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Restaurant Review – The Moonraker, Bradford on Avon

Kind of a new restaurant review today…

We ate at the Milking Parlour back in October and it has recently been renamed as The Moonraker. We loved the tasting menu we ate there last time so were looking forward to revisiting this place which has recently gone through a rebrand.

I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was lovely to see that there was very little change in the welcoming dining room and bar and they hadn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken! I was also glad to see there was still a strong emphasis on using lots of local ingredients and produce grown within the grounds.

We ordered my favourite red (a Chilean merlot) and waited for our first course. As we were sampling the taster menu, we didn’t get an actual menu to peruse which I didn’t mind because a) we aren’t fussy and will eat pretty much anything and b) it kept an element of surprise to the evening!

Our first course was soup served with toasted bread in a cup and saucer. The soup itself was a rich beef broth with beef tongue, winter vegetables and girolle mushrooms. I know some people may balk at the idea of tongue but it was delicious and full of flavour.

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A slight moan about these next two courses as they were exactly the same as the ones we ate on our last visit. I would hope that a taster menu would change at least monthly so whilst they were both absolutely delicious (the beetroot salad was my favourite course!) it was a tad disappointing not to try something new.

Anyway, next up we had an incredible salad of lightly pickled beetroot, whipped goats cheese and micro greens served with peanuts, walnuts and a glaze. The crunch of the nuts really added to this salad and I could have eaten two or three plates of this!

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We had hay-smoked salmon after that served with an apple and celeriac remoulade and leaves. We both love smoked salmon and this went down well with the rich fish complimenting the creamy remoulade.

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For our main course, we had another interesting meat choice in the form of venison. This was made into a chilli and served with gnocchi. I’m a bit love/hate with gnocchi – I don’t mind it as an accompaniment but find a whole bowl of it a bit chewy and dense. Luckily, there was a good amount of venison served with the pasta. The chilli was quite spicy for me but full of flavour.

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Finally, for pudding we had a wafer-thin crisp filled with caramel and topped with a chocolate crème brulee. This was incredible, rich but incredible! I’m not too sure what the little amaretto biscuit on the side added to the dish but I loved it.

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Up to this point, I couldn’t fault the service but as per our first visit, we found that we struggled to get a waiter’s attention to pay. I was too tired to wait around so marched up and paid at the bar instead – my only real complaint, especially as this was the second time it had happened.

We found another deal on Amazon for this meal which I would recommend as it means you get a real bargain for some excellent quality food.

Recipe – Roasted Salmon, Pea and Leek Quiche

I made this dish for dinner last weekend and I have to admit that it was absolutely delicious; so much so that I am going out to repurchase the ingredients so I can enjoy it again soon!

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This is a real cheat’s quiche as I didn’t do my usual trick of buying ready-made pastry, but instead bought a ready-made pastry case. I still don’t have a problem with this though as a good quiche is all about the filling in my opinion and this salmon one is a good ‘un.

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Now, let’s talk fish. Ordinary smoked salmon would work fine here but if you can get yourself a roasted salmon fillet then I think the flavour and texture will be that little bit better. I bought a kiln roasted salmon fillet that had a dill flavour to it and it was delicious!

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Ingredients

A knob of butter

1 leek

75g of peas

150ml of crème fraîche

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of milk

Salt and pepper

1 ready-made pastry case

1 roasted salmon fillet

A handful of grated Parmesan cheese

How to make it

  • Begin by preheating the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • In a large pan, melt the butter and gently fry the leek until softened

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  • Add the peas and stir for another few minutes before removing from the heat
  • In a jug, whisk together the crème fraîche, eggs, milk and season well
  • Take your pastry case and layer the leeks and peas along the base

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  • Flake over the salmon fillet

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  • Carefully pour over the egg mixture ensuring it is evenly spread around the fillings

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  • Sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes

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  • Remove when golden brown and the filling has set

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  • Allow to cool slightly then serve – we had ours with a spinach and artichoke side salad and it was fabulous!

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Restaurant Review – The Milking Parlour, Bradford on Avon

We had a real treat for our date night this week. My lovely friends Hannah and Ben bought me a five-course tasting menu at this new restaurant and it was absolutely amazing!

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Located within the grounds of The Old Manor Hotel just outside Bradford on Avon, this beautiful farmhouse restaurant is welcoming and cosy inside and decorated with quirky wooden whisky signs and a good amount of exposed brick and wooden beams. I’m at that stage now where I kind of know when I walk in somewhere if I’ll really love it and this is definitely my kind of place.

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It was lovely to find out how local and seasonal the tasting menu was. The chef uses as much as possible from the kitchen garden and there is even a smokery, beehives and rare breed pigs on site!

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Anyway…onto the food!

After ordering a nice bottle of red, our first starter was brought out. The waitresses really know their stuff and talked us through each part of the menu as it was served.  To being with we had Chinese pulled pork belly topped with a fat, juicy scallop, some micro herbs and a pipette full of a shitake mushroom sauce. I know some may find the pipette a bit poncey but I thought it was a really fun way of serving this dish.

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Ian and I both loved this first course and it definitely set the standard very high for the rest of the meal. I love scallops and its sweetness went perfectly with the pork and sauce.

Next, we had a pickled beetroot and whipped goats cheese salad served with nuts and leaves. I love this classic combination but for me this dish really won on its textures. Rather than the usual crumbly goats cheese, this was light and whipped, almost like a cream, which tasty very indulgent. I also loved the crunch from the nuts – I plan on trying to recreate this salad at home.

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A fish course next with hay-smoked salmon (smoked on site) and a posh coleslaw-style remoulade made with apple and celeriac and an apple vinaigrette. Again, I loved this dish! The salmon was rich and smoky without the chemical taste you sometimes get with supermarket smoked fish.

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Our main course was beef cheeks which had been slow-cooked all day. I’m a fan of pig cheeks but hadn’t tried beef before. It’s another one of those cheap cuts that are terribly fashionable now and taste wonderful with a generous cooking time. The meat just fell apart and was served with a beefy sauce, crunchy green beans and a woody mushroom puree. Although I thought the portions throughout the evening were perfect for me, at this point Ian did say he was still not feeling very full so maybe some sort of potato would have gone well with this dish.

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Finally, my highlight of the meal – the pudding! We had ‘Monkey Bread’ for dessert, a kind of banana bread cake and proper bread hybrid. There was an almost crusty outer layer with a rich, chocolatey, gooey inside. It was served with a big scoop of clotted cream and a toffee popcorn caramel sauce – absolutely divine!

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Whilst the service was really friendly and informative throughout the evening, it did take ages for the waitress to sort our bill out. normally I wouldn’t mind this but we ate quite late and it was a school night so I was itching to get home into my pjs!

Overall, this was a really amazing dining experience. The location, dining room and food were all great and I love knowing you have found a real local gem too! Thank you to my very generous friends for such a great present xxx

 

A Christmas Weekend in London

Hello! Apologies for the lack of posts over the weekend but I have been away for a girls’ weekend with my Mum in London to soak up a little bit of everything the city had to offer!

My trip began rather disastrously on Friday night with a drive to the train station, which should have taken 30 minutes, taking closer to an hour and a half – I hate Bath traffic! Cue me having to run (anyone who knows me will know that is very unlike me! Haha) in the rain to catch my train with seconds to spare! I also managed to leave my purse behind and my car unlocked all weekend in my haste but luckily I had my bank card in my pocket so wasn’t completely lost!

After the bad start, I decided to skip the tube and treat myself to a taxi to The Royal Opera House where I met my Mum, her friend and her friend’s daughter for a performance of the ballet The Nutcracker.

I have never been to the ballet before but have always fancied it and The Nutcracker is Christmas-themed so this seemed the perfect time of year to give it a go!

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We had the cheap seats at the back but got quite lucky when our seats were upgraded before the performance started, although we still needed our binoculars to see the detail on stage.

The show itself was absolutely stunning with beautiful backdrops, wonderful costumes and lovely music. At times, the dancers on stage looked like they belonged on a Christmas card and I was surprised to recognise several of the pieces of music too.

I wish I hadn’t been in such a rush getting to the show because it was a rather glamorous affair and I would have loved to have dressed up for it. The Royal Opera House building was also stunning – I managed to get a few pictures at the champagne bar during the interval.

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The next morning we were up early and headed out to breakfast as the sun was rising over London.

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We had breakfast at one of my Mum’s favourite places to eat, Café in the Crypt, just off Trafalgar Square and recently named Les Routiers Café of the Year 2012.

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The café is housed downstairs and is a lovely building with a real sense of history, echoed in the tombstones lining the floor. It is very reasonably priced for central London and we indulged in some delicious pastries for breakfast.

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After that, we jumped on the tube and headed to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. We arrived quite early so missed the crowds and it was a lovely, crisp morning meaning we could wander around without getting too cold!

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For me, the highlight was all the different food and drink stalls available and I just loved the Bavarian wooden huts and stalls. I imagine the atmosphere in the beer hall would be great in the evening too!

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We indulged in a Bailey’s hot chocolate (at about 10am!)

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This attraction would be great to visit with children but I imagine you would spend a fortune on all the fairground rides and ice skating rinks dotted around!

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I managed to persuade my Mum to have a go on the ghost train with me and I think she hated every minute of it! As a thank you, I treated us to a portion of one of my favourite Spanish foods; Churros.

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These lovely sweet fried doughnuts are indulgent but delicious!

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When it started to get busy, Mum and I headed off to hit the shops. We began with the Harrods’ Christmas window displays. They had a Disney Princess theme this year and even had my favourite, Mulan! Each mannequin was dressed by a different designer including Missoni, Marchesa and Versace. Unfortunately, the sun was shining so brightly that a lot of photos came out really badly but I managed to capture a few pictures that show how beautiful the windows looked.

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After that, I had several foodie places I wanted to tick off starting with La Durée, the masters of le macaron! These little Parisian delicacies are notoriously difficult to make but La Durée are renowned for the quality and variety they offer. We bought a rose flavoured and a salted caramel version, both absolutely beautiful and scrumptious.

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Next, it was onto another foodie landmark, Fortnum and Masons. Rather pricey but beautifully packaged, I loved having a wander through here and treated myself to a few items including some biscuits and jam. I can’t say much more as the other things were all Christmas presents!

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I also loved their wedding cakes, a snip at about £800 each!

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One of my favourite designers, Emma Bridgewater, has collaborated with the store on a Christmas dinnerware range and I fell in love with the print although it was so expensive I will just have to admire from afar!

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Our next stop that afternoon involved more cake at The Hummingbird Bakery! I have been wanting to visit one of their stores ever since I bought their first baking book years ago and it was lovely to go and enjoy one of their cupcakes. Having made several items from their books, it was almost strange to see them all on trays having seen them in my own kitchen. Obviously, their versions were how the products were meant to look too!

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I couldn’t resist the classic red velvet cupcake.

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That evening, we got dressed up and headed to the Savoy theatre to watch Cabaret. Will Young was playing the role of the master of ceremonies and did it in such a wonderfully camp way. The show itself was fantastic; great songs and dancing and lots of bare bums (including Will’s) for us to giggle at!

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Afterwards, my body finally rebelled against a day of cake and I just had to have something healthy. Cue an M&S mini picnic back in our hotel room!

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I finished off the weekend with a wonderful lunch with one of my best friends at Peruvian restaurant, Ceviche, however the food was so good that it really deserves a post of its own!

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Today has been quite a struggle at work as I feel shattered after such a packed weekend but it was a perfect time to go in the run up to Christmas and I loved the two shows we saw. As a food blogger, I was in heaven eating my way around different places but I do feel like I have overindulged slightly…totally worth it though!!!

Recipe – Salmon in a Cheese and Dill Sauce

It feels like it has been a little while since I posted a recipe so today I wanted to share with you a lovely fish dish.

I made my Swedish meatballs for dinner the other night and found myself with half a packet of fresh dill to use up and it makes a wonderful accompaniment to fish, especially salmon.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of plain flour

About 200ml of milk, depending on how thick you want your sauce to be

A handful of cheddar cheese, grated

A bunch of fresh dill, chopped

Salt and pepper

2 salmon steaks

How to make it

  • Preheat you oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • Begin by making a simple white sauce. I know there are several methods for doing this but here is how I make it, just like my Mum showed me!
  • Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan
  • Add the flour and mix well
  • Keep stirring for a minute or so to cook out the floury taste
  • Add the milk, a bit at a time, stirring constantly
  • After a few minutes, you should get a sauce-like consistency
  • Add the cheese and dill and stir until the cheese has melted
  • Season to taste
  • Place the salmon in a lightly greased ovenproof dish and season with salt and black pepper
  • Pour the cheese sauce over the top and place in the oven (I had a little bit of sauce left over so I served this on the side when the salmon was cooked)
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown
  • Serve with potatoes and greens

I am happy to say the sun is shining so I am hobbling out to the garden to make the most of it while it lasts! x

Restaurant Review – The Crown at Bathford

To celebrate the end of my school’s SATs exams, I insisted on going out! Having heard very good things about The Crown at Bathford, which is about a five minute drive from us, we popped down for supper and a few beers.

Upon entering the bar, we were warmly greeted and nabbed a seat next to the fire whilst we perused the menu. This place has a French chef and the menu has a lovely balance of French bistro dishes alongside traditional pub classics.

We both took advantage of their meal deal, offering two courses for the reasonable sum of £12, or three courses for £15 if you can manages it!

I started with deep-fried breaded mushrooms, which were served with a well-dressed salad and a lovely homemade garlic mayonnaise. The mushrooms were lovely and crispy in light breadcrumbs.

Ian opted for the bruschetta which came topped with homemade pesto and Mediterranean vegetables. Again, the flavours were perfectly balanced and both starters were very tasty.

For our mains we had a bit of a wait as Ian’s pie was made to order…but it was well worth it!

I had a salmon omelette, which was filled with beautiful herby pieces of fish, and served with lots of crispy fries.

Ian’s pie was filled with beef and a sauce made from Bath Gem ale (which we were also drinking!) and served with mashed potato and a rich gravy. The meat was really tender and knowing that it was made to order only a few moments earlier really added to the enjoyment.

Having seen other diners ordering some delicious looking puddings, I wanted to try one but I was too stuffed so had to pass on them until another day…definitely not like me!

Overall, this pub offered a cosy, warm and welcoming atmosphere with amazing food. I would pop in here for drinks or dinner, and am looking forward to making the most of their beer garden over the summer too…highly recommended!

A Weekend with the Girls

Hello!

In my last post, a few days ago, I promised my paella recipe was on its way and I have had a few messages wondering where it is. As quite often happens when you have house guests and a lovely doggie staying with you, other things cropped up and I ran out of time for my nightly writing session so apologies for the wait, but I promise it will be up on here soon, along with a very tasty cheesecake recipe!

This weekend saw a rather overdue catch up with one of my best friends who has just moved to London. Despite a part of me hoping she would change her mind and stay so I could see her weekly, I now have the perfect excuse for a girlie weekend away seeing the best of what the capital has to offer, which for me always includes food! Luckily, my friend, Cat, had already scoped out some excellent local eateries so I was not disappointed!

I headed up on the train and made my way across the city, through the crowds of Liverpool and Everton fans emerging from Wembley (nice win lads!), until I was in gorgeous West Hampstead and gasping for a cuppa. Without further ado, we visited the darling Bake-A-Boo café for some afternoon tea.

I love it when a friend chooses a place that you will enjoy and this was right up my street; fairy lights, lace doilies, bunting, paper lanterns, roses, mismatched china…perfection!

However, it wasn’t a case of style over substance and we also sampled two of their delicious cupcakes.

First up was the ‘Charlie’ chocolate cupcake; a cocoa-rich sponge topped with chocolate buttercream.

Next was my favourite; the ‘Bella’, which was a light, blueberry-filled sponge topped with a fresh passion fruit buttercream. This cupcake was actually gluten and dairy-free, although you couldn’t really tell, which I personally think means they have got it spot on!

My only niggle is that we arrived rather late in the day so the café had sold out of a lot of their stock but after looking at the wonderful selection on their website I can see why! If I lived nearby, I would frequent this place a lot with girlfriends and I am contemplating whether to treat myself to their cookbook to recreate some of the recipes at home…the Cosmo cupcake and elderflower tea bread are particularly tempting!

I didn’t walk away completely empty-handed though. Bake-A-Boo has a few shelves offering some very cute and vintage-style kitchen and baking accessories and I just couldn’t resist these very cute cupcake cases:

After a quick change and some red wine, we donned our heels and were off out for dinner at The Wet Fish Café, a lovely seafood restaurant.

We started with a delightful fishy sharing platter which included perfectly cooked sweet scallops, crispy calamari, a pile of smoked salmon and some crayfish dressed in a light lemony sauce. All elements were fresh, well-cooked and really got our taste buds going for what was to come.

My friend Cat opted for a piece of pollock with polenta chips, confit leeks and a tomato sauce which was a really well-balanced dish.

I enjoyed the crayfish in the starter so much I ordered the crayfish linguine, which was a twist on my favourite pasta dish, spaghetti vongole. It was a generous bowlful, with hints of chilli, lemon, garlic and parsley throughout and lovely big juicy chunks of crayfish.

We shared a simple pudding of rhubarb and apple crumble, served with cinnamon and raisin ice cream.

The restaurant had a lovely relaxed atmosphere and very friendly service and I would look forward to dining here again. All of the fish is from sustainable sources and was really delicious and cooked well…all in all a fabulous evening with great company!

I was up and out early the next day and over to North London for a bridesmaid dress fitting with another group of girlfriends. For obvious reasons, I cannot reveal too much about the outfits in question(!) but I can confirm we had enormous fun dressing up in the vintage-style that has been chosen and I got to wear a petticoat for the first time in my adult life!

After some shoe shopping and a long lunch, we headed back to the station and just had time to squeeze in a Krispy Kreme and a latte before it was time to catch our train back to the West Country after what was a very enjoyable and much-needed girls’ weekend.

Despite coming home to discover we had run out of oil and would have a rather chilly house for a few days (ahhhh the joys of living in the country!), it was lovely to be back home again and have a long soak to wash off the grime and dust of the city, as well as catch up with my boy!

I was back to work again today and, although it was painful to hear my alarm go off so early, it was great to be back and it made me realise how much I missed my class and colleagues…although ask me again how I feel about work in a few weeks when the dreaded SATs are looming!

(Not long until my paella recipe, I promise…and totally worth the wait! Ha!) xxx