Whilst I may have stated my intention to be more conscious throughout 2014, I’ll admit that for most of the last two months my focus has been far from conscientious. Rather than enjoying and thriving, I have mostly been enduring January and February, longing for some sunny skies and the ability to leave the house without immediately turning into a block of ice. From general ramblings around the Internet, I think I’m not the only one who’s felt this way. With the clear skies and slight rise in temperature that we’ve had over the last week, I can already feel a bit more of a spring in my step and now that March is here it’s time to stop making excuses and crack on.
I’m setting myself three little goals for the month of March, to try and kickstart myself and get me back on track. It feels easier to work on a couple of things than to try and overhaul everything at once, and I’ve tried to pick goals that are concrete and achievable. I don’t want to end up using my intentions to punish myself – I want to work on creating habits that will ultimately lead me to the life I want to live. There’s that rumour that it takes 21 days to make a habit, so a month should be more than sufficient in this case!
Create a Morning Routine
I am actually a morning person; I work better in the morning and once I’m up and showered I’m usually pretty perky. I don’t drink tea or coffee, but I am fairly energetic in the morning – particularly when compared to the evening.
However, over the winter I have let my morning routine slip – it has been far easier to stay in bed until the very last second, hiding from the world under the duvet, than to jump out of bed and actually make something of the morning.
I long to be one of those super-efficient people who wakes up ridiculously early so they can work out, prepare meals for the day, eat a healthy breakfast and still have time to have a leisurely read of the newspaper.
I’m realistic enough to know that I’m not going to bound out of bed on Monday morning just because I’ve set this goal, but I do want to work on establishing a morning routine which sets me up for the day ahead. Starting with…
This is a major one for me; it ties into the first but I think it needs its own separate goal because, as we all know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I don’t eat breakfast most days, which is a terrible habit to have slipped into. For the month of March, I will endeavour to eat proper breakfasts every day.
I’ve only been on a handful of runs this year, and they have ranged from the traumatising to the energising. I do always feel better once I’ve been on a run, even if it is only due to a sense of smug satisfaction. It’s a free way to move my body and since we’re on a money-saving kick this year, that is a very big win; however, without the added financial motivation it’s something that can easily fall by the wayside in favour of nights sat in front of ‘Breaking Bad’ (no spoilers please).
One of my over-arching goals for this year is to create an exercise routine that I don’t hate and can actually stick to – I’m never going to be a spin-classing, marathon-running gym bunny but I want to be healthy and fit so aiming for three runs a week is achievable for me. Maybe I’ll amp it up as we go through the year, maybe I won’t but for March, that’s enough.
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Hi friends, how are you? How was your week?
I’ve had a completely indulgent week, so I really can’t complain. On Wednesday we headed over to Trinity Kitchen to try out the new offerings – Leeds residents, if you aren’t heading to Dorshi to try their pork and black pudding dumplings immediately, you are a fool. I’m not even a fan of black pudding and I was totally bowled away! Their home-made sriracha is also a thing of beauty – it burns, but you’ll keep going back for more. I was also lucky enough to dine on lobster at Blackhouse and some delicious Mexican food at Pinche Pinche this week so all in all, I’ve been rather spoilt.
Last night, we also headed over to Sheffield for some leaving drinks; one of Paul’s best friends is heading off to the good old U S of A to live. It’s been a long time coming (their visa system is brutal) but it’s still bittersweet. I often dream about moving abroad (Copenhagen is my current locale of choice) but I’m not sure that when it came to the crunch, I’d really be all that stoked about it.
Other than that, I’ve been getting out on some runs, baking some delicious treats (watch this space) and booking our wedding venue (!). Oh, and reading these lovely links, of course:
- I want to stuff my face with these garlic herb bread twists.
- I’ve become quite the advocate for de-cluttering and this list of 38 Things You Need to Declutter NOW is super helpful if you want to start the process.
- Reading about productive people’s morning routines makes me want to overhaul mine. In fact, I think I’ll do just that…
- What being a fat woman is really like….
- B’s photos of the beach make me want to grab my wellies and a neighbour’s dog and head there straight away.
- I’m thinking of taking this food photography e-course.
- Baby names I want to use from The Simpsons - maybe I’ll have more luck with these rather than trying to persuade Paul that we should name our future daughter Hermione…
- On that note, I found this article about raising kids without spending any money quite interesting (although I know I’ll be a sucker for all the tiny shoes if and when the time comes…)
- Emma‘s very generously taking me to try out The Yorkshire Meatball Company next week and I’m super excited – doesn’t it look delicious?
- I loved this article on how to make yourself feel happier about feminism
- Meet the 4 most desired people in New York (according to OKCupid)
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One of the best parts of being in a relationship is snaring yourself a whole bunch of new friends. We might not always get on with our partner’s friends, but for the most part you suddenly get to hang out with new, awesome people – a ready-made friendship group who can dish the dirt on your significant other and all of the misadventures they’ve gotten up to together.
I’m especially lucky in this respect, because Paul has a large group of friends from school who have all remained close; together with their now significant others they make up a sizeable and sociable group that I’m happy to be a part of – especially when it comes to celebrations. Have you ever seen a bunch of Sheffield-ers dancing to The Arctic Monkeys? It’s a thing of joy.
All of this is really just a lengthy preamble to explain that we went to go and see two of these lovely friends last weekend. It was pretty ace – we drank champagne from fancy flutes, ate perfectly cooked steaks and talked about weddings (Ashley is going to be our Best Man) and generally had a grand old time. Plus, we got to hang out with their daughter – the little cutie you see in these photos. Paul took some snaps in the morning and I just couldn’t not share them; isn’t she just adorable?
I’ll admit that I have never been much of a kid person, but Martha is enough to change anyone’s mind. She’s my new best friend. As well as all those grown-up things I just described, Martha and I went to the park to play on the slide, ran amok in PC World (Paul was offering vital laptop-buying advice at the time), had an early morning dance in the garden, read lots of books and laughed a lot. I’m sure that you don’t need to be told this, but there really is something so infectious about baby giggles. Apparently children laugh ten times more than adults; I don’t know if that is true but they certainly laugh with less inhibitions and more abandon.
It’s so fun to watch her grow; because we only see them every few months she changes so much in between. From this little pudding last summer to the walking, talking (sort of), dancing girl that she is now. Hearing her say ‘shampoo’ will make your heart melt, and that very same heart will almost break when she plonks herself down, waiting for someone to put her shoes on so she can leave with you.
Plus, I’ve been told that I’m her favourite – which makes me feel very pleased and smug. For now, I like being able to hand her back to her loving parents but I think one of my own wouldn’t be the worst thing in the long run. Does this mean I’m a proper grown up?
I love a good tasting menu. As an indecisive person who really loves food, eating out can pose a problem when selecting just one dish from a menu full of tempting things. What’s worse than that, is when my dining companions pick something more delicious than me and I am stuck with menu envy. Don’t you just hate that? A tasting menu removes all of that anxiety. Rather than having to pick and choose, you are presented with a stream of smaller courses, each more delicious than the last. It’s all very exciting.
Do you know what’s even better than a tasting menu, though? A tasting menu paired with matching cocktails. I was invited down to RARE for the first of their RARE Taste evenings – 4 taster courses which from the same beast paired with 4 drinks made from the same spirit to match, all for £30.
We were treated to a feast of Beef & Bourbon – and none of what was presented to us was what I was expecting. It was so, so much better. Each course was surprising, different, inventive and the drinks that accompanied them were incredibly delicious.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first course (it’s something about the texture of foam as food that I just can’t quite get my head around) but it was unusually presented in a little Kilner jar which let out a little cloud of smoke when opened. The ‘Cherry Lips’ bourbon that accompanied it though, was sweet and very moreish.
The second course, however, made up for any misgivings that I had from the first course. Little slices of rare beef, caramelised fennel and orange segments – a fresh flavour pairing that had even my very fussy boyfriend raving about fennel. The third was this gorgeous, perfectly cooked steak, paired with rocket and a creamy onion macaroni and cheese. I’m still dreaming about this dish weeks later. Plus, our bourbon came in a goblet and everyone loves a goblet.
The fourth course sort of threw me for six, if I’m honest. True to their promises, RARE served up four courses of beef – including pudding. The dessert was sweet-cured beef slices, served with date sponge pudding and bourbon set cream. It tasted very good; the texture, however, was very unusual and I had to get past the fact that it was beef to avoid being a bit squicked out. Beef as dessert? I’m glad I tried it, and it was surprisingly tasty, but I’m not sure that this is one that I’ll be rustling up in my own kitchen!
In the interest of honesty, you should know that I dined for free. However, if I had paid £30, I would have been just as made up about the meal that was presented to me. You can barely get four cocktails for £30 in Leeds city centre, so to be able to walk away satisfied and slightly tipsy for that price is an absolute steal, in my opinion. I am definitely planning to go back for a tequila night – since it’s my favourite spirit – and I am excited to see what else will come out of the kitchen. Foodies of Leeds, I’d watch this space if I were you.
It’s been a busy week at work, so I was very glad to escape for the weekend to our friends’ in Nottingham. They have an adorable baby girl and it was so much fun hanging out with her – we played in the park, ran amok in PC World and had lots of cuddles. It was divine. I was exhausted by the end of the day though – major props to you if you have kids! It was also fantastic to see Ashley and Kirsten – they are some of the loveliest people and I’m so glad that being with Paul means I get all these extra friends as well. What a win that is.
We stopped off at Paul’s parents on Friday night for takeaway and wedding-related interrogation. Pinterest boards were shared, guest lists were debated and old wedding albums poured over. Between that and booking ourselves in to look at our preferred venue on Monday, it’s all starting to feel very real!
- Are neknominations the last subculture?
- Mary Beard is a bit of a hero, and this (long) piece about the public voice of women is definitely worth a read.
- I was totally made up to go to the Dinner at the Manor supper club a couple of weeks ago – you can take a peek at the Ottolenghi-inspired food we ate here.
- I am a bit obsessed with all things Scandinavia at the moment, so these photos from Stockholm made my heart skip a beat.
- If someone in your life is a new mother, this is the perfect list of presents.
- Do you struggle with perfectionism? Try this.
- I loved this collection of stock photos! (Not a sentence I thought I’d say!)
- Ever accidentally turned up wearing the same outfit as a friend or colleague? This blog will make you giggle.
- Pippa opens up about why she stopped being a voluntourist – it’s food for thought for everyone.
- I’ve just started building up a better make-up collection, so these tips for building up a MAC palette are super helpful!
- You may have seen Lush’s campaign ‘The Sign of Love’ – Roy looks at why it smells like appropriation.
- I’ll definitely be making Lizzie’s Hungarian beef goulash for dinner this week.
I feel like over the Christmas break, I really got back into the swing of reading. I know that’s a long time ago now, but I read three books in about as many days. It was glorious. I am a fast reader, but I think the immediacy of the Internet and the laziness of TV shows have made me into an impatient reader. However fast I am reading, I want to get to the end more quickly. Maybe that’s also a mark of how good the books I read over the holidays were. I found a new favourite and re-discovered an old one, which I am currently reading on the bus to work. Reading on the bus is a weird experience; I get so caught up in the world of the book that when I have to close it and go to work I feel an odd sense of loss. I’m looking forward to having a day off so I can really get stuck in! What are you reading at the moment?
Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life, Nina Stibbe
I was given this book for Christmas and before New Year it was cemented as a firm favourite in my collection. I’ve been raving about it ever since. It’s not ground-breaking, in plot or in style, but it is one of the loveliest books I have ever read. It made my heart sing with joy. It was warm, witty and wise; I turned the last page with a heavy heart that I could no longer be a part of the characters’ lives.
I say characters, but these are real people. Love, Nina is a collection of letters sent by Nina Stibbe, a nanny working in London, to her sister. The cast of characters includes her boss, the deputy editor of the London Review of Books, and her two children, witty beyond their years from a life surrounded by poets, playwrights and intellectuals. Oh, and Alan Bennett. Their everyday lives are perfectly observed by Nina and we are afforded a cosy and affectionate look into the London literary scene of the 1980s. I was in love with them all by the end. A definite must-read for country getaways and days spent under blankets with a cat purring next to you. It just invokes that sort of spirit.
The Help, Kathryn Stockett
This was one of the books I received from Rosie‘s Blogger Book-Swap from Lizzie. She honestly couldn’t have picked better books for me – it’s like she’d taken a peek at my bookshelves ahead of time. If you haven’t read or seen The Help, it tells the story of Skeeter, an aspiring writer during the US civil rights movement of the 1960s who decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work and the reality of their situation. It’s safe to say that it reduced me to tears at more than one point – both in moments of sadness and anger but also in uplifting moments. I enjoyed that the book is grittier than the film, the ending a little less Hollywood-contrived (although the film is very good, and Emma Stone is a dream as always) and I felt more keenly the risk that the women are taking in telling their stories. It’s sensitive, touching and at times, heart-wrenching. Definitely one to pick up if it’s raining outside and you want to lose yourself for hours on end.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
The second book sent to me by Lizzie, inspired by my love of ‘dark’ books. I do love dark literature, which is odd because I hate dark films and TV shows. I’m not sure whether it’s because darkness in literature feels less contrived than happiness, which always seems a little too good to be true. Gone Girl is the book that everyone’s been talking about, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a thriller, a mystery with a shocking twist just over halfway that keeps the story fresh and turns the usual girl-missing story on its head. I was reading it on the bus, and having to put it down when I reached my destination was torture. It’s slow-going at first but it will grip you. Although the characters weren’t likeable, as such, they did draw you in and I found myself wanting a happy ending even though it felt like one was impossible. One to read under the covers at night and put down just as the sun comes up.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?: And Other Concerns, Mindy Kaling
I’ve only been dipping in and out of ‘The Mindy Project’ but having read Mindy Kaling’s book I am definitely going to go back and watch it from the beginning. I’m a sucker for a good lady comedian (see also: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham for starters) and this book is both laugh-out-loud funny and heart-warmingly fuzzy. I wanted to be her BFF and drink wine on the sofa with her after reading this book – Mindy Kaling is my kind of woman. In a series of mini-essays, she talks eloquently about life, love, feminism, comedy, career and family – all with affection and serious smarts. I love that Mindy goes out of her way to be nice, that she thinks that you don’t have to be mean to be funny. Can I just say ‘hell yes’? My favourite part of the book is a little anecdote about Amy Poehler that will give you faith in humanity. Read this, and then lend it to your best friend.
In my moments of madness, I sometimes dream of working with food. Owning a restaurant, perhaps, or a street food van. Running a full-time supper club or a little bakery that specialises in the best brownies around. I love food, so it’s only natural that my daydreams are full of it. But, although I love this little food blog, these are daydreams rather than lofty goals borne from great ideas and unceasing passion. My foodie dreams may be idle and full of whimsy, but if you have an idea for a foodie venture that you really want to make into a reality, then this may be the blog post for you.
Launching People are looking for people with original ideas, who like to create and collaborate, and who have the energy and chutzpah to make those ideas a reality. They have four talented mentors in film, food, music and photography just waiting to help you make your dream into a reality. Pop-up chef and Sunday Times food writer Gizzi Erskine will be mentoring the foodies, with Idris Elba mentoring the film category, Paloma Faith mentoring the music category and Rankin mentoring the photographers. Each winner will spend 2-3 works together with their mentors working on their personal projects, with the help of the latest Samsung technology to create a grand launch event and make those dreams come true. All of which will be showcased on a Sky TV show later in the year.
“I want to see someone that has a serious passion for the industry – I want to understand their passion and be able to see and feel it. I want to show that you don’t have to be conventional to be successful. I’m looking for someone who’s happy to break the rules – and maybe teach me a thing or two along the way. The simple ideas can be the best. But a simple idea with a bit of glitter on it is far more exciting.” – Gizzi Erkskine
To apply you need to make a 2-minute video all about you and your dream. You need to show off your passion, your personality and your project idea – so make it a good one! You can find out all the details at LaunchingPeople.co.uk
Be sure to remember me when you’re famous, okay?[This post is in association with Samsung and Launching People]
Look at that little face!
Hey, beautiful people! How are you all? I hope you’ve been having a lovely week! The weather has been hideous, so I’ve mostly been battening down the hatches and snuggling under a blanket. I also went go-karting for the first time – turns out I’m not good at it! My arms are still a bit sore, it’s also a lot harder than I thought it would be.
We spent yesterday at a friend’s wedding and it was completely beautiful. I know I sometimes complain about how many weddings we have to go to and how much they cost, but when I’m there I absolutely love it. I was bawling at the speeches – it’s hard to cry without getting mascara everywhere! It was an absolutely lovely day. People dancing at weddings is kind of my favourite thing and I’m an affectionate drunk so I spent most of the party hugging everyone and declaring my love for them.
Now I’m going to medicate my hangover with a carvery and back-to-back episodes of Breaking Bad (we’re on season 4, no spoilers please!). What have you got planned for Sunday?
- Rosie’s pictures of Richmond Park are beautiful, aren’t they?
- Do you have a dream you want to achieve? You need to find your cheerleaders.
- I really really want to go to Burger & Lobster…
- For the love of money – a look into Wall Street money addiction which we could all learn something from.
- Looking for some travel advice? Check out a culture bug’s guide to Brussels and an insider’s guide to Copenhagen
- How to add colour to your home – I love Kimberley’s home and I’d love to inject some more colour into mine!
- All I want right now is these Asian breakfast tacos.
- Have you been thinking about starting a blog? I think Rosie’s reasons will convince you!
- I’ve got a bunch of jewellery that needs cleaning, so this guide is super useful.
- Usually Valentine’s recipes turn me cold, but these raspberry meringues look classy and delicious – no heart-shaped cutters here!
- A little look at the gentrification of food – just something to think about.
With the opening of Trinity, it seems like Leeds has exploded with new places to eat and drink. I know not everyone thinks of Trinity as a good thing here in the city, but I am certainly enjoying that aspect of it – far from the usual shopping centre it seems that dining out, whether it’s in the uber-cool Trinity Kitchen or one of the many restaurants that populate the building, is taking centre stage. There’s even rumour of a MeatLiquor coming to Leeds, which I will be first in line for! Since I made my last list of places I want to try, plenty more have popped up so I thought it was time to make another list! I still haven’t made my way through the first – and sadly a couple have now closed down completely – but I’m no stranger to a never-ending to-do list!
Roast & Conch is owned by Hotel Chocolat, and the restaurant itself houses a chocolate ’boutique’, a bar with chocolate-themed cocktails and beers, and an upstairs restaurant focusing on an Anglo-West Indian cuisine where every dish is enriched by cocoa. The chocolate is made on site and if you go to the back corner you can see all sorts of magical things happening as they create delicate chocolates from scratch.
I’ve been here for drinks and the cocktails are both potent and delicious, the decor is moody and stylish and they bring you little chocolate freebies. It’s kind of my favourite bar right now, for obvious reasons. The menu is completely unique, not like anything else that I’ve ever seen, and my curiosity is definitely piqued. This is top of my list, for sure.
A Leeds institution, Salvo’s was opened in 1976 by Salvo Dammone and his family still run the restaurant as well as the nearby deli and cafe in Headingley. Its popularity is well-known; it seems they have nailed that magical mix of fantastic food and atmospheric ambience that you wish all Italian restaurants had. The relaxed atmosphere, informal dining and friendly staff – I’ve been told – make this restaurant family-friendly for those popping out for a pizza with their progeny. Whilst the term family-friendly would usually put me off a restaurant, the menu exposes Salvo’s as just as friendly to the foodies of Leeds. This is not your standard Italian fare, although you can tuck into a Margherita if you must – I think I’ll need to give myself a fair amount of time when we first dine at Salvo’s, as the choice of tempting dishes is vast!
Another impressive tidbit is the disclaimer that I’ve just read at the bottom of the a la carte menu; this is a restaurant that really does source their produce locally – it’s always a good sign when a restaurant is open about their suppliers, and even better when you recognise the names of their farms, such is their reputation!
I am a big fan of tapas; both for the rich, Spanish flavours and the ability to order as many dishes as I want and satisfy my indecisive side. Situated by the river on The Calls, Ambiente Tapas took over the building which once housed Riverplate, making a splash on the Leeds dining scene as soon as they opened. As well as the almost-obligatory brick walls and stripped-back flooring, they play host to a theatre-style kitchen in the middle of the restaurant so you can see the chefs in action, as well as a balcony for those sunnier days (which currently seem so far away!). As with my other choices, the menu is innovative and inventive; as well as the standard tapas dishes (patatas bravas and the like) they offer some unusual dishes that have got my mouth watering already. Grilled prawns with a spiced manchego mojo sauce? Yes please!
Part of the North Bar family, The Cross Keys is an attractive-looking gastro pub with an excellent reputation amongst my fellow Leeds foodies. Situated just behind Granary Wharf, a stone’s throw from The Midnight Bell (which has a similar reputation) and just down the road from the infamous Bridgewater Place, it’s perfectly placed for after work drinks and a little something to eat. They specialise in ‘traditional British food made from locally sourced, ethically produced, seasonal ingredients’. Are you sensing a theme with my choices for this list?! You can guess at the sort of thing that features on the menu – but the simplicity of their offering and their clear commitment to serving up the best pub grub available makes me eager to get stuck in. If that’s not enough, their Sunday Lunch has won awards and their beer garden is renowned as one of the best in the city – rare in a city centre location. Has it got it all? I’ve got to go and find out for myself!
Shears Yard bills itself as an independent kitchen and bar in Leeds, and is the latest venture from the team behind Call Lane favourite Arts Cafe. Having recently dined in the latter, the former has swiftly moved up my list. Looking at the website, Shears Yard is what I imagine the restaurant I own in my dreams to be like; it is like someone peeked inside my brain – from the pared down, Scandi-style decor consisting mostly of bare lightbulbs, to the surprising cocktail menu featuring my favourite Basil Grande and, of course, the exciting, seasonal menu. Everyone I have spoken to about this place has given it the highest of compliments, proclaiming how excellent the whole experience is. The menu suggests unusual flavour combinations created with seasonal produce with intricate details that are deserving of a higher price tag than they carry. I think I might dip my toe in with their reasonably-priced lunch menu but I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before I’m tucking into a three-course meal and making my way through the cocktail menu…
As a foodie, nothing thrills me more than knowing about the secret bolt holes which serve up delicious food in an unassuming environment. As a smug foodie, nothing thrills me more than knowing about them before anyone else. However, I can’t claim such a thing with Thai Aroy Dee because, despite the deceptive exterior, it is renowned for serving up excellent Thai food for a cheap price (and BYOB, to boot) and as such, it is always packed. As with any Thai restaurant, the menu is extensive, offering all sorts of tasty treats as well as a set menu that offers incredible value for money. Every time I walk past to the bus stop, I experience a stab of jealousy at the happy diners seated within. To be honest, I’m not sure why I haven’t made it here yet – I probably spend more on sandwiches and coffee during the workday than I would on a meal here and it’s just around the corner from my office. Having had such a good experience at Jino’s Thai Cafe at Headingley, which has a similar feel, I am expecting big things from Thai Aroy Dee – and from rumours and reputation, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.
I know you shouldn’t play favourites, but I really think that Japanese food may be my favourite. I will never tire of sushi and of the fresh flavours that populate so many Japanese dishes. Wasabi Teppan-yaki is a bright, modern Japanese restaurant in Granary Wharf – perhaps the most picturesque place in the city centre – and although I have eaten in most of the restaurants and drunk in most of the bars in this area, I have yet to make it to Wasabi Teppan-yaki. You are served at traditional Teppan-yaki where your food is cooked in front of you by chefs who pride themselves as much on their acrobatic skills as they do on their cooking skills (or thereabouts). There’s a variety of meat, seafood and vegetable options on the a la carte menu ready to be cooked fresh for you, as well as an extensive sushi and sashimi menu. Just typing the word sashimi has my mouth watering, so it’s safe to say this is firmly on the wish list.
Moving out of the city centre now, Zucco can be found in my old stomping ground of Meanwood – an up-and-coming Leeds suburb that is finally finding its foodie credentials. The website is a little 1998, but the restaurant itself looks pleasingly modern and has had high accolades from both my friends and fellow Leeds food bloggers. The premise for the restaurant is a kind of Italian tapas; freshly-prepared small plates are served up for the whole table to share. As with many of the others on my list, the menu boasts not only the traditional Italian fare of pizzas and pasta (although those do feature) but exciting dishes like balsamic roast duck leg and deep-fried zucchini and mint. As it’s so close to friends’ houses, and some of the bars that we like to drink in on a Friday night, it’s been catching my eye for months – I need to actually book a table!
The opening of The Tetley as an arts venue has been big news in Leeds during the last few months. Hosting a variety of events, exhibitions and speeches, The Tetley has repurposed one of the most famous buildings in Leeds; when my Grandad found out that the original brewery had closed, he was distraught but I think he’d be very pleased with how it’s turned out. Not only have they salvaged the building, much of the furniture is repurposed from the original headquarters.
The food at the Tetley Bar & Kitchen is Yorkshire-inspired: think ploughman’s and pies. But not all of the dishes are as stereotypical as that – you’ll also find quinoa, sea bass and even an afternoon tea menu which features delights such as parkin, Yorkshire curd tart and macaroons. You can, of course, sip a pint of Tetleys with your dinner but there is also an extensive drinks menu with every spirit you could possibly want. Anthony off’ve the recently-closed Anthony’s has been a special advisor for the menu, so I’m excited to try this out!
The reasons why I haven’t visited the other restaurants are varied but there is one clear one why Gaucho hasn’t been top of my dining choices over the last year. And that is the cost; Gaucho is a decadent, luxurious restaurant that must be saved for the most special occasions. I mean, just look at it! An Argentine steakhouse, they claim that the quality of their beef is ‘unparalleled’, which is a bold claim – there is an impressive list of cuts on the menu. This is the kind of place you go to when you want to impress, for birthdays and anniversaries and the like. I’m not sure I even have anything in my wardrobe that is appropriate for this restaurant! But, it’s one I want to try at some point – the cocktail menu is gorgeous and the empanadas alone are enough to persuade me to settle in for the night.
I have eaten a lot of mussels in my life. I first ate them in a seafood restaurant in Le Touquet; a simple pot of moules marinières that spawned a lifelong addiction. The simplicity of white wine and cream has always been my favourite, but since variety is the spice of life, I do occasionally stray from the tried-and-tested into more adventurous flavour combinations. This is one such occasion; this mussels in weissbier recipe maintains the simplicity of moules marinières but the depth of the flavour of wheat beer adds a little something extra that compliments the tenderness and delicate flavour of the mussels.
I first had this dish at The Mustard Pot, over two years ago now. They’ve since taken it off the menu, which is a real shame as it was one of the best. So, I decided to recreate it myself. Now is the perfect time for mussels; they’re in season now but remind me so much of summer that they pull me out of my winter-induced slump. I’ll be honest and say that I had never cooked mussels at home before I made this dish, and I was a bit nervous about it. Although cleaning and prepping the mussels is a little bit time-consuming, it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. There’s a great guide here, if you’re worried about it. Once all your prep work is done, though, the dish takes minutes to cook. It’s a simple but impressive dish – it might even be perfect for Valentine’s Day if you’re that way inclined.
For two portions of mussels, you’ll need:
- 500g mussels
- 2-3 shallots
- 1 leek
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Drizzle of olive oil
- Knob of butter
- 100ml weissbier (I used Hoegaarden)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- a big swirl of double cream
1. Clean and de-beard your mussels. Discard any with broken shells, or which are already open but don’t close when you give them a sharp tap.
2. Chop your leek, shallots and garlic.
3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the leeks, shallot and garlic to the pan and fry until they’ve softened (about 4 minutes).
5. Pour in the weissbier, turn up the heat and add the mussels to the pot. Pop the lid on top and steam for 5 minutes, shaking the pan every now and again, until all (or most) of the mussels have popped open their shells. Delicious!
6. Season with salt and pepper, add a swirl of cream and give a stir to bring it altogether.
7. Serve with a cold glass of weissbier, big hunks of crusty bread and a couple of lemon wedges.