Wine Tasting at Veeno

Wine Tasting at Veeno

 

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A few weeks ago an exciting email popped into my inbox. An invitation for myself and a friend to try the Selezione wine tasting at Veeno in Harrogate. Exciting on two counts. Firstly, I like wine as much as the next classy lady. Secondly, although I have had many wonderful opportunities via this blog they are rarely so easy that I can walk home from the venue. (Also as a bonus it let me consider what level of wine drinking I feel is appropriate for my hen do next year). I invited my friend Amelia along as she is a fellow foodie, wine enthusiast and all round good egg.

Anyway, back to the wine. Veeno is situated in the heart of Harrogate and while it is part of a new development, the interior definitely gives the feel of a cosy wine cellar. This intimate setting would be perfect for a date, a girls night (like I had) or as part of a larger party. The setting was very relaxed and everybody who worked there was extremely friendly, enthusiastic and knew a lot about wine.

Veeno was established in 2013 by two Italian men in Manchester who loved and missed the Italian Aperitivo. All the wines come from the family vineyard (Caruso and Minini) and there is certainly a sense of pride in the Sicilian wine and food. The business is founded on the Italian idea of relaxing with wine and nibbles after work. Something I think us Brits should get on board with! There are currently 17 Veeno locations across the country and I do highly recommend you visit if you love wine and Italian food.

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The Selezione wine tasting is perfect for those who want to try a range of wine colours – two whites, two reds, a rose followed by a dessert wine. Each wine is paired with a meat or cheese from the Spuntini board of meats and cheeses. Our sommelier (who I seem to remember being called Jake) was helpful and friendly and guided us through the wine tasting experience, but in a relaxed manner. Perfect for a Friday night.

The first wine of the night was a lovely The first wine was a white, a Grillo (“Our Driest”). This was a very dry white but the fantastic thing was that unlike some wines on the drier side it had a fresh, rather than cloying after taste. This was paired with creamy buffalo Mozzarella. We both loved this one the most. Amelia actually ended up buying a bottle of this to take home – needless to say we were impressed!

The wine that followed was “The Wine of Love” Zibibbo. This is one for true Romantics as it was the wine one of the founders Granfathers was drinking in the vineyard when proposing to his wife. This is slightly more of an acquired taste. A very citrussy wine with elements of Earl Grey tea. This was certainly an unusual wine. It was paired with the pecorino and I must say, the saltiness of the cheese cut through this wine nicely.

The whites were followed by the lovely “House Rose”. This was paired with some delicious Speck. I never would have considered pairing a rose with ham (except when I’m sitting at home drinking wine and eating snacks in my pjamas). This wine was crisp and refreshing and I could have gladly drank this all night.

We then moved onto the red wines. I must admit that I have only recently started to like red wines. However the “Experts Only” Perricone was enough to convert me. Although this wine was paired with a delicious Bresaola, we were given some dark chocolate to try with this wine. A revelation as it brought out rich flavours in both the wine and and the chocolate.

Our penultimate wine “The Richest” made from a Nero D’Avola Riserva. Paired with gorgonzola this wine was indeed rich, with different levels of flavour. The smell and taste of this wine were phenomenal and perfect for relaxed drinking. Probably not one I could manage in a great quantity as it was somehow filling. Certainly one I’d recommend to true wine lovers though.

To finish we were given a dessert wine (although not the one in the book as they had run out of this). It was an unusual dessert wine as it was not as sweet as other dessert wines I have had. Nevertheless it was delicious and somehow tasted a bit like cider. I had this with a piece of delicious Tiramisu. Amelia was given lemon sorbet due to dietary requirements (which Veeno were lovely and accommodating about).

As I mentioned above, we were delighted with the level of service we got as well as the fantastic food and wine available. We were already planning our next visit part way through our wine tasting experience.

Click here to find out more about the different Veeno locations across the UK.

There are multiple wine tasting experiences available. Click here to find out more.

We were invited to review Veeno in exchange for a review. However all opinions are our own.

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Something for the weekend: George’s, Leeds

Before I properly start this blog post there are 2 things you need to know:7

  1. The photo quality does not do this restaurant justice.
  2. It is embarrassing that after nearly 5 years of blogging that after 5 minutes D took better photos than me. Bravo my darling, bravo.

If you’re looking for a venue that can produce a classic British dish and put a contemporary twist to the same high quality; Georges is probably the place for you. This place came highly recommended to us from several of Dane’s work colleagues and upon visiting, we could see why. This place is a fun cross between a seaside town and a cocktail bar, with the restaurant booths being decorated like beach huts which was a lovely touch.

We visited on a Friday night after work as D was reviewing Miss Vincent at the Key Club. The staff were lovely, really attentive and pretty interested when D told them they’d be appearing here! The food came really quickly, essential for us as we didn’t really have time to linger. I definitely got the impression that it wasn’t the sort of place you’d be rushed out of though as the cocktail menu was impressive and extensive.

I wasn’t really paying attention when I ordered my drink and was delighted when the below concoction appeared in front of me. This is a Candy Baby – a non alcoholic cocktail. The first time in around 15 years i have had candy floss.

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Dane samples the wild ocean hake in onion bhaji batter. He raved about this, and the batter really was like proper onion bhajis. This was the perfect spin on British fish and chips, but obviously also allows you to enjoy some Indian flavours at the same time.

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My eyes were slightly bigger than my stomach (which they often are after a day in the labs at work) and I ordered a stacked fish burger with cheese croquettes. Both burger and croquettes were delicious. The fish was beautifully cooked. I wasn’t so struck on the deep fried gherkin and picked onion though. (This is more personal preference rather than the way it was cooked). I did feel like I slightly over ordered, and I would say that never time I would order a lighter side with this burger as it was pretty sizeable, and I could not finish everything.

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If you happen to be in Leeds (or Newcastle/Nottingham) and you want somewhere that will appeal to those who want a more traditional menu, without ignoring those who like trying new things this is the place for you. The menu is pretty varied, there are options for meat lovers, and those who want a lighter meal.

We arrived at the music venue, perhaps not the oldest in the audience, but definitely the fullest people there!

Thank you to the staff who were so friendly and really made us feel welcome.

I’d love to return to try some of the exciting looking cocktails. I’m sure we will be returning soon.

For more information on Georges including booking information click this link.

If you’re interested in the band D was reviewing this link takes you to one of their music videos.

Have a great weekend!

Giant scone cake

Giant scone cake

I’m ready to admit it. Blogging can be a funny business. While some people do really well cooking up elaborate meals and writing about them, I always find the most success in terms of number of visitors based on recipes that are straightforward to make at home with ingredients with easy to substitute ingredients; rather than the much more elaborate cooking I originally did when writing this blog.

On that note, I can spend hours making and decorating a cake and, yes, quite a lot of people will show interest. Then on another occasion I can make a giant scone cake due to burning something else, which takes all of 45 minutes to make, bake and decorate and it gets the most interest of any cake recipe I have made. You really cannot predict blog views!

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This cake recipe as mentioned before is really quick to make. Nobody expects a pretty scone so it doesn’t need hours of elaborate decoration. This recipe is also eggless, pretty low on sugar and can be easily adapted into a vegan recipe if you switch the milk and butter for non dairy substitutes and use this gem instead of whipped cream. Pretty much a winner for several dietary requirements then.

To make a large scone cake you will need:

450g self raising flour

100g salted butter

85g caster sugar

Approx 300ml milk

50g sultanas

2-3 tablespoons raspberry jam

200ml double cream

1 tablespoon icing sugar

Heat your oven to 200°C. Line 2 cake tins with grease proof paper. In a large mixing bowl use your fingers to rub the butter into your flour. Add your sugar and sultanas. Pour in about 2/3 of your milk and then gradually add the rest of your milk until just before the point when the mixture goes too sticky and soggy. If this happens add a little flour to stiffen up.

Diving your scone mix between the two cake tine and spread the mix to the edges as scones do not really spread during baking. Bake for about 11 minutes until the scones go golden brown. Allow the scones to cool.

To decorate whip the icing sugar and cream until thick and spreadable. Spread jam on one half of the scone and spread cream on the other half. Sandwich together et voila. A giant scone!

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This is a great crowd pleaser, especially amongst my Yorkshire friends. My grandma served this cake with champagne (this cake was a moving present for her and my grandpa) but it also goes really well with tea of coffee – as scones are traditionally served with tea.

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Sunday Dinner at The Refectory

Sunday Dinner at The Refectory

A wise person once told me that Sundays are for relaxing and eating lovely food. While I am very much inclined to agree, that is what we SHOULD make time for its safe to say life can often get in the way of this at times. For me its having a busy job, running this blog on the side of that, looking after 2 bunnies, being in a play, doing up the house etc. etc. Life can be busy and its easy to forget that mealtimes should be leisurely and help you unwind from the week. So, in addition to inviting me for lunch I’d like to thank the staff at the Refectory in the Royal York Hotel for reminding me how chilled out a Sunday lunchtime can be.

The Royal York Hotel (I think) has recently changed hands and has such elegant interiors combining traditional elements of the architecture with a modern feel throughout. (I’m no design student but my friend Mrs E and I both liked what we saw). The refectory itself was pretty trendy and modern – sort of a conservatory with a Scandinavian vibe. Pretty perfect for weekends in York as it is close to the city centre but with a genuine feel of modern Yorkshire that I think a lot of people will enjoy.

We were made to feel so welcome by the restaurant staff and they all seemed pretty knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the food they were serving. The food is locally sourced which I am very much in favour of, especially given the amazing quality of the local produce in this region.

Also I was pretty impressed that Mrs E tried the piccalilli made on the premises (she is not usually one for condiments!) so this must have been pretty special. To start with Mrs E had the pressed ham hock – with the aforementioned piccalilli and mustard monkey bread. The ham hock and piccalilli went perfectly together and was beautifully presented. I had calamari, a rare treat for me as D is not a fan of squid. The squid was cooked to perfection and was incredibly tender.

For the main course I had roast of the day which was beef and Yorkshire pudding. I was impressed that I was asked how I would like my beef as I know preferences vary on this. I had mine rare and it was beautifully cooked (also I particularly enjoyed a roast dinner I had not had to cook myself). Mrs E enjoyed her confit duck leg (the chef’s special) which seemed to fall off the bone.

We decided to push the coat out and have a dessert each (something pretty rare for either of us these days). I had a Yorkshire cheese board – 3 kinds of cheese which I believe makes it a gentleman’s cheeseboard. I love cheese boards for having my own personal one was pretty cool. Mrs E had strawberry sorbet which looked fresh and inviting and I think a great palate cleanser after the duck.

We sat and relaxed in the light airy restaurant and finished our wine (we had Sauvignon Blanc) and then walked around York to digest our lunch.

All in all a pretty great Sunday lunchtime don’t you think?

We both really enjoyed our food and we were genuinely touched by the attention of the staff. Thank you for inviting us! The Refectory is a great venue with some wonderful food – I think this was reflected in that we could see family groups of different sizes, friends on days out like us and a few couples. I would really recommend this place to anyone visiting York and will definitely be coming back.

For more information about The Refectory including booking details click here. Click here for information on the Royal York hotel including booking details, how to get there and hotel facilities.

I was invited to review the Sunday Lunch at the Royal York Hotel but all opinions and enthusiasm is my own.

Things to do in York: The Great Yorkshire Fringe

Things to do in York: The Great Yorkshire Fringe

D is absolutely excellent at finding things for us to go to at the weekend. This weekend we went to see Showstopper the Improved Musical. The concept is simple but highly effective – audience members decide the theme for a musical and then chose musical styles for the Actors to perform. No two performances are the same and its testament to the skills of the performers that they can adapt and perform hilarious musicals off the cuff from themes as diverse as the York Park and Ride (our show aptly named Ticket to Ride), to current affairs and politics (Why? – about Boris Johnson facing European Parliament). Definitely take opportunity if you can to watch this.

Onto the Great Yorkshire Fringe  which has been running since 15 July and will continue until 1 August. If you’re in York this week you should definitely check this out. There are free performances throughout the day and there is a lively atmosphere that is entertaining for adults and children of all ages. Perfect for the first week of the school holidays.

Going to this reminded me of why I enjoy comedy, theatre and live music. I think we get so caught up in rushing around, trying to maintain a job, an active social life and any hobbies etc. Not even considering my friends who have started to have families or people who have to consider older children. Enjoying live performances with your favourite people helps you live in the moment. No two performances of anything will be quite the same. Sometimes living in the here and now is what’s important.

BBC Spring Good Food Show 2016

BBC Spring Good Food Show 2016

Look at these beautiful photos my friend Mrs E took when we went to the BBC Good Food Show last week. I kindly got given free tickets this year and we really made the most of our visit; starting early and taking in a number of interviews and demonstrations in the Supertheatre. I certainly recommend getting at the show earlier; we managed to get round most of the stalls while it was still relatively quiet with the Harrogate International Centre getting busier as it got closer to lunchtime.

I think the Good Food show in Harrogate is always a fun day out for foodies as it gives visitors an opportunity to try new dishes, see demonstrations for gadgets and explore new trends in cooking and drinking. This is the third time I have attended the show since living in Harrogate and I still walk out having learned a new skill and eager to try a new recipe. I think Mrs E and I both most enjoyed watching the Hairy Bikers who were hilarious and produced dishes that made me excited for my lunch despite having only just finished my breakfast.

The only real bad part of going to the Good Food Show is that I always get into trouble or bringing home kitchen gadgets (this year was no exception). Lets just say there will be a heart shaped cake appearing on this very blog at some point in the not too distant future. Now its just the question of convincing D that we really must have a set of Kitchen Aid Appliances, a vegetable box delivery and several cases of Prosecco.

Sometimes you just need a bit of time (in other news, I’m back baby!)

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The most observant of my regular readers might have noticed my absence for a few weeks. While my lack of writing wasn’t exactly intentional it was very much needed. This time it didn’t come about from emotional turmoil, more sheer exhaustion.

After a busy period with work, trying to blog more often and everything else that is involved with this crazy thing they call modern life I found myself feeling more and more run down and I was getting pretty horrendous headaches and dizzy spells a lot. This culminated one Saturday lunchtime with what D likes to call “Charlotte’s little sleep on the kitchen floor” where I managed to collapse and have to spend the rest of the Saturday in A&E getting poked prodded and generally tested to make sure nothing was amiss. Joking aside, D was actually pretty fantastic. Despite having worked all night before and having been awake more than 30 hours me managed to keep me laughing in hospital while we waited. It seems that when you go to A&E you spend quite a lot of time waiting for things to happen while various health professionals busily work around you. I am so grateful for the help and attention I received and I spent most of my time sitting, wondering at the audacity of the current goverment and their attitudes towards NHS staff.

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Anyway, to cut a long story short they couldn’t find anything majorly wrong with me. However, everyone concerned told me I needed to stop running myself down, give myself time to rest and recharge my batteries and stop racing about trying to do everything. I think that’s true of a lot of people. We try so hard all the time, to be Superwoman (or Superman?) at work, keep up with hobbies, exercise regimes, running a home and trying to maintain an active social life (while not neglecting your family and friends); sometimes you just need to give yourself a break. Sometimes you just need to give yourself time to physically and mentally rest, to stop putting so much pressure on yourself to do everything.

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So, that’s what I have been trying to do. I’ve been staying at work late less often, huddling on the sofa reading, listening to records with D and generally trying to do the exact opposite of haring about. But obviousy I have missed blogging and I actually have a lot of recipes to share over the next few weeks.

Anyway, I think really what I wanted to get across in this post was, your general health and wellbeing is far more important than trying to live up to your own perception of what a perfect person gets up to in their lives. There are only so many hours in the day, be kinder to yourself. Make time to curl up on the sofa watching a much loved tv boxset, go on walks in the countryside and give yourself time to rest. (Or however you like to relax, I don’t actually think my experience makes me some sort of relaxation oracle).

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I actually feel so refreshed now and I have so many ideas to share with you all. Christmas is coming together nicely. I don’t care if my and D’s idea of what a pretty Chrstiams tree or what good Christmas week activities aren’t intagram perfect or make anybody jealous, but I will feel pretty excellent if even one person out there reads this and thinks “yes I do need a break”, or “I think I’ll stop stressing so much about x, y, z. I might just go and ready Harry Potter in the bath tonight”.

Also, one final point, the male paramedic thought I was only about 17 or 18 when we were in the ambulance the other week, so I can’t have aged that badly(!)

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