Friday 18 November 2011

1 Billion Calories in 2 Days

Last weekend my sister, who is living in Newcastle studying for her Masters, and my Mum came to visit me in Leeds where I'm studying in my second year.  Asides from the lovely visit, I knew there would be some great restaurants on our to-do list for the weekend.  For anyone who knows the city of Leeds it is an amazing place to be, with incredible restaurants and great things to see.  And for anyone who knows me (even those who don't) its easy to tell I love food!  During my Gap Year I went on a cookery course at The Grange in Frome.  I had the most amazing month and it made my love for good food even greater. 

My family arrived on Saturday morning and after a quick trip around the shops in the city centre we decided on The Living Room (@LivingRoomLeeds) on Greek Street for lunch.  We had a half an hour wait for a table, as inconvenient as this was it was a good indication that we had chosen a great spot.  The waiter who served us was very friendly and accommodating, and we decided on a tomato houmous with crispy ciabatta to start.

The food was excellent and I ordered a chicken pesto burger, which came with pancetta that I asked to be removed (because of an allergy).  Unfortunately when our food arrived the pancetta was included.  The waiter was extremely apologetic and the correct order arrived very quickly.  Despite the mistake in my meal, the service was good, the staff were lovely and the food was delicious.

After lunch we headed up town to the German Market, a main Christmas attraction in Leeds.  It was one of the first opening days and it was incredibly busy.  The stalls were lovely, with lots of new and interesting products available.  We bought some beautiful hand-blown glass tree decorations but missed out on the beer tent - the queue was huge!  One of my favourite things I saw at the market were these little hand carved wooden sheep.

After the German Market we took a trip to Headingley to check out the independent shops and we found one of my new favourite haunts.  Love Rouge Bakery (@LoveRougeBakery) is a new business located opposite Headingley Medical Centre.  They have the most incredible selection of cupcakes, delicious brownies and cakes.  My sister and Mum had coffee and shared a brownie, I chose a pot of tea and a white chocolate and raspberry cupcake.  I must admit I am not the biggest cupcake fan, but these ones looked special.  I am now a Love Rouge Bakery addict - those cupcakes totally changed my mind!  The bakery is so quaint and retro, every tea cup and saucer is different and they sell a wide selection of Tea Pigs tea along with other little items.  A hot drink and cupcake is only £3.50 and most definitely an investment for your afternoon - I have already been three times this week...

Previously I had made reservations us to go for dinner at a steak house I had stumbled across online.  Miller and Carter is a steak house, bar and grill franchise I had been dreaming about for weeks.  We went to the local restaurant in Garforth, Leeds, which was a bit further away that I had anticipated.  The restaurant was humming with conversation and had a great atmosphere.  We had a lovely bottle of Pinot Grigio with our starters, I chose some wonderful crab cakes with a wholegrain mustard mayonnaise and a watercress side salad.  The lady who served us was very friendly and helpful, and although we did wait a considerable amount of time for our main courses to arrive she was very attentive - keeping us updated on how long our food would be and bringing us fresh drinks.

I chose for my main course a 8oz sirloin steak which I asked to be cooked 'blue'.  Quite often when I ask for my steak to be cooked as such it is over cooked and in Miller and Carter it was perfect.  I requested my steak to come with peppercorn sauce and  arrived with a jacket potato, a watercress salad, a grilled tomato and a piece of onion loaf.  This meal was incredible, any meat lover like me would absolutely love this place like I did.  The meals were a good size and we left feeling very satisfied and with quite a lighter wallet!  I would thoroughly recommend this steak house to any carnivore!

On Sunday my family was going home, but my sister being a massive fan of Italian food wanted to visit one last restaurant before their departure.  Park Row in Leeds city centre is known for being an area with great eateries and she decided on a wonderful place called Piccolino (@Piccolino_).Our waiter was very knowledgeable of the Italian food on offer and I chose a tomato, mozzarella and basil salad to start.  After a very meat heavy meal the evening before I thought this would be a delicious fresh meal and I was not disappointed! 

Despite my previous intentions of having a light meat free lunch, I couldn't resist the beef carpaccio with a rocket salad and Parmesan shavings.  This was one of my favourite meals of the weekend!  Beef carpaccio is one of those dishes you don't often come across, particularly as a student!  It was as incredible as it should have been and ensured I got my meat fix for the day. 

Throughout the weekend we visited some of, in my opinion, the best eateries in Leeds.  If anyone has any spare cash set aside for a rainy day take my advice and go to one of these amazing restaurants, or for those on a student budget (and for when your family aren't coming to visit) head to Love Rouge Bakery you definitely won't be disappointed!

Friday 11 November 2011

6536 and Counting

We've all got those secret favourites and guilty pleasures you hope no one will ever find out, but I own them.  Music is one of my passions and my iPod song list (currently storing 6536 songs) is my absolute pride and joy.  The area I am living at the moment in Leeds is known for muggings and break-ins - good choice I know, and conversation often turns to what we would miss the most if it got stolen.  I'm pretty sure my iPod would be the one item I would fight tooth and nail for. You know when in certain life threatening situations people say "every thought emptied from my mind and my fighting instinct kicked in" (or something along those lines..) I genuinely think if someone tried to nick my iPod I would put up a very good fight!  I am obsessed with new and old music, from every genre, and downloading music is one of my favourite ways to spend a hungover Saturday afternoon.

This summer I finally got an iPhone, the only real device I believe should be considered a Smartphone, and I haven’t looked back.  There are endless ways to entertain yourself through apps, 3G internet (which admittedly can be a bit hit and miss when I’m back in the Emerald Isle) and the excellent camera for example.  The best app I think I’ve downloaded in the last few months is Shazam.  Don’t ask me how it works but for a music lover like me, it is an absolute life saver - I’ve spent hours scouring the internet searching for that song they played at the end of Dirty Sexy Things.  It seems to listen to the song and 9/10 times it will produce the name of the song, the artist and any album artwork if it’s available.  It saves the songs you have ‘Shazamed’, which is great for someone like me who hears a song, wants to download it, but forgets the name after 20 minutes.

These are a few of my current favourite songs some old, some new:

James Vincent McMorrow - Higher Love  (Youtube Link)
Thank you LoveFilm's November advert for bringing me here!

Hollywood Undead - Young  (Youtube Link) 
Kudos to Josh Cosby for introducing me

Damian Marley - It Was Written (Chasing Shadows Remix) (Youtube Link)  

Stumbled across this one day and it will never grow old

Damian Marley - It Was Written (Chasing Shadows Remix) DUBSTEP REMIX