Saturday, 24 September 2011

South Shields: Colmans Fish and Chips

Greasy fingers, the smell of malt vinegar, ketchup dribbling down your chin, the sounds of the seaside, a giant seagull trying to steal your chips...
Colmans, South Shields
I suppose the above description is more relevant to grabbing some fish & chips to wander along the coast with but that is what I envision when going out for this famous British meal.
This particular time, however, I sat in the white tiled seaside themed restaurant of the Award Winning fish & chip establishment known as Colmans.
There are plenty of good fish & chip shops in the North East of England (see previous post) because we are so close to the sea but some stand out a great deal more than others.
Colmans which bills itself as Famous for Fish & Chips since 1926” is located in South Shields and has a restaurant attached to their extremely popular take away shop. On my visit there it was chock full of groups of older folks and whole families getting their mid day meal. 

We still managed to get a table quickly and soon we were joining in on the eating of delicious fish & chips. We then had the rest of the day to explore and enjoy.
Lakeshore Railroad, South Shields
Of course when in South Shields you have to head over to check out Lakeshore Railroad for a ride or just to take snaps (like some of us who obsess over getting a picture of the steam looking “just right”).
A gentle ride around the park on the mini steam train is the perfect thing if you are feeling rather roly-poly after finishing off your huge plate of carby goodness.  
And who knows, maybe after the digestion lethargy has finally passed you might even fancy a go at the amusement arcade across the street. 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Make and Mend Market Treats

Here we have a little eye candy from the most recent Make & Mend Market and I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of each and every item seen here.

Lemon Dream from Poor Girl's Kitchen

Poor Girl’s Kitchen had an array of tempting goodies to choose from and I had to really hold myself back from getting one of everything.

I was even lucky enough to be the enthusiastic winner of four delightful Pet Lamb Patisserie cupcakes of my choosing. 

All I had to do in order to win the tasty quartet was to be the first fan to visit their stall in the Grainger Market and yell (yes, yell) out the secret password.
Caramel Bar from Poor Girl's Kitchen

Since I was out of the house early already for park run and also near enough to the market venue anyway, I figured why not give it a try? 

After finishing park run, I jogged my way through Newcastle town centre (won’t be doing that again anytime soon, yikes!) over to the market, checking via my phone along the way to see if they had released the secret password.

I was nearly at the entryway to the market when the password was finally announced.  I kept up the pace until I was standing directly in front of one of the Pet Lamb ladies who was sitting calmly at their stall.

Cupcakes from Pet Lamb Patisserie

I quickly asked if it had already happened and when she said no, I couldn't help but smile knowing I was about to be super-duper embarrassed and then I proceeded to yell out:

Having successfully won, I just grinned like an idiot whilst choosing my cupcakes and I don’t think I stopped grinning until well after I had eaten the majority of my treats accompanied by a cup of tea in the comfort of my own home.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Deliciously sticky & sweet, this hodge-podge of cinnamon sugary layers can only be described as seriously satisfying especially straight out of the oven.  

As soon as I saw this recipe on Brown Eyed Baker’s blog I knew that I definitely had to find the time to make it, but that thought was only second to my drooling.

This is my kind of bread and is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of freshly brewed coffee on a lazy Sunday.  

It took me a full afternoon to patiently prepare my kitchen so that everything would come together nicely. I carefully removed any traces of cats from the work area and banned them from the kitchen for the duration (which I think they were none too pleased about).

I scrubbed the counter top and laid out my tools (rolling pin, mixing bowl, measuring spoons, etc...) followed by each ingredient lined up in the proper order. 

My mom has always maintained that she thoroughly enjoys baking bread from scratch mainly because she loves the kneading process.  I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of kneading since it makes my hands ache a bit, but luckily this bread only requires the dough be deflated and kneaded only a little bit (you have no idea what fun it is to punch...sorry “deflate” dough until you’ve had a go). 

The finished result is pretty darn impressive looking and tasting, which is definitely a winning combination.  Even though the process may have made my kitchen look like the losing end of a flour fight followed by a cinnamon sugar explosion, it was worth every sticky sweet moment!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Whirlwind Taste of the Northeast

I had a whirlwind visit recently from an old friend who had never been to England before and was only going to be in the Northeast for a single day. 

Marshalls Fish & Chips
I felt obliged to show him not only the visual highlights of the area (see my non food blog entry) but also a few of the culinary highlights.

We headed to the seaside to enjoy fish & chips, complete with mushy peas, in its natural surroundings.  We had our typically British meal at Marshalls in Tynemouth which came very highly praised by a friend.

From now on I will be the one strongly recommending Marshalls.  

Neither one of us had room in our stomach to completely finish our tasty meals but it was so good we just wanted to keep trying.

Tasty treats
This could have been because they serve quite generous portions, or it could have had something to do with the delicious selection of sweet things we had just enjoyed whilst sitting on a breezy bench along the coast.

We chose these little beauties from a lovely bakery along the main road to the Priory in Tynemouth, which unfortunately I don’t know the actual name of but I know exactly where it is for future.

There was an unfortunate cake casualty due to the slightly slippery strawberry tart not coming with a warning label of some sort or perhaps simply because one of us was a bit over excited about eating it and got a tad bit clumsy. 

Luckily we had two other treats waiting in the wings to indulge in. Phew!

Slippery strawberry tart
The chubby coconut macaroon with a little maraschino cherry on top was superb. The other item shall remain nameless (just like the bakery, darn it!) because I have no idea what it was called. The anonymous treat was an almond flavoured shortbread-esque bar with dried fruit sprinkled throughout with each end of the square dipped in chocolate for an extra sweet touch. So good!

There was also a nice selection of real ales enjoyed during this extremely brief visit to the Northeast. The choices available at the Bodega and The Bridge Hotel pubs were fantastically varied from blonde beers to dark brews and all the stages in between.

Real ale at Bodega
The evening was rounded out with a four-course meal at The Raj Tandoori off the Bigg Market in Newcastle’s city centre, but unfortunately I did not get a decent photo of the delicious curries we had, but trust me they were very flavourful and got thumbs up all around.

It has to be said that all involved parties enjoyed this little whirlwind taste tour of the Northeast, and I personally can’t wait to head back to Tynemouth very soon to discover more sweet treats from that fabulous bakery.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Chocolate Guinness Cake

(This entry was originally posted on my non-food blog but I wanted to repost it on here especially since Sylvia's Chocolate Guinness Cake has become a bit of an institution at our office bake sales.....she has developed quite a reputation for her baking skills, Delia and Nigella best watch out!)

Cake. Delicious cake. Need I say more?
Well, yes I should probably say more, especially to explain the details about these glorious chocolaty creations.

My office is known for its impressive charity bake sales which means some members of the office (and even those who have moved on to other offices but still participate, lucky us!) have amazingly awesome baking skills. These skills are often honed over the years by testing new recipes on unsuspecting colleagues.

For example, one might come into the office to start their work week thinking it was just another manic Monday. Low and behold, out of the corner of your eye, you notice there are some baked goodies housed in tupperware perched on a desk. Soon, an email goes around announcing that someone has been practicing their cake-making skills and bonding with their trusty and beloved oven over the weekend. Thankfully they have thought to bring in the results to share with the rest of us.

A stampede of office workers with plates at the ready usually ensues. This is then followed by the sweet smell of chocolate or other deliciously fragrant sugary concoctions wafting across the room as the items are dished out. Mumbled jumbled yum’s and other feedback can be heard as mouths are stuffed with the baked goodies. Just as quickly as they arrived, everyone returns to their desk satisfied and just a little bit hyper.

Sylvia made these two particular treats, and my gosh they were a hit! Chocolate Guinness Cake(from the Hummingbird Cake days cookbook) & Chocolate Brownies.

The brownies were picture perfect and baked ‘just right’ in true brownie style. They were a little bit gooey on the inside with a bit of crunch on the outside. And that cake was one of the most moist, rich, chocolaty cakes I have ever eaten. It even had been dusted with coco powder, the flavor of which compliments the cake perfectly. It was incredibly delicious and memorable.

The Hummingbird Bakery's Guinness Chocolate Cake Recipe can be found in their Cake Days cookbook or on's webpage here: 

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Rowntrees Randoms

With having a sweet tooth comes the love of all things sweet, that fact is a given, but it also means you can fully appreciate the good things versus the not-so-good ones. Thankfully, I don’t often come across the second category but I probably get through more than my fair share of the first.  

I definitely think these fun shaped gummy candies fall into the good category. A bag of Rowntrees Randoms doesn’t last very long once in my possession and I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that there’s been more than one occasion when I’ve bought a bag of them specifically to send as part of a little (and lightweight) British treat parcel to my sister overseas and it hasn’t quite made it to the post office.

Of course I always get a replacement bag to post eventually, but those brightly coloured little gummies are just too good to resist.

I also think that they are worthy of a photo shoot (perhaps that’s a given since I like to snap photos of most food), so take a gander at these little cute gummies and then go out and buy yourself a bag!