Friday, 9 February 2018

Blow Ltd Review

Blow Ltd
As a general rule, I'm a food blogger, but I seem to get myself involved in all sorts these days, as most folk do the whole 'lifestyle' thing. Blow Ltd had asked me a few times to do a review, and after a bit of a tough week, my friend Ellie and I decided to take the plunge before our afternoon of fun in Manchester. 

Bright and breezy, we were off to the big smoke, where it was so cold that my nose was like a beacon and my toes were frozen for at least 24 hours. We arrived safely at Debenhams Market Street to have a toot at what Blow Ltd was all about.

The concept is simple. You make an appointment for your desired treatment, choosing from hair up, a blow dry, make up, nails, or a combination of the lot. You book online or via the app, and choose whether you want to come into the salon, have it done at home, or even at the office! What an amazing concept! We were talking at work about pre-work's do hair and make up in the break room... Imagine folks' faces? Brilliant idea though.
Blow Ltd
I'm a lifelong lover of the classic red nail, and can usually be spotted wearing one of about 50 shades of the same colour! I decided to put an OPI gel version through its paces, to see how it compares to my usual polished look. Ellie went for the total opposite of a beautiful baby pink. Big fan of OPI.

The salon in Debenhams is like an Aladdin's cave of amazing hair products, make up, and styling tools. I feel like I could walk in here looking like a windswept goat, and appear an hour later feeling like a Disney princess. I clearly had high hopes!
Blow Ltd
My nails are like actual talons, but I decided to have them trimmed down after an unfortunate incident involving an ill advised hard punch to a pad, in an ill fitting glove, left a crack in my thumb nail... I was so pleased with these beauties.
Blow Ltd
What a lovely experience we had. The ladies in the salon were chatty, but super quick, and we left feeling a million dollars. An OPI gel manicure is £40, and although we booked, if they have availability, you can just walk in too. So if you find yourself with manky chipped polish, you could nip in and get a manicure done in a jiffy. We're definitely going back here. Also, if you sign up to the mailing list like we did, I've noticed that you get regular money off offers too.  

We followed our lovely morning with lunch out and cocktails in our favourite gaff. What a heavenly little day.

Disclaimer: This is a review, and we were invited for manicures free of charge. We were under no obligation to say nice stuff.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Bosch 'Kitchen Machine' Mixer Review

Bosch 'Kitchen Machine' Mixer
Bosch 'Kitchen Machine' Mixer
So Debenhams asked me to put a mixer through its paces. Yes, I can do that. I feel like a bit of a mixer testing veteran these days! This came in the biggest box you have ever seen in your life, so I was pleasantly suprised that they hadn't sent me some huge industrial contraption for making 10,000 loaves of bread. Nope, the Bosch 'Kitchen Machine' is a wonderfully compact machine, but also comes with a feast of goodies which make it far more than a stand mixer. Here's the low down.

What's in the box?
  • Mixer
  • 3.9L brushed stainless steel bowl
  • Liquidiser
  • Lid/splashguard
  • Continuous shredder
  • Stainless steel mixing bowl
  • Metal kneading hook
  • Balloon whisk 
  • Cake beater
  • Plastic blender attachment
  • Reversible shredding disc
  • Bag for accessories
  • Instructional DVD

Functions

  • Beating
  • Stirring
  • Kneading
  • Shredding
  • Grating and slicing
  • Mixing

It does everything you would expect, plus a little more. I really like order, and things having 'their place' so I loved how easy this was to unpack, put together and store when not in use. I have to admit that I didn't read the instructions! It's also incredibly easy to move around if you need to as well. Moving my, 'other mixer' is a bit like power lifting at times, so this felt incredibly easy in comparison. 
Bosch 'Kitchen Machine' Mixer
Reasons to love this mixer:

  • Easy to set up
  • Compact
  • Shiny, sleek design.
  • Retractable cord
  • Comes with a blender and chopper
  • Illuminated speed wheel
  • Not overly noisy
  • Handy bag to keep attachments tidy
  • Lightweight
  • Pads underneath to stop it moving around
  • Whips cream quickly with the balloon whisk attachment (I have no patience)
  • Great value for money in comparison to other mixers on the market (see details below).


Possible improvements:

  • Wider range of colours (this also comes in a nice teal colour, but I will always be team pink).
  • The bowl is slightly smaller than other stand mixers, however I have to say it accommodated a large cake with ease.
  • Cake mix does stick to the sides a little, so needed clearing down.

Bakers will always ask the question about how it compares to the other mixers out there, so I have done you a quick overview. I have used both these other mixers, and in terms of performance, found no difference whatsoever in the quality of the cake they produced, because let's face it, much of that is down to the recipe and your kitchen skills.

Quick Comparison

Bosch
Power 1000W
Capacity 3.9 litres
Weight 6.4kg
Dimensions 28.2H x 28W x 27.1D
Cost £330

Kitchenaid
Power 300W
Capacity 4.83 litres
Weight 10.65kg
Dimensions 35.3H x 22.1W x 35.8D
Cost £450

Kenwood
Power 1400W
Capacity 4.6 litres
Weight 7.7kg
Dimensions 29.7H x 22.7W x 40.0D
Cost £500

In conclusion, I would most definitely recommend this mixer. It would look at home in any kitchen, but I'd say it's particularly well suited where worktop space is limited. Stand mixers are great and look the business, but they also take up an awful lot of kitchen real estate. The Bosch model seems to cut out wasted space, without losing functionality. Cracking bit of kit.

Buy it here

Disclaimer: I was sent this mixer to do an honest review. I was under no obligation to say nice things or admire its shineyness for so long.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Comptoir Libanais, Manchester

Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
'Bits' are the best. The art of convincing yourself 'oh look at me, I'm eating little tiny things like a dinky bird', where in reality, it's the joy of not being tied to one main, then staring furiously at someone else's whilst cursing yourself for not ordering the same. No my friend, mezze is the future.

Lebanese food lets light into the soul; spicy, warming and lots of 'bits' which make you beam. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Ellie and I got ourselves involved in a bit of Veganuary at Comptoir Libanais. This was going to be interesting, as I am a full on carnivore and she's pescatarian, so we wanted to see just how full can two hungry girls get with no meat or dairy? Challenge set.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Comptoir Libanais has to be one of the prettiest restaurants in the city. Lebanese restaurants are usually full of colour, with vibrant tiles, extravagant teapots and the most wonderful ingredients to buy to take home. The restaurant is spacious and light, and there's even a bar tucked away at the back for those in need of pre-dinner drinks, or a cheeky glass of something with nibbles.

So then, this mezze I was on about. I was determined not to make a pig of myself after the great 'Pre-Sum 41 Disaster of 2017', where I was so full after eating Lebanese food, that I went to the bar during the gig and had to ask for a glass of squash. Party hard. Would history repeat itself?

The promotional picture below really does not do the volume of food justice. Looks okay hey? Colours as dazzling as their home, it really is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for your belly.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Here's how we got on.

Drinks: Great range of wines, cocktails, beers, and homemade soft drinks, with extra brownie points going to our hostess who found the ingredients list of a discontinued cocktail Ellie had fawned over online. It's also essential that I mention (and stand by) my original description of the rose tea we were served too; 'magical'.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Mezze to share:
Hommos - smooth rich chickpea purée with tahini and lemon juice, served with pita bread: The original hommos listed on the menu was beetroot, which is fine if you like soil. I do not, therefore this was easily swapped for the regular version. I really must impress upon you that this stuff makes the pots from M&S taste like beige nothing. This is so rich and full of flavour, there's a definite difference with the authentic stuff.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Baba Ghanuj - smoked aubergine, tahina and lemon juice with pomegranate seeds, served with pita bread: Drenched in the most beautifully scented olive oil with pomegranate seeds, this dip is like a little glimpse of lunch in Heaven.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Freekeh - smoked green wheat, wild rocket, vine tomato, spring onion, apple vinegar and mint dressing: Not keen on rocket, so why was this so wonderful? I often find it drowns the taste of anything you serve it with, so I can only presume that the combination and balance of flavours here were just bob-on.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Falafel - chickpea and broad bean pate, coriander, parsley, garlic and peppers, served with tahina sauce: They always look so dry and uninviting, but once cracked open, these little balls of delight are a taste sensation, especially when drowned in tahina and eaten with those bright pink pickles. Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Quinoa and Pumpkin Salad - quinoa, chickpeas, vine tomato, fresh mint, topped roasted pumpkin, apple vinaigrette and pomegranate dressing: The first time I ate quinoa was in porridge with protein powder. This is not like that porridge. Soft and spicy with texture for days. This went down very well indeed.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Aubergine Tagine - baked baby aubergine in a rich tomato and chickpea sauce: By far my stand out dish of the day. There's something about a warming tagine served with fluffy rice that wraps me in a big blanket and makes me feel safe from the cold outside.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Rose Water Mouhalabia - coconut milk and rose water Lebanese milk pudding: A little like a very light blancmange with a subtle rose flavour. Ellie was a big fan of this one.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
What an amazing afternoon! It was howling a gale outside, and there we were, feasting, drinking cocktails and declaring tea 'magical'. In all honesty, you would barely notice that everything was plant based, because it was just so unbelievably delicious, and we left feeling incredibly full indeed. Many of the foods served like chickpeas, aubergine and quinoa take on the flavours of the spices when cooked well, so feel hearty and soothing. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm never going to change my meat eating ways, but will happily reorder ay of these items in the future. They are on the normal menu all year round, so you can still sample them all.

Go here for a slow afternoon of chit chat, cocktails, and the most beautiful food.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the restaurant to complete an honest review. I was under no obligation to say nice things!
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