August not only signifies the build up to the forthcoming X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing series (Rev Richard Coles – can’t wait!); but it also brings us the middle chunk of the school summer holidays – the big chunk, the chunkiest chunk. This is the chunk that secretly sneaks up on you during your weakest moments, nudging you closer and closer; first off to the kettle for an essential caffiene fix, then to the biscuit tin for an even more essential sugar boost and then……….. before you know it – to the wine shelf in the fridge hoping that the drop you left in last night was actually enough to constitute a glass. I’m not speaking for everyone here – obviously, but I’m sensing that I do represent a large portion of peeps at this time of year – so I’m writing this for you comrades!
I start the holidays with a complete go get ’em attitude, wey hey….seven weeks off ( six weeks holidays plus the much loved and parent’s best friends – inset days) but… by the middle of August I’m flagging. ‘What are we doing today’ has become my daughter’s new mantra, like a devout Bhuddist she repeats it over and over. ‘That’s boring’ booms out of her mouth like Big Ben when I offer her my suggestions. There’s only one way to get through this (before I hit the wine shelf at the designated wine o’clock) I need a coffee treat. I need a decent cup of coffee made with love by someone else just for for me!
Bottle and Thyme in Chesterfield town, is a haven for anyone needing a few minutes tlc…tender, loving, coffee. It’s cosy, relaxed and full of goodness. Whether it’s breakfast you fancy, coffee and cake (or cronuts)dinner and drinks or just drinks, it ticks all the boxes. Locally sourced food, inspired cocktails and a great little gin menu (might need the gin menu by week seven of the hols!) With a spare 30 mins of child free me-time, I find myself sitting in this cosy haven of lovelyness with my much deserved coffee. I have earnt this comrades. This £2.80 is the best £2.80 I will spend my money on today……. With a son of nineteen who has yet to learn that he doesn’t quite know everything and a daughter of nine who believes that she’s actually the 5th member of Little Mix – I have truly earnt this coffee. It’s not the big things in life (no smutty inuendo please) – it’s these small moments of pleasure that pick you up, dust you down and enable you to carry on ……until of course it’s wine o’clock that is! Roll on September…
Meanwhile, definitely trying the cronuts next time. Recipe required, me thinks.
I can’t believe it’s August already….which means that it’s only a few weeks until X factor starts again, which of course mean’s it’s nearly Christmas…….
So we had a fabulous foodie weekend: The local artisan market was on and it was also the first ever Chesterfield food and drink festival. Lots of delicious pies, cheeses, cakes and drinks (everything that you shouldn’t be eating if you’re trying to shift the pounds) on offer to try and buy (so I did both).
There was also a stand for the Love food, hate waste campaign. As someone who hates wasting anything, I was immediately drawn to their pitch (along with smell of pancakes cooking). It’s a government sponsored campaign with lots of information available on how to cut down on our food waste. The team were giving away fab recipe cards for leftover food that were so unfussy and easy that anyone could and I mean anyone, follow: left over egg fried rice (I for one always cook too much rice), fruit smoothies, fruit pancakes, simple pizzas, vegetable curries to name but a few, all with the added simplicity that they were non specific as to what fruits or veg you could use – you literally could use anything that was going spare (ok, within reason) They were also giving away simple magnetic menu planners to go on the fridge door along with freezer plans, spaghetti portion measurers (that was a surprise) and rice portion measurers (even more of a surprise!!)
I am firm believer that nourishing food doesn’t have to be expensive and this national campaign highlights this without being too patronising. I’m sure that by taking a little bit of time to menu plan each week – we would not only be a little healthier but we would also have a few extra pounds in our pockets which can only be a good thing.
To accompany the campaign there is a user friendly website
Morning world. So, as part of mooching around the Midlands this week, cooked breakfasts have been the order of the day (ordered by me for me). My theory of having an enormous breakfast that would ‘set me up for the day’ has resulted in more poundage on my already roundage of bodies. By way of weaning myself back to something resembling a healthy start to the day we are having the extremely ‘en vogue’ avocado on toast topped with a poached egg. Some people like to add a smidge of lemon juice to the avocado, some ‘living life on the edge’ kind of people even add a few chilli flakes.
Kirsty Bennet goes one step further with her avocado mash on toast, she has a drizzle of delicious balsamic glaze artistically thrown all over it…….how posh is she? Actually, I know that this breakfast was made for her by her beloved Charlie. One word…..spoilt.
Whatever way you like your avocado, remind yourself as you devour it all – it is good and it is healthy – win, win!
So what’s a girl to do on a rainy evening in Derby? Yes – you’re right, find the best Tapas restaurant there is and indulge in as many dishes as you can without looking too greedy (which is an impossible task if I’m being honest).
Iberico World Tapas was the chosen venue and it absolutely was the best choice ever. As we walked through the door, we were instantly welcomed by a cheerful host and directed to the chic bar area whilst we waited for our table. Obviously we took this opportunity to order a couple of gin and tonics whilst we took in the ‘ambience’. The decor is minimalist: beautiful tiled mosaic squares fixed on cool, crisp white walls with uncluttered table and chairs in orange and yellow tones to complement. It’s super stylish and the menu reflects this.
Every single table was occupied which along with the gentle contemporary background music created a warm, welcoming atmosphere, not stuffy and not overly boisterous…just right. From the well thought out menu, we ordered the delicious, home made sour dough bread with Arbequina Olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar for nibbles, then five tapas dishes. I could have ordered more but I think that five is a good number (Andrew is not as greedy and reluctantly agreed to the five rather than four……I’m sure he appreciated my greed at the end of the meal though).
I won’t go through each of the dishes but I am going to highlight a couple because they were amazing: Onglet Beef Skewers with truffle Sauce…..omg!!!! melt in your mouth beef that had been char grilled , drizzled in the sauce that made (me) want to lick the bowl after we’d finished (as that would have embarrassed Andrew more than I usually do, I resisted the urge). The other dish that I have to mention is the Chorizo, Cauliflower with sherry vinegar. This was apparently new to the menu. Individual mini chorizo with a creamed cauliflower sitting amongst a tangy sherry vinegar. I did try to class the cauliflower as being one of my five a day, but it wasn’t that kind of cauliflower if you know what I mean. This was nice!!
With a bottle of wine, the bill came to £87.00. It was an absolute dream of a meal with fab service. Would definitely recommend.
So, first of all as promised, the finished product from this morning’s sleepover bake off.
Obviously, they look delicious but they REALLY do taste good. Regardless of how you decorate them and let’s face it – who doesn’t love pretending to be Nigella when decorating a cupcake, this recipe from the Primrose Bakery really is THE best (in my humble opinion). See http://www.primrose-bakery.co.uk for more details.
So, that was the morning. Meanwhile, our roving reporter Andrew is currently out in Berlin – it’s a ‘business’ trip….and as we know, if you want the best out of an employee, you look after them. So, Andrew and his team have been duly wined and dined since they landed. Not that I’m bitter or anything. First stop for them – ‘The Sphere Restaurant’ at the Berlin TV Tower. How impressive! The only consolation being that I’m petrified of heights and would probably have fainted into the ever so delicate first course. Anyway, I’ve created a little montage to Berlin in the hopes that I will get to sample these delights myself one day.
So that’s the update from Berlin…..although more to follow and with more information and addresses.
My afternoon in the sunshine took us to glorious Chatsworth http://www.chatsworth.org Such a wonderful place especially in the sun. Coffee and cake just had to be had but no pics of this – I didn’t want to detract from the beauty of the girl’s earlier efforts. So that’s it today. Lot’s of baking, walking, chatting and laughing and of course coffee…..oh and a cheeky glass of Sauvignon this evening (actually a couple, maybe three). Like I said coffee and food – life’s daily essentials.
Yes folks, its another sunny Saturday – so what are we doing this morning……baking!! Baking cupcakes (or fairy cakes or whatever you call them) comes as part and parcel of a primary girl sleepover activity. So despite the fact that none of us slept last night (actually that’s a lie – Ollie typically slept like a log and will not come round from his coma like sleep for at least another four hours) – Me, Charlotte and her two cronies are about to embark on creative cupcake time. I always try and keep to my motto of ‘as long as they had fun’ when baking with children, (it’s not always possible but I do try). In keeping with not being a spoilsport I will post the results from the afore-mentioned session on here later on today. Just grabbing a cuppa and enjoying five minutes of sunny heaven whilst typing away in my little garden. Having spent many hot summers in London living in a small flat – having any kind of outdoor space – thats accessible whilst in your pj’s is something to indulge in on a regular basis. I’ll spare you the pj pic, but sharing this with you instead. Tune into part two later. xx
It’s the first Monday in July. Wimbledon has started and so has my new blog….coffeeandfood.co.uk
My name’s Helen and I’m accompanied today by my beautifully, smiley daughter,Charlotte. She’s not always smiley but she is always beautiful.
Join me on my coffee and food journey. Share your recipes and your coffee recommendations as will I. I will probably also share the daily goings on in my life – that usually push me to require the need for a decent coffee and bite to eat.