Rome

Rome

A month ago this week we flew to Rome and enjoyed the delights of Rome and Sorrento (but not really the delights of the Circumvesuviana from Naples to Sorrento without air conditioning on one of the sweatiest days of my life!). Anyway, I thought it would be nice to add a few more recent travel themed posts and as Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world it would be a good place to start.

We flew via Ciampino Airport and travelled round mostly on the Metro and on foot. I would really recommend buying a Roma pass; which as well as giving you a 3 day travel card for the Metro, also gets you into 2 attractions (we opted for the Coliseum and Castel Sant Angelo). I would really 100% recommend buying your tickets for the Vatican Museum before you travel, the queues were insane and we were grateful not to have to worry about queuing in the heat. On the subject of the Vatican, I would also plan what you want to wear in advance, make sure its an appropriate length and covers your knees and elbows otherwise you will be made to cover up, either in a shawl or paper trousers. I don’t know about you but paper doesn’t feature heavily in my travel wardrobe.

Apart from the above attractions we also paid a trip to the Pantheon, explored Trastavere and mistakenly attended Mass in the oldest Christian Churches in Rome (the congregation were so lovely to us and the church was beautiful). I certainly felt like we could have spent a fortnight there and not seen all of the wonderful museums, churches and historical sites.

I would also advise caution when it comes to things like touts, people coming up to you to try and sell you things outside tourist attractions etc. It can be difficult to walk past them politely but tickets are nearly always cheaper from attractions or online vendors and a lot of street sellers will try to rip you off (I feel pretty bad writing this as I am aware its to make ends meet, every beautiful place has some downsides).

However, I would recommend walking round the city and getting a feel of the place. Rome is so beautiful and has so many different areas. We stayed just down the road from the Coliseum in a hotel called Hotel Centro Cavour – the hotel itself was a good base and the staff were so friendly. Upon arrival the man on the reception gave us a map, added the best places to visit on your first visit and explained the best routes to each place.

Although Italy has a reputation for being more on the pricey side, we actually found it pretty reasonably priced for food and drinks. I don’t know what it is about European cities but one of the loveliest things about being on a city break is always sitting outside a bar in the early evening with a drink before the sun goes down.

On the topic of food, embrace gelato. It is one of my absolute favourite desserts and the flavour range is fantastic. I particularly loved raspberry, passion fruit and coconut flavours as the temperatures soared.

One last thing, I  saw another blogger recommend getting up as something ridiculous like 5am to avoid crowded places in more touristy areas. Its very rare something makes me get up this early when I am not in work, but I don’t think this is the sanest, or safest advice. However, if you DO want to visit some of the more popular places at quieter times; crowds tend to disperse around 7.30 to 8pm which provides ample photographic opportunity and a chance to see things at a more leisurely pace.

Pancakes!

So today is pancake day and I expect the blogosphere is already inundated with pancake recipes. I for one am now so full of pancake that I can barely move from my sofa and it’s only Monday (we had pancakes a day early as we’re at a gig tomorrow). However, the combination of raspberry sauce and chocolate in these babies is truly decadent as well as delicious. Be warned though, they are rather filling so pace yourself rather than piling your plate high.

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To make your own pile of pancakes you will need:

200g plain flour

2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

30g melted butter (you might need extra for frying)

300ml milk

1 large tbsp caster sugar

100g milk chocolate chips or milk chocolate chunks

For the raspberry sauce

150g frozen raspberries

1 tbp brown sugar

To serve

Vanilla ice cream/cream

(This recipe serves 4)

 

Put your chocolate in the freezer (to stop it melting too fast). Place your dry pancake ingredients in a bowl and mix leaving an indentation in the middle of the bowl for the egg, milk and butter. Beat together your milk and eggs and add to the dry ingredients along with the melted butter. Whisk until relatively smooth and put this batter to one side for at least 30 minutes.

During this time make your raspberry sauce by heating together your raspberries and sugar until the sugar and raspberry juice combine to form a syrup but while the fruit still has its texture.

Add your frozen chocolate to the batter. Put a non stick frying pan on a medium heat. If you have a really good non stick pan you shouldn’t need to use butter; but if not melt some butter in your pan. Pour a small amount of batter into the pan to form your first pancake. You can cook more than one pancake in your pan if you keep them a couple of inches apart. Cook until the batter is bubbling. Turn your pancakes over and cook the other side of the pancake until golden brown.

Serve with your ice cream and warm raspberry sauce. Any leftovers can be kept to eat later as these also taste pretty good cold. Just cover them and store in a cool place.

The good thing about pancakes is that they are so cheap to make and they feel like a massive treat. If you really want to keep the cost of this recipe down you could skip the berriy sauce in favour of a  sliced banana and use chocolate from the supermarket value range (most supermarket’s value chocolate is really decent).

Nutella Ice Cream

This recipe is an absolute dream for any people who are simultaneously obsessed with both Nutella and ice cream. For the rest of you, I honestly don’t know what is wrong with you. Currently I don’t have an ice cream maker but, although making ice cream can be time consuming without the kitchen gadget, the wait is well worth it. I cannot tell a lie though, I was hovering around the freezer waiting for the ice cream to set. This recipe makes a bit more than 1 litre of ice cream so you’ll need your ice cream machine or a heavy duty tupperware container that can hold 2 litres. The pictures I have taken do not do this ice cream justice.

To make Nutella ice cream you will need:

350ml double cream

350ml Hazelnut or almond milk

6 egg yolks

A pinch of salt

140g caster sugar

A jar of Nutella (not going to give you an exact amount but I used over half a jar)

A vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

If using a vanilla pod split the pod and extract the seeds. Place the vanilla, cream and milk into a saucepan and heat until the mixture starts to simmer. Leave for 10 minutes to cool and to allow the flavour to infuse.

Whisk the eggs and the sugar until pale and fluffy.

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Add the cooled vanilla cream mixture to the egg mixture slowly using a ladle. Once all the mixture was added I gave everything an additional whisk.

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Pour your mixture back into the saucepan and heat on the lowest possible setting for 10-15 minutes. You want the egg yolk to cook slowly and thicken the mixture. Stir occasionally and check the consistency of the custard you are making, it should start to look ever so slightly thicker on the back of your spoon.

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Allow this to cool slightly. During this time heat your Nutella for approx 20 seconds in the microwave. Add 3 to 4 large spoonfuls of the Nutella to your ice cream base. Mix well (every time you come to this mix again or the Nutella will settle).

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Transfer to a tupperware container.

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Refrigerate for 2 hours or until cold. At this point those of you who are lucky enough to have an ice cream maker can put it into that. Otherwise put it into your freezer and periodically (about every 30-40 minutes) beat the ice crystals from the edge of the container with a fork. When your ice cream has nearly frozen put it in your food processor or use a hand blender to break the ice crystals before freezing until hard.

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I like to serve mine in fancy cornets. Portion control is never a bad thing and it allows you to enjoy this for as long as possible.

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You can thank me later…..now to find my digital camera.

 

Lust Liquor and Burn – Manchester

J’s birthday was at the beginning of this month and I am finally getting around to writing about the restaurant we visited, Lust Liquor and Burn. Now, I heard great things about this place from various sources and when I suggested places J might like to eat I was secretly hoping he’d pick this place. Now, I have fairly limited experience of eating Mexican food out. I mean, Ive cooked it at home from this book and I love it and I’ve eaten a lot of Tex Mex food in various chain restaurants but I don’t really feel like I’ve eaten enough lovely Mexican food.

Anyway, here’s what we ate:

1 - lust
Pint of shrimp and squid

This was lovely, the squid was perfectly cooked and the batter was delicious and crisp. Both of us are calamari lovers and this really hit the spot.

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I forget what this cocktail was called but it was based on the concept of Old Fashioned

This Old Fashioned was simply glorious. Really tasty and different. After drinking this we went to the cinema in a bit of a tipsy haze (or I know I did).

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I took two pictures of this….
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Look at this…the Baja beach board.

Now I adored the Baja beach board. It surpassed all my expectations and was simply excellent. I particularly loved the shredded beef tacos and crab and bacon tostada.

5 - lust
Salted caramel brownie and ice cream

I really loved the richness of this brownie. I was a little bit disappointed though as I didn’t feel like the salted caramel was quite salty enough. Overall I really enjoyed it though.

7 - lust
Pineapple and coconut cheesecake and ice cream

This is apparently an updated version on the cheesecake that was already on the menu. J hoovered this up so I think that says it all.

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Here is just a picture of the menu we took…because I made J do it

Now I honestly do not want to recommend this restaurant to you. Really I don’t, I want to keep it a secret forever as its so lovely and I don’t want to have to wait to chow down on tacos. But alas, you really should give this restaurant a try. Lust Liquor and Burn has a great atmosphere and friendly, enthusiastic staff. They don’t take bookings so you may have to wait a while to get a table – J and I visited on a Sunday night (we were those annoying people who took Monday off so were fully able to enjoy ourselves) and we had a half hour wait. We didn’t mind given the quality of the food. The bar also does food and I was tempted to order tacos while I waited to be seated upstairs. What a greedy guts I am!

You can find out about Lust Liquor and Burn here.

Warsaw – the Food

As mentioned previously, J and I visited Warsaw Poland earlier this month. We ate in some completely lovely restaurants including a more traditional Polish restaurant where we ended up eating on the first and last night, a communist themed restaurant and a sushi restaurant (we felt the need for something lighter one day). The food in general is really tasty, I particularly fell in love with pierogi/perogi filled with sauerkraut and wild mushrooms. I also adored my venison steak which arrived absolutely swimming in garlic butter. J liked the Polish bar snacks and his giant meringue cake.

It was just as well we did a lot of walking really, not once did we receive a small portion and we really really enjoyed most of the food (apart from one rubbish Greek salad in the old town). I’m already dreaming of my next perogi….

Food gawking

So, I haven’t quite jumped onto the instagram bandwagon yet (I probably should for blogging purposes). However, having more than a passing interest in food, I tend to collect photos of beautiful food in every form. A lot of these pictures are things my friends have made or are meals in restaurants I’ve reviewed. I hope you enjoy having a look at my food (and a couple of non food) adventures.

Some information about where I ate out at Wagamama and So! by clicking on the links.

Mud Crab Cafe – Didsbury

Well I have had an absolutely lovely weekend this past weekend. It started with dinner (tea if you’re Northern) and wine at my friend’s Miss S’ house on Friday night, followed by a trip to the Cake and Bake Show in Manchester on Saturday and Sunday (I got tickets for both days from a lovely chap on eBay). J accompanied me to the Saturday and my parents and I went for the Sunday afternoon show. I am compiling the photos currently as I took rather a lot. I tend to marvel at people’s sugarcrafting efforts as I am wildly inexperienced at such things.

Anyway, J being the highly attentive and lovely boyfriend that he is, offered to take me out after the show for my tea. We walked up the high street in Didsbury near where he loves weighing up the options. Then I spotted the Mud Crab Cafe and suggested having a look at the menu. It looked interesting so we decided to give it a go. It was lively, but not crowded and we chose to sit in a booth in the back room of the restaurant (there’s something I love about sitting in booths of places, its my favourite place to sit if I can’t sit outdoors).

The staff were all absolutely lovely and we were told we could eat off the 2 courses for £12 earlybird menu despite us only arriving at 6.55 and the deal finishing at 7.00. We both chose to order from this menu and the ordered dessert.

As we both love dips and things we both chose the Middle Eastern Taster Plate to start. J hates olives so I got a double oliver portion and felt like one of life’s winners for a few minutes. This starter was really tasty, I particularly loved the aubergine dip, which was perfectly balanced in flavours and the texture was good.

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I think we missed a trick by not having a skewer sword fight at the table

To follow I chose a chargrilled onglet steak with green salad; you could order it with fries but I wanted to save room for pudding. The steak was served with a lovely garlic butter. We all know from previous posts what a butter fan I am. The steak was lovely and juicy and blackened on the outside and the salad dressing was tasty. A wonderful way to keep steak as a lighter meal.

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I don’t know how many times I blog about steak but I would guess it’s more than average?

J chose sea bass jambalaya for his main course. The sea bass was nicely cooked and overall it was a tasty meal, but we both couldn’t help thinking it might have needed to be cooked with a tiny bit more stock. That might just be personal preference and on the whole he really enjoyed it.

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I love that it was served in a little pan

We both chose to have a pudding in this place. Now if anybody affiliated with Mud Crab Cafe happened to read this I sincerely hope you feel even a tiny bit flattered. J is a really keen cyclist and eats really healthily and rarely gets dessert when we go out at the moment. However, the menu included Baked Alaska which is his absolute favourite and he has not disappointed. The meringue was light and fluffy and he wolfed it down with exclamations of joy.

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I tried to get j to cut into this so you could see the layers but I think it may be hard (I didn’t want to make him wait too long)

I decided to try some of the weird and wonderful ice cream flavours. I tried Blackpool rock ice cream. The waiter (I should have asked his name for the purpose of this I think) told me that it tasted exactly like the pink Blackpool rock. He wasn’t lying and it wasn’t just a hint of the flavour, you really could taste the rock! It reminded me of being at the seaside. I also had Hokey Pokey ice cream with bits of cinder toffee ice cream. It was nice and i liked it lots, but the rock ice cream was so amazing I keep enthusing about it.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

To anybody visiting or living in the South Manchester area I would highly recommend a trip here. It was a great place to eat with a really chilled out atmosphere; friendly, welcoming staff; great food and a cool decor.

You can find out more about the Mud Crab Cafe here and here. They also have restaurants in Sheffield and Manchester.