Rusty Shears (Whitby ) As good as it gets

We stumbled upon this delightful in
Independent cafe on our last weekend in Whitby. We have been coming to Whitby for a few years now as a couple and as coffee lovers realised we were probably missing a trick relying on Costa for our caffeine hit. (Plus we hate that certain staff leaders start wrapping up a whole 90 minutes before they close –  not exactly a warm welcome). 

You enter the cafe through a delightful walled patio area. We headed into the cafe to a warm welcome and display of homemade bakes. One of which, a Lemon & Thyme Loaf,  was just cooling off ready for tomorrows lucky customers.

We only ordered drinks as we were dining at The Magpie within the hour but my eyes certainly enjoyed a feast.

I ordered a Flat White which was served in a beautiful teacup. Davids americano was served in a China mug. Both coffee were excellent and at £4.90 were priced well for the serving.

We had a great experience at Rusty Shears and think you would too.  

Louise xxx

#EatBakeBlogGB 

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Barcelona Centre Hotel (Calle Balmes, 103-105 ) – Equal in every way

Every time I stay in a hotel I look for the following 5 key themes in the room:

  1. Great bed as described – double or king as booked, reasonably firm with soft sheets and a good selection of pillows
  2. Bathroom – well maintained and as clean as a pin
  3. Effective and controllable heating and lighting
  4. Accessible plug points by beds
  5. Breakfast – better then I would have at home

Hotel Barcelona Centre  had 4 out of 5.  Of course there were a few blips along the way but we would recommend this hotel for its excellent team and good sized rooms.  We chose the hotel for its location which is close to shopping, Casa Mila / Le Pedera and the fabulous Cerveseria Catalana which is another review.  Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I have just one photographs of this hotel so you will have to rely on my words alone.

Checking in – We arrived and first impression of the hotel was good based on the facade and entering the reception area. The reception team were very friendly and professional and service was efficient and our check-in was very quick.

Bedroom;  was located on the 5th floor at the front of the hotel – which did prove quite noisy late into the small hours which could be corrected with some triple glazing. However the noise pollution was not that intrusive that we felt the need to be moved.   Our room was very spacious, modern and very clean.

Bathroom was the same and if you needed extra comfort supplies there was list of available options. The bed were two twins pushed together which was very disappointing as when we booked a double; however the bed was very comfortable.  Air con was effective and quiet and easily controlled.

We were on the 5th floor at the front of the hotel – which did prove quite noisy late into the small hours, which I am sure could be corrected with some triple glazing. However, the noise pollution was not that intrusive that we felt the need to be moved.

Concierge team were great with a special mention to Luth, who was incredible. I had accident on our first day (watch out on those pedestrian crossings the taxis don’t always stop) and he found me a crutch, helped me across the road to the local bistro, stopping traffic…above and beyond any service I have received before from a hotel or anyone in the service industry.  He is a credit to the hotel.

Restaurant did not entice us in as the menu did not focus on local produce or Catalan cuisine. We did order room service (due to me being immobile) which was quick and good but for a Beef burger and a Jamon toasted sandwich (my bread was over toasted almost burnt) with 2 waters at 48 Euros and the quality this was far too expensive in my opinion.

Breakfast; charged at €18 per person, which is served in the basement (shame they cannot utilise the 7th floor terrace but sadly it is clearly not logistical possible).  The choices were varied and all the offerings looked and tasted good. Its the first time I have had ham and cheese for breakfast and I really enjoyed it.   The only exception were the pastries they were not up to the Catalan standard; the were quite dry and the Churros were the worst I have ever had, really heavy in texture and quite stale – which was a shame as all other dishes were good. The coffee (machine dispensed) was incredibly strong, the most potent I have ever had.

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Considering we were there in the height of summer it was surprising there was no bar service open during the day on the terrace (which was not a bad place to be confined to following the accident).  The hotel was quiet in this area – yet we know it was full from reception .  When we wanted a drink we would have to travel to the ground floor or you could call reception for service.  I would think that Hotel Barcelona Centre  is mainly used by business guests.

I recommend the hotel and would staff her again based on all of the above. When we arrived the walk from Provença metro station took us minutes to this great hotel.

We would stay here again and would recommend you do – this is based on the service we received and the standard of the hotel, we paid €72 per night for 5 nights.

Room Tip: Avoid front if you are a light sleeper

If you want to read more of my adventures you can follow me at EatBakeBlogGB for foodie reviews.

Happy Travels!

Louise x

Louise Winder Food & Travel 

Lemon Drizzle Traybake – #zestybaker

Never baked Lemon Drizzle before yesterday  but a dear colleague is moving on to new challenges and this cake is her favorite.  It’s taken me a while to find the elusive 30 x 23 cms tray that Mary Berry uses  (if you follow me on twitter you may have caught my grumblings).   I was tempted to pimp this but i’m playing safe today.

So what next…

Grease and line your  30 x 23 cms tin with baking parchment/paper (remember, if you use larger tin you wont get the same rise).  Line your tin I and heat your oven to 140°c (fan) or Gas mark 3 then weigh out and prepare your ingredients but hold on for the crunchy topping.

You will need

  • 225g Softened Butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 275g Self-raising flour
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
  • finely grated rind/zest of 2 lemons

For the crunchy topping you will need

  • 175g granulated sugar (beware not to use a finer grade or you will not get the crunch)
  • Juice of 2 lemons (beware to to use large lemons – read on to see why)
  1. Measure the butter, caster sugar, SR flour, baking powder,eggs, milk and lemon zest/rind into your bowl and beat until well blended.  Remember your butter must be soft to touch before your start this process.
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  2. Turn your mixture into the greased/lined tray and gently level
  3. Place the tray in the oven on a middle shelf for 35-40 minutes – or until the cake has pulled back from the sides of the tin and if you gently press the middle if fingertips you see it spring back
  4. Leave the bake in the tin to cool for five minutes.
  5. When times up, turn it out on a cooling rack and carefully peel the parchment/paper from the base and leave to cool further
  6. Make your crunchy topping by mixing the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to give a runny mixture
  7. Spoon this over the cake while it is still warm
  8. Cut into squares once cold.
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Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake by EatBakeBlogBG

Lessons learnt

My oven was slightly too hot – school girl error – always check your temperature or expect that doming.

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The lemons, despite being fabulously juicy, produced a lot of juice which is never a bad thing.   However  I think the amount of juice they produced took the crunch from the topping – too much juice to sugar.  It could also have been that the bake was too warm and melting the sugar .  What I do know is that baking is a learning curve and next time I will measure juice to try and find that perfect mix and use a more averaged size lemon.  In the meantime a cheats sprinkle of granulated the morning after gave these the crunch they deserved.

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Big juicy lemons – too much juice to sugar for the topping

Every cloud has a silver lining as these lemons gave me an incredibly zest and moist lemon drizzle and I look forward to baking this again but next time with some savory thyme.

Hope you like this and my pictures and if you try this with a twist then please share your thoughts.

If you like my blog why not follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Louise x

EatBakeBlogGB

 

The Fossgate Social (25 Fossgate York) Lives up to its name

Following a great weekend of racing at the fabulous York Racecourse and breaking even despite our best efforts, we wandered around York city seeking a independent eatery for our late luncheon.  Our wandering around was soon rewarded when we came across The Fossgate Social.

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The venue was buzzing, perfectly volume for a lazy Sunday.  Ts and the looming black clouds we avoided the rear terrace and headed upstairs to the first floor and secured a table for two.

David was quick to chose after  short discussion but sadly our neighbours broke the news the meatball sandwich was sold out – good going for 1:45pm  We were tempted by the Mountain Valley Brunches (see board above and I would ask for this you go) but after the weekend’s excesses we played it safe.  David ordered the Ham & Cheese Toasted Sandwich with full grain mustard served on Haxby Bakehouse with beetroot and juicy gherkin on the side.  I decided a Bacon Sarnie  with Tomato Relish was going to hit the spot.  I placed our order at the bar, the staff were instant to acknowledge me and let me know they’d be with me soon and they were.  They took the order and asked if we could wait 20 minutes for the order.  This to me is always a comforting sign, as any good food is always worth the wait.

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When our orders arrived on first look neither of us were disappointed, despite going for the less decadent options.  The bacon was thick and just salty enough and had been cooked well done, as requested.   The tomato relish was divine – as much as I love tomatoes I never have really enjoyed them in relish form until today.  My only mistake was not asking the sociable team where the relish came from or what it was made with.

Cost for 2 drinks (Fentimans Ginger beer and Magic Rock Grapefruit Highwire) and our snacks came to a reasonable £16.  I would comment Highwire is a premium craft beer and this pushed the price up, the food would have been about £11.00)

Fossgate Social is a fabulous independent cafe /bar and I am not concerned I did not ask about the relish as it just gives us another reason to return

 

Raddison Blu (Manchester) – Left me feeling blu

To me what defines a hotel is it’s ability to offer you a home away from home; somewhere you don’t mind being away from your own bed.

It’s not often we stay in 5-Star hotels in a month  so when we do we expect it to be better than we are used to.

I am not unrealistic but what really is the key for a great hotel I think are these five key components :

  1. Great bed as described – double or king as booked, reasonably firm with soft sheets and good pillows
  2. Bathroom – which is well maintained and as clean as a new pin
  3. Controllable heating and lighting
  4. Accessible plug points
  5. Breakfast better than I would have at home

The Raddison Blu had 1 out of 5.

From the beginning there were warning signs – check in was slow; I have boarded a jumbo jet faster, checked into several Vegas hotels faster (possibly one of the busiest cities in the world)  – so why was this so slow?  Probably due to a lack of concierge; as there appeared to be a lot of chat about other stuff by the reception staff.    James, who checked us in, was charming but missed out a key fact – read on to find out about his blunder.

Bedroom: the room was a good size with a good view of the city.  The television did not represent the room size (I can’t find my photo, but trust me it was really small) and yet again we had two singles pushed together!  I do not understand why hotels of this calibre cannot offer couples a bed to share rather than pushing two twins together.  We use the Premier Inns and they can offer double beds as standard.  Again we paid and booked a double room so very disappointed.

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Bathroom : was just ok, yet again evidence of mould/mildew – not cool.The shower was effective and easily controlled. The dresser area was good with the exception of the stool; which was quite old and frayed around the edges. Something you may accept in a low-end B&B but in a 5-Star hotel?

Radisson Blu Dresser
Radisson Blu Dresser

Cocktails : We were dining at James Martin’s so we had some pre-dinner cocktails in the Champagne Bar – that is after the 15  minutes that it took for the waiter to take our order. Why offer a waiting service when it would be quicker to stand at the bar as we witnessed (we were seated by a Maitre’d so no excuses) – the cocktails were good but the choice was not as expansive as compared to other hotels of a similar standard.

Breakfast : we turned up for breakfast around 830am only to be asked by the Maitre’d if we had booked for breakfast (something James had omitted to tell us was advised for this hotel upon our arrival).  It was clear the compact area they serve breakfast in could only seat a small percentage of the hotel capacity. We complained, explaining to the hostess that this was never mentioned at check-in. Under some duress she found us a table but only after telling us several times “we are really busy this weekend”. I would imagine most city hotels around the world are very busy most weekends!

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Breakfast queue

We were served our tea, which after some considerable time would not brew a deeper shade of warm milk.  I am sure Newby of London is an excellent brand but it was just not to my taste or maybe it requires two teabags per pot!   I made my way to the breakfast buffet and really wished we had not bothered.  We were greeted by greasy potatoes, overcooked sausages, cremated bacon and  dried up scrambled eggs and luke warm baked beans.

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Enough was enough.  We abandoned breakfast and sought out the duty manager as I had to share my feelings and disappointment. I was genuinely offended that the Radisson Blu think this standard of breakfast for (£15 / person) is acceptable from such a prestigious brand.   We had a conversation about all of the above and the outcome was we were refunded for our breakfast as a token gesture.

I cannot not recommend the Radisson Blu Manchester. The staff were underwhelming in the face of any adversity they claimed.  The overall offering we experienced was substandard compared to other 5-star  hotels within the City.  Especially, those that offer better prices with better breakfasts that do not have the mantra “we are very busy this weekend”.

 

Banana loaf with Lindt Chocolate

Banana Loaf #badboy

I’m on a roll at the moment or should I say loaf. I’m slowly working my way through Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and adding and changing recipes until I feel I have mastered them or added a twist that leaves me happy.   The latest conquest was Banana Loaf.

Luckily for me, my colleagues are not keen on banana’s once they are showing signs of ripening which also gave  my the perfect opportunity to try out my new tin liners.  I love baking and I think I’m doing okay, but lining tins is not my area of strength so theses are a welcome addition.

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This bad boy is perfect (it’s no secret any great banana loaf needs really ripe bananas).  My first loaf was plain banana. My next bake had chocolate (a handful of chopped up dark chocolate) then I added Clark’s Maple Syrup and finally maple syrup and pecans which became the office favorite. The balance of Maple syrup was a learning curve and after 3 attempts and feedback from the office I think I have the right balance.

Lindt Dark Chocolate
Clarks Maple Syrup and a handful of  Lindt Dark Chocolate

So what next….

Line your tin. Now you’d think this is straight forward but be careful choosing your tin. For this recipe you needs a 2lb /900g loaf tin; if you’re not sure measure out and this size tin should hold one litre of water.

Ingredients

  • 100g (4oz) softened butter * (very important don’t cheat this)
  • 175g (60z) Caster sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 Ripe Banana’s mashed
  • 225g  (8oz) self raising flour
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

The Extras

  • 2 tablespoons of Maple Syrup (I use Clarks)
  • 2 tablespoons of pecan nuts, cut in halves.
    or 1 handful of chopped dark chocolate (both is too much so I recommend you pick one or the other)
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  1. Pre-heat your oven to 160c (fan assisted)/gas mark 4 and lightly grease and line your 2lb loaf tin (bottom and sides).
  2. Measure out your ingredients into a mixing bowl and the mashed banana and if desired the maple syrup mix well for 2 minutes or until well blended.
  3. Next stir in your chocolate and or pecans
  4. Pour / spoon the mixture into your lined tin and level the surface
  5. Bake on your middle shelf for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool in the tin on your cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turnout and peel off the parchment until cooled.

Or if like me, why not have slice while still warm with a cup of tea!

If you like my blog you could follow me on Twitter or Instagram

 

Banana loaf with Lindt Chocolate
Banana Loaf with Lindt Chocolate

Duck n Roll @TrinityLeeds

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Duck n Roll sought us out as the sweet aromas of their duck reaches outside to Albion Street. We followed our noses and ordered lunch at the latest addition to Trinity Kitchen.

We ordered and got food within 8 minutes! Now that’s fast.

The Classic was a duck pate burger served in a plump brioche bun with spring onion and lashings of sweet chilli sauce topped with cheese.

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Then for my L’Asiatique. It did not disappoint; it was crammed with duck, spring onions; cucumber and Bean spouts with  a rich hoisin sauce. This juicy parcel was a tasty and filling lunch time snack.

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Cost £10.90 for two lunches.

Duck n Roll is a great addition to Trinity Kitchen. Really recommend their tasty bites in fact  you’d be quackers not to.

If you like my blog why not follow me on Twitter or Instagram

Return to Ego (@Beverley Arms Ackworth)

We returned to Ego on Thursday as we  needed a pick-me-up and I really fancied a good steak.

Thankfully, Ego were able to accommodate us at short notice which was a surprise as they are incredibly popular mid-week which I attribute to their specialist offers.  Tonight was Kebab night, and before you ask I do not mean Donner, I could have been tempted to falter from my desire for steak.

We were  greeted cheerily by one of the hosts and were offered a choice of table by the window (I much prefer this area, as I am not a fan of some of other areas of the restaurant which have a little too much atmosphere).

We do rate Ego and the main reason is for the great staff, they are warm and friendly and when it counts bold and not afraid to deal with issues where so many hide or mismanage. The customer service skills of this team are a credit to the restaurant and their infrequent weakness in the kitchen are forgiven for deftness of the front of house team.

The food ordered was the chicken Liver and rosemary pate and deep fried brie for starters. Then for our mains I ordered the fillet steak with skin on chips and David ordered the lamb rump with risotto and green and spring onion pesto.

The starters we served, the pate was very chilled as before I wish the kitchen would hold this back and let it reach somewhere near room temperature.  Maybe if they made this in a terrine and served a slices this could achieved.  If you like me believe certain foods taste best at certain temperatures you might like this article .  The pate as it warmed tasted great, although the rosemary as not detectable –  I am assuming this rosemary was only present in the butter used to seal the pate.   The marmalade of chilli tomato as a side was left by me but it was very much enjoyed by David – he preferred this with his creamy brie over the orange and apricot marmalade he was served.

Our mains were served and the steak looked good. It was cooked to order medium-rare with a lovely rocket garnish a garlic dressed plum tomato and a dish of skin on chips.  The fillet had good crunch on the outside with a pink and rare centre. I get so fed up of being served overcooked steaks #Cowshed

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The only extra not welcome on this plate was the huge chip – which is not on my shoulder!  Shame  the chef let a meal leave his kitchen like this.

David’s dish of Lamb Rump was tender and cooked medium and sat on a rich and creamy risotto finished with zesty pesto (and no chips in sight).

Our bill came to £50 which included 3 drinks and after our Ego discount was applied.

The quality remains to be good at Ego one day I look forward to them having local produce on the menu.  We will continue to support our local restaurant and hope that the kitchen team can raise their game to mirror the A team working front of house.

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures your can follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Louise

 

 

The Cow Shed (Northgate, Wakefield); meat me elsewhere

Our greeting upon arrival on a snowy Wednesday night in February was not the best.  I can only assume the waiter had just had some bad news.  The word “disengaged” is the best way of describing his demeanor.

We were shown to the seating  area on the first floor, as the table before us was running behind and about 15 minutes later we were at our table.  We ordered a glass of red (£6.25) and a bottle of Speckled Hen (£4.00)  which were served without so much a word, or a smile – I hoped this was not an omen of things to come.

The atmosphere was lacking on this snowy Thursday night especially after the early bird diners had gone us a’la carte diners were left quite alone.  The barn upstairs looks lovely on first impressions, but it needs a bit of TLC on the decor and a full rather draft cracks sealing up.

The starters we chose were Duck and Port Parfait with ginger marmalade and toasted ciabatta (£6.95) – the parfait was overpowered by the jam it was too sweet and sticky for this delicate and smooth parfait.    David ordered the Brie (£5.95) it was deep-fried, the story ends there, it was unmemorable which is a travesty for any piece of cheese.

The owners of the restaurant talk about local produce, however there is no reference to the provenance of the produce which is infuriating when we have some many great butchers and farms to be proud of within  a short distance.  Surely, you would be proud and publish your partnerships?

The fillet I had ordered (medium to rare) had good flavour, but this was undone as it had been overcooked.   As someone who cook’s a fillet or rump steak nearly every Saturday night I would say this had come straight off the grill without being rested; the meat was dry with no juice.  The Rib Eye with Blue Cheese again was flavoursome but too dry .  The side of peppercorn sauce (£1.55) which was so so.

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When I dine out I want to be wowed.  I expect a professional chef to be able to cook a steak to order and to know to let it rest.  It might have been the end of a busy service but there was no pressure from the dining room as it was now quiet so no excuses.

Total bill was £70.65 excluding service.

What is interesting is this restaurant continues to be a success in Wakefield where others have failed.  All I can think is that the good people of Wakefield have not had a great steak cooked to perfection.    For now we will continue to either eat steak at home or dine at Goucho in Leeds.

Pieminister (Duncan Street, Leeds) It gets my vote

We jumped in here on the first chilly night of Autumn as who would recommend a good hot pie to warm you through?

We were quickly seated with a drinks order taken. Yorkshire Gold Ale (Leeds Brewery plus a few other local ales) with a  water for me.

There was a good choice of pies and sides and we ordered the Kate and Sydney with Minted Mushy Peas and Moo Pie with Mash and chose some Onion Rings for a nibble.

It was a busy night and there was a nice buzz about the place shame the temperate was so cool!  We asked the staff to turn off the air con which was pumping out chilled air (not what you’d expect in October) as between this and the slow shutting entrance door it was blooming freezing (the air-con remained on which was disappointing).

The drinks arrived soon followed by the onion rings which were huge (sorry there are no photographs), hot and crispy and a very naughty and welcome nibble before the main event.

Thankfully the hot pies arrived not long after and on first impressions it was looking good. Both pies were encased in a golden pastry, so many places offer pies in dishes with lids – in my opinion that is not real pie –  it’s a casserole with a lid.

My Moo Pie (Steak and Ale) was tasty; with crispy pastry, rich gravy, tender meat but wait for it, there was an interloper!  Lots of diced carrots which were not welcome! Why, oh why, do restaurants add in ingredients that is not listed on a menu!   If I wanted Meat and Vegetable Pie I would have ordered that. A meat pie is allowed onions to give it flavour. Don’t get me wrong I am not anti-carrots but come on don’t put fillers in to keep your costs down and not list it! We liked that the gravy was served in a jug i don’t like to add mine all at once; as I like my pastry to stay as crisp as possible before being devoured.

The Kate and Sydney Pie was similar but the balance between the steak and kidney was 90% steak (something I would not complain about, not being a lover of kidney) but David was disappointed, however this was without carrots – he was the winner in my option.

Atmosphere at the venue was good but a cool temperature and with the urban décor (cheapskates) and it made it colder on this Winter night.   This diner-esque pie emporium is in a great location, close to Brew Dog (who sell their Pies to order).

The staff seemed happy in the jobs and were bright and breezy although slightly dippy with it – I could not imagine them handling a large party or customer rebellion.

Overall a 3 out of 5; it gets my vote based on the price (£22.60) versus quality we would return for a quick tea but ensure we are not sat by the door. I don’t think the Pieminister is pretending to anything it isn’t which I recommend it for.