Beautiful Philadelphia

Beautiful Philadelphia

Following New York we had a day each in Philadelphia in the city; however due to having limited time we made the most of our trip by only having a day each in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

There is so much history in the older American cities. To us Philadelphia felt like a cross between New York and Amsterdam. There’s something very laid back about the city. We started our visit by eating cheese steaks in one of the parks before taking in some of the historical building and seeing the Liberty Bell. We learned something about the early days of American independence, went to an exhibit in the Peale house and toasted our engagement in City Tavern.Β I’m not 100% sure that everyone in the Tavern really understood our Northern English accents though but we both had some Olde Fashionde drinks which were welcome on such a hot day.

For a slice of foodie heaven we stepped into theΒ Reading Terminal Market.Β Which made us extremely hungry and would make the biggest foodie excited. The range of food inside that market was exciting and mouthwatering. If you’re in the area is it well worth a visit and it was extremely tempting to fill our suitcases with salami, pasta sauces and cheesecake.

In a total change of scene, we were told of the NFL draft and we followed the hoards of football fans. Although neither of us have any idea about American football the excitement was infectious. We had fun perusing all of the stands and watching the commentary in the sunset. Although it was unplanned to be in Philadelphia for the event it really felt like we were getting a taste of the USA.

In Philadelphia we stayed in an Airbnb, it felt like such luxury to 1. spread out our possessions and properly repack our cases. 2. Have a bath instead of a shower. We barely spent any money once we were actually in Philadelphia as so many of the places to visit are free or very inexpensive. My one regret about the visit was that we couldn’t get a picture near the infamous Rocky steps due to the Football draft, but it was such an experience we couldn’t complain too much.

 

Thai style beef salad

Thai style beef salad

If there is ever such a thing as leftover steak in your house (a rare predicament in mine, but we bought 5 minute steaks yesterday) this recipe is perfect for you. It is a lighter way to enjoy steak and its great for warmer days or if you’re watching what you eat a bit more. While this is not strictly a Thai recipe, there are a lot of elements of Thai cooking in this. A perfect Summer meal. (Plus I am feeling not a small amount of pride that D has started eating

For a salad to serves 2 you will need:

2 minute steaks

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

The juice of one lime

8-10 cherry tomatoes

1 large handful coriander

2 spring onions

1 large handful spinach

100g rice noodles

1 teaspoon cornflour

1 teaspoon soy sauce

 

Prepare the marinade; mix the sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, chilli and oil. Slice the spring onion and shred the coriander and add to the liquid.

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Slice the steak into strips. Put the frying pan onto a high heat and add a little oil. Add the steak and the flour and fry for about 1 minute. Put the steak strips in the marinade and allow to cool.

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Half your tomatoes. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the pack. Then rinse the noodles with cold water. Toss the noodles, tomatoes and spinach in the salad.

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If you like you can toast the sesame seeds, but we were too hungry and I sort of forgot to do it. (I had that Monday feeling…)

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2000 Trees Festival, Gloucestershire

2000 Trees Festival, Gloucestershire

So this weekend marked my first experience (at the grand old ages of 27) of camping at a festival. Something I never imagined a couple of years ago I’d be doing. However, D being a music journalist with Already Heard got the opportunity to attend the festival with a press ticket so I went along for the ride. 2000 trees is an alternative music festival in its 9th year and its a lot smaller than the bigger names with a capacity of 5000. I highly recommend it, we felt extremely relaxed sitting in the sun with ciders listening to music in beautiful surroundings. In addition we watching some stand up comedy ranging from painful to hilarious. While festival toilets are pretty grim (especially first thing in the morning), at least we actually saw the portaloos being cleaned (while watching this was unpleasant I feel there are far worse alternatives).

I have experienced festival food at Slam Dunk and Pinky swear festival; and I really liked the setup of the latter. However, the food here was amazing and a must for any foodie who enjoys a healthy amount of live music with their street food. We dined very nicely on delicious burgers, pizza and local cider. In fact, I could almost cry with happiness as D will now eat Pad Thai! It must be said though, apart from our first day we didn’t actually drink that much over the course of the day. I feel this is important to mention anyone who is wary that it might detract from the fun and feel like the odd one out. Just enjoy your day and do what makes you happiest.

Anyway, some festival favourites for me were the following:

Skinny Lister – I loved the energy and how different their sound was

The Lion and the Wolf – beautiful acoustic music and the nicest man ever

Rob Lynch – nothing can stop you singing along with this man

The Subways – listening to their acoustic set gave me a new appreciation of their sound

Bury Tomorrow – while this music isn’t totally what I would normally pick I loved how everyone responded

Sam Russo – Understated and lovely

Also, I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful having a path was after 3 days of waking up in a hot tent and washing with cold water.

Venison steak salad

So last Thursday I went for a day out to the Yorkshire Show in Harrogate (picture heavy post to come) and I picket up some Venison minute steaks. At the Yorkshire show they were heavily promoting eating game with game cookery demonstrations. I know some people are squeamish about eating venison and certain other types of game but it is a good idea to embrace the idea of it. All venison are free range, they are often killed for meat in order to control their numbers and they live a better life out in the open when compared with some animals farmed for meat. Venison is also a very lean and tasty red meat. However, I am aware that some people’s opinions will not be changed so the meat can be substituted for normal beef steak.

To contrast with the flavour of the meat I used salad items with a bit of peppery bite to them. To make this salad I mixed a fiery “Foragers Salad” (reduced in M&S) with watercress. (Basically just mix watercress or rocket with the salad leaves of your choice). To this I added radishes and tomatoes slow roasted in basil and olive oil. I fried the minute steak for just under a minute and let it rest for a few minutes (the meat tastes way juicier this way). Finally I dressed the salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sliced the venison. After taking this picture J tossed the salad to ensure everything was mixed more evenly.

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For those of you with sharp eyes, you may have noticed that there are flowers dotted in this salad. In my opinion they make everything look prettier and don’t taste too floral. However, I do appreciate that some of you will sympathise with J for having an annoying girlfriend that forces him to eat flowers!

I hope you carnivores enjoy this meat based salad. It’s definitely a lighter way to enjoy meat in the summer.

Jakes – Harrogate

As mentioned in my previous posts I had my friends AW and RC to stay last weekend. At the time when they arrived at midday on Saturday, J was still at my house. So, having no bread in my house and 4 very hungry people to feed, I suggested a lunchtime visit to Jakes. Now Jakes is really near where I live and I have often walked past it on my way into the town centre, staring longingly at the cakes in the window. Alas, the staff have never taken pity on me pressing my nose up against the window staring at homemade brownies and pastries. This has possibly something to do with the fact that A) I hardly look malnourished and B) I generally look a bit too pleased with life to need cheering up with baked goods.

RC and AW tried the strawberry and vanilla milkshakes. They both said later that they enjoyed them and that they were tasty.

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Strawberry milkshake
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Vanilla milkshake

J and I both had a pot of tea each. For some reason I didn’t think they were worthy of a picture.

AW, RC and I all chose to have steak and caramelised onion on ciabatta. These were really tasty and sorted my hangover fuzzy head right out. I also thought the meat was really juicy so I was happy with my choice.

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J decided to have the chargrilled chicken, avocado and chilli jam sandwich on foccacia. This was also tasty, although I found the avocados a little under ripe. Over all it was a really nice combination of flavours and J seemed to enjoy it.

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I appreciate that this looks like a paving sized slab of bread…

Being a hardcore chocoholic I finished with a brownie. It was delicious, well worth the shop window food lusting.

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Yum yum yum

J had a flapjack. It was also pretty tasty and not exactly the same as all the other flapjacks you seem to get in shops at the moment.

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I really enjoyed my lunch at Jakes and I would definitely go back for a lunch or an evening meal. If you go at a busy time (such as a Saturday lunch time) be prepared to wait a few minutes for table service, the layout of the restaurant means that staff members might not see you as soon and you want their attention. The staff are all polite and welcoming though and there is a very relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant.

You can find out more about Jakes here.

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 Β£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.

Mussel and Steak Bar Edinburgh

I was lucky enough to have a weekend away in Edinburgh with J this weekend. I actually had the best time, good food and sightseeing is a pretty perfect way to spend a 5 year anniversary. Armed with several restaurant recommendations we actually chose our first restaurant due to its vicinity to our apartment (flurries of snow were coming down and it was too cold to venture too far). Well, the snow was actually a bit of luck as it resulted in one of the most delicious meals I had eaten in a long time. My mouth is watering just remembering it.

We went to Mussel and Steak bar which is in the Grassmarket area of the city. We spent a fair while deciding what to pick off the menu as it all looked so tempting.

I started with griddled scallops from the daily specials. Now after 6 hours on various trains in was a pretty spectacular first meal. I would have have considered griddling scallops but it added a pleasant charred sort of flavour to the mix. I’ve never eaten pickled mussels before and they were a nice addition to the dish.

Scallops, don't mind if I do!
Scallops, don’t mind if I do!

J had prawns in their shells which were also from the daily special menu. These were perfectly cooked and the sauce was delicious. (One of the truly excellent things about J is that he lets me taste his food when we eat out!)

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J’s prawns in their shells

For my main course I had surf and turf. I think this was my favourite thing to eat from the whole weekend. If you love steak and also shellfish you can’t really go wrong with this. The steak was beautiful and cooked just how I asked for it (rare), the mussels in their chilli sauce were a treat, the prawns were flavoursome and juicy and the squid was tender. Squid is something that can often be overcooked and go rubbery but I have noticed that more places seem to get it right and the squid here was perfect.

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Surfin and turfin

J had sea bream with Moroccan spiced cous cous from the specials. Now the cous cous might not look like much, but J absolutely adored it. He said it was delicious. The bream was cooked perfectly. Crispy skin and tender flesh.

Fish in a dish
Fish in a dish

We had sides of salad and bread (which we used to mop up the lovely sauces). We also accompanied the meal with white wine. Although the dessert menu was extremely tempting, we decided not to. Sometimes when you seriously overeat it can lessen the enjoyment of a night (besides my waistband was certainly feeling tight, despite cutting round the fat on the steak!). We skipped (or slid) happily back to our little apartment, slightly tipsy of white wine in my case. Next time I visit Edinburgh I definitely want to go back. If I could pick a last meal before I died, the surf and turf at Mussel and Steak bar would definitely be a contender.

You can find out information on Mussel and Steak bar here.