Thursday, 4 October 2018

Mama Kelly, Amsterdam

Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Before we begin, channel your inner Pink Lady. You're a Mean Girl, and it is Wednesday. 

When I researched where to go in Amsterdam, all the same places kept popping up, so much so that I felt like we were old friends by the time we left. Then I stumbled upon Mama Kelly, in a fluke that shall be from this moment forth, known as the biggest fluke of all time. Flukesville. Imagine my face when I came across the pictures below on Mama Kelly's Instagram. There shone a shiny pink demon. We were going.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Pictures nicked from Mama Kelly's Insta
Powder pink booths, art deco style gold metalwork, golden pineapples and lobsters dotted around the gaff, and sumptuous cushions at every table. Walking through the door was definitely no disappointment. The whole restaurant shines pink. It felt very much like a homecoming.

Getting there was a bit odd. It absolutely lashed it down. Our plan of getting the tram to the other end of the city was utterly kiboshed, so we spent about 45 minutes stuck in traffic with a grumpy taxi driver. We pulled up at the Olympic Stadium, which was like a 1920s ghost town. It has a bit of an odd feeling about the place, mainly because it feels quite remote. Then there he was, a pink chap ready to welcome us in from the deluge. This pink palace welcomed us with open arms.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Three floors of pure glamour await, which when juxtaposed with this odd building, makes you feel like you've just entered another universe.

There's this weird thing about Amsterdam. They don't do cocktails. If they do, you have a choice of three; dark and stormy, Aperol spritz or a Moscow mule. They were all rubbish. I can't even remember what we ordered at Mama Kelly, I just know they were pink and perfect in every way. First decent cocktail in weeks due to doom antibiotics. Worth the wait.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Burrata with avocado cream and country bread: Ellie doesn't like cheese, except goat's cheese and halloumi. Hates cheese. Ordered burrata. Crisis averted! Even she agreed this was incredible. Soft cheese on a bed of whipped avocado cream, served with crunchy bread. Textures!
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Halloumi served with roasted vegetables, peppers and green herbs: An absolute delight. Thick chunks of halloumi with sweet vegetables. Not too heavy, whilst still being very satisfying indeed.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Flat iron steak from the charcoal grill with beurre Café de Paris: Wow. It looks like a decent steak, but was so much more. Served on a bed of sweet squash with onion seeds, its pink centre and sweet flavour were tantalising. Ate every single morsel.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Lobster risotto - fresh lobster prepared in bisque: Stand down, the claw is not in a shell. Turns out after an initial lack of clarity on the matter, Ellie very much enjoyed the lobster in this dish.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Broccoli with fresh chilli and roasted almonds: A rather lovely combination, which means I will want almonds with my little trees from this day forth.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Homemade fries: Look how crispy they are. Wonderfully golden and perfect with steak.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Blondie with caramel sauce and sea salt: We were in no shape to be waving around dessert menus, yet here we were. Very rich as expected, the vanilla ice cream helped.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
Sticky toffee date cake: Looks very similar to sticky toffee pudding, but tasted and felt much more like parkin. Still great! I think it needed some ice cream to lighten it a little though.
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam
What a wonderfully strange experience in this pink wonderland! Go here for an evening of glamour, and food that will knock your pink socks off. And yes, I did wear an Amsterdam dress. Extra...
Mama Kelly, Amsterdam

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Cinnamon Bun Bundt Cake

Cinnamon Bun Bundt Cake
Bundt challenge... yesss...

Roast club vibes were strong, and my friends had been watching Masterchef. It's quite the combination. Someone made cinnamon buns, and the cravings were real. I was promptly challenged to a cinnamon roll bundt. Now, in the interest of never making the same cake twice (and full transparency), some of you may recall a similar cake a few Christmases ago. This was going to be different.

The NutriBullet was out, and full on bundt witchcraft commenced. This wasn't going to be a cinnamon flavoured cake. I wanted it to be a cake, but taste like the breaded variety. The only way to achieve this is by putting the yeasted items in the cake. It works. The icing is excellent too! This is the best version of about five American recipes I mashed together, then tinkered with as a I made it. The browned butter makes all the difference. This is a trick I got from a friend who's a chef. Trust us.

Give this one a go over the colder months for instantly warmer cockles!

Ingredients:
  • 225g butter
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250ml vanilla yogurt 
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 5 tbsp demerara sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon mixed together
  • 1 shop bought cinnamon bun (optional), whizzed to crumbs in a food processor.
Frosting:
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 120g full fat soft cheese
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Enough full fat milk to achieve a spreadable consistency
Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to gas 3/160 C (150 C fan)
  2. Grease and flour an average sized bundt tin of 10 cups/10 inch diameter or 2.4 litre capacity.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time on a low setting. You'll see the mix get noticeably fluffier.
  5. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and spices.
  6. Sift in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/2 of the yoghurt. Repeat until all the flour and yoghurt is used up. 
  7. Fold in the cinnamon bun crumbs.
  8. Give it all a quick mix on a low speed for about 10 seconds, or until smooth.
  9. Pour half the mix into a greased and floured tin, sprinkle over the demerara sugar mix, then top with the rest of the standard mix.
  10. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  11. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.
  12. Leave to cool fully.
  13. To make the cream cheese frosting, first melt the butter over a gentle heat until it starts to brown slightly.
  14. Meanwhile, whip the cream cheese with the vanilla extract until smooth. 
  15. Carefully pour in the melted butter, being extra careful as it is well hot!
  16. Add the icing sugar a bit at a time, therefore avoiding a sugar style mushroom cloud. 
  17. This is the variable bit. You want your icing to be spreadable, but not runny. Just add enough milk to achieve that consistency.
  18. Spread over the cake. If you are using the cinnamon bun tin, I found swirling over the shape of the buns with a teaspoon revealed the pretty design underneath. It works just as well on a standard bundt though.
  19. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

Writers/Bakers: Please respect the fact I am sharing my own ideas and basic recipe. Blood, sweat and many tears have gone into getting this right, so you may enjoy a perfect bundt. If you wish to re-blog a recipe from these variations, please credit my blog and link to this original post rather than pasting the recipe on your own page. Please see my Creative Commons Copyright information for more details. Thank you. 

Monday, 1 October 2018

Wood, Manchester

Wood, Manchester
The deal was sealed. Aidan Byrne was poorly, and Simon Wood stepped in to take his place at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival 'Sunday Club' event. I have much love for Aiden, but was thrilled to find out Simon would be joining the ever entertaining Andrew Nutter for some Sunday evening tomfoolery. And there it began. Turns out we became his biggest fans in the blink of an eye, and ended up devouring a Tomahawk at Wood two days later. 

Bolton Food Festival Wood opened on Manchester's First Street site a sniff over a year ago, but I'm convinced that folk are not fully aware of its brilliance just yet, probably owing to the location. However, fellow new kids on the block Bunny Jackson's and School for Scandal are changing everything. I'm hoping that it's going to become a bit of an alternative playground for those who love a bit of decent music and good food.

Simon won Masterchef in 2015, opened Wood in August 2017, and bagged themselves an AA Rosette within a year. Then came plans for a second site in Chester's Indigo Hotel, and now Woodkraft is about to open in Cheltenham. Not bad really. There's no doubt that he's an extremely accomplished chef, but he's also a bloody nice fella too. And he likes metal. We like him.

He's not alone in this venture though. He managed to snaffle Mike Jennings as Head Chef, and has an excellent front of house team who make the experience even more pleasurable. I first met Mike when he was at Grenache, producing food that gave Salford a right kick up the backside. He's great.
Wood, Manchester
The styling of Wood is just beautiful, with nothing out of place and every item carefully considered. The kitchen is partially open, which allows nosy people like me to watch the chefs prepping those huge tomahawks. Makes you really hungry though. I suppose that's what starters are for!

I was on the antibiotics of doom at this point, so was sans alcohol, but our waitress (who clearly saw my anguish) quickly produced a mocktails list, and all was well. Phil opted for a nice glass of red, whilst we perused the menu, listening to The Pretty Reckless and Pvris. If you know, you know.
Wood, Manchester
The scent of steak being very much real, we were thrilled at the arrival of some freshly baked bread and salted butter. Always start a decent meal with some interesting carbs.
Wood, Manchester
Pigeon, fig, endive and belazu lardon: One of the best starters I have had in a long time. Crispy edges on that rich pigeon breast with the sweet fig neared levels of actual perfection.
Wood, Manchester
82°C belly pork, cider, Granny Smith, sage and onion: This was mentioned during Sunday Club, and had to be ordered. Phil's a massive fan of pork and crackling, so this was right up his street. Pared with tart Granny Smith apples, this is the culinary equivalent of a hug and a kiss.
Wood, Manchester
Tomahawk to share with green peppercorn sauce: The scale of it man. This bone in rib of beef makes me feel like a cave dwelling carnivore who will never be short of iron again. Granted, it is for two people, but it's still a fair 'un.
Wood, Manchester
Cooked to near witchcraft perfection, with a fragrant peppercorn sauce. Behold. I'm not saying anything else, because I've lost your attention to the pictures.
Wood, Manchester
Wood, Manchester
Baby jackets and broccoli with black onion seeds: Simplicity at its best. Soft potatoes with crispy, salty jackets, and crisp broccoli with sweet onion seeds.
Wood, Manchester
Citrus tutti frutti: Lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange heaven. I always opt for berries rather than citrus, but this was fresh, light and an absolute delight. At this point in the meal, I could not fault a single thing.
Wood, Manchester
Chocolate, espresso and salted caramel: Surprisingly light as a feather, and not overpowered by the coffee.
Wood, Manchester
 Tea: We needed the caffeine after all that food. Even the tea pot was cute.
Wood, Manchester
I will not have a bad word said about Simon, his team or his restaurants. I'll fight you. Admittedly, I just love eating out and trying new places. I will look for the positives over negatives every time, and always enter somewhere new expecting to love it. However, every so often I really fall in love. This is when outstanding food and service work in harmony, and I genuinely like the people running the show. Wood is firmly in this category.

Go to Wood for delicious food, warm service and great music!

Roast Club at The Cinnamons

Roast Club
I go to a lot of restaurants, and have done for years. One of my favourite meals is the classic Sunday roast with all the trimmings. The more trimmings, the better. Beef, chicken, lamb or pork, I'm not bothered. I just love that carb partnered meat fest.

I've written up a few really good ones recently, which got me thinking about this. My friends Wayne and Vicki do the best roast ever, so I'm going to tell you all about it. Their house isn't really called the Cinnamons either, but if it had a name, it would definitely be that. You can't go round for tea, because that would be well weird, but you can do your own version, and be jealous of me.

I'm not going to say much, but am going to expose you to some pictures which will make you angry that you were not there, and I was.

Vicki still basks in the glory of one of my favourite meals ever; french onion soup, then venison stew with shoestring fries. We had it the night before I flew to Mauritius to get married, but we won't judge it on that! It's still one of the happiest evenings of my whole life.

Both of them are excellent cooks, but Wayne takes the lead when it comes to roasts. He even used to have a legendary gravy pan, which has since bit the dust and been replaced with a newer version. Vicki rules the roost when it comes to sides (they never run out).

Roast chicken: The Gary Rhodes method I believe! Super moist and packed with herby flavours. Best roast chicken ever.
Roast Club
Yorkshires: Soft on the bottom, fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside (bit like me...) Found myself thinking about these the following Tuesday afternoon.
Roast Club
Roasties: I am making myself angry now. They are so crisp. And not here now. They were great.
Roast Club
Cauliflower cheese: And there we have it. Essential food group three is fully nailed, and even counts as one of your five a day.
Roast Club
Veggies: What makes vegetables even better? That's correct, the glisten of a tonne of butter.
Roast Club
Stuffing: I have a stuffing rule. Thou shalt not serve stuffing that looks wet, for it should have crispy edges. Nailed it. 
Roast Club
Gravy: (Puts on Penny Lad's voice) Ooh, Wayne makes an excellent gravy! Rumour had it that he put prosecco in this one. I am literally shaking my head at how much I have annoyed myself writing this post. I laughed at the start about how jealous you would all be. Now I'm the one who's fuming.
Roast Club
The deal is, I provide pudding. It's what we do. Wayne had a right mouth for cinnamon buns, so challenged me to a bundt version. Tah dah!
Cinnamon Bun Bundt
Best bit about dessert? Matilda's first piece of bundt cake. She loved it and I will be eternally joyful when I think about the smile on her little face! 
Roast Club
They are two of my favourite people in the whole world, and they made a mixture of both of them, so I obviously love Matilda more...

I can't wait for the day that one of them is on Masterchef, and I can say I knew them when they sat scoffing a Square Slice with us on a Friday night. Thank you for yet another wonderful night.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Turtle Bay, Manchester

Turtle Bay, Manchester
Turtle Bay is a place I associate with pre-gig cocktails and Highly Suspect excitement. I feel I need to explain that my excitement is not Highly Suspect, but rather they are one of my favourite bands who I happen to have seen a few times. Over-explanation over. They also have tremendous happy hours which means you are rarely without two cocktails in hand.

I was recently invited to try the food, so thought I would give it a whirl. Now imagine the scene, I had been cooped like a chicken for a week after having minor death in the form of gastroenteritis. I needed spice in my life, and some post-quarantine fresh air. It was like the planets had aligned.
Turtle Bay, Manchester
We arrived on the wettest of days, the kind where your red ballet pumps are saturated within a few feet of walking, for example. Our chirpy waitress welcomed us in and quickly had a cocktail menu in our hands, and informed us that if she were to be an animal, she would most definitely be a loyal dog. Can't remember the context, but it went down well.
Turtle Bay, Manchester
Just jerk platter - marinated jerk wings, glazed pork ribs, beef patty, jerk chicken flatbread, sweet corn fritters and super green salad: Massively indecisive when it came to starters, so we ordered a platter. Felt safe, but actually ended up ordering too much food, which is standard behaviour. Apologies for the strange orange glow on the photos, it's a very orange establishment!
Turtle Bay, Manchester
Jerk sirloin steak - Prime cut aged sirloin steak, spicy jerk, coconut callaloo and spiced fries: This picture is the equivalent of an intoxicated selfie after you looked a million dollars at the start of the evening. The steak was perfectly pink and the creamy coconut callaloo was the type of warming Autumnal fayre you crave in such dank conditions.
Turtle Bay, Manchester
Goat curry - Rich and spicy curry, coconut rice ‘n’ peas, sweet plantain, dumplings: Two people recommended this within 24 hours. Had to be done. A fairly mild curry with a sweet edge. Proper comfort food. 
Turtle Bay, Manchester
Sides - cheesy jerk sweet potato fries, grilled Halloumi, baba roti, and dirty curry fries: Judge all you like, we ordered too many carbs, and set it off with a side of cheese. We were being encouraged by the manager, who clearly shared my hosting mantra of 'they shall leave dying and unable to move owing to the volume of carbs'. Also, if Halloumi is on there, it's getting ordered. Jerk Halloumi is excellent.
Turtle Bay, Manchester
Passion pie - sweet pastry, zesty passion fruit curd, soft baked meringue, fresh passion fruit sauce: Of course I had room for dessert. My ideal kind of pie, this is like the lemon meringue variety but with passionfruit. Perfect.
Turtle Bay, Manchester
Caymanas upside down rum cake - warm golden mellow rum cake, rum caramel and vanilla ice-cream: Jeez Louise this was strong! Extra points for being baked bundt stylee, this light sponge was drenched in rum, which was just wonderful.
Turtle Bay, Manchester
Rather pleasant afternoon. By the time we left we had guffawed with our waitress, had a chat with the manager about the ludicrous nature of him emigrating from California to Manchester, drunk some lovely cocktails, and suffered near gout levels of fullness. We had even managed to miss the rest of the rain.

Go here as a group for lots of buffet style food, for comforting one pots and grills, or just to take advantage of a great happy hour.


Disclaimer: I was invited to review Turtle Bay, but put under no duress when it came to the nice words bit. I wasn't even drunk, and neither was the waitress who likened herself to a friendly dog. 

Monday, 24 September 2018

Albatross and Arnold, Manchester

Albatross and Arnold, Manchester
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the beautiful Albatross & Arnold for a bit of a mash up between their good selves and Tappers Gin. Nested above Beastro, Albatross & Arnold is a real hidden beauty with great views over the rest of Spinningfields. It has this wonderful modern Scandic meets classic art deco feel, with light wood, gleaming gold accessories and fresh flowers. It's my kind of place.
Albatross and Arnold, ManchesterAlbatross & Arnold created a seven course tasting menu paired with Tappers Gin; a small family business making some of the most exquisite gins in rather decadent bottles. The whole event really was a feast for the senses, with careful consideration given to how the dishes and cocktails looked, smelled and tasted. 
Picture shamelessly lifted from A&A's Instagram
I've added a copy of the menu as I'm pretty sure that the pictures I took say it way better than my words ever could. Early disclaimer though, I forgot to photograph the melting middle chocolate pudding. Yes, I know, shoddy work whilst being too busy eating it! Trust me, it was good. 
Albatross and Arnold, Manchester
Before I start I wanted to go through the cocktails (mentioned in more detail on the menu above). Phil had to drink all of mine because I was on antibiotics of doom, which meant I couldn't as much as lick alcohol. He was suitably ruined the next day as a result. He gave every one his full approval, despite not being a usual fan of gin. What I can comment on was the presentation and (oh my word...) the smell of these. No fake essences, they were the real deal, and bursting with flavour. 

Massive thanks to our waitress Charlie who was an absolute diamond all night. She made me non-alcoholic versions of these so I at least felt like I was playing out. 
Albatross and Arnold, Manchester

Gin Cured Salmon, Tonic Foam 
Albatross and Arnold, Manchester
Razor Clam, Brown Crab, Samphire Mayonnaise, Sea Spray
Albatross and Arnold, Manchester
Pidgeon, Hazelnuts, Horseradish, Gherkin: I have to say, that this is one of the best things I have eaten in some time. I hate horseradish, but these meringues were quite subtle, and brought a little warmth to the dish. Trust in the chef. 
Albatross and Arnold, Manchester

Cod, Sea Aster, Samphire, Lemon Curd
Albatross and Arnold, Manchester
Duck, Orange, Elderflower: Another truly outstanding dish. Perfectly cooked and absolutely packed with flavour. Real autumnal flavours coming from this plate of food. 
Albatross and Arnold, Manchester
Summer Fruit, Crumble, Cream: Hands down one of the best desserts I've had in some time. Jo who was sat with us even ordered a second in lieu of chocolate pudding. Sterling work that Jo. Sweet yet tangy, with the perfect contrast of textures. 
Albatross and Arnold, Manchester
Chef Jonathan Green is a bit of a dark horse if you ask me. That dessert reminded me very much of something I ate at one of my favourite places, Northcote. It was no surprise to find out then, that Jonathan did a decent stint under Nigel and Lisa at that very restaurant, before becoming Head Chef at Tattu. Very wise appointment that one. Thoroughly nice chap too. 

Go to Albatross & Arnold for beautifully crafted food without the formality. Service is professional yet friendly, and the surroundings are just beautiful. I can't wait to go back here when I can drink! 



Disclaimer: I was invited to Albatross & Arnold to sample the food and drink as part of a special event. I was under no obligation to say nice things. I wasn't even drunk whenI told them how much I loved them... 
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