just HOW much avocado was on the menu. For example, eggs were served in avocado halves instead of bread, pancakes were made from avocado and smothered in avocado butter, and all the (nearly) juices and smoothies contained… guess what?! Avocado.

 

 

I would like to point out I am still not complaining.

After we had scanned the menu, weighing up all the options, our minds had been made. When the waitress came to take our order, I was still deliberating, but with a quick decision, I chose ‘The Benny Boy’. Described on the menu as an “Eggcellent choice”, it certainly didn’t fail to deliver. The dish consisted of 2 poached eggs, crispy bacon, homemade hollandaise sauce and flowers (I can’t say they tasted of much but they were VERY aesthetically pleasing) served in two avocado halves. On the side there was an English muffin too, which I must say added some great carbs to the dish.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_c20

The Benny Boy

Jack’s choice was “The sinner stack”, a stack of matcha pancakes, avocado, blueberries, crispy bacon and, once again, flowers. The pancakes were served with a big helping of one of Jack’s favourite things, maple syrup.

We couldn’t find any faults.

 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_c0b

The Sinner Stack

My eggs were cooked PERFECTLY, the pancakes were juicy and sweet, the bacon was crispy and everything was presented so beautifully. Looking around the restaurant at everyone else’s food, I was so tempted to ask if I could take pictures of theirs too- it truly all looked amazing. The Avocado Show is an Instagram DREAM.

I’ve realised I have jumped right into the food, purely because I have been so excited to write this blog, but I have missed out our drinks. I chose a fresh OJ, which actually didn’t contain avocado- which I guess would have been a bit weird?? Fresh raspberry lemonade was Jack’s tipple, served with a big sprig of rosemary! They both tasted really refreshing, and complimented the breakfast perfectly.

I have realised that this is quite a long blog, and I am not quite finished yet either, sorry if you are bored.

As I mentioned earlier, this restaurant also have a shop devoted to all things avocado-y. This is located just across the street. It is hard to explain everything in the store, and I fear that would be a bit boring, so I have attached some pictures instead.

I would give this a massive 5* rating if I could, and 10/10. I do think that, although very avocado orientated, there is something for everyone on the menu. Jack isn’t the biggest fan of green things, and he managed to enjoy some pancakes. The prices around Amsterdam were all very similar, and I didn’t come out feeling like we had been charged too much. The only TINY downfall was that they only take card payment, so I couldn’t use my very precisely budgeted euros. However, they do this for environmental reasons so I really must not grumble.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_c1e

Smiles ALL round!

If anyone from The Avocado Show reads this, I am very happy to become an ambassador!

 

La Choza, Brighton

Brighton Foodie Treats, Uncategorized

Tucked away in the North Lanes, this cosy, amazingly decorated and welcoming Mexican has a home away from home feel- if your home is covered in bright skulls and glittery pictures of Jesus.

Obviously a very popular place, on arrival one of the lovely staff members made us aware that the wait for a table was around 30 minutes. Already incredibly hungry, I looked at Josh for a second opinion. The food smelt amazing, and the atmosphere was brilliant, so, we decided 30 minutes wouldn’t be so bad. Much to my delight, after around 15 minutes we got a call, and rushed back around the corner to claim our table.

Due to the size of the restaurant, the tables are intimate, and you do find yourself sat very closely next to other guests. However, if you are the friendly type, and don’t necessarily mind a straying elbow or an intruding bowl of nachos, this restaurant has so much to offer.

IMG_0713

Specials

With the largest tequila menu I have ever seen, and a plethora of cocktails and beers, there is certainly something for everyone. I went for a simple coke, and Josh decided to try a Monkey IPA, which to his delight was a relatively high percentage.

Choosing food was a hard task, mainly because everything that came out smelt amazing, looked amazing, and by the sounds of those around us, tasted amazing too. For some nibbles at the beginning, we selected tortilla chips- with habanero chilli sauce and guac- and calamari and chipotle mayo. Calamari is always my go-to starter, and I must say, that in my 21 years on this foodie world, La Choza delivered the best I’ve ever tasted.

Both lovers of spice, we were slightly taken aback by the heat of the Habanero sauce, causing us to take a sharp intake of breath, and let out a little gasp. I had not been too adventurous with the sauce for my chicken and homemade chorizo burrito, sticking to the hot, but surprisingly-pleasant-after-the-first-mouth-full habanero chilli. Josh on the other hand had gone for the burrito special, pulled pork and jalapeño hot sauce. Maybe he loved it, or maybe he didn’t want to admit defeat, but Josh bravely finished off every last spicy mouthful.

IMG_0710

The best calamari in the WORLD

Whether it was my severe hunger, or pure desperation to try everything on the menu, when my silver wrapped burrito came, I felt like I was in Mexican heaven, and I never wanted to leave.

Disappointingly, my eyes had been too big for my belly, and the last bits of my wrap didn’t get finished. I had made a valiant effort. I spent the rest of the evening in rather a burrito state myself, wrapped up in my blanket, unable to move from my food coma.

For the amount of food, brilliant service and great atmosphere, the price couldn’t be faulted. This would be a great place to go with big groups (if you book), or a nice place to drop in for a bite to eat, as long as you don’t mind queuing around the corner- it is really worth the wait.