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Sunday Catch-up #36

Hello! I took a few days off blogging this week. It was Ian’s birthday so we have been seeing family and friends in the evenings plus work has been manic so I needed my time at home to be spent just relaxing and not thinking about school!

We’ve had a fab weekend. We decided very last minute (i.e. late Friday night) to spend Saturday at Go Ape. Ian had wanted to go for his birthday but we didn’t fancy doing it unless the weather was good and upon seeing it was sunny this weekend, we jumped in the car with my brother and his girlfriend and headed up to the Forest of Dean. We had so much fun and I’m really glad we went. I was terrified in places but had such a sense of achievement when I finished the course, although I’m aching a bit today!

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This week I have been…

Making: my guests feel welcome with clean sheets and Battenberg cake!

Going: to the Forest of Dean (it’s a beaut)

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Wearing: head to toe Nike

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Eating: a lovely birthday meal at The Longs Arms

Drinking: apple juice

Reading: I’ve just finished a book and am starting a new one tonight

Watching: Veep

Buying: birthday presents for Ian

Planning: my wardrobe for the week ahead (I’m off to Dorset for three days with school)

Cooking: on our new BBQ

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Baking: I’ve got all the ingredients for a new flapjack recipe to make tonight

Writing: blog post ideas down

Favouriting: James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke…hilarious!

Working on: staying organised

Trying to decide: what length I want my hair

Wishing: I could have bagels and tea in bed every morning

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Enjoying: Go Ape – such a fun day out!

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Needing: to paint my nails

Feeling: gross after a bird pooed in my hair…although it’s meant to lucky eh?!

Giggling at: nearly doing the splits on the high ropes!

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Recipe – Coca Cola Chicken

After indulging in chicken wings on an almost daily basis whilst in America, I was craving chicken again so had a play around with this recipe. I call it Coca Cola chicken but it is akin to a very mild, sweet barbecue sauce and one that makes the meat almost fall off the bones. You can make this with drumsticks, wings or even thighs.

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Ingredients

A glug of olive oil

9 chicken drumsticks

One can of Coke (I used Diet Coke)

One tin of chopped tomatoes

One teaspoon of wholegrain mustard

Salt and pepper

Some fresh coriander

How to make it

  • In a large pan, add the oil and chicken and brown for a few minutes on each side on a medium heat
  • Pour over your can of Coke, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes
  • Now add the chopped tomatoes and mustard, season well and stir
  • Lower the heat slightly and allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring regularly, until the sauce has reduced and thickened

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  • Remove the chicken legs and scoop up the rest of the sauce
  • Serve warm with some fresh coriander and my Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

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Love Food Festival, Dyrham Park

I love food festivals…lots of free tasters, people who are passionate about good food and we always come away with a bagful of tasty ingredients.

Love Food Festival is a local food festival held at various venues around Bath and Bristol and always has a great selection of stalls. Although we don’t have children, these are really family-friendly events and there is lots of emphasis on learning where your food is from.

As the sun was shining again today, we jumped in the car and headed over to Dyrham Park with the aim of buying some things we could BBQ this afternoon.

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There were loads of great options for lunch…

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A smoothie stall where you hopped on a bike and pedalled to blend your own drink!

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Herbs-a-plenty

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Cakes

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Jams and chutneys

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And luckily for us, some amazing meat!

We came away with a pretty good haul of Toulouse sausages, some jam, shortbread, quiche and two types of ribs.

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I have to give one company a special mention. Rib Street, based in Bristol, offer beef and pork ribs in amazing BBQ sauces then slow cook them and vacuum pack them ready to sell meaning you get all that amazing tenderness and flavour from slow-cooking with only about 10 minutes cooking time on the BBQ!

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Ian managed to do a deal with the stall holder and we came away with two large packs of pork and beef ribs for about £15.

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This afternoon, we fired up the BBQ for its first outing of the year and enjoyed a lovely long lunch in the sun.  We cooked the sausages and ribs we bought and had them with a couple of salads and fruity beers.

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I knew I would enjoy the pork ribs but we both fell in love with the beef ones! They were so juicy and tender and just fell off the bone once on our plates. I imagine making a pulled beef sandwich with one of these ribs with coleslaw would be amazing!

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After a gorgeous weekend, spent mostly outside in the garden, it is back to reality now as we get ready for another week at work. Lucky for me, this is my last week at work until half term so I’m hoping it flies by! x

Recipe – Spicy Red Cabbage

I have had one of the best weekends in a long time, full of food, friends and laughter!

Our friends arrived on Friday night carrying Krispy Kreme doughnuts and flowers (the best houseguests!) and I cooked us a huge toad in the hole, complete with extra sausages, potatoes, asparagus and my delicious red cabbage…recipe below…followed by huge slices of chocolate brownie!

After a lazy Saturday morning of croissants and tortilla, Ian and I decided to show our guests a few of our local hotspots in Bradford on Avon. We started off with a wander around the Tithe Barn then the boys went to the pub and us girls hit the independent shops. Sometimes, it is only when you are playing ‘tour guide’ that you remember and appreciate the cool places that you live near!

After a long lunch back home, we braved the afternoon chill for a walk around the village and a quick half at the local pub before heading into Bath for dinner at The Bath Brew House.

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I love this place and couldn’t resist ordering the BBQ ribs again and yes, they were just as amazing as I remembered! I even found room for a huge slab of Dr Pepper chocolate cake afterwards.

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Whilst there, we also booked tickets for a special ‘pork and beer night’ later this week so expect another review of this restaurant soon!

Today’s recipe is only a side dish but it is one I have made several times recently and is a real winner! At first, I thought it was a bit too Christmassy but this side dish is lovely to have at any time of the year. Not only does it add a lovely deep purple colour to your plate, it tastes delicious and seems to make loads too!

Ingredients

Butter

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 cinnamon stick

A quarter of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

A quarter of a teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

A quarter of a teaspoon of allspice/ sweet mixed spice

1 red cabbage, cored and sliced

1 apple, finely chopped

3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

100-150ml of balsamic vinegar

50ml of red wine

2 tablespoons of jam or cranberry sauce (I used sour cherry jam)

How to make it

  • Melt a tablespoon of butter in a deep saucepan and add the chopped onion to soften for a few minutes on a low heat
  • Add the cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice and mix wellcab3
  • Add the red cabbage and sauté for a few minutes with another knob of butter thrown incab4
  • Add the apple, sugar, balsamic vinegar and winecab5
  • Cover and continue to cook on a low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Stir through the jam and cook for another 15 minutescab9
  • Season well and serve warm, with another knob of butter on top

Finally, I had to post this weird picture I noticed when cutting my red cabbage…can you see the lobster?!cab7

Restaurant Review – The GPT Smokehouse, Bath

This week, I requested ‘somewhere that does good ribs’ for our date night! I was really impressed with the ribs we had when we ate at Bath Brew House but when I heard another smokehouse had opened, I knew it would only be a matter of time before we tried it out.

This restaurant is the new venture from the guys that owned Banglo, the restaurant next door that unfortunately was forced to close after a terrible fire. I have fond memories of long lunches in Banglo and the food was great so I had high hopes for the GPT Smokehouse, in what used to be the GPT Tavern.

Previously, it was a fairly nondescript pub and it has had a good facelift – lots of colour, exposed brick and cool furniture and art work.

It may have been because it was a rainy Thursday night, but there really wasn’t much atmosphere when we first walked in. Throughout the evening I realised that there is a bit of an identity crisis going on here. Some people were stood at the rather cramped bar area using it as a pub and then there were others who were there to eat but there is a lack of tables and some are in really bright areas of the room meaning it didn’t have that cosy, dining atmosphere you want from a restaurant.

Seeing as we are sticking strong with Dry January (so excited about my first beer next weekend though!) we started with some non-alcoholic drinks and perused the menu. I have to say that first impressions aside, the menu looked really good – lots of meat prepared using the onsite smoker with a definite nod to the American BBQ trend.

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For starters, I had some sweetcorn and jalapeno fritters and Ian opted for the chicken wings.

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My fritters were really good – just enough spice and served with a cooling smoked paprika dip and iceberg lettuce.

Ian’s chicken wings were amazing – huge and marinated in a spicy, flavoursome sauce and served with homemade slaw…and a water bowl for cleaning those greasy mitts afterwards!

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For our mains, I couldn’t resist trying their ribs although I did show some restraint and went for half a rack! These were served with a mug of skinny fries and some great coleslaw. Although the BBQ sauce was delicious, I was slightly disappointed with the ribs. For a start, they were quite dry rather than the juicy, falling-off-the-bone consistency I love. Secondly, the cut didn’t have that much meat on it – I like the rack of ribs plus a big chunk of meat on top so I felt a bit short-changed with these ones.

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Ian ordered the ‘Dirty Burger’ and it was jam-packed with good stuff! A rare beef burger topped with smoky bacon, melted cheese and a generous helping of pulled pork – naughty but a delicious treat. This was really filling but I had a bite and really enjoyed the combination of flavours.

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For pudding, we decided to share the Oreo chocolate brownie although I wasn’t too impressed with the 25 minute wait for it. I wish I could say the dessert was worth the wait but it really wasn’t anything special. The brownie was quite dry and I wouldn’t have known it contained Oreos at all.

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Overall, a mixed review for this place. I don’t think the new owners have really worked out whether they are a bar or restaurant and currently I don’t think they are getting either one quite right. The food and drink are priced like a restaurant but it has the atmosphere and layout of a pub.

The food however is really good and I think if it became more of a restaurant or at least had a dedicated dining room/ area I would definitely go back for more.

Restaurant Review – Bath Brew House

Last week, Ian and I went on a date to the new Bath Brew House. It has been open for a few months now but as soon as Ian heard there was an onsite brewery, he was very eager to go and try it out! brew4 This place used to be ‘The Metropolitan’, a fairly nondescript pub on the outskirts of town, but it has had a rather trendy new facelift and it was packed when we went on Thursday. As well as having its own brewery, this place also boasts a smoker and rotisserie which appealed to me. brew11 We started off with a few pints of ‘Emperor’, a light, hoppy pale ale with fruity notes – very crisp and refreshing.

We were seated at the far end of the dining area which I think was a bit of an error as we were there for over 20 minutes with the menu before I finally had to go and ask a waitress to come and take our order. Although we were less than impressed by the service at first, the waitresses really tried to make up for it afterwards and were really attentive and friendly once they knew we were there!

I really like the contemporary interior which has gorgeous wooden floors with a mixture of industrial and traditional touches dotted throughout. brew13 I think the menu is different compared to other places in Bath and with a huge selection of restaurants on offer, I like that this pub has carved itself a bit of a niche locally. The menu isn’t huge but is quite American in its content.

Ian and I started off with some starters to share; the ‘Scotch Bacon and Egg’ and the ‘Bingo Wings’. The Scotch egg used minced bacon to surround the egg and this gave a lovely, flavour although I don’t think the texture was quite as good as sausagemeat. brew15 The chicken wings were deep fried and had a lovely spicy kick. These were just like some we had in Vegas and very tasty. brew14 For our mains, we went all out and if I’m honest it was a bit of a meat feast! I had the ribs which were amazing, full of smoky flavour and there was so much tender meat. It came in a sweet and sticky BBQ sauce, which complemented the smokiness of the meat perfectly, and a generous helping of fries and coleslaw. Ribs are probably my favourite dish to order and these were pretty damn good. brew7 Ian had a whole (!) spicy chicken from their rotisserie, although had to admit defeat and take some home in a doggie bag! This was perfectly cooked and they left the skin on for a naughty but nice treat. His meal came served with a mug of chips and some salad and was also very tasty. brew8 The pudding menu looked tempting but after such huge main courses, we couldn’t manage a dessert but I did find room for a white hot chocolate which was served with the classic biscuit accompaniment…a party ring! I really enjoyed this hot chocolate – it was creamy and indulgent and only slightly sickly. brew10 I also couldn’t resist doing this with the foam: brew1 The final touch (which I also loved) was how they gave us our bill. It came in an old book with a little bag of old-school pick ‘n’ mix sweets! brew3 brew2 Despite the slightly poor service at the start of the night, Ian and I both loved this place. The menu was spot on for good pub food and the addition of lovely surroundings and great beer only adds to the experience.

We will definitely be popping back here very soon and I recommend this place if you are looking for somewhere new to eat in Bath.

Sunny Days

Hello!

It’s been a few days since I have managed to sit down and blog but things have been incredibly busy at work trying to finish everything off for the year. However, all the big stuff was handed in on Friday so I finally feel like I can relax a bit and start looking forward to America!

This weekend was a pretty darn good one. It obviously helped that we had some gorgeous weather but I also managed to pack in a good dose of friends and family.

On Friday night, after sitting through two horrendous traffic jams, I made it to Birmingham for a night with my bestie Lucie. She is a great hostess and always seems to know the cool places in the city to take me to! This time, it was a little food truck festival in Digbeth which was full of super-trendy people but it was the food that I was interested in!

The Street Food revolution is huge and I am looking forward to sampling a couple in San Francisco soon. There were four different food trucks on offer and I was so hungry I was seriously considering getting one thing from each one!

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I went for the ‘Low ‘N’ Slow’ truck which specialised in slow-cooked American BBQ food. Unfortunately the pulled pork and beans had sold out but I had the most amazing burger filled with beef chili brisket, topped with homemade coleslaw and BBQ sauce…perfect with a cold beer!

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For ‘pudding’ I went to the Jabberwocky van (coolest name ever!) for a posh toastie and shared a banoffee one with Lucie. It was delicious.

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We finished the night with endless cups of tea, talking into the early hours, which was the perfect end to a stressful week. I also received the most incredible early birthday present…

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The next day, I headed over to my friend Paul’s house for our annual BBQ with my old university coursemates. It made us feel incredible old to realise we had met almost 10 years ago now (!) but I am so glad we all make the effort each summer to come from different parts of the country to meet up and eat!

There was an endless supply of good food and my diet went out of the window with the 4 puddings I had…oooops!

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I came home last night and Ian and I made it up the pub for last orders so we could have a beer and a good catch up.

Today, after a lie-in we fired up our BBQ for the first time this year and Ian’s parents and dog George popped in for lunch. I tried out a new pork rub (recipe coming soon!) and we thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine.

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brum21Despite falling asleep for a rather large chunk of it (I blame the heat!), this afternoon was all about Murray and I was quite moved when he finally did it!

All in all, a great weekend and now that things at work have calmed down a bit I am in holiday-planning mode and may share a few plans on here over the next few weeks.

I hope you made the most of the sunshine this weekend…it probably won’t be here for much longer! x