Thursday 28 August 2014

Tying the Knot


Way back in April (!) I posted about our holiday at the beginning of February. What better time to post about what happened at the end of February than right now, the very end of August! I am nothing if not the queen of being delayed these days. Truthfully, the last six months have passed in a blur and the last thing I've felt like in an evening is putting on my laptop and tip-tapping away at the keyboard. But this is not an apology post, because I wouldn't puport to assume that anyone has even noticed my hiatus, let alone mourned it.

Enough of that. I am here. For now at least. And I hope to be here more from now on. Although I do say that each and every time I return, so I really wouldn't place any great trust in it.

So, the great happening of the end of February 2014! We only went and booked our wedding. Yep. It's actually happening. In exactly seven months from now, to be precise. So far we have our venue, Registrar, photographer, florist, favours and numerous other things sorted. Bridesmaids and best man have been asked and, thankfully, they all said yes. Most of the save the dates have been sent out and received. We have a minimoon booked. And a honeymoon. A three week honeymoon in Florida and New Orleans, to be entirely accurate.

So, yes. We're actually getting married. I am soon to be Mrs C, rather than Miss F. Although I may be Mrs C-F actually, given that I'm the last of my family to bear our surname and I don't think I'm ready to give it up just yet. I rather like my name. I've grown quite attached to it over the last 32 years, truth be told. However, I'm a bit traditional sometimes, as much as I try to protest that I am most definitely not, and I would like to share a name, at least in part, with my husband.

Husband. Yikes.

This is a whole new kettle of fish, isn't it?

(The photo is really just because I cannot publish a post without one. But I do rather like it. Me and t'husband-to-be at Beacons Festival a couple of weeks ago.)

Saturday 26 April 2014

So Good They Named It Twice

Way back in February, A turned the grand old age of 30. Luckily for him, he got to avoid a minor meltdown (which I definitely experienced when I turned 30)  because I took him to New York for six days of glorious food, strong drinks and freezing temperatures. I actually booked the holiday in April last year and then kept it a secret until Christmas Day, when I surprised him with it. I think it's fairly safe to say that it's one of the only secrets I've ever kept successfully and I'm not entirely sure how I managed it. Stealthy.

Brace yourselves for a photo-heavy post!

We stayed at the Ace Hotel in midtown and it was incredible. That picture of the Empire State Building above? Yep, that was the view from our room. It doesn't get much better than that.

I mentioned freezing temperatures above. By "freezing" I mean -9 with a 'RealFeel' temperature of -13. Every single day. But New York sure is pretty in the snow and there were only a couple of occasions when I felt like my body was shutting down due to the cold. Win win.

And then, of course, there was the food and drink...

It was an amazing few days and I was so sad to say goodbye to NYC when the time came for us to head for home. It was my fourth visit and definitely my favourite. Until we meet again, magical city of dreams!

Saturday 1 February 2014


January started with good intentions. So many good intentions. Resolutions were made to give up alcohol, caffeine and chocolate for the whole month. All those resolutions had fallen by the wayside by 4pm on New Year's Day. What followed was a month of nice meals out, nice meals at home, delicious wine, delicious gin and not a whole lot of moving off the sofa. And I have zero regrets.

February looks to be fairly decadent too, particularly given that we're off to NEW YORK on Thursday for six days. I won't say any more, for fear of spiralling into mania and burning myself out before we even land. Needless to say I'm very excited and looking forward to many many slices of pizza the size of my face.

January, in all its Instagrammed glory:

1) Amazing hot chocolate after a bracing walk early in the new year; 2) Leftover Christmas cheese and port; 3) An epic roast dinner cooked by my friend Becky and her fella; 4) A big gin in an awesome Betty Jackson Black glass; 5) After work wine at Superstore in the Northern Quarter; 6) Pulled bbq brisket, halloumi, sweet potato chips and coleslaw - believe it or not this was actually Slimmin World friendly; 7) Meal planning. We tried. We really did; 8) Fruit platter following a huge Chinese banquet for my Dad's birthday; 9) A chilli mojito and a mai tai at Bangkok Bar & Restaurant; 10) All you can eat chicken and ribs with Charlotte; 11) Token picture of Millie, because she doesn't normally sit still long enough for me to capture her cuteness

Saturday 25 January 2014

The Marriott Victoria & Albert Hotel, Manchester

I'm a bad blogger. A very bad blogger. I was invited down to the Marriott V&A back in December to try out their new menu and I'm only just now getting around to actually writing about it. Full disclosure: my friend B is the Food & Beverage Manager at the V&A. However, she knows I'm brutally honest and wouldn't just write a good review for the sake of it. That's not how I roll, baby.

The Marriott is on the banks of the River Irwell and, with the restaurant looking out over the river, there are some lovely views to be had. We settled ourselves into a nice booth by the window and set about choosing enough food to feed approximately four people. I'd tried the duck before and A had eaten the braised shin of beef last time we'd been. Both were great and it was tempting to re-order them this time. However, we remained strong and, in the name of research, went for the lamb rump (with pea puree and a delicious baton of crispy lamb breast) and the ribeye steak, with sides of peas, leeks and smoked bacon, smoked cheddar mash and some fries.

A bowl of marinated olives and a couple of preprandial gin and tonics were gratefully received and disappeared far too quickly for my liking. Gin tends to do that when I'm around. Starters were the crispy squid with wasabi mayonnaise for me and the ham hock fritters with picalilli for A. Both were fantastic; piping hot and just what the doctor ordered on a cold December evening.

Being gluttonous pigs, as is our wont, we went for the full three courses and ordered a white chocolate and amaretti cheesecake and a hot chocolate fondant, with almond brittle and vanilla ice cream. The cheesecake was a rich and glorious beast and I have to confess that I didn't quite manage to finish it. Something that I have bitterly regretted ever since. A fared much better than I and took down the chocolate fondant like an absolute champion, in all it's gooey, chocolatey glory. Excellent desserts. And I'm not even really a dessert person.

There were a couple of small niggles (gin and tonic served with lemon is a crime against gin and my lamb was slightly overdone) but overall it was a lovely meal and we left (very) full and contented. A special mention must go to the smoked cheddar mash, which I daydream about longingly on a regular basis. So good.

The V&A offer two courses for £15 or three courses for £20, with some supplements payable for the more expensive main courses. At those prices, I think it really is worth a visit. We enjoyed our meal so much that we're hoping to head back within the next couple of weeks to try the newly relaunched afternoon tea, as reviewed by the lovely Rachel of DollyBakes here.

I'm allowed to have the Gentleman's afternoon tea, right? Pies > cakes, always and forever.