Autumn, Food, Food, Summer

BlackBerries: Picking and Jam

Did you know that it is currently the most wonderful time of year? No? Well it is true you see. Yes, we are quickly edging towards the end of summer however the beginning of the much longed after Autumn months are just around the corner. The weather isn’t too warm, nor is it too cold, the much wished for rain has returned in fits and starts and you will have seen all the trees, bushes and hedgerows bursting with ripe, juicy ready to be picked treats.

The one indicator that my favourite time of year is slowly approaching is the arrival of the blackberries. I see the little green fruits appear on the bushes everywhere, in my garden, at my local park, on the roads as I walk home, and I wait and wait until the little green berries start to change to a slight blushing red colour to the most juiciest dark purple / black colouring. And then I pounce.

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The reason I love them so much is mainly due to the childhood memories that they hold. I remember picking them in our garden as a small child from the cutting my grandad had given us from his own garden in London and eating the berries before twisting my face at how sour they were! I would then run back up towards the house with my bowl full of treasure for my mam to bake alongside apples in a pie. I also remember being sent to the back of my nannas garden when we were small as we could fit our little hands through the gaps in the fence and forage for berries from her neighbour’s garden, and again our haul was often added to some homemade bake.

So, a few weeks back in the scorching sunshine I decided that I would add to those memories by taking Little Legs to our local park where we stumbled upon the biggest blackberry gold mine I have ever come across! We spent a good hour wandering through the park looking for the biggest, the best and the juiciest looking blackberries we could find. We were also hot and itchy from the nettles and exhausted from our climb up the blackberry covered hill but excited, for our Tupperware box full of blackberries would soon be in a pan being turned into homemade jam!

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Now I have never made jam before in my life. I have watched my mam make strawberry jam on occasions where we have gone strawberry picking and got a little carried away with filling the little basket they give you, but that is the extent of my jam knowledge.

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I crazily decided that I would turn my hand towards my first attempt of jam making on the Saturday night after a long, tiring day at work. I put on a playlist inspired by The Four Seasons (I had just seen the show based about them at the theatre royal) and danced around the kitchen, Heineken in hand waiting for our little haul to boil down in the pan I had placed them in. They quickly did, and after deciding to make seedless jam I poured the contents of the pan into a muslin cloth over a bowl and squeezed all of the hot blackberry juice goodness out and after making the kitchen worktops, floor and my hands look like they wouldn’t be out of  place in a murder scene, I returned the blackberry juice back to the pan and added the sugar and lemon juice and brought the pan to a boil, and continued to follow the recipes instructions.

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I managed to get two good-sized jars of seedless jam from our blackberry pick, one which has almost already been devoured in the space of three weeks! So much for the two jars lasting me until next year’s haul. However! I have caught the jam making bug and I think rhubarb and ginger jam may be the next on my list to make seeing as we have two large rhubarb plants taking over the garden now! Let me know what jams your currently making or what ones I should add to my list to make.

 

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Food, Summer

Burger Thursday: Meat Stack Yellowstone Burger

As I am sure I have said many times before, working in the Grainger Market often has its advantages and the main one this summer has been the opening of Meat Stack which is a burger joint that has taken residence on Alley 2, a good 40 second walk from where I work. Now, I pretty much get a portion of their chips at least once a week (sometimes at least twice a week, sorry waist line) and as much as I try to resist their burgers, their menu often gets the better of me and my portion of chips turns into a full-blown meal deal!

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Now the reason I have never taken off as a food blogger is because I am actually a little pig. Whenever food is put in front of me I eat half of it, or sometimes all of it before thinking ‘oh, maybe I should have taken a photo of this for my Instagram / blog / twitter’. So, here is a photo I took before I demolished my burger knowing the moment I opened that lid I will have inhaled at least half of the tasty treats inside.

Yellowstone is actually my favourite burger on the meat stack menu, and I am always passing their stall waiting for it to re-appear on the board. It is a double cheeseburger with fried onions, baconnaise, American cheese and a MOTHER FUCKING HASH BROWN. Not much can beat a hash brown in my books like, their little fried potato goodness goes with everything, but not even I had ever dared to combine it with a double cheeseburger but the lads in Meat Stack thankfully did, and for that I am forever grateful!

Find them on Ally two of the Grainger Market Newcastle or at No28 which is hidden away at the top of Nelson street just as your entering the Grainger Market, also find their link here: http://www.meat-stack.com

Food, Summer

Afternoon Tea Mason + Rye

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How ironic my second post published under my new domain name is once again food related. I wont lie, I am a little pig constantly day dreaming about what my next meal will be. So imagine my excitement when I discovered last Monday that the entire week (14th-20th August) was one that is dedicated to afternoon tea.

I know afternoon tea is a little old fashioned, but it seems to be slowly coming back into style recently with a number of places in the North East offering up their idea of the ideal tea. I remember the first time I tagged along with my family for afternoon tea at Marco Peirre White in Newcastle thinking how on earth would a few finger sandwiches and cakes fill the void in my tummy, but by god it did! I was so full I actually struggled to finish what was presented to me.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find time to venture out this week and enjoy an indulgent tea due to being busy at work and with little legs still being off school; so instead I decided to throw my own interpretation of afternoon tea for myself and my family at home. The kids had doughnuts and cookies, but I treated us adults to some amazing cakes from Mason + Rye that is located inside Fenwick’s newly refurbished food hall.

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First up was the Rose Macaroon.
I’m pretty sure this was named Rose and Raspberry Macaroon but I’m not 100% sure, mainly because I was too busy deciding what cakes looked the best rather then reading the cards in front of them. During the tea, me and my lovely Mam halved this macaroon and came to the conclusion that although this was a beautiful floral tasting treat, a full one would be too much to eat all at once. I later debunked this theory when I devoured the last macaroon within seconds. It tasted amazing.

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We also halved the Coconut and Passion Fruit macaroon, as it was only really bought as an experiment to see how the flavours would taste once combined. Ironically, my Mam liked the passion fruit filling but wasn’t overly keen on the ‘over powering’ taste of coconut, however I adored the coconut element to this treat yet the passion fruit didn’t appeal to me at all and ended up sadly in the bin, after I picked the coconut macaroon from around the amber coloured goo, obviously.

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Another cake I wasn’t overly fussed on was the dark chocolate and salted caramel tort. Again this is my fault for not reading the name cards correctly and being guilty of my eyes being bigger then my belly, because lets face it this cake looks spectacular!! Upon purchasing the tort I assumed the chocolate would be milk chocolate, however I was slightly dismayed when my Mam announced it was actually dark chocolate. Noooo. If you’re a lover of dark chocolate (how many times can I say the C word in one post) then you probably will really enjoy this desert, I personally think the cake is slightly too big, I was able to eat half of  it before it ended up becoming to rich and sickly to finish off.

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Last, but in no means least was the lemon meringue pie. Now no one can beat my Nana’s homemade lemon meringue, however boy did this come close! The curd was thick, tarty and refreshing and the meringue top was light and airy, as well as having a wonderful glossy finish. This was definitely the best desert out of the selection I picked up, and one I will be back to purchase again!

Despite some peculiar taste combinations, this is defiantly somewhere I would recommend you to visit if you’re in Newcastle city centre and in need of a good desert and a cup of tea! Also a massive shout out to the incredibly helpful and polite staff who took the time to help me choose from the array of cakes on the day!

And that is that. I promise the next few posts wont be food related, which I’m sure my waist line is incredibly happy about. Let me know if you also celebrated afternoon tea week, or if you have an venues or cake shops you recommend to visit.

Food, Summer

TMNT & The Bohemian

So by now the legendary NE1 Restaurant week has been and unfortunately gone. I only managed to visit one restaurant this week, which is slightly devastating as all the menus on offer sounded absolutely amazing; however I need to try to save some money for our upcoming trip to LEGOLAND as I fear little legs will be wanting to end his day out with a Lego set or two.

I was accompanied by my wonderful work family to The Bohemian, which is a Vegan / Vegetarian restaurant hidden away on Pink Lane. I had studied the menu prior to arriving, so I already had a pretty good idea on what I was going to be ordering.

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For starters, most of us ordered the Garlic Mushroom Quesadilla which is pretty much what its name suggests. Garlic mushrooms and vegan mozzarella cheese folded in a flour tortia and grilled before being served with guacamole. It was amazing. This was my first time trying vegan cheese, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised with how nice it tasted.

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In incredibly dull fashion I ordered the Mediterranean pizza for my main, which was basically cheese and tomato pizza. As far as I am aware the mozzarella on this pizza wasn’t vegan, and to be honest there wasn’t a lot of it, but this was fine as the pizza contained a generous amount of tomato sauce making it a lovely change from the cheese overloaded pizza’s I usually consume. I also tried some of the Mexican spiced pulled Jackfruit and instantly regretted the fact that I hadn’t taken the risk and ordered the Jackfruit fajita. Jackfruit is a weird thing, is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? What is it? According to google it ‘is a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family’ which ‘is often used as a meat substitute as it has a similar texture to chicken or pork’. So there you have it, I also agree with its comparison to pork, although visually it looked similar to tuna.

For dessert I had rum cheesecake as unfortunately they no longer had any cinnamon churros served with chocolate sauce left. Sad times.

The décor of the venue was quite cute, it seemed to have its own character about it and was very charming. The lights were turned down slightly, with Fleetwood Mac and Blondie playing in the background. Album art from the likes of Bob Marley to Grace Jones covered the walls, and there was even a small record stall in the corner. Usually my weird fashion sense stands out in chain restaurant’s but I felt quite at home here in my Teenage Mutant Ninja T-shirt, black skirt and ripped tights. All in all it was a lovely experience. Would I visit here again? 100%!

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