So the Boy and I have been sorting our garden, we have a terraced house so have a smallish shady spot, half-decked and now since the Boy laid it half lovely green grass…
I cannot wait till we are finished and we can sit and eat outside!

I also cannot wait to have things growing, to make my own pudding with fruit we have grown will be amazing.

So last week we paid yet another visit to the garden centre where we purchased a ton of berry plants as well as peppers, chillies and tomatoes…

Strawberries! Not many of these will make it into a recipe, they will probably be nibbled whilst sitting on the grass…

Plus another of compost (we seem to be going through a lot of this!) and some flowers…

Plus the Boy bought me this beautiful rose-bush… the roses are huge and pink and so so pretty!

And this could be the most perfect rose I have ever seen in my whole life…

So the Boy got busy planting and for a reward we had a steak dinner…

I kept it simple so there is no recipe as such in this post…

I pan-fried the steak, mine was medium rare and the Boy’s as rare as I could make it!

I also made sweet potato chips and a simple green salad with tomatoes and avocado…

To make these I used 1 large sweet potato, chopped into chunky chips roasted in olive oil, dried chilli flakes and paprika in the oven for about 30 minutes at about 180c…
if you use very little oil these are very healthy…

And to serve with the steak I made some lemon and black pepper creme fraiche, I wanted something light and fresh as it was such a hot evening but am still very new to eating red meat so needed something…

Just literally mix lemon zest from 1 lemon, half a lemon’s juice and as much black pepper as you like with two or three tbsp of half fat creme fraiche, it was yummy with both the steak and the chips… and much healthier than mayo…

The steaks were a purchase from the farmers market that day…

There are lots of farmers markets in Bristol and I am lucky to have one near where I work on Wednesdays, so as often as possible I pay it a visit and make a treat dinner…

They looked quite small when I bought them but they were not!

After what was a huge very filling meal on a beautiful evening we decided to go for a long walk and I just wanted to share some of the photographs I took, they are so Bristol they could be postcards… I had to share.

We stopped off at The Cottage, one of the greatest views a pub could have…

As we watched, the Matthew sailed past…

Then there were balloons, I have never taken a photograph that is more Bristol than this one, with the balloon and the colourful houses…

Then we walked back through the harbours, admiring all the boats…

Back home past the Ostrich (another gem in the sunshine)…

There were so many vapour trails in the sky, and although they are bad, they were very pretty that night…

And back south of the river…

Down to the Quay…

June 28, 2010

A few Saturdays ago I got up early and went for a walk to central Bristol (I didn’t go near any shops… promise)…

I love being in the harbour when it’s sunny, it’s one of those places that makes you feel so lucky to live in Bristol…

Down on Bristol’s lovely harbourside there is an amazing restaurant called Bordeaux Quay, it is a huge building, and therefore has a lovely bar area, a casual dining area, a deli, a terrace plus a beautiful more formal restaurant upstairs (that I am yet to sample).

The terrace is a lovely place to sit and eat or drink…

The views are lovely, the Boy and I always pick our boats out (dreams)…

The interior is beautiful…

The wine list exhaustive and lovely… although we didn’t indulge this visit it is a great place to ahve a glass at the weekends, being the only place on this side of the waterfront that is nice…

Or you go go for one of the amazing cocktails…

The deli and the bakery are pretty amazing, they do take-away lunch bits, amazing cheese plus accompaniments, Lahloo Tea, I could, and have spent so much time and money in here…

Lahloo tea is lovely, I have given many gifts of this tea, the packaging is so cute, I love the ittle pegs…

So on a sunny Saturday the Boy and I had an early lunch here on the terrace…

It was a late breakfast for the Boy, complete with bloody mary (the greatest hangover cure there ever was)

He was pretty impressed with all of it, the bacon and sausages being very good…

I however had been walking and was ready for lunch, going for the white onion and gruyere cheese tart, it was amazing and I ate every single last bite.

It came with a yummy, very light potato and dill salad and some fresh salad leaves, I wish I could have this for my lunch today…

One thing I love at Bordeaux Quay is that they have their own water filter system so all tables have complimentary filtered water in glass bottles, you can even have sparkling…

The restaurant has a gold rating from the Soil Association for its sustainable catering scheme, meaning wherever you see this award you are guaranteed a sustainable meal.

It is the first eco-restaurant in the UK to achieve this status.

And it’s not just the food…

The restaurant also has huge eco-friendly status, everything about how the building would function was considered, there are light sensors in the bathrooms to save electricity, rain water is harvested to make drinking water, they have a comprehensive recycling system and even have a manager in charge of sustainable development; this restaurant is taking its footprint seriously.

Check out their eco pages for more details here

They also hold cookery schools and tasting evening in their restaurant, I am dying to attend a course soon… they even have special cooking days for children, great to ease a fussy childs bad habits and get them interested in food. Check out the details here.

Go check Bordeaux Quay soon, you could go for a great breakfast or leisurely lunch on the terrace or really push the boat out and go for a tasting evening in the restaurant, but please visit the deli and bakery on your way out… there are too many treats to miss!

Souk Me Up!

June 25, 2010

So since I seem to be having a week of recommendations I didn’t want to buck the trend so here’s another Bedminster gem… Souk on North Street.

This used to be called Cafe Centrica, serves really really really good middle eastern food and one of mine and the Boy’s favourite places to eat, when it closed for refurbishment we were very concerned…

However we needn’t have worried as it has reopened with a similar menu, but a revamped branding that I think is really good and will work wonders and hopefully mean that Souk is here for years to come.

I have been twice in the past week, once with a girl friend and once with the Boy so these photographs are a combination of those two visits, even I couldn’t eat all this food in one go.
This will show the range of what this unassuming but amazing little restaurant does…

I really have to recommend you go for the Souk it and See! tasting menu available during the week, it’s £9.95 for bread and dips, a starter, a main and a dessert.

Don’t worry they’re all slightly smaller than normal so you can do it… but it is a lot of food so go hungry!

The Boy and I started with bread and dips, we always get this the dips are so good, really fresh tasting and the hummus is GREAT!

We often get them to take away too if we have people coming for dinner and don’t have time to make our own.

This time we had hummus, a thick riata and a kind of green dhal, plus the standard olives and chillies and the amazing flatbread.

I missed the smokey tomato-chilli dip this time, that is worth the trip alone…

On this evening I decided to go for the tapas (3 starter dishes for £6.50) I had sardines, meatballs and the best falafel I have ever had (including my sweet potato recipe!).

The falafel was served with a smoked chilli jam, I really need to make this soon it is amazing.

That was more than enough for me, I didn’t quite finish it all, but is a great way to try lots of dishes if there are a few of you.

The Boy had halloumi skewers, they also do chicken and lamb, served with salad and rice… they are huge!

Now skipping to my visit with my friend Ania… we being girls with our eyes on the dessert menu skipped starters and went for a vegetable tagine with cous cous…

 …and I had a Persian fish curry, this truly is one of my all time favourite meals and have had it countless times here, it’s so filling, but fresh tasting at the same time… do try it!

Then we decided to get two desserts as we couldn’t decide and just dig in… we had a flourless chocolate cake and a yogurt cake…

I loved the yogurt cake and am desperate to make my own, will give it a go soon and let you know how I get on…

I am also planning on visit Souk again very soon, I want to try a Turkish Pizza…

P.s They also do great breakfasts, I have only ever been once as they truly are HUGE!

The Local

June 24, 2010

I am very lucky to have a pub about 3 minutes from my house owned by friends that does great food and has a really yummy wine list, I cannot recommend this place enough (although if you’re after a quiet meal do not go on a Friday or Saturday as it gets very busy)

On a sunny monday last week the Boy and I decided to go for dinner with some friends as they have a really nice garden.

For starters we had ham hock terrine…

And a King Prawn Kedgeree…

I had some huge crab and prawn cakes, which came with a really nice salad with blueberries and new potatoes…

Although that didn’t stop everyone ordering chips, they are too good, I pretty much always order them…

Our friends got the chicken and chorizo salad which was equally huge…

And the steak…

The bar is really cool, they have a HUGE drinks selection…

I love the glass etching on the doors and windows…

And I really want a mirror like this for my dressing room…

They even have their very glitter ball…

And they always have huge amazing bouquets all over the pub…

And a fantastic beer garden…

They even grow their own salad…

And best of all…

They have a pretty website, check it here!

So in an effort to be cultured and not spend all our time eating and shopping we visited The Scottish National Gallery.

They have an amazing collection, very varied and big enough to spend a good morning looking around but not so big that you have to pick and choose what you see.

My favourite part though was a children’s exhibition which featured two children’s books that I think are so good I am going to have to collection them for when my godchildren come to visit.

One is called Sylvia and Friends by Catherine Rayner and the drawings are just the cutest!

You can buy her books here they are proper children’s books, ones that all children need to learn, such as patience and sharing… cute!

The other series is by James Mayhew and is about a little girl called Katie who goes into paintings and has adventures within them, so not only do the readers enjoy some excitement but they can learn about great artists such as Monet and Van Gogh.

I think this is such an original idea, and the illustrations are great.

Both books had been made into an activity trail for little ones to do as they walked around the gallery, they had to look at and find particular pictures and people as they walked around and draw them… I saw lots of little girls doing Katie’s trail…

James’ blog is here and you can buy his books here

After all the walking we needed some refreshment, and on the walk to our hotel from the gallery stands The Missoni Hotel, cocktail time!

I have to say that I am not overly keen on the exterior of the hotel, it is a little bland and officey for my taste…

I really want to have afternoon tea here!

The interior however is amazing, and so Missoni.

A riot of colourful stripes with fun design touches everywhere…

The staff were all beautiful of course, and had great uniforms of Missoni striped aprons (I want one!) and tees…


Lots of room for big groups of gossiping girls…

They had tv screen showing Missoni catwalk shows…

And special Missoni kilts (love!)

I went for a cosmopolitan, a classic, and the boy had their signature cocktail…

This is an easy cocktail, great for a girls night!
35 ml vodka
15 ml triple sec
squeeze lime juice
25 ml cranberry juice
twist orange peel

Shake vodka, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice vigorously in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass, garnish with a lime wedge on the rim, and serve.

Yum!

On our very first morning in Edinburgh (our flight got in at 8.30) we decided to hit the castle before all the tourists arrived.
It was still quite busy but as we left was getting rammed so we were very glad we went when we did as it was a hot hot day… you can still see the morning haze.

Once inside the castle there’s a whole mini town going on…

The Queen’s Residence…

This HUGE fireplace was  in the Great Hall where Royal Banquets are still held…

We had already grabbed breakfast but I highly recommend at least having a coffee in the cafe, especially if it rains and you can’t enjoy the views from outside as they are spectacular…

These guys were everywhere, I liked it, I love bagpipes!

Going early really paid off when a German tourist group gave us 2 tickets to get in as they had extra, it’s quite expensive to get in so we spend the money we saved on cheesy tourist photos of us.

So the day was beautiful, hot and sunny, then we went back to the hotel to change for dinner and the heavens opened and the streets were flooded, it did not stop raining the rest of our time there!

Edinburgh is full of Thai restaurants, I am so jealous at the sheer number of them, I think Bristol has 4 and none of them are amazing. We went to Dusit, one the Boy had visited before and it is worth the trip if you make it to Edinburgh.

The menu was huge, and they had a floating market menu…

The napkins were all starched and folded beautifully (it’s the silly things I remember) and the service was very Thai, in the end we had to tell them we were fine and to leave us they were so attentive.

One of my absolute favourite wines on the list…

So as I said the menu was huge and it was hard to choose, but in the end I opted for a salad then seafood, being so close to the sea you must try to visit a seafood restaurant when you are in Edinburgh, we didn’t get the chance in the end. No matter though it’s just an excuse to go again…

I loved the names of their salads…

I had a Beautiful girl…

We both somehow resisting going for Pad Thai, a favourite at home for food we cannot cook ourselves, my dish was full of scallops, squid, prawns and a huge piece of monkfish, I also treated myself to coconut rice…

After all this food I was as full as an egg! But since the Boy cannot say no to Sticky Rice and they had coconut ice cream on the menu how could I not? I love anything with coconut in…

I also added some mango sorbet… it was so worth the ‘i can’t move’ feeling that soon came…

And anyway we had a long walk back to our hotel to walk it off!

So last weekend the Boy and I took a mini-break to Edinburgh, with no holiday in sight it was a much needed break…

It is such a beautiful city, having been spared bombings during the war all the oldest buildings still stand, the streets are so wide and on the day we arrived the sun was shining. I felt like I was in a real European City…

I am sure many of you have heard of the chain Hotel du Vin, it’s a boutique chain of small hotels across the UK, one we are lucky to have I think.
I normally hate chains and anything samey however sometimes it’s nice to know for sure when you are going away that your hotel will be lovely…

Their look is very classic, muted tones but each hotel has its own accent.
I think Edinburgh is definitely one of the nicest I have stayed at, not just because it is fairly new (opened in 2008) but also it’s position in the city and the lovely staff.

You walk in through a courtyard…

That had its very own Cigar Bothy…

And in reception the wine glass chandelier that are in all of the Hotels…

And this one, being in Scotland had a special room for Whisky tastings…

With a huge choice of cigars and whisky…

All the rooms are named after a bottle of something…

The fun touch in the bigger rooms is a bath and a monsoon shower in the room…

And the biggest comfiest beds ever…

The mini bar is well stocked…

On our last night in Edinburgh we ate in the hotel restaurant, it has a French vibe and the menu here was French with English and Scottish twists…

I love that the bathrooms were not ladies and gentlemen but lads and lassies…

We almost always fill up on bread here, they serve it whilst still warm with a huge pat of butter or olive oil…

We had some help from the Sommelier to pick this Rioja, which was yummy… we even managed a second bottle which does not happen very often with red wine…

I had a blue cheese salad…

It was so good and I was really enjoying it until I had a bite of the Boy’s beer soaked ribs and became very jealous.
They were amazing, the meat fell off the bone and melted in your mouth and the homemade coleslaw was good too… I messed up on the starter!

Then I ordered my very first steak! I used to be a vegetarian, and although I haven’t been for years I have had to work my way up to being okay about eating what I call ‘proper meat’…
It was so good, I do think I should have been a bit brave and had it medium rare rather than medium cooked, I think I could have handled it…

I love the cute saucepans they put your chosen sauce in (béarnaise)…

The desserts sounded really interesting but I have to say the cheese was calling…

Normally at Hotel du Vin they bring a huge trolley loaded with cheese and somehow you have to whittle it down to 5, however tonight they were a little low on choice so just put together a plate for us which after eating almost a whole steak I was glad about, I was in no fit state to make important decisions.

We had a little pick me up in the form of an espresso martini and daiquiri’s and then decided to eat it in our room so had a cheese picnic on the bed in front of a movie…

So good! I love a cheese induced comasleep, my dreams are always so vivid and colourful.

A huge thumbs up from me for Hotel du Vin, as always a perfect stay!

p.s. join their mailing list, they have great deals for dinner and a room and with another great Hotel in Cheltenham you could have a little trip without having to go too far, there are also dinner deals and one in Bristol in an old Sugar warehouse!