Saturday, 10 June 2017

Stepping into Summer with Turtle Bay's new menu - Middlesbrough

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take Matt to Turtle Bay and show him what it was all about. Having visited on the press night with my fellow Teesside bloggers, I was invited back to try out the new menu and review which I was happy to oblige.

We popped along on a Friday night feeling extremely hungry after a long day at work. I started with my favourite cocktail, discovered on my last visit, the Marley Mojito. I'm not a fan of normal mojitos but this one is so refreshing and fruity with ginger beer, watermelon and melon liqueur.

We both had a tough time deciding what we'd get for our mains as there was so many delicious sounding meals listed. I really wanted to have the beef ribs again after trying them before but the two-way chicken burger caught my eye. As we don't have lamb at home, Matt decided that's what he'd be trying. 

My burger was a spicy panko crumbed chicken fillet topped with pull jerk chicken, crisp gem lettuce, fresh pineapple chow & herb mayo accompanied by fries and coleslaw. I did enjoy my burger as it was unusual to have the two types of chicken, but I did kind of wish I'd chosen the beef ribs as it was something different. Matt's lamb was grilled and jerk marinated served with coleslaw, sweet potato mash, green seasoning and sweet onion chutney. He really enjoyed the lamb and said all of the different aspects worked really well together.

Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough
Turtle Bay Summer Menu Restaurant Review Middlesbrough

We both ordered another drink before our next course with Matt ordering a Red Stripe which was on draught and I delved back into the cocktail menu. Sounding very Caribbean,  I chose the Bahama Mama which had coconut rum, banana liqueur, pineapple juice, pomegranate syrup and bitters. It was super sweet and tasted very familiar to something I'd had before but neither of us could put our finger on what it was.

For dessert I decided to have the rum and raisin bread pudding as I'd tried some at the opening event and knew I had to have a whole piece. It was soft, ooey gooey and warm, perfect with the ice cream. I finished the lot. Matt was more safe with his dessert and chose the dark chocolate brownie. He said it was nice, tasted home-made but could have done with more ice cream.

Turtle Bay has definitely cemented itself really well in Middlesbrough with almost everyone I've spoken to having a good word to say about. We will definitely be back as we've still got a lot more cocktails to try and so many more food options to taste!
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Monday, 22 May 2017

Food prep Sunday

Yesterday, after writing my meal plan for the week, I decided to pop to Aldi and pick up the food we would need. There were a few things that would involve me spending a little extra time on them before they would be ready for the upcoming week. With my Sunday afternoon I got stuck into the kitchen and started preparing some grub.

First up was granola. I've made this simple granola twice now and it has been delicious. Just as good as store-bought but with the simplicity of just being oats. This recipe is from Southern in Law and is super cheap, quick and easy to make!

homemade vanilla granola food preparation southern in law
homemade vanilla granola food preparation southern in law

Next up was a new recipe that I'd not tried before. I always struggle to have a healthy, nutritious breakfast and recently I've been wanting to get more protein in my diet. Whilst browsing Pinterest I came across this Strawberry Cheesecake Chia Seed Pudding. From The Foodie and The Fix, this recipe involves putting everything in a blender (except the chia seeds, oops) and then putting it in a jar to set overnight. Doesn't seem too difficult does it! I put this into My Fitness Pal and with the cheeky extra of cottage cheese (which you can't taste) each serving has 18g protein! It does have quite a bit of sugar due to the strawberries and sweetener (I chose honey) but its all natural... Tried this for my breakfast today and it is lovely!

strawberry cheesecake chia pudding

Whilst cooking up all my treats I also put together a big tub of fruit salad. We tend to buy lots of fruit but never manage to eat it all. To combat this, I cut it all up into a tub and stick it in a fridge. I find if it's already prepared for you, you tend to eat it.

Now on to a little bit of savoury. I've made roasted chickpeas before but hadn't thought much of them. Recently I was watching Healthnut Nutrition on Youtube and she was preping some chickpeas which she really seemed to love... We have many abandoned tins of chickpeas in the cupboard so I thought it was about time to let them see the light of day. Using Healthnut Nutrition's recipe I whipped up these tasty crunchy chickpeas to snack on. The key to these is definitely leaving them in for quite a while to ensure they get the crunch. I put garlic powder, paprika and cayenne pepper on mine, kind of like flamin' hot flavour monster munch.

roasted chickpeas healthnut nutrition

Last but not least was something I made up last minute due to the fact we didn't buy any treats to have with a cup of tea. I knew I wanted to make these so bought plenty of bananas and two bars of dark chocolate. I split six bananas in half and coated them in melted dark chocolate. When they had set, I stuck them in the freezer and we were able to enjoy dark chocolate covered frozen bananas. They are so good! I would insert a picture but they aren't the prettiest. You imagine a banana covered in chocolate... 

So that was my afternoon of food prepping, what do you like to make for the week on a Sunday?
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Thursday, 18 May 2017

The afternoon tea that embodies Teesside - Skelton Mill Tea Rooms

The humble parmo. I've spoken about my love for it before and explained what one is. A parmo is a Middlesbrough 'delicacy' which includes fried chicken, bechamel sauce and CHEESE! In Middlesbrough it will be hard for you to find someone who doesn't like the parmo. Recently my Mum came across an afternoon tea that included one rather than the usual sandwiches. That's like two of my favourite things combined into one which meant I had to visit and try it out.

Located around 10 minutes from Middlesbrough, Skelton Mill Tea Rooms is just off a country road surrounded by greenery. As well as the tea rooms, on the site they have glamping pods and a vintage/shabby chic shop.

Having booked our time slot and pre-ordered our afternoon tea, it wasn't long before we were presented with a stand full of gorgeous food and a plate of chips. The staff were super friendly and couldn't do enough to ensure we were happy.

With our parmo and chips, the tea rooms included two pots of garlic sauce, a bowl of salad and some buttered bread. Although I had not long had my breakfast, I practically wolfed down my portion as it was really tasty and something so different for an afternoon tea.

After the parmo it was time for the scone. As I'm not one for fresh cream, and they'd already pre-creamed the scones, they kindly gave us another scone (raspberry and white chocolate) for me to have with butter and jam. This was the perfect consistency for a scone, very light but also solid enough to ensure it didn't crumble on my plate. The flavours of this one were really nice and complemented each other perfectly. I'd definitely be back for 'cream tea' if it included these scones.

Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review
Skelton Mill Tea Rooms and Bistro Parmo Afternoon Tea Review

Last but not least was the cake. In my opinion the selection of sweet treats wasn't the best with only a small chocolate cake and a little jelly and custard, but to be honest by this point I wasn't bothered. The parmo and the scone filled me up, so I was happy with the delicious food I'd already had. Having said that, I did spot some delicious cakes on the sideboard, so I definitely think I'd pop back just for cake!

Myself and Mum thoroughly enjoyed our time at Skelton Mill Tea Rooms. The staff were exceptionally nice, the food was so good and the price was very reasonable. For our parmo afternoon tea for two it was only £20! Usually you'd pay that much per person at some places.

If you live in the area I would definitely say you need to visit if you are fond of the humble parmo.

For more afternoon tea reviews, click here!
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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Taking tea with Valerie - Patisserie Valerie afternoon tea

Among my friends and family, I'm known as someone who goes out for food quite often. Anywhere someone is interesting in going, I've probably been and can give an in-depth review, or direct them to my blog (#pageviews). So when Christmas rolled around, Matt's Uncle decided it would be a great idea to buy us an afternoon tea for two at Patisserie Valerie, which has not long opened in Middlesbrough. Having only ever been for cake and a warmed croissant sandwich, I couldn't wait to try their afternoon tea.

After an especially busy period at work, I took a random Friday off and we ventured to Durham for the day to redeem our afternoon tea. From where we'd parked, we walked up the stairs to ground level and Patisserie Valerie was staring us right in the face.

We ventured to the cafe around 2.30pm, after a wander around the town, trying to spot the Marvel Avengers cast, and were seated immediately. Our afternoon tea didn't take long to come out and it looked packed with yummy treats.

Afternoon tea Patisserie Valerie Durham Middlesbrough Review
Afternoon tea Patisserie Valerie Durham Middlesbrough Review
Afternoon tea Patisserie Valerie Durham Middlesbrough Review
Afternoon tea Patisserie Valerie Durham Middlesbrough Review

We switched out a few of the sandwiches and were left with chicken, sun-dried tomato and pesto, egg mayonnaise and ham and mustard. As an extra in this afternoon tea, we both had a small, warm, vegetable quiche which was a lovely addition. Having worked our way through the sandwiches, which were very fresh and tasty, we were on to the scone level.

We had a plain and a fruit scone accompanied by four different mini pots of jam, clotted cream and butter. The scones were the perfect mix of firm, yet soft, and when accompanied by unlimited cups of tea, were great.

Finally we reached the top level, the cake! It was a bit disappointing that we only had one of each type of cake, apart from the chocolate eclair, which meant we had to split the small servings of cake. I tried the chocolate and the carrot which were both very nice.

Overall for a 'chain' cafe, this afternoon tea was of a very high standard. Patisserie Valerie pride themselves on their top-notch cakes, and their afternoon tea didn't falter on creativity or quality. For £25 for two, this afternoon tea is very reasonable and could be taken whenever you fancy it.
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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Pretending I'm in the Caribbean at Middlesbrough's new restaurant - Turtle Bay

In Middlesbrough at the minute, we are starting to get some fab places to eat and drink popping up. It makes my heart happy knowing I have so much more choice now. With all the independents making waves on the food scene, it's nice to see chain restaurants starting to catch up with the introduction of Patisserie Valerie and even a Krispie Kreme stall!

There has been many rumours about further venues opening up including Bistrot Pierre, a french restaurant and an ice bar in the new snow centre which will be situated in Middlehaven but the one that I've been looking forward to is Turtle Bay. You'll be glad to hear that you haven't got long to wait at all to enjoy the flavours of the Caribbean, it opens tomorrow (Sunday 23rd April)!

Myself and a selection of other North East bloggers and media got a chance to visit Turtle Bay to experience the food and cocktails ahead of its opening.

Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside
Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside
Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside

One big mistake a few of us made, that we quickly realised, when visiting Turtle Bay was that we had decided to drive. Turtle Bay's cocktail menu is laden with delicious choices for everyone using 40 different rums, my favourite spirit! With a two for one happy hour lasting all day (with the exclusion of 7pm-10pm) everyone will have the perfect excuse to try out copious cocktails. Next time I'll just make sure I'm not driving!

After sampling some drinks and hearing more about Middlesbrough's newest restaurant and stand alone bar, including the fact they serve over 50 authentic Caribbean dishes, have created 50 new local jobs and have the capacity of 231 seats, we sat down to sample some grub!

Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside
Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside
Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside

The restaurant inside is absolutely stunning, everywhere is bright with colour adorned with posters, millions of lights and quirky Caribbean signage. You can't help but to stare at the restaurant as you are waiting for food to be served, well that's what I did anyway.

Once we were all seated, we began with two platters full of vegetarian and meat starters including sweetcorn fritter, okra fries, beef ribs and jerk chicken wings. All of the different elements were lovely and introduced our palettes to the spice that was going to be coming our way over the next few courses!

Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside
Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside

Next up was the curries. We had a vegan curry which may have been the spiciest thing I've ever tasted, apart from when I put too much chilli in my own cooking... It was full of tonnes of good stuff like sweet potato, spinach and kidney beans. We also had a beef and potato curry which I think quickly became the table's favourite.

When them two dishes were devoured another two came along. This time we were on to meat. They provided the table with a whole jerk chicken which was beautifully chargrilled and drizzled with a lovely chutney and some beef ribs. I'd never tried beef ribs before and I always say I don't like ribs, but these were super tasty. The meat fell off the bone and when paired with their watermelon chow it was so good.

Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside
Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside

Just when we thought that we couldn't stomach another main meal, they came out with the bobby dazzler. A meal made just for that night, they only went and made up a jerk parmo. Oh my, it was delicious. The chicken was super thin and the cheese and bechamel ratio was just right. We were all so disappointed that we wouldn't get to taste it again.

Now completely satisfied with our mains, it was time to see the desserts. Sat with mostly girls who were obsessed with sweet things, this was always going to be the most anticipated course. The selection board included rum and raisin bread pudding, chocolate brownie, passionfruit cheesecake, grilled pineapple and banana & toffee cheesecake. Everyone quickly starting taking forkfuls of each dessert. My favourite by a mile was the rum and raisin bread pudding. I've never had bread and butter pudding in my life, but oh this was something. It was super tasty and just melted in your mouth. With some ice cream I think this is going to be one of my favourite desserts.

Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside
Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside
Turtle Bay Middlesbrough Food Restaurant Bar Review Teesside

After all the food it was time to say our farewells and get excited about our return.

I hope that I've successfully made your mouth water and that you are ready to book your visit to Turtle Bay. I know that I am already looking the next occasion I can drink all the rum and eat all the jerk-spiced dishes.

If you're not from Middlesbrough, Turtle Bay have restaurants across the country, have a nosy at their website to find one close to you!
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Monday, 17 April 2017

Can you keep a secret? - Yarm's newest hotspot

I'm going to tell you about the upcoming place for drinks and nibbles in Yarm, but it is a secret, okay? Well the fact that it exists isn't a secret, but how you access it, now that's where you keep your lips sealed, right? 

I was recently tagged in a picture of a delicious spread of meats and cheeses accompanied by a host of cocktails by my good friend as a subtle nod that she wanted to visit. The Easter weekend creeped up on us and we decided it was the best time to visit.

Lost Property is a new spot for a civilised night out with your friends. Nothing like anything on Yarm high street already, Lost Property is something else. You may have noticed that you can't find it from the main road and that the Facebook page gives nothing away. Where is this magical place of mystery? Do you enter through a wall like Harry Potter, or is it simply a place of fiction? I can tell you right now that it's real because I've been!

The secret to get into Lost Property is in it's Facebook description referencing a taxi company that you may never have heard of. If you have a nosy at the shop fronts in Yarm, you'll soon come across it. A very unassuming taxi rank, ready to get you from A to B. Well walk in here, order your taxi and you'll be let into this secret spot.

Inside this place is visually gorgeous. They've used lots of wood, leather and dim lights to make this place feel like a speakeasy, and the vibe is brilliant.

Lost Property restaurant and bar Yarm Teesside Stockton

Lost Property restaurant and bar Yarm Teesside Stockton

Lost Property restaurant and bar Yarm Teesside Stockton

Lost Property restaurant and bar Yarm Teesside Stockton

Lost Property restaurant and bar Yarm Teesside Stockton

Lost Property restaurant and bar Yarm Teesside Stockton

The cocktail list in here is small but varied offering a variety of sweet, fruity and smoky drinks. There are however special drinks that can be explained to you if you fancy something off menu. For our second drink we did just that and I got the amazing candy floss cocktail you can see in the pictures! For our first drink we both selected off the main menu, I chose a Jailbird which was very floral covered in flowers, and Rachel chose a French Floosie which was very fruity and a little bit tart.

If you come into Lost Property you will have to order some food in order to get drinks, I think it's just the license that they have. This shouldn't be a problem for you as they have some delicious bits to pick from. We chose the Meat and Cheese Taster platter and picked three of each from their selection. It all came very well presented with a basket of bread, pots of chutneys, olives, grapes and other veggies. We really enjoyed our platter of treats, feeling very full as we worked out way through it.

We thought we were done after this and placed our order for an off-the-menu cocktail. We then saw a small plate of desserts making our way over that we weren't going to turn down. We were told that these were new and they'd like our feedback on the various treats. Of course we obliged trying to half each iddybiddy sweet so we could both have a taste. All were very nice but our joint favourite was the chocolate pistachio tart, it was filled with melted chocolate. We agreed we could eat five of these each...

When we left, coming out of the taxi rank, we both felt like we had a secret. A tasty, alcoholic secret that we were dying to let slip.

If you're looking for a quiet spot for delicious food and drinks in Yarm, this is for you.
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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Our new work lunch spot - Aurum Lounge, Middlesbrough

Everyone loves to get out of the office at lunchtime, especially on a Friday, to go and out to eat. Sometimes you try to be healthy but other times its all about the treats.  I work just outside of Middlesbrough town centre and there aren't many places to eat lunch around us that are great. Most places are too expensive, over-run by students or the food just isn't the best.

If you want the good stuff you have to trek all the way to the other side of town and then you are cutting into your time to eat. Recently a restaurant has opened 2 minutes from my work and I've just tried it out, not once, but twice.

The Aurum Lounge is a restaurant come shisha bar, offering a menu of organic gourmet food. From burgers and salads to steaks and extravagant desserts, Aurum Lounge provides the lot. I first visited with my Mum and I had the chicken burger, whilst she had the parmo with mushroom.

Aurum Lounge, Middlesbrough food review

Aurum Lounge, Middlesbrough food review

Aurum Lounge, Middlesbrough food review

Aurum Lounge, Middlesbrough food review

Aurum Lounge, Middlesbrough food review

I really enjoyed my chicken burger, although it was a little too spicy for me, but then I'm just a whimp with spices! Mum's parmo was nice, although I think it could have done with more bechamel sauce!

The second time I visited was a week later with my friend from work and we both decided on the chicken wrap. Although it still had the spicy taste, this time it seemed a lot more mild and I really enjoyed it. All the food is really good quality and they take great care in preparing your meal.

I really like the Aurum Lounge, it is a really calm, chilled out vibe. All the staff are friendly and happy to help with any request. I will definitely be back to try out more of their menu, maybe even tasting one of their desserts!
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Dancing down the aisles at my first ballet experience

I'm back in the swing of normal life now after a whistle stop stay over in Leeds last weekend to celebrate Mum's 50th birthday, again... We had afternoon tea at Acklam Hall on her actual birthday, but as her gift from me, I bought her tickets to see the ballet in Leeds.

Neither of us had actually been to see the ballet before, but I'd remembered that Mum had expressed a want to go and see a performance. The only one playing around the time of her birthday was Casanova performed by the Northern Ballet. Before I gave her the tickets, I was aprehensive as to what she'd think of my gift. Would she actually want to see it? Or would it be a waste of money?

Turns out she was very happy when I handed her an envelope to open saying we'd be off to Leeds in less than a month's time. Yesterday we boarded our train with a bottle or two of Prosecco in hand and trundled along to Leeds.

After a day of food and shopping in Leeds, we went to our hotel, freshened up and were on our way to the ballet for it to start at 7.30pm. Performed in the Grand Theatre in Leeds, it was literally 3 minutes away from the Travelodge we were staying in, which was super handy. We squeezed into our seats in the Upper Circle and got ready to see the show.

We made the error of only getting the programme at half time, as neither of us knew the story of Casanova, we didn't quite grasp everything that was going on. When reading through the programme, it gives you the story of his life and what was happening in each scene. Even without knowing what was going on in the first half, I was secretly pleased that we'd made the decision to come and see it.

northern ballet Casanova first ballet experience

northern ballet Casanova first ballet experience

After reading the story and understanding what we were about to see after the interval, we could follow more easily the story that was being told through the performance.

Every aspect of this production was put together so beautifully and oozed decadence. From the front curtain that had been painstakingly painted, to the moving Venetian podiums that formed the mainstay of the background for the first half, to the stunning wardrobe that each and every dancer wore - it all came together to make the performance what it was.

Of course the 'star' of the show was Casanova, singled out by his white hair, dazzling the audience with his spectacular talent, but the rest of the cast were just as amazing. They each seemed to out do the last as they told the story of Casanova through ballet.

northern ballet Casanova first ballet experience

Going into this performance, I was unsure what I would think of it. I thought it wouldn't be 'my thing', but I was wrong. Sitting in such a grand theatre taking in the music, the dancing and the sheer beauty of everything that was happening on stage, it was fantastic. It was so relaxing to sit in silence, be serenaded by the music whilst watching the beautiful dancers and their storytelling.

I already know I want to go and see The Little Mermaid when it's on at the end of the year. I hope to see you all there too...
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