Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Yorkshire Wine School - wine tasting evening

I wrote a while back about Yorkshire Wine School, yesterday evening I was invited along to one of their wine tastings.

As much as I love wine I've never been to a wine tasting before.  I've always been a bit scared it would be full of wine snobs and I'd look stupid for being a novice.

That wasn't the case.  We were a mixed bag, some wine snobs, some wine lovers and some novices.

I don't want to tell people too much about the event itself, because that would spoil it for people going themselves, so I'll tell you about the lovely wines I sampled and not give you any of the tips/info to go along with it.  I made notes all the way through - I need a wine folder!

We sampled six wines; one champagne, two white wines and three red wines.  I can safely say I learnt more about wine in the two hours I was there than I've ever gleaned from leafing through wine books over the years and all the bottles of wine I've drunk...

Listening to Laura was so inspiring, I love meeting people who are so passionate and knowledgeable about a subject.

The first wine we tried was the champagne, which we had paired with smoked salmon.

I love champagne, this was my favourite of all the whites, and I was impressed it was a bottle I could afford - Heidsieck 'Gold Top' 2005, £18 from Majestic.

Next up we had a Riesling, a wine my friend Chrissie would adore, but one I wouldn't normally pick.  Drinking it with the prawn brought out the acidity of the wine, which made it a bit more enjoyable for me.

The other white was a Pouilly Fuisse, again one I wouldn't normally pick with it being of the Chardonnay variety - but it was actually enjoyable.

Moving onto the reds we had a Moulin D'Angludet, which was lovely, but way out of my normal price range at £30 a bottle.  We had this with some sausage, I could tell you why but you should go along and find out for yourself!

The second red was my favourite, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, an Italian wine - this one being from the village of Montepulciano, not using the grape.  We had this with parmeasan, which made the cheese taste out of this world, it gave it a wonderful creamy taste.  I'll be popping down to Latitude Wines in Leeds to pick up a bottle of this for my Dad to try!

The last wine was a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley in California.  Priced at £21.59 it's not one I'd buy for myself, but it was enjoyable and had an immense fruity flavour.  We had this paired up with a slice of chorizo.

I had a superb time at the evening, and will be booking one of the Introduction to wine courses, possibly the February one so I'm back from holiday.  You can find out about the courses here

There's 4 places left on the Champagne tasting evening, I reckon that one would be an excellent evening.

Laura was a wonderful wine tutor, put us all at ease and answered every question thrown at her with ease.  I'd definitely recommend going to a wine tasting event with her.

Thank you Laura for inviting me last night, I look forward to seeing you again soon!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Recent eats

I've been a busy little bee of late, this week isn't any better - Las Iguanas tonight, meeting a friend for a drink tomorrow, wine tasting on Wednesday, Cardamom Black on Thursday and at a gig on Friday....

On Thursday last week I went to the Taste at the Yelp Exchange evening, ate lots of treats and sampled a few drinks.  You can read my review on the Yelp site  My favourite stall was Mike, Indie Ices. The Mango Kulfi lolly made my night.

On Friday I grabbed a quick lunch with a colleague at Wokon in Headingley.  I opted for a seafood noodles dish, which was nice, although the calamari was rubbery.  It was possibly the hottest food I've had in a long, long time.  I'm talking heat hot here, not spicy hot.  I tried leaving it to cool but kept burning my mouth!  We know for next time that we have enough time to walk back to the office while it cools down to an acceptable eating temperature.

On Saturday I went to a Thanksgiving Buffet and stuffed myself with an obscene amount of food, and drank wine from a pint glass.... I was having it in half pints though, not full pints of wine....  I had a super evening, with lovely company and tremendous food.  I also had a revelation trying KT's Pumpkin Pie - it was heavenly!!! I thought I hated pumpkin, but if all pumpkin pie tastes as good as hers then I'm a convert.  
(I suspect they don't all taste as good.)

On Sunday I had a brief trip to the German Market for a Sausage and a hot choc with baileys.  It was far too busy and filled with idiots with MASSIVE pushchairs and was making me angry, so we left and I bought some new shoes.

In the evening I was at Phill's and he made us Pork sandwiches with stuffing and apple sauce for tea.

I'm just looking at the Las Iguanas menu to try and decide what to have for tea this evening. Has anyone else found their website confusing? It's taken me ten minutes just to get to the menu!  I won't be posting a review on them, I'm out for my Mum's birthday and don't want to be rude stopping them eating while I take pictures of it all...

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Press Release - Cardamom Black, Harrogate

November 22, 2011


Discerning food lovers in Yorkshire will be able to indulge in a deliciously mouth-watering selection of traditional South Asian cuisine when new restaurant Cardamom Black opens in Harrogate on December 1.   

Owned and managed by restaurateur Nick Rahman, the plush new eatery is situated in Harrogate’s former Empire Theatre building. It will offer diners a wide selection of South Asian dishes encompassing succulent starters, speciality sharing plates, a fresh fish bar, classic and unique main courses, delectable fresh desserts and a wide selection of fine wines, champagne, cocktails and beers. 

Nick, through his team of specialist contractors, has painstakingly brought the old theatre back to its former glory and it now boasts a stunningly unique interior that blends contemporary design with traditional features, including a grand stage area where live entertainment will be staged on selected evenings.

The restaurant also has two separate bars, an iced fish bar displaying fresh seafood, a daybed area where guests can relax and enjoy a special grazing menu, and options for private dining and conferencing.

Cardamom Black’s menu will include traditional South Asian dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, effectively fusing time-honoured traditions with the spirit of the West.

Signature dishes on the menu include:

·         Nidderdale Lamb Chops (starter) – the finest Nidderdale lamb chops marinated in juices of smoked garlic, rosemary, roasted black pepper, a touch of roasted Cumin and crushed whole spices.

·         Chicken Devaan (main) – a special dish made with olive oil, black pepper, ginger, plum tomatoes and fried onions.

·         Classic Dark Chocolate Fondant (dessert) – a rich 70 per cent cocoa chocolate fondant that’s oven baked and served with Swiss premium white chocolate ice cream.

Speaking about the new restaurant, Nick said: “I have wanted to open my own restaurant in Harrogate for several years but could never find the right venue. As soon as I learned the former Empire Theatre building was available I jumped at the chance as I knew that with the right investment, the beautiful building could be restored to create a truly stunning and unique restaurant interior.    

“Harrogate has a vibrant restaurant scene, but I feel it lacks a high-end Asian offering and Cardamom Black will fill that gap, bringing unique South Asian dishes to Harrogate that are all made using only the finest, locally sourced ingredients.

“This, combined with glamorous surroundings and meticulous service, will make for a truly enjoyable and unique dining experience and I’m extremely excited about welcoming both locals and people from across Yorkshire and beyond into Cardamom Black.”   

Nick Rahman’s family have been involved in the restaurant sector for over forty years. His father owns part of the largest chain of Kashmiri Restaurants in the UK and so he has been involved in the restaurant sector his whole life, most recently as a senior board manager within the chain.

Having run and managed restaurants within the chain, Nick knows what does and doesn’t work and has used that experience throughout the creation of Cardamom Black.

Cardamom Black is situated in the old Empire Theatre building, opposite Harrogate Theatre, and will be open from 5pm-10.30pm on Sundays & Mondays, 5pm-11pm Tuesday to Thursday, 5pm-12midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

To book a table or find out more about what the restaurant offers call 01423 31 31 36 or visit


Issued on behalf of Cardamom Black by Brand8 PR. For further media information please contact Jasmine Headley on 0113 394 4581 or email

Update - I reviewed Cardamom Black in January 2012 -

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Prosecco Conegliano

This week has been all about Prosecco for me.  On Saturday I had a friend round for Sausage and Bean Casserole and maximum booze consumption.  I had two brandies while I waited for her to arrive, then we had a bottle of wine with our casserole, the wine wasn't of a great quality, so we decided to go purchase more.  On the way it seemed like an excellent idea to go to the pub...

At the pub I had three pints of ale and another brandy... It all got a bit hazy after that... We'd stumbled into Sainsbury's to purchase the finest wines known to man.  At some point I declared fizz a necessity, and we saw the Prosecco was on offer.  I vaguely remember the journey home, cracking open the Prosecco and then playing on the dancing game for the Kinnect whilst shoving our faces full of crisps.  We somehow got through a bottle and a half of Prosecco, on top of the rest of the booze.

Needless to say I wasn't very well on Sunday....

Fast forward to Monday and there's still half a bottle of Prosecco going to waste in my fridge.  It seemed rude not to drink it.

This Prosecco is on offer in Sainsbury's at £6.99 down from £10.49.  I only know this because I looked on the Sainsbury's website, not from remembering....

It's the best supermarket Prosecco I've had, but I've only had a couple - I'll need to do some further research before I can declare it my favourite of all supermarket Prosecco's.  It was delicately fizzy, deliciously crisp, but more subtle than champagne.  Definitely one that I'd purchase again.

On Thursday I also had Prosecco at Distrikt and then at Pin in Leeds.  I'd put the Distrikt one at the best of the two, but the £20 price hurt my purse the day before pay day!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


I went to Scarborough last weekend, we had the usual fish and chips but couldn't resist going in the fudge shop and spending some pennies.  (The ones we had left after spending a fortune on the 2p machines....).

I picked out chocolate with crunchie for me, chocolate orange for my papa, chocolate with mars bar for mama and Phil had halves of strawberry and aero and vanilla and twirl.

I had a piece of mine with a cup of tea as soon as we got back.

I was inspired by the shop and decided to have a go at making some fudge myself...

I used this recipe but omitted the nuts.

It was really simple to do, just melting the chocolate and butter in with the condensed milk, sieving in the icing sugar (which I only remembered after I'd thrown a load of it in, hence the white speckles) and then pouring it into the tin and then putting it in the fridge to set.

The loaf tin I used wasn't ideal, it made it hard to get the fudge out.  I was a bit disappointed that the fudge was a bit too squidgy too.  I'm told I shouldn't have used icing sugar and used sugar instead... I'll try that next time!

Have you made fudge before?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Meal Planning Monday

I haven't been much use at meal planning this last couple of weeks, with being here there and everywhere.  I'm going to try and do better this week.

Monday - Pasta and Pesto with garlic bread (all shop bought, bad, bad Rachel)
Tuesday - Fajitas
Wednesday - Stir Fry
Thursday - samples at the Yelp event
Friday - fish, either fishcakes or a smoked haddock risotto
Saturday - Thanksgiving buffet at Katie's
Sunday - Sunday dinner, will be upto the chef what meat etc we have!

What are you eating this week?  I need to take an offering for the Thanksgiving meal, so I'll be doing research tonight - if anyone has any ideas please let me know!

You can check out all the other meal planners over on Mrs M's blog.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Wine of the week - Monte Nobile Riserva

I can't take the credit for picking this wine, I'd grabbed a bottle of French red when in Tesco, but then had this one pointed out to me.  As we were eating Italian food an Italian wine seemed appropriate to go with it. I think it was £4.49 down from £8.99.

The Tesco website tells me:

Ruby red with light orange highlights.

The spicy nose features notes of black pepper, vanilla and chocolate, which carry through to the soft, velvety, well-balanced palate.

Erm... I can't say I got those, this wasn't an overly fruity red, I'd put it as being Medium bodied.  It wasn't overpowering, nor was it weak and flavourless.  It was just right for drinking whilst eating my Spag Bol.

Not sure I'd purchase it again, but it's well worthy of it's place as wine of the week.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Spaghetti Bolognese

Everybody has their own take on a spag bol. Here's mine...

500 lean steak mince
1 onion
2 carrots
2 cloves of garlic (or a good squeeze of the tube)
1 tin tomatoes
1 carton passata
smidgen of tomato paste
mixed herbs
salt & pepper

Chop the onion, if you're using fresh garlic then peel and crush the cloves.  Fry the onions with the garlic. When they've softened add the mince. While the mince is browning peel and chop the carrots and then add to the pan.  Add the tinned tomatoes to the pan and allow them to cook off.  While that's happening chop the mushrooms.

Ideally use a bigger pan than I did....

When the liquid from the tomatoes has cooked down a bit add in the mushrooms and the passata, then lastly the puree and some herbs, and finally some salt and black pepper.  I tend to use dried mixed herbs, and then if I have it I serve with fresh basil.

I let my bolognese cook for as long as I can, the longer it cooks the better the flavour I find.

Sometimes I crumble a beef oxo over it, to add more depth.  If I haven't used carrots then I sometimes add some Worcestershire sauce to sweeten it.

Now I know some people brown their mince then remove it and cook the onions, but I can't usually be bothered with doing that.

How do you do your bolognese?

Monday, 7 November 2011

My Dish Nostalgic Recipe Competition

My Dish, the recipe sharing social network..... have launched a new competition today - Nostalgic Recipe, you can find out more at The competition prize is £100 of M&S vouchers, which I wouldn't mind myself.

My choice is fish fingers....  Fish, breadcrumbs, vinegar, tomato sauce, Captain Birdseye.  Mmmmmmmmmm.

Although, I do have to admit, I wouldn't eat Birdseye fish fingers as a child, I only liked the cheapest possible ones that didn't taste fishy in any way.  As a grown up I can now love fish, but nothing is better for a hangover than a cheap fish finger sandwich.

My second choice would be corned beef hash.  Only my Mum's corned beef hash, nobody else's tastes the same.

Go ahead and enter the competition, then let me know what you picked!

Friday, 4 November 2011

La Rocas, Wakefield

On Friday last week I attended a blogger event at La Rocas.  I'd suggested they do a blogger event, and tried several times to get them to email out info to the other attendees but that didn't happen, I felt kind of responsible for the event, and quite miffed they ignored my advice.  We weren't given any information when we got there either, strange way to handle a blogger event really.  I've since been told that the twitter account of La Rocas isn't handled by the restaurant itself, which can't have helped matters.

But anyway.

I've been to La Rocas before, for lunch. We took advantage of the 3 for £5 deal - it was great, so I was expecting good stuff from the evening menu too.

We were settled down at a table and served a large amount of food. My favourite dish was the sharing platter.  I personally don't care that it wasn't "authentic", and I'd imagine neither do any of their customers.  They don't pretend to be an authentic tapas restaurant, and I like garlic bread.  The majority of the food was OK, but unfortunately a couple of dishes really weren't.

Would it stop me from eating at La Rocas again - no. But I was disappointed they served it to a group of food bloggers though, the reviews of the food haven't been good, I feel for La Rocas that the event wasn't successful.

I wouldn't normally order a dessert in a tapas restaurant but I was really hoping we'd be wowed by them and it would turn things round food-wise.  They were homemade, and sweet. I'd change a few things if I was making them, but that's just me.

After the food we were invited to the bar to try a cocktail each.  As with most cocktails in Wakefield they were very colourful...

I enjoyed the evening, and I will still recommend La Rocas for lunch.  But I can't get over feeling so disappointed by the food and the fact nobody spoke to us though.  It was a wasted opportunity for La Rocas.

I also think I've been to too many blogger events recently, and will be taking a break from them to concentrate on my own food.  Being so busy is taking it's toll on me.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup

This is a tasty, and very healthy soup.

1 butternut squash
2 red peppers
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
750 ml veg stock
salt & pepper

Chop the squash and peppers into chunks and roast for 25 mins.

Chop the onions and garlic then cook over a low heat until the onions are soft.

When the squash and peppers are done add them to the pan, let them cook off for 2 minutes then add 750ml of vegetable stock.

Blend and serve.

So easy...