Review: teacup

Teacup is located on Thomas Street, NQ, Manchester. Newly renovated, teacup has a fresh new feel. It’s color scheme of red and brown certainly goes with its new look, which funnily enough reminds me of a cup of tea.

When I go to places such as teacup it really upsets me that I don’t drink tea as places such as this serve so many different types of tea that sound lovely. However, I am a coffee drinker, so I can opt for a lovely cup if Jo.

Though, my friend Sarah, does like a nice cup of tea, so she chose the regular teapot for one. A perfectly sized, red tea pot was brought to our table. Which Sarah loved, being red. This teat was very worth the money paid for as sarah managed to get three decent cups of tea out of this pot. Accompanied with this pot was a small creamer. If you like your tea milky the I’d advise asking for more.

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At teacup, my drink of choice was a cappuccino. A big, beautifully decorated teacup arrived with a lasting amount of cappuccino inside. It was smooth, with not too much of a strong taste.

To eat, we both went for the steak, mushroom and bacon pie with mash and mushy peas. How could you not choose this option? The teacup menu is very inviting with many vegetarian options with fresh ingredients.

 

The pie came perfectly placed on top of a mound of mash and blob of mushy peas. Not being a fan of mushy peas, I just scraped mine away from my pie and mash. It is nothing against teacup, I’m sure their mushy peas are lovely, it’s just my personal preference. However, I can commend teacup for their mash. I love mash, and still believe my mum makes the best mash ever, yet teacup’s is a very close second. Obviously whipped, which I find better than hand mashed, there were zero lumps, with a beautiful buttery taste. Fantastic.

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The pie itself was absolutely full to the brim with filling. Just how a pie should be. Not stingy with poor quality filling, but full with high quality ingredients. The crust was light and crisp which didn’t become soggy with the moisture of the gravy. Another plus side to this lovely dish. By the look of the pie, you wouldn’t think it was that filling, but I can ensure you that you will be filled by this meal. In a very good way, at that! Stunning meal and I am glad that I chose what I did. However, pie options do differ by which day you go in, so I cannot guarantee this will be on the menu when you go in, but I sure do hope so!

To sum it up, teacup is a fabulously renovated cafe whose menu is purely fresh and self prepared. Teacup is a great place for vegetarians, there are more veggie options on the menu as meat. This is really good as it could give us that break from meat we need by trying to combinations of ingredients we wouldn’t think of eating at home. I would take anyone to teacup as it has something to please anyone with its open space and bright feel. Superb use of space and style.

 

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Review: Sugar Junction

Sugar Junction is an elegant little tea-room located on Tib Street, Northern Quarter in Manchester.

This little gem is a two-floor establishment with vintage, homely attire displayed all over the tea-room. When you walk in the door, you are seated by the waitress on either antique wooden furniture or comfortable arm chairs from the 50’s era and given a menu. Even the menus fit in with the vintage theme of the tea-room.

At this tea-room, tea is definitely their speciality. Sugar Junction distributes 20 different types of tea alonehey even make a tea for diabetics. It really makes me wish that I liked tea, just so I could try them all.

However, I am a coffee fan, and I opted for a mocha – with toffee (which was a first for them) It was lovely. The cups are huge (and very cute may I add) so it is very worth your money. My mocha was smooth and obviously freshly made with just the right temperature so I didn’t burn my tongue. Which is always a bonus.

My friends, Sophie and Amber, also opted for coffees: Sophie ordered a Chai Latte and Amber a simple Americano. Both saying they were delicious.

For my lunch I chose to have the Macaroni and Cheese dish with a slice of beef tomato on top. I love macaroni and cheese, it always reminds me of my Grandma in America – she made the best mac and cheese I know of.  However, that is not to say that Sugar Junctions mac and cheese was not nice. It was gorgeous. Crispy on top and creamy underneath – how it should be made. It was so good that even when I got full, I still had to polish off as much as I could. Superb! And the portion – once again Sugar Junction delivers and serves up a monster sized mac and cheese in the cutest heart shaped casserole dish. Just to show how much love is put into the food they make.

Sophie and Amber both opted for the soup of the day option: Sweetcorn chowder. Sophie chose this option as it is a family favourite at home. Amber chose this as she was curious of what it tasted like and trusts Sophie’s judgement. The outcome of the chowder was slightly spicier than what Sophie’s Mum makes it, but both still enjoyed every drop that was in the bowl. The bread which came with the soup was also thickly sliced and soft to the touch. With bread of that quality I suspect it is home-made in the store. Not a single morsel was left of the dish by either of my friends. A big thumbs up on your chowder Sugar Junction!

In a nut shell, Sugar Junction is an elegant, vintage tea-room and an excellent one at that. This tea-room gives you hearty, love-filled portions of both food and drink. Very much worth every penny I spent that day. I just wish that I would have been able to fit a sweet in after, but this does give me an excuse to go in again, gorgeous place. The decor of Sugar Junction fits perfectly with the style of food they serve and even the waitresses fit in with the theme. I would seriously recommend Sugar Junction for an afternoon tea stop with either your female relatives or with your best friends.

For more go to: www.sugarjunction.co.uk

The Lord Binning, Chester’s charity pancake race

In the spirit of Pancake Day, The Lord Binning in Kelsall, hosted a pancake race to raise money for St. Luke’s Hospice of Cheshire.

St. Luke’s is an adult hospice, located in Winsford, which cares for those from Mid and South Cheshire who suffer from cancer and other life threatening illnesses.

The Lord Binning is hosted by the Original ‘hairy biker’, David Mooney and Paul Newman. Located off Chester Road, Kelsall, this gastro pub is definitely worth a visit.

To enter the race, each team member donates five pounds to the Hospice. Contestants then had to run through the obstacle course passing ingredients used to make a pancake to the next runner until all ingredients were collected.

The Lady Mayoress of Chester, Eleanor Johnson, came along to start the race. She said: “You’re here to have fun and to raise money for St. Luke’s who do a wonderful job.”

Another guest to the pancake race was Charlotte Roach. A young, Chester triathlete who is hoping to compete for Great Britain in the Olympics. Charlotte trains at least 1000 miles a day and has just completed a six-month cycle from Beijing to Chester.

The famous, St. Luke’s bus also made an appearance to the event. This 1964 traffic master bus is a trademark for the Hospice and travels to all events in aid of the charity.

After a tiring race with a few tumbles, Nunsmere Hall were declared the winners.

They were awarded with an on-the-house meal for all the winners presented to them by the Lady Mayoress, David Mooney, Paul Newman, Bernard Rooney from Bluebell BMW and the Olympic hopeful, Charlotte Roach.

After the event, competitors and spectators were inviting inside The Lord Binning for warm cider and pancakes made by the chefs themselves. A lovely wind-down for the evening and all in aid of St. Luke’s Hospice of Cheshire.

For more on the charity and to find ways how you can help go to: http://www.stlukes-hospice.co.uk/

Chester Cheese Rolling Competition 2012

This 200 year-old tradition was created in order for the cheese makers of Cheshire to compete over who had the best, most durable cheese. However, now, wooden replicas are used instead of a real cheese wheel as it would be a waste of perfectly good cheese.

Stephen Wundke, of Taste Cheshire and organiser of the event, explained to me how the event came about and what it means to Chester as a city:

The event starts on Eastgate Street, where the ceremonial cheese is carried by the Mayor/Mayoressto the ‘Cross’, the heart of Chester city centre. This year’s ceremonial cheese was provided by the Joseph Heller brand of Cheshire cheese.

The rules of the competition are; the cheese must never leave the ground only if an obstacle calls for it, no throwing the wheel and there must be four on each team. There were six groups in this year’s competition; The Cheese Shop, Yog-art, Chartlon Cheese, The Cheshire Cheese Company, Taste Cheshire and Dee 106.3. The Cheese Shop has won the competition five times in a row, so were the big contenders and tipped to win.

The competition itself is a relay obstacle course, which each member of the team must go down and back up before passing the wheel to another member. Once all members have completed the course, their times are recorded and they then go into heats until the final.

A huge shock came in the semi-finals. The Cheese shop, reigning champions for five years running were knocked out by The Cheshire Cheese Company.

Whilst the competition was on-going Hannah Scott, 19, spectator, said: “I love seeing adults being so competitive, it’s just good fun.”

In the final of the Chester cheese rolling competition 2012 were The Cheshire Cheese Company and Chorlton Cheese. The race was painstakingly close with The Cheshire Cheese Company just taking the lead and winning the title of Chester Cheese Rolling Champions of 2012.

The Lady Mayoress of Chester, Eleanor Johnson, presented The Cheshire Cheese Company with the Cheese Rolling trophy. Steve Murrell of The Cheshire Cheese Company told me how it felt to win The Chester Cheese Rolling Competition 2012:

The Cheshire Cheese Company has confirmed that they will be back next year to defend their title.

This competition also marks the six-week run-up to the Chester Food, Drink and Lifestyle Festival, which is being held over Easter weekend this year. I managed to speak to Jane, chair of the Fesitval, after the event to find out what we can expect this year:

To book tickets for the event go to: http://www.chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk/

 

Apology

I’m just sending out a quick post for the lack of blog posts this week. With Valentines and all sorts of things I had little time to go out or write for my blog. But, don’t worry, I will surely make up for it this week with plenty of posts and a special treat for you all, as I’m covering the Chester cheese rolling competition this Tuesday!

Stay tuned.

Love xxx

Recipe: Chewy chocolate cookies.

A favourite of everyone I make these for, and I’m sure you’ll love them too.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 cup of finely chopped nuts (optional if allergic)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Separate 4 egg whites into a large mixing bowl
  3. With an electric mixer, whisk the whites until soft peaks form
  4. Put the icing sugar, cocoa, flour and coffee into the bowl and beat until incorporated with the electric whisk
  5. Add the tablespoon of water in to the mix and then whisk on a higher speed for a few minutes until smooth
  6. With a rubber spatula, mix in the cup of nuts evenly through out the mix
  7. Spoon large blobs on to baking trays covered with greaseproof paper.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes and prick with a toothpick; make sure the mixture sticks to toothpick in this case as this causes it to be chewy.
  9. Either place on a cooling rack to chill or serve up with ice cream while still hot for a luxurious treat.

Review: Dough

Dough is a pizzeria/Italian located on High Street in the Northern Quarter.

This modern restaurant has a sleek theme in it’s layout. There are two floors to the restaurant; downstairs being for booked out parties. Dough is quite a large, spacious place which equates its size well with lots of seating and an open kitchen area.
Although, as soon as we walked through the door, asked if we had a reservation and were seated. After a few minutes pondering the drink menu we were then asked what we would like to drink. I was glad when I received Coke-a-Cola in a glass bottle as this is the best way to drink it.However, with the two seater tables, the seats are no facing, but more so next to one another. This was okay until a waitress seated a table in front of us which felt uncomfortable as I was just staring at the other table straight in the face. In the end I moved my chair so I was facing my boyfriend which felt more comfortable.

To start we decided upon a Garlic Pizza Bread with melted mozzarella. This is located in the side dish menu, but can be also become a starter upon request. The garlic pizza bread was a perfect size for two, three at a push. The base was very light and just crisp around the edges. The bottom wasn’t too soggy with oils and had a slight crunch when you bit into the bottom of the base. The right amount of garlic was laced on this pizza bread. In some restaurants, there is either too much or  too little garlic riddled into the dough, but this one was just enough for the light salted hint of garlic. A very delicate dish.

For my main I chose the Steak Gnocchi. This dish had all my favourite foods in one meal. Steak, mushrooms, wine, sundried tomatoes, the lot. When the waitress brought it out it was still sizzling in the cast-iron dish it had been cooked in, which I felt was a very nice touch. When it came to the gnocchi pasta itself, I was very pleased. Gnocchi are little dumpling style pasta balls which can, in some places and from supermarkets, be too stodgy and doughy. However, these gnocchi pieces were very light in texture which meant that I could finish most of my meal. The sauce that the pasta was cooked in was also very delicious with a nice tomato base to it. The steak, for a pasta, was up to good standard as the steak they used was frying steak, but however, it was quite chewy at times with some strings of fat, which I politely chewed on, to not cause a fuss. However, for a steak pasta, I would recommend to someone looking for a nice substantial pasta dish, if they do not fancy a pizza.

My boyfriend opted for the safe option and ordered a Americano pizza, which is just pepperoni, but also added jalapeños as we like a bit of heat. However, as the jalapeños were cut fresh and not pickled like in other restaurants, the heat proved a little too much. He ended up picking most of them off after a while. If you are keen on spice, then I recommend getting jalapeños on your pizza as an extra, but if little heat or no heat, then do not ask for them as they are very, very spicy. When given a bite of this pizza, the dough was lovely, a little doughy, but not too much and like the garlic pizza bread, just crisped enough around the edges.

Dough has very experimental flavours when it comes to pizza, which is fresh as not many pizzerias would take the initiative to use ingredients such as butter nut squash on their pizzas. Also, one that took my eye was the breakfast pizza; which is pretty much a fry up on a pizza base. If I were to go in again, I think I’d definitely try it just out of curiosity. I commend that Dough have been experimental with their pizza flavours and obviously gain a lot of custom from it as the table opposite to us opted for the butter nut squash pizza and I overheard ‘it being delicious’.

For dessert I chose the Sticky Toffee Pudding. As a Sticky Toffee lover, I have had this dessert at at least 10 places, and only one has stuck in my mind (Edwardian Raddison, Manchester). However, with out a doubt the sticky toffee pudding at Dough was one of THE best sticky toffee puddings I have ever eaten in my life. The pudding  came out warm, coated in sticky toffee with a sccop of gelato ice cream to accompany. It was a huge serving to top off the goodness which was already on my plate. I sunk my spoon into the rich sponge and it glided through with ease. For such a densely tasting pudding, I could not believe how light the sponge was in relation to its flavour. I could have eaten that dessert 10 times over and I can safely say that THE place for sticky toffee pudding is at Dough. Fantastic craft work of such a traditional dessert.For £4.35, this is a steal.

My other half decided to opt for the Vegan Chocolate Brownie and Peanut Butter Blondie. A Blondie is a brownie, but without the chocolate, usually made with white chocolate, but in this case peanut butter. I could smell the peanut butter blondie from the other side of the table. Like the pudding, the brownies came out warm with a single scoop of gelato, this time being pistachio, instead of the classic vanilla. Both brownies had perfect textures; the brownie being soft and moist, and the blondie being nutty with a flapjack kind of texture (One of my favourite). The gelato was perfectly creamy as gelato better (in my opinion) to traditional ice cream as we all know as it is prepared using thicker cream and is whipped so it has a smooth, silky texture. The slices of the brownies were huge, both twice as big as I imagined on paper, in triangle form. For yet again, £4.35 I couldn’t believe the quality in which these desserts were prepared, presented and tasted of.

Overall, Dough is very good value for money. A steal even when I think of the quality of the desserts alone. Which I would very much walk in just to get by themselves. I recommend Dough for either a party or a dinner date for two. It’s theme is very romantic and it isn’t the place you’d go with your parents unless for a very special occasion. The layout, as said, is very efficient and fits well with the style of food served. The service was good, but I would like the waitresses (as nice as they were) to stop asking me if everything is okay when I’m half way through eating my meal with food in my mouth. It is just very uncomfortable for me, but with a simple “yeah, it’s great thanks” they leave you alone. The quality of the food was outstanding and it is obious they take pride in the food they serve.

Review: Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home is a gourmet bakehouse and coffee bar located on Edge Street in the Northern quarter of Manchester.

Home Sweet Home has a cute, homely setting with fitting decor such as Tiffany lamps and country style seating. The style of the place fits perfectly with the food it serves and how the food is presented.

Staff greet you as you walk in the door and give you the right amount of time to choose what drink you’d like, or if you already know, you can simply order straight away.

For my choice of drink on this occasion was a ‘flat white’: A flat white is a coffee which is similar to a cappuccino, but without the chocolate on top and with a stronger coffee base. Coffee at Home Sweet Home is freshly made in store and the flat white was delightful. It was smooth with a beautiful aroma. It also didn’t leave a horrible after taste, but rather an enjoyable one, which is not the case with some other coffees. An added touch, used here, was the leaf design created using the frothed milk. I took my coffee with one spoonful on sugar, which you  can add to your specifications as there is a sugar bowl on each table.

For the main aspect of my lunch I chose the home-made chilli which is a family recipe. It was freshly made behind the counter each day and is a popular choice at the cafe, as when I ordered mine, someone else did too. Also, it came by the recommendation of the waitress (who was very nice) This chilli dish is very good for a lunchtime meal if you fancy something light, yet warm. It is served on a crusty, yet soft roll with fresh tomatoes that adds an extra texture to the dish. For those who worry about the ‘hotness’ of a chilli this one has just the right amount of spice for all as if it isn’t enough, it comes with jalapeños slices for extra if desired. Some chilli’s become too over powering in spice as the eat the dish, but this one was very consistent with taste. It was just the right consistency as well as some chillis I have tasted can be too thick and stodgy for overall enjoyment. I happily finished the dish, enjoying every bite.

I couldn’t resist the temptation of a home-bake from Home Sweet Home as they sit on the counter. On this occasion, I opted for the Double Chocolate Blackout Brownie. A more cake-looking style of brownie it is rich with a deep flavour. Also, which was a nice touch was while I was eating this brownie, there was an underlying taste of praline in the mix, which as everyone knows, goes super well with chocolate. However, there was a problem; I couldn’t finish it. As nice as the brownie was, it was way too rich for an after meal treat. If I was to get it again, I’d just have it with a coffee. But do not let this put you off, its just not an after meal choice. It was very lovely and moist, and not dry, like some brownies can be. I true treat for chocolate lovers out there.

If I were to get a home-bake again from Home Sweet Home, I would love to try their golden syrup sponge or banana loaf – All freshly baked in store. Another sweet which caught my eye were the home-made cookies 5 for £3. These cookies are truly freshly made – as they are prepared and baked on order of the customer, so it is more than likely you’ll receive them at best – just out of the oven.

The price I paid for the food is also superb for the standard of the food, drink and preparation put in to pleasing its customers. The food is not minimal and will surely leave you feeling content.

Overall, Home Sweet Home is a fantastic, light bite and home-bake house. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a stylish, yet homely lunch spot.

Website: http://www.cheeseburgertoastie.co.uk/

(pictures up shortly)

New quest

Today saw the start of my new quest to explore the independent cafes, bistros and bakeries of Manchester. This will hopefully turn into a weekly event, so keep your eyes open for my weekly food joint review. Hopefully this will all compile into a lovely overview of the best and possibly the worst places to eat in Manchester (Northern quarter in particular) which will contribute to one of my University assignments and even make it into the paper as a feature.