Sunday, 11 October 2015

Grasmere highlight: Baldry's Tearoom

When you find yourself hungry while in Grasmere there are a lot of places to choose from for a bite to eat but I personally will always attempt to find somewhere that has been recommended. 

Whether it's a suggestion from a friend or random reviews on Trip Advisor, I prefer somewhere which has already received a thumbs up. Can you tell that I've had my fair share of adventurous mystery picks which have disappointed? 

Life is just too short to eat mundane, microwaved, bland or boring ('uninspired' as hubby says) food.

So, having read about Baldry's on a blog ages ago I was thrilled we could get a table. It's very busy, as you would expect, during the Summer high season (we attempted to come during a Summer visit previously but it was chocka!). It's much quieter in October with less tourists around overall. 

It has a picturesque welcoming store front and once inside it oozes character while still being cosy. 

The staff was very friendly and the menus burst with delicious homemade options from quiche to burgers, fruit crumble to scones. 

I was craving a bit of a sweet treat for my elevenses and chose a Raspberry & Blueberry scone with jam, butter & whipped cream, of course. 

The scone that arrived was impressive, not only was it huge but it was also homemade. There were little pockets of berry sweetness and a lovely crusted top. The perfect combination to compliment my sinful spreads!

For the adventurous hot beverage drinkers there is a plentiful selection of teas from around the world to choose from within the Tea Menu (it is a tearoom after all).

I went with the loose leaf Rooibus tea which I enjoyed with milk (it tastes nice even if it's possibly not 'proper'). 

Hubby was cleverly matching his hot beverage to his choice of treat with the loose leaf Wild Cherry tea that he felt would go brilliantly with his slice of Bakewell Tart (I agree!).

It was an enjoyable experience from walking in the door right through to wiping the crumbs from my top just before leaving. 

This lovely tearoom is definitely going on my 'Grasmere Highlights' list (currently alongside getting Grasmere Gingerbread each visit) and I'm already hatching a plan for when i'll be able to stop by again!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Sweet Barcelona

We spent three hot Summer days in Barcelona and made sure to taste test some of the local treats.

I read about the pine nut covered almond truffle/biscuits, a local sweet worth trying, so I was eager to try it and of course I was excited to taste test a couple of other fun looking biscuits once I saw the selection on offer at Dolceria de la Colmena. 

The pine nut balls were not as sweet as I imagined they would be and they had a subtle marzipan flavour which was nice. 

The other biscuits were again, not as sweet as I imagined but were enjoyable (I suppose my sweet tooth is based on my American tastebuds which were raised on far too much corn syrup).

It was hot during our visit, very hot (30C/90F). The obvious choice for a cooling treat is ice cream!

I chose an odd looking pineapple and coconut ice lolly which was absolutely amazing and really hit the spot. It looked like something you would make yourself in a styrofoam cup as a child during Summer break but the flavour was full on and I was very happy with my choice.

And of course, no trip to Spain would be complete without this next delight, we had to try a hearty portion of churros y chocolate (makes me giggle as that was the name of our high school Spanish text book).

Wow! They did not disappoint. 

I'm not sure that any of us could have managed to actually drink the thick rich cup of hot chocolate, (are you meant to?) but it was just perfect for dipping the sugar covered swirls of sweet fried dough into.

This massive portion was gone in a few moments with only sugar remaining on the plate. 


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Espresso In Paradise

One of the little pleasures that I always make time for is espresso. 

It's a simple way to relax just by creating a little moment to enjoy.

Plus it's versatile, it can be a jolt of energy to start the day, a pick me up in the afternoon or an accompaniment to a sweet treat at any time of day.  

No matter when it is, it triggers my mind to just sit back, relax and enjoy the moment.

Here is an example of such a moment unfolding....

While enjoying our already amazing honeymoon in the beautiful tropical paradise of the Maldives, we were offered a complimentary upgrade to an even more awe inspiring(who knew it was possible?) Premium Pool Beach Villa for the last two days. 

Gorgeous views, private infinity pool, jacuzzi and even an outdoor shower! Wow!

Don't get me wrong, our Water Villa was pretty darn spectacular. We had sharks, rays and all sorts of brightly coloured fish swimming just beneath our feet practically inches away each day. 

You really can't believe places like this exist until you have seen them in person. It is just amazing!

A ray gracefully glided past our villa on the first morning. It must have been at least five feet from snout to tale and maybe four feet wide. It just moved its way along in slow motion.

At sunset we routinely saw at least one black tipped shark looming around. Some, like this one, had little fish friends hanging on as they swam. 

They are pretty graceful creatures and I respect their sharky beauty even if I have an unfounded phobia (which I blame on the movie Jaws!).

Our Water Villa patio view was so picturesque. It naturally set the scene for the enjoyment of our chilled welcome bubbly & the obligatory espresso to balance out the moment.

It was the perfect way to kick off our fairy tale honeymoon in the Maldives!

Now back to the poolside espresso... upon moving in to our new extra special villa I immediately noticed one of the extra touches. 

(This place is full of thoughtful, sweet(quite literally) and romantic little gestures that consistently wow'ed us and I really shouldn't be surprised that this extra special room would have new & different special things to continue to wow us.) 

There was a cookie jar!

It was full of biscotti, which as you know, goes perfectly with an espresso. So I set about using the in-room facilities to make us a perfect shot of liquid rejuvenation to accompany our biscotti.

We enjoyed our espresso & biscotti poolside whilst overlooking the tranquil beach and soaking up the sunshine (wearing factor 50 sunblock & a massive wide brimmed hat).

The Maldives, and Baros in particular, is truly special with the perfect balance of seclusion & tropical wonders to create our romantic honeymoon of a lifetime complete with perfect espresso moments dotted throughout.

I feel so lucky. 


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Celebratory Meal at Jesmond Dene House

I'll set the scene... candlelight, waiters dressed in black & white, orange and black trinkets dotted along shelves ... all creating just the right atmosphere of warm & cosy yet still artsy-fartsy. 

It's the perfect setting for a romantic celebratory meal.   

The menu was full of delicious choices made from local produce all with fancy sounding titles. 

Local lobster, crab and hand dived scallops plus beef fillet with a full farmers name associated with it served alongside that recent craze of a bit of bone marrow.


No sooner had we ordered when a cute little foodie freebie arrived at the table. An espresso cup of the most delicious gazpacho I've ever had was brought out as a pre-starter. I don't normally get very excited about soup, but this little cup of cold tomato liquid had so many levels of flavours I couldn't help but want more. 

Scallops with cauliflower

The starters arrived with foam & frills but full of flavour as well. The scallops were cooked 'just right' with dabs of interesting sauce and sprigs of local veg.

Lobster with Ravioli

The main dishes were incredibly stylish with swishes of colourful sauce dried on the plate and even more foam. I'm still not sure whether I was meant to utilise the sauce in some way or just admire it? 

Yes, it was a beautiful plate of food but it was not lacking in substance, although I have to admit I enjoyed my ravioli more than the actual hunk of lobster provided.

Blueberry Jelly with cream

We then received a little unexpected pallet cleanser (or was it an amuse bouche?) which was tasty and served in a shot glass as well. It does make for a perfect portion size.

Caramelised Apple with Hazelnut sponge

Strawberry Bakewell Tart

Our desserts were rather picturesque making us wonder whether they'll be less tasty, fashion over function in a taste bud sense?

They were almost little colourful scenes with flavour bomb combinations splodged on the canvas. A candied nut paired with a mint leaf, sat near a smoosh of caramel all coming together in each bite to make a beautiful dessert which all the senses enjoyed. 

Celebrations are meant to be memorable occasions and that is exactly what this meal was, now it's
time to hit the gym.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Good Food at The Green

I've had a couple of meals at this Heworth pub and I've felt the urge to photograph most of them.

Is this a sign of having been won over by presentation before a morsel has even passed my lips?

I may have been woo'ed the first time by the fancy presentation but the fact I keep coming back means there is delicious substance to this gorgeous looking food.
Gnocchi with blue cheese sauce, rocket, wild mushrooms and walnuts

The Green's menu offers just enough variety to choose from without being too perplexing (a comment aimed at certain members of my family who are flummoxed by too much choice).

It also has the added bonus of a changing selection of real ales and local brews which gives it an automatic thumbs up in my book.

Not to mention there is always a short but sweet list of delicious desserts to choose from which appeals to my sweet tooth.

Cherry Bakewell Tart with Pistacchio Icecream
A recent conversation we had in The Green, inspired by the presentation of our meal, got me thinking...

Does overly posh presentation of food put people off?
Crab Fettuccine with chilli and lemon

Realistically, if your food looks less like home cooking and more like a fancy art exhibition will you enjoy it any differently?

I find presentation irrelevant to my enjoyment of food but admittedly I am more likely to photograph the good looking dish over the less attractive one. 

Fish and chips with mushy peas

However, I would quite happily trade fashion for function if it means a bigger portion (is that mini chip fryer basket an attempt at portion control?) but of course this is only relevant if the food actually tastes good. 

Summary: Don't judge a book by its cover when it comes to food, good food tastes good and sometimes looks the part as well.

So, if you happen to be in the area and fancy some decent good-looking grub then remember The Green gets a big old thumbs up from this happy-snapping gal.

Monday, 12 November 2012

A Secret Garden Meal at The Witchery

Special occasions call for special treatment. So, one crisp Sunday afternoon we treated ourselves to a special meal.

It was a strongly recommended little place called The Witchery located at the base of Edinburgh Castle.

This was part of a whirlwind Edinburgh weekend which included a few of my favourite things: running, fantastic company and good food. What more could a girl ask for?

We found the entrance to the Secret Garden at The Witchery down a quirky little alleyway in the basement level of an old building.

Our lunch venue had timber beams and hanging vines, white tablecloths and many, many candles (which I imagine would have been an amazing addition to the atmosphere in the evening). It felt quite secretive and special.

This place was highly recommended by online reviews (ie: Tripadvisor) for providing delicious dishes made from high quality local ingredients.

I was excited about trying the Three Course Set Lunch which looked as though it offered a glimpse into their amazing menu at only a fraction of their a la carte price.  I do enjoy a bargain! 

The set menu also helped to narrow down the selection which was a bit mind-boggling.  

For my first course I chose the Salt Cod with Crostini and Potato. 

Served on a black slate, the creamy potato lump with two crostini masts poking out was a slight disappointment.  

I'm not sure what I expected but I could not taste anything that was noticeably definable as salt cod (nor could I remember what vegetable I was eating).

Sadly, the only flavor coming through was from the fresh dill. 

The identity of this velvety smooth puree remained a mystery until I saw the menu again at the end of our meal...ah yes, potato.

Across the table, my lovely dinner date was tucking in to his picture perfect first course.  I wanted to reach across and steal it. 

The Roast Partridge with a Scotch Quail Egg was right up there with what the reviews had said about the level of quality food to expect.

It had flavour combinations and textures which all came together perfectly in the forkful I tasted. 

I was having some serious food envy but I had two more courses to make up for a less than perfect first course.  

My second course of Pan Roasted Mullet with Celeriac was centred on my plate like a fish fillet planet surrounded by mini roast potato moons (drizzled with a delicious rich mustard cream sauce). 

I was back in the running with this course. 

I was curious to see the second course choice on the other side of the table, Braised Ayrshire Beef Cheek with risotto and greens. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find it was not some grinning bovine head straight from a horror movie.  Instead it was a succulent hunk of tender beef on top of creamy risotto with an amazing tasting gravy.     

Dessert was up next and it was the best course yet.

In an unusual twist, suppressing my sweet tooth, I opted for the cheese plate.

From the choices available, I decided on an incredibly stink-tastic soft goats cheese.  Oh boy did it whiff! 

Each biteful was so delicious when combined with the fig jelly, chutney and oat cakes.   

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, the Knickerbocker Glory which arrived looked amazing with it's glassy sugar accents and brightly coloured syrup.

To summarise, the highlight of my meal was definitely the horrendously whiffy cheese course which was the envy of my table.  

Even with this superb course forever etched into my taste bud memories, my first course of bland potato mush, which was unmemorable for the most part, has tainted my overall Witchery experience.

That said, if I win the lottery anytime soon I will be heading back to sample their a la carte menu with my bushel basket full o' cash.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

It's All Greek to Me....or German?

Having recently returned from a sunny week spent relaxing in Kos I can now say that I enjoy a hot & sunny vacation, on occasion.

Up until this point I have been someone who dives into the shade as soon as the sun peeks out from behind a cloud and have preferred sticking to cultural city breaks rather than poolside lounging. 

I'm now the gal lathered in factor 50 who happily wears a humongous wide brimmed sun hat, scooting my sunbed to readjust as the parasol shade moves throughout the day.  

Now moving on to the delicious side of the vacation....

The well catered hotel subscribed to my ethos of the glory of cake and afternoon tea.

Each day at 4.30 a selection of cakes and hot beverages were laid out and allowed us to partake in a caffeinated sugary energy boost.

There was also an air-conditioned Coffee Bar on site (think walk-in freezer).  Not only did it offer espresso based drinks and yet another selection of sweet things to tickle our taste buds but it was also a very welcome blast of cool to help us in our daily battle against melting in the Grecian heat (30+ C / 90+ F).

I freely admit that I was quite giddy when we found this place.

Of course we ate proper meals as well as cake.

Every meal offered a large selection of grilled fish, skewered meats, and Mediterranean vegetable dishes as well as the familiar stodgy carb fest (french fries & spaghetti bolognese) for those who were creatures of habit. 

Random German dishes could also be found sprinkled in amongst the Greek delights. Various Schnitzel, gherkin salads, cabbage dishes and rye bread meant my buffet plate was truly internationalised at each meal.  

The uniting factor for each of these meals of course, was that they always included sweets of some kind. 

Vacation is the time to indulge, so why not have a sugar ball infused waffle with your breakfast muesli & fruit?

Why not pair up your healthy dessert of fresh melon with baklava & creme caramel?

Why not indeed. 

Long live fun in the sun or should I say a warm welcome to it finally, whichever the case may be.