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!

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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.

If you’re in the area visit Jervaulx Abbey Tea Rooms

If you’re in the area visit Jervaulx Abbey Tea Rooms

IMG_0613Over the bank holiday my parents and I took a trip to visit my Grandma F. My Grandmother is one of the people who I inherited a love of baking and food from (along with my parents and my Grandma P). She also shares my appreciation for a really good place to drink tea or coffee and eat sandwiches and cake. So a trip to Jervaulx Abbey Tea Rooms was suggested. Jervaulx Abbey is a 12th Century Abbey in East Witton, a village near Ripon. The Abbey and Tea Rooms are owned by the same family and there is a farm shop based on the tea rooms premises. Most of the produce is made on the premises or locally sourced; my mum heard one of girls working in the tea rooms tell another customer that her father grows the raspberries and spends time putting them into stuff made for the cafe or farm shop.

Anyway, the tea rooms are peaceful, my grandma uses a hearing aid and its sometimes a struggle for her to hear when there is a lot of background noise, so it was nice not worrying that she couldn’t hear what we were saying. The food is decent here, I had the loveliest ploughman’s lunch made with locally made Wensleydale, ham and pickles. Everything had a relaxed feel and the Yorkshire Dales provided the perfect backdrop to it all (although to be fair the Dales are so beautiful they provide a pretty amazing backdrop to most things).

To summarise, the Jervaulx Abbey Tea Rooms are the perfect place for lunch, coffee and cake or afternoon tea if you happen to be the slightest bit peckish and in the area. I also managed to get a picture of what the Abbey would have looked like in its prime. Next time I’ll have to get a proper look around the Abbey (which is possibly just an excuse to go back for cake next time!)

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5 ways to make yourself a bit happier this Spring

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I must admit I am feeling decidedly unsparkly tonight. I have the sort of cold that has exhausted me and left me with a comically squeaky voice to boot. However, I had a lovely weekend in which D and I spontaneously went to Country to Country (a country music festival) in London. Which got me thinking, while watching literally thousands of people having a whale of a time, of small things to consider doing to boost your happiness over the next few weeks.

1. Sing. There has been much research into the impact of singing on your mental health and happiness. I started doing musical theatre again a couple of nights a week and my mum has joined a community choir in my home town. More than once we have discussed how singing is relaxing and makes you think of something beyond the stresses of work and daily life. So sing your heart out, even if it’s just you when you’re home alone in the living room dancing to Taylor Swift.

2. Go to some form of live entertainment. Whether it’s a gig in the back room of a pup, a festival, theatre show or whatever; look into going. If you see your favourite musical touring, or that your favourite band is playing, bite the bullet and book tickets. It gives you something to look forward to and once you’re there the atmosphere is wonderful. There’s something wonderful about hearing something you love live on a stage. So get it organised, rather than wishing you were going.

3. Take up a new form of exercise. Release those endorphins and make yourself feel great. There’s something so great about how fantastic you can feel after a great workout. If you’re feeling daunted about going to a new class or joining the gym, try to remember that everyone in the class has been the new person at the class once. As a lazy participant of several exercise classes I have never once observed people eyeballing a new person.

4. Invite your friends to your home. Going out with friends is nice, but there is something lovely and cosy about sitting on the sofa (or in the garden on a nice day) drinking a glass of wine and having a great catch up.

5. Make the most of where you live. Go on walks in the local countryside, go to the beach or just go to the local beer festival or food festival. It’ll make you feel fortunate to live where you do and you’re likely to randomly bump into people you know while doing it.

Cheese and chive scones

I’m sure there are times when even those with the biggest sweet tooths fancy something a bit less sugary. These cheese scones provide the perfect solution. The excellent thing is they’re cheap to make, they work well as a snack, or with soup or a salady lunch and they taste lovely. I used Coverdale cheese which is a really Yorkshire cheese to be using (D took me to the Wensleydale creamery last weekend and dopey over here picked 2 of the same cheese in her selection. Any white cheese will do – Cheddar, Wensleydale, Caerphilly or whatever you fancy.

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To make cheese and chive scones you will need:

450g self raising flour

85g butter cubed

150g white cheese (grated)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper

2 teaspoons dried chives

284ml buttermilk (1 pot in most supermarkets)

A good splash Worcester sauce (or Henderson’s relish if you’re in Yorkshire)

 

Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C in a fan oven). In a large mixing bowl rub together your flour and butter to form breadcrumbs. Stir in your grated cheese, salt and pepper, Henderson’s relish and chives.

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Pour in your buttermilk and use your hands to bring the mixture into dough.

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Flatten your dough down to an inch thick and use a round cutter to shape your scones.Gather together any trimmings and reshape until all the dough is used.

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Place your scones on a floured baking tray, brush with any leftover buttermilk or normal milk and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and well risen.

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These store in an airtight tin for several days but watch out for any member or your household sneaking these whenever you’re not looking!