Monday, 28 December 2015

The New Lahore, Newport

Today, I'm going to let you in on a little family secret. There are all sorts of fantastic new openings in Newport at the moment, including a hefty dose of your average chain restaurants, but in my humble opinion the best has been in town since 1961.

The New Lahore is situated on Lower Dock Street, which is only a five minute walk around the corner from the new Friars Walk development. Conveniently for us, in perfect position from Rodney Parade, where we spent our traditional Christmas derby day watching the Newport Gwent Dragons get robbed by the Blues.

In need of cheering up, five of us headed on over after the match. Pre-booking is recommended as the restaurant only seats forty. Perfectly sized for good service, which is a guarantee at the LH (as it's known in our house).

The traditional recipes are kept secret, and have been handed down through the generations of chefs since Mr Islam opened up over fifty years ago. These curry sauces are known as the 'Old Style' on the menu, and are a thicker, spicier gravy style sauce.

It's not to everyone's taste, but the waiters are so knowledgeable and proud of their curry, that they will help you choose the right one. If you're not sure if it's the one for you, they will very often bring an old style sauce for you to try along with your meal.

I've had the old style before, which I absolutely adore, but something different caught my eye and I went for the Pudina Lamb. This consisted of long strips of tender lamb, in a mint, ginger and red chilli sauce. I'd definitely put it up there above a madras on the heat scale, and it was wonderful. Really thick, chunky gravy, and the mint gives it an unexpected coolness which cuts through the heat.

Between the five of us, we covered an extensive range of the menu. From the mild King Prawn Summerkand to the chef's special, to the winner of the night, the Jhal Monipuri Chicken. Mr P went for this on the recommendation of a regular, and was not disappointed. Chicken and herbs with green chillis cooked to the owner's own recipe. I had a fair few mouthfuls too, and I was a little jealous. Such depth of flavour, spicy, thick and with an almost BBQ style sweetness coming from the onions.

There was a perfectly crispy array of naans, including garlic, keema and peshwari. Sides also came in the form of a saag aloo, saag paneer and a tarkaa daal, which I definitely stole most of. I had no idea that lentils could taste so good, almost like a garlic mashed potato.

The service really is second to none at the LH. The staff are always on hand but not interfering, and they will offer advice if you're stuck on choices. They're polite and knowledgeable, and incredibly friendly. 

I haven't put the prices on each item here, but here's a link to their website menu. This is because they knocked a few bits and bobs off our bill, and I still cannot get over the value. The bill came to about £25 per person (with tip), and the amount of food we had was staggering.

Numerous glasses of wine and a couple of Cobras, a curry and rice each, plus three naans and three sides. Not to mention the poppadom tray that we demolished while perusing the menu. Plus a chocolate and a complimentary drink (whiskies and brandies all round) on departure. These guys look after you from the moment you walk in.

It's all I can do to hold myself popping back down tonight, so when you've had enough of the turkey sandwiches, wander outside your comfort zone and pop down to the Lahore. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Locke & Remedy, Cardiff

If you're looking for somewhere to fill your boots and recuperate after a mad last minute Christmas shop, then look no further than Locke & Remedy. Having taken over the old Cardiff Library, it is currently surrounded by the cute Christmas huts that adorn Cardiff each year.

The lovely folks at Locke & Remedy invited me and a few other blogger friends to spend an evening with them to check out their new Christmas menu. A night of festive food is not something to be missed, so I headed on down and grabbed a cocktail.

This Christmassy concoction was a beauty, a spicy take on a traditional favourite, a cinammon old fashioned (£7.95) Garnished with dried orange and served in the most amazing (and surprisingly heavy) glass tumblers, this is just what I needed to get me in the Christmas spirit. I'd imagine it'll be just what you need too, after an afternoon fighting the crowds.

The food started to arrive thick and fast, and we all clambered to grab a slice or two (or three...) of the newest winter addition, the festive pizza.

A crisp thin crust, topped with plenty of cheese, maple bacon, chestnuts, cranberry sauce, pork & sage stuffing and some parmesan crisps. Phew. If I'm completely honest, I wasn't exactly sure how well a festive pizza would work. But oh man, it does.

It's a hefty pizza, piled high and filled to the edges. The sweetness is counteracted perfectly with the chunky stuffing balls and salty bacon, and I had to hold myself back from eating until I burst. At £10.95, I think this is great value, considering it's enough for two and practically an entire Christmas dinner on a pizza.

It's a good job I had a little restraint with the pizza, as no sooner were they polished off the burgers came flying out of the kitchen.

The festive burger is probably my favourite Christmas themed food item I've ever eaten. Sometimes the "Christmas sandwiches" get a little samey this time of year, and by January 1st I never want to see a cranberry again. However, I don't think I'd ever get bored of this one...

A spiced buttermilk fried turkey breast and a bacon-wrapped pork and sage stuffing patty on a bed of lettuce and cranberry mayo (£9.95) It just about passed my burger test of fitting in your mouth in one go, with a bit of squishing.

It really is a thing of beauty, and I can't wait to go back and get another one. The crunchy coating surrounding the turkey breast is by far the best thing about the burger. The spices are just enough to give it that hint of ginger, cinnamon and all things Christmas without being overpowering. Colonel Sanders has got nothing on this batter.

After all that food, I needed something to cut through it all, and the fab mixologists behind the bar have come up with the perfect mocktail. This passion fruit cooler is not only one of the prettiest drinks around, but also the right amount of sharpness after all those carbs (£3.95)! Great for after dinner, but also for on those nights where you want to join in with the fun, without the headache the next day!

L&R's cocktail menu takes some beating. I've made my way through a few by now, and I've not come across a bad one yet. So far, my favourite is a Sailor Hydration (£7.95), which is basically a Caribbean holiday in a glass.

What I love most about Locke & Remedy is their short and succinct menu. It consists of a handful of burgers, pizzas and fries, and it does them all extremely well. There are so many places with an extensive menu but an average taste, so L&R really shines. There's also great deals on throughout the week, and they're currently running a deal of a pizza and a bottle of wine for £15. Perfect date night!

And they do the best sweet potato fries in ALL THE LAND. Period. How are they so crunchy?

DISCLAIMER: I was invited to Locke & Remedy as a guest, and all food and drink was complimentary. However, all opinions are my own and unbiased.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup

As the nights get darker and the weather wetter, I generally seek solace in a big bowl of comfort food. The slow cooker is back out of it's summer hibernation and I'm trying to make soup out of everything and anything that is left in the cupboard.

This is one of my favourite soups, quick, easy, filling and healthy! It's also nice and bright to cheer up those winter nights.

All you need to feed two (with next day leftovers) is:
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2" section of chorizo 
  • 800ml (minimum) of vegetable stock
  • 1 white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Chilli flakes/fresh chilli to taste
  • Olive oil

Heat your oven up to 180c and a grab a cup of tea.

First of all, chop up your butternut squash and sweet potato. I peeled the sweet potato as it'd seen better days, but as far as I'm concerned life is way too short to peel butternut squash. Don't forget to scoop out the seeds though.

Throw it all in a roasting dish with your garlic cloves - I leave the skin on these guys too. Give it a shake up with your salt, pepper and a good glug of olive oil. If I'm feeling like it, I'll give it a sprinkle of all spice to add a bit of autumn warmth. Pop it in the oven and chill out for 15 mins.

Haul yourself back to the kitchen and slice up your chorizo into £2 coin sized rounds. Put them in a pan (no oil necessary as they've got enough fat of their own) on a medium heat and watch them crisp up. When they're done to your liking, take them out and pop them to one side.

Next, slice up your onion and put this into the same pan as your chorizo to sweat over a low heat in the leftover spicy oil. Add a bit more oil if needed and watch them take on the golden colour. If you're using fresh chilli, I'd throw this in now too.

Once your onions are nice and soft, check on your roast veggies. They should have had about 40mins in the oven by now, which should be long enough for them to be cooked through and be gloriously plump and squishy.

Pick out the garlic, and pop all the veggies into the saucepan with the onion. Squeeze the garlic out of their skins into the saucepan too, and add your stock and chilli flakes. Give it all a little stir.

Then, make sure to take it off the heat, and if you've got an over enthusiastic stick blender like me, give it five to cool down a little. Then I 'wazz' it up with the blender until it's thick and creamy, and there are no lumps left. And yes, that is a technical term.

I like mine really thick, so the above amount of stock was enough for me. However, if you want this to go a little further, by all means add more at this point if required.

Pour it into your ready warmed bowls, and top with a good grinding of salt and pepper, and your crispy chorizo. Best served with big fat hunks of bread to clean out the bottom of the bowl!


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Autumn Update

Autumn is just the best time of year for me. Multicoloured crunchy leaves and cosy nights in, but most importantly, the food!

We kicked the season off in style with a bit of rugby and a lot of food at the Newport Beer Festival, at Rodney Parade. We got there early in the afternoon, ready for lunch, so I made a beeline for the food stalls! It was hard to make a decision, but enticed by the pumpkin curry with salmon escalope, I headed to Big Fish Little Fish!

There was a huge meaty salmon escalope on the top, which had a lovely grilled taste, and I loved the raita on the top. The pumpkin curry underneath however was a bit lacklustre. I only had two small lumps of pumpkin and the sauce tasted of tinned tomatoes, watery spinach and not much else.

The beer tents were pretty good. Tiny Rebel, Sharps, Tudor Brewery and Otley were all in attendance, among others, and we tried a fair few random beers throughout the day. My personal new favourite was Safe As Milk by Crafty Devil, a beautifully smooth chocolatey coffee stout. Yum.

I was pretty jealous of the guys food choices earlier in the day, so I rounded the night off with an offering from the Dirty Bird van.

3 chunky pieces of fried halloumi, with their 'dirty fries', which were covered in parmesan and spring onion. Lots of cheese and fried carbs, perfect beer food!

I've also been indulging in some autumn baking myself lately, and am hoping to get some recipes up soon! Getting them down on paper is hard work, as I'm much more of a throw it all together girl than following a recipe to the word!

Comfort food at it's best, Nana style cheese, leek and potato pie!

The slow cooker has also come back out of it's summer hibernation at the back of the cupboard and made itself a permanent fixture on the worktop! Perfect for the rugby world cup, put a curry on in the morning and it's ready by half time! This one is a juicy chicken bhuna (with half 'n' half, obviously).

After a few weekends in, Mr P treated me to a night away from the stove and we popped to a local favourite, Gemelli's (Bridge Street). I've blogged about this before here, so I won't go into it too much, but the food is always too pretty not to share! It's a little over the top with the presentation, but I can't help but love it!

I started off with a quartet of large mussels, topped with a garlicky prawn and surrounded by a Mediterranean salsa. 

The star of the show however was the signature gnocchi dish. I love gnocchi, I mean what's not to like about cheesy potato? Served in a cheese and bacon sauce, with mushrooms and a hint of garlic, this was no exception! 

We did manage to fit dessert in, but were too greedy to remember to take a photo! Suffice to say, the amaretto cake is the one!

I think that's enough food to keep you going for now? I'll try and get some recipes up soon! What are your favourite autumn dishes? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Newport Food Festival

Saturday was the 5th annual Newport Food Festival, and by far the best the city has held, in my humble opinion. It's been a long time since I've seen it so busy, and hopefully a taste of things to come with the new developments opening in the coming months.

As per usual, Mr P and I headed in at lunchtime, sans breakfast and on the prowl for some great food. We were not disappointed! Last years festival was overrun by chutney stalls and not enough fresh cooking, whereas there was an abundance of choice this time around.

Trying to do the rounds first, the smell of the hotdogs coming from the Parc Pantry were just too good to resist, so we joined the queue. Deciding to share a 'Festival Dog' would turn out to be one of the best decisions of the day.

Usually I'm not a big hot dog fan, I cannot stand the pointless dry processed rolls that fall apart and the plastic 5% meat sausages that inevitably come with it. This was a complete game changer!

A 10" 'proper' sausage (with a crispy skin to boot) nestled in a pillowy soft seeded roll. Topped with Pastamore roasted pepper sauce, chunks of Caws Cenarth sundried tomato and chilli cheddar, with a generous helping of crunchy onions. This hot dog hit all the right spots, combining tastes and differing textures! I loved the fact that all the toppings are well publicised that they are local suppliers, especially as both of the above were also exhibiting at the festival.

All washed down with a 'Gingerella', which yes, I bought just for the name.

Satiated for a little while, we carried on for a wander up and down the stalls, picking up some really lovely treats along the way.

Macarons and flapjacks from Clams Cupcakes...

A couple of bottles from my favourite local brewery, Tiny Rebel...

And some vegetarian delights from The Parsnipship. Yeah, that's right, vegetarian. The Glamorgan Crumble was snaffled up so quickly by my devoted carnivore husband that I had to hide mine from him. I'll be looking out for these guys in the future, that's for sure.

We took a break from the shopping and ventured into the indoor market just in time to watch Simon Crockford from the Celtic Manor show just why he's head chef across the hotel's six restaurants. With a total coolness that wouldn't be out of place on Ready Steady Cook, he knocked up a pork sharing platter, including an incredible ham hock pie, loin, chop and accompaniments in about half an hour. Without breaking a sweat. Great to watch, and I'm looking forward to trying out the recipes for myself with the recipe cards that were handed out.

By this time, we were definitely ready to eat again, and I was more than happy to see that my favourite souvlaki crew, Meat & Greek were grilling up a storm.

I know I've gone on about these guys all summer, but the souvlaki pittas really are the bomb. Especially when you go all out, extra halloumi is a necessity. Tzatziki and houmous too... I promise you there's some pork under there!

We had a great few hours out, and picked up some wonderful drinks and nibbles of which I'm looking forward to finishing off! Well done Newport Food Fest, I'm looking forward to the next one!


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Beefeaters and Burger Eaters

Our last day consisted of us running all over the city, to get in as much sight seeing as possible. We jumped on the tube (having become pros by now, tutting at tourists) across to Tower Hill.

The Tower of London is somewhere I've always wanted to visit. I've got a serious fascination with the Tudors, especially the reign of Henry VIII, so was really looking forward to experiencing some of this history first hand. 

Just a tip if you're visiting this or any other London attractions and you're heading into the capital by train, check out Days Out Guide for two for one offers. The gate price per adult for the Tower of London was £24.50, so we made a great saving with this offer. They have to be printed in advance though, so plan ahead and you can get a good deal, especially if you have children! 

We headed in through the gates, but noticed that a Yeoman Warder guided tour was about to start, so we tagged along. This was undoubtedly the best decision we made all day, as Billy Beefeater (@billybeefeater on twitter) was the funniest and most informative guide we could have had. He constantly had us in stitches when we weren't overawed by the history. He's not Anne Boleyn's biggest fan, that's for sure. I won't give too much away, but I can't implore you enough to make time for one of these tours if you visit.

We then wandered around on our own, joining the queue to see the Crown Jewels, housed in the Jewel House below.

They're a must see if you go, but I definitely found the White Tower a bit more interesting personally. Suits of armour and all sorts of weaponry - always the tomboy!

I was completely absorbed in the White Tower. The monuments and artifacts are so interesting, and there are many interactive exhibits that add to the fun. However, there's just this overwhelming feeling of history within the walls, that you can't help but imagine what it would have been like in the 1400's, wandering down the spiraling staircases.

Even the sky turned a foreboding colour of grey!

We didn't have nearly enough time to look around, and I'm looking forward to when we can next go back and give the attraction our full attention. I'd definitely make sure I had a full day ahead of me next time, but we had a train to catch and dinner to grab first.

Isn't Tower Bridge a thing of absolute beauty? I love it.

There was one more thing on my list that I couldn't leave London without, and I dragged my poor husband over the Thames and all the way across to Southbank to get it.

After a few wrong turns, we finally found our destination, Bleecker St. Hiding under a bridge was a little unassuming box of burger heaven.

After drooling all over my phone looking at these guys on instagram, we already knew what we wanted from the menu. That'll be two Bleecker Blacks (£10 each) and a side of Angry Fries (£4) to share, please.

As soon as our dinner arrived, I was more than forgiven for once again dragging poor Mr. P all across the city in the name of food.

Oh yeah. That's right.  Two medium rare beef burgers, topped with cheese, sandwiching a hunk of black pudding. Oh my days. Want a closer look? You know you want to.

Hands down the number one burger I've had so far. I'm a sucker for a bit of black pudding, but have never had it in a burger before, let alone a cheesy juicy rare one. It's outstanding. Well worth the £10 price tag, this would have filled me up on it's own.

But of course, this is me. There was no way I was leaving without getting some of those Angry Fries down me. Good sized skin on fries (none of that 'skinny' business thank you) doused in a generous helping of hot sauce and blue cheese sauce.

Needless to say, we devoured the lot. Well worth persevering with our map skills to find the place, this was the best meal we had, and a perfect end to our weekend away. We rolled our bellies back to the train, and dozed happily until we arrived back over the border.