Rookery Hall and Other Adventures.

It was silly o’clock on Monday morning when we set off to catch a plane to Manchester and begin our adventure. The plan was to stay in Rookery Hall Hotel and Spa for 2 nights and spend Monday exploring Cheshire and the surrounding area. On Tuesday we would go to the Emma Bridgewater Collectors day before flying home on Wednesday evening. In order to give us as much time as possible we decided to get the first flight out on Monday morning.

It was only a short flight from Belfast to Manchester Airport and on arrival we picked up our hire car ‘FiFi’ the Fiat 500. A quick 20minute car journey later and we arrived at Rookery Hall. We arrived well before check-in time so we left our luggage and decided to go for lunch in the nearby town of Nantwich. While we were there we took a little look around the shops too (thank you to one of my Instagram followers for the local knowledge!!).

Nantwich is a really picturesque market town and was best explored on foot so we parked up FiFi the Fiat and went exploring.

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After a quick walk through the town my tummy started growling, I’d had breakfast at 5am and that seemed like a lifetime ago so we decided to go for an early lunch. A quick search on the Tripadvisor app and we found a cute sandwich shop called ‘Bloom’ which was only on the next street. Bloom was a lovely little cafe where we re-fueled with sourdough sandwiches and oodles of tea finished off with big slice of homemade ginger cake for good measure.

*For those who are into their motor cycles,  this one parked in front of the cafe drew quite a lot of attention from men walking past.

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Tummies suitably satisfied, off we went to explore the rest of the historic and beautiful town of Nantwich. Between the 14th century black and white timber buildings were  lots of beautiful interiors shops filled to the brim with stunning furniture, textiles and accessories…if only I lived closer.

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Around mid-afternoon the temperature had creeped up into the low 30’s so we decided to venture back to the hotel to check-in and use the swimming pool and spa to cool down. Phew!

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Sitting outside on the terrace overlooking the gardens in 30 degree heat, you could have easily convinced me that I was in France.

After a quick cool down in the swimming pool and spa we dragged ourselves away from the to check and check the rest of the hotel.

Our room was in the original house which has 12 rooms named after the months. We were staying in ‘May’. It was right above that middle window in the picture above and enjoyed beautiful views of the garden and Cheshire countryside.

Like a complete blogging novice I forgot to take photos of the room but I assure you it was lovely.

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On Monday evening we booked a table in the 2 AA rosette restaurant at the hotel for dinner. As the weather was beautiful, we went down early and spent an hour out on the terrace and sampled a few Gins on the extensive list.

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Forest gin which is made in nearby Macclesfield in small batch was a particular highlight, paired with mango and rosemary garnish and a Fever Tree slimline tonic it was perfect for a sunny July evening. On the whole, all of the bar staff at the hotel were very knowledgeable and were able to recommend and suggest the different gins for our particular tastes and were able to pair each with a tonic and garnish to compliment each.

The next day we were up and away super early to make the 45 minute drive to the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke-en-Trent. You can read about the Collectors Day here!  Tuesday evening consisted of some more Gin tasting following by a light dinner out on the terrace.

On Wednesday morning we had a hearty cooked breakfast to keep us going before our long journey home. On our way back to Manchester Airport we made a detour to Cheshire Oaks Outlet Village (which is a bit like Kildare Shopping Outlet for any Irish readers!). We spent a couple of hours noodling around the shops. I didn’t buy much as we were travelling on hand luggage only but I did get a very cute dress out of Jack Wills. Cheshire Oaks is a pretty large outlet so by the time we had walked around it was nearly lunchtime so we had a quick bite of lunch in Yo! Sushi before making our way back to Manchester Airport. We dropped off FiFi the Fiat 500 before hopping aboard our flight home.

All good things must come to an end…until our next adventure 😉

Much Love,

Judy xo

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The NYC Diaries: Where We Ate.

Kicking off my NYC Diaries, I thought I would start with food.

Okay, you can’t go to NYC without eating insanely crazy food. Seeing as this will probably be our last trip to NYC for a while, we decided to make the most of what the city had to offer!

Egg Shop, 151 Elizabeth St.

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As you can probably guess, eggs are speciality at Egg Shop. Located in the trendy Nolita (North of Little Italy) district, it’s squeezed nicely onto Elizabeth St with some other yummy places.

We found this little gem in our Cereal NYC guide, and I was made it a must do for the trip!

The interior was super cute, duck egg blue, greens and white. It felt fresh and had a great atmosphere. It seated probably around 20 at a push so I advise if you are going at weekends expect to wait for a little bit for a table.

I ordered a ‘Benedict’ with avocado on the side, Simon ‘The Beast’, which thinking back was quite a hilarious name. Of course there had to be sides too. They were the most delicious hash browns I have ever tasted in my life and fried chicken (the people next to us got this and we just had to :D). If you want to look at these items in more detail you can look at the menu.

I think this may have been one of my favourite meals, as I kept thinking about it on the flight home (lol).

 

Black Seed Bagel, 170 Elizabeth Street.

B Seed Bagel

I did say there were a few yummy places around Elizabeth Street, didn’t I? We didn’t visit the two places on the same day I promise. Located on the other part of Elizabeth St, you could throw a stone from Egg Shop to here.

Let me begin by saying, I have never had a bagel this good, and I probably never will again. This makes me sad.

These are hand rolled and wood baked bagels  with endless fillings and opportunities. I opted for a #9 Deli which translates in the real world as a Turkey with lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard on a poppyseed bagel. If you fancy perusing the options you can view the menu here.

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This place is super tiny, perfect for a grab and go sort of lunch but if you want somewhere to sit for hours this isn’t your spot.

Carnegie’s Deli, 7th Avenue at 55th St.

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Probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but Simon really wanted to try a “New York Sized” Deli Sandwich and deep down, I did too. It’s one of those things you just gotta do. When in Rome and all that. In a super busy part of the city, a leap from Central Park houses Carnegies. Famous for its crazy huge sandwiches and cheesecake, we thought we would give it a whirl. After queuing for about 30 minutes, we were seated and opted for a Reuben and a slice of fresh strawberry cheesecake washed down with homemade lemonade.

Needless to say we shared both and hailed a cab straight back to the hotel were we nursed the most intense food coma I have ever had in my life. It was actually a ‘Man Vs Food‘ sort of portion, one which my body is not accustomed to. A must do if you are after the real deal in deli sandwiches!

Laduree, Soho.

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After a long day shopping in Soho, theres nothing like kicking back in the most chic tea salon the world has to offer. Forever my favourite place in the world, I couldn’t go past without having some Earl Grey tea and a Rose and Raspberry Religieuse.

Like most Laduree tea houses, they are quite big and we didn’t have to wait at all for a table. We were there around 4pm, it perhaps was a little quieter. I have nothing else to say as it speaks for itself, utter perfection in patisserie form.

Burger and Lobster, Flatiron District, 39 West 19th St.

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I actually cannot believe I almost forgot this place (hence why it’s last on my list) as it was fantastic! We ate here on our first night, I think that’s why I forgot, pesky jet lag! I couldn’t get a picture of the outside as they were filming a movie, which was very exciting!

Not exclusively in NYC, Burger and Lobster are all over the place, if you are curious where, you can see here. It has a very hipster vibe and it serves local beer too which is quite cool.

Basically how it works is there’s 3 things on the menu.  As above there is a Whole Lobster, Lobster Roll and Burger with bacon and cheese. I went for the lobster roll, Simon for the whole lobster. Each main comes with fries and a salad for $20.

As well as these slices of delight we ate in soooo many other places including Don Antonios Pizza (best in Manhattan), Quality Meats (best steak in NYC), Five Guys and countless coffee shops which I just cant possibly squeeze into this post or it would explode, but if anyone was any more information on these places please let me know.

I hope you enjoyed some of my eating highlights of NYC, have you been to any of these places and is there anywhere you just couldn’t leave off your NYC eats list?

Much Love,

Judy xo

 

Simple Supper: Bacon and Mushroom Puff Pastry Tart.

Hey Frenchies!

A few of you were asking for the recipe for the yummy tart I posted on Instagram. You are all in for a treat as this is super easy. If anyone needs any more info let me know!

Recipe makes 4 tarts, serving 2.

  

To get started, preheat the oven to 200 degrees fan, 220 normal.

Leave your sheet of puff pastry out of the fridge to get to room temperature so it rolls out easier.

Meanwhile gather;

  • One small onion
  • One clove of garlic
  • Three rashers of bacon (if vegetarian you could substitute for asparagus)
  • Mushrooms- about 4 large ones for filling and two to decorate the top (I used forestiere mushrooms as they have more flavour and are of the season)
  • Half a tub of cream cheese approx 80g
  • Cheddar Cheese approx 50g
  • Parsley to garnish if you wish
  • Egg to glaze pastry

In a frying pan, lightly fry the bacon, onion, garlic and mushrooms (These should be all diced into very small into roughly the same sized pieces). When the onion has softened and bacon cooked, add your creamed cheese and stir. It will make a lovely sauce!

Taking your sheet of pastry which should roll out with ease, cut it into four rectangles and put on a baking tray. Add the mixture to each of the tarts leaving about 0.5cm at the edge.

Grate your cheese over each, and decorate with three slices of mushroom and add more cheese if preferred. Dab a little beaten egg around the edges so they go golden.

Pop into the preheated oven at 200 degrees fan for around 10 minutes, check on them and add more cheddar cheese if you wish and leave them in for another 5 minutes until golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.

Serve warm with a salad of your choosing!

Enjoy!

Much Love,

Judy xo

Hello Fresh, Hello Yumminess.

Hey Frenchies I hope you are all well!

I wanted to let you all know how I got on with my first week of Hello Fresh! If you aren’t familiar with this service I will explain!

Hello Fresh! Is a ‘cook from scratch’  box that gets delivered to your door. The clever folk figure out exactly what you need for the menu each week and it comes wrapped to perfection and fresh as a daisy as they pack it very cleverly.

How did I find out about it? Well I stumbled across a discount code online and thought that I would give it a go. Also I find you get into a bit of a rut at times with cooking, and I thought it would be refreshing trying new meals!!

  
   

Basically this is everything in the box! Pretty cool yeah? If you follow me on Instagram you will know the menu but if not this is it!

  • Chermoula Chicken with chorizo lentils and roasted peppers
  • Duck steaks with spiced chickpeas, sweet potato and lemony yoghurt
  • Pan fried pork medallions, tarragon and potatoes.

The clever folk have devised these menus for simple, quick and delicious meals that are no problem making when you come home from a long day at work.

 

The chorizo and lentils.
  
The makings of chermoula chicken!
 
 
The super detailed and simple to follow cards.
 

I will now share how my meals turned out! Team effort with hubby of course 😊

 

Pan fried Duck steaks, chickpeas, sweet potato and lemon yoghurt.
  
Pork medallions, tarragon and potatoes.
  
Chermoula chicken with chorizo lentils and red pepper.
 
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience with Hello Fresh! I would highly recommend it and if you would like to find out more on their website!

If anyone would like £20 off their first box, leave your email in the comments and I will do the rest!

Much Love,

Judy xo

Simple Snacking.

Hey Frenchies! It is almost the weekend and that means treat time, YAY!

This is a healthier alternative to having a sticky bun whilst getting that much needed sweet hit that you need to get you through the day. These super simple Nut and Date bites take no time to make and can be taken in kids lunch boxes as well as your own.

What I need

Makes 10-15 balls, depending on size

– 1 cup of medjool dates

– 3/4 of a cup of cashews

– 3/4 of a cup of walnuts or any other nut (I used walnuts and hazelnuts and cashews)

– 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

– 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder/ Or cocoa powder if you don’t have any.

Here I used a mixture of Hazelnuts, Cashew Nuts and Brazil Nuts.
Here I used a mixture of Hazelnuts, Cashew Nuts and Brazil Nuts.

Method

In a food processor, tip in all of the nuts and blend until it resembles a coarse flour consistency.

Add in your dates (de-stoned!), coconut oil and cocoa powder.

Blend until it comes together like a pastry would, it should look like this…

It should loosely stick together, much like pastry.
It should loosely stick together, much like pastry.

Then roll it it your hand in bite sized balls, leave to chill in the fridge for a bit then enjoy!

Just try not to eat them all at once!
Just try not to eat them all at once!

Let me know if you try these little balls of yumminess! I am off to make a cup of tea and have a few of these!

Much Love,

Judy xo

Lets Make a Gin & Tonic Cake!

Hey Frenchies, this is one for the Gin lovers this evening, inspired by GBBO I thought I would treat you all to a cake. x

Hey Frenchies!

So Great British Bake off (GBBO) season is upon us and you all know what that means? A renewed love for baking! I decided this morning that I wanted to bake something, looking in the larder I was a bit low on ingredients and then it came to me…GIN. I mean, a Gin and Tonic cake!

Okay, this probably wouldn’t be one to give to the kids, but how about an adult treat as you watch GBBO this evening, or on demand this weekend as we all do these day. This is a beautifully moist cake, and the glaze/drizzle soaks and makes just heavenly.

There is three elements to this cake; The cake, The glaze and the topping so I will take you through the process, hopefully it will be clear for you all to follow!

Everything you need for your ginny cake!
Everything you need for your ginny cake!

What I need for the cake:

2 eggs

Caster Sugar

Self Raising flour

A pinch of baking powder

1 lemon (zest and juice)

3 shots of gin (I used Bombay Sapphire but it doesn’t really matter)

What I need for the glaze:

Icing Sugar 150g

6 shots of gin, hic!

Splash of tonic water

Juice of half a lemon

What I Need For the topping:

One Lemon

One Lime (if preferred)

Method

You may have noted at the top I didn’t put the quantities of the cake, what I do with all my cakes is weight my eggs (in this case they were 159g so i measured out the same quantity of butter, caster sugar and SR Flour!

The scales stopped at 170g :) this was an action shot!
The scales stopped at 159g 🙂 this was an action shot!

So, cream the butter (room temperature!!) together until lovely and fluffy, add the beaten eggs with the flour, baking powder and mix until combined.

Add in the zest and juice of one lemon and three shots of gin.

If you feel that your mixture is too runny, add a little more of flour and mix.

Spoon your boozy mix into a lined loaf tin (mine was slightly too large for the mixture, although never mind) and bake at 170 fan or 180 normal oven for 40-45mins, taking a peep at it regularly.

You will know its ready when a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool, and start to make the toppings yay!

Leave to cool, COMPLETELY. Or the glazing won’t stick!

Glaze

This glaze is super easy and incredibly gin laden, so it is totally yum.

Measure out 150g of icing sugar, and add in 6 shots of gin, a splash of tonic water and the juice of half a lemon. Mix until all the sugar has dissolved. It should look something like my picture below! I added a little lemon water in too, but you don’t have to do this.

It should be a thick pouring consistency, and smell good enough to drink :)
It should be a thick pouring consistency, and smell good enough to drink 🙂

Topping

Is is completely additional and you can add if you have the time.

I decided that it would look lovely with some candied lemon/lime.

Mix equal part sugar and water and bring to the boil.

Add in finely sliced lemon and lime and leave for 10 minutes.

Pop on to a cooling rack, to be placed on your cake at the end.

Thes will dry and cool and in turn go candied in a bit!
Thes will dry and cool and in turn go candied in a bit!

The finished product should look at little something like this…Or even better if you are a better baker than me 🙂

Oh yes!
Oh yes! The glazing liquor soaks in making it a wonderfully moist cake.
Looks very pretty in my Emma Bridgewater comport.
Looks very pretty in my Emma Bridgewater comport. 

Grab a slice and a install yourself in front of the telly and enjoy Mary Berry, Paul Holywood and all the innuendos on GBBO.

Bon Appetit,

Much Love,

Judy

Sunday Vibes: St George’s Market.

Ah bank holiday weekends how I love you so! Knowing you have that extra day on Monday to chill, just makes the weekend so much sweeter!

Today Hubby and I went to Belfast for the Sunday market at St George’s Market. For those who aren’t familiar it’s the last covered Victorian market in Belfast, and also won best large indoor market 2014 in the UK! 

It runs Friday- Sunday and you can find art, crafts, farmers market, food stalls, traditional music and all of it is local to Northern Ireland! It also doubles as a music venue, I think over the years I’ve seen a few bands, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Death Cab For Cutie.

 

(L-R) locally sourced fruit and veg, seafood (dulse is seaweed my fave!!), local artist and birds eye view of the market.
It’s fantastic for a walk and a look around the vintage stalls for little treasures, but I wasn’t so lucky today.

 So today’s food adventures…

Suki Tea (made in belfast), cupcakes from lilypink bakery and for brunch we had an ulster fry 😋
 

Ok, let’s get a few things straight, the Ulster fry is the best fry ever. I don’t have them very often but oh they are yummy! What’s different with an Ulster Fry is the potato bread (fadge in local language) vegetable roll, soda bread and black pudding. You won’t get all of this together anywhere else but Ulster!! 

Belfast is such a great city, and one I feel gets sidestepped a bit because of the history, but I have to say it’s one of the best cities I have been to!

 

Samson and Goliath the famous ship building cranes.
If anyone would like to know more about Belfast or where to go in Northern Ireland i would be happy to help! 

Much love,

Judy xo