Chino Latino, Leeds

After a particularly tough and sapping week of work I was expecting a quiet night in as agreed with D that morning. However things in our home can take a fast turn, walking in through the front door I was greeted enthusiastically by the Lad and by D but the Lad was heading for a hide chew and we were heading out for dinner as “if you think I want to stay in two nights running….”.
A cab was ordered and we set off to Leeds but were still debating where to eat on the journey. Arriving in Leeds with the rain pouring we headed for the nearest place which happened to be The Restaurant Bar and Grill which as always was buzzing but they could only offer us a table around the back so we decided against eating there. Across City Square is Chino Latino which rarely fails to delight us food wise but they are iffy when it comes to making cocktails.
Chino’s was not overly busy and offered us a nice table so that was settled. I had a Rekorderlig pear cider and D ordered a mojito which was disappointing. We were hungry so we went through to the table, the place was hosting several tables, one for a large birthday party so the atmosphere was good. The menu is Asian Fusion and so the decision making process can be challenging due to a fantastic choice. We settled on too much food as always. I always go for the sashimi set as it is the best sashimi in town by a country mile, D ordered 2 starters, prawn tempura and crispy duck. The sashimi is 3 pieces each of the freshest most naked tuna, sea bass and salmon with wasabi and ginger just perfect. Tempura prawns come with a seafoods dip and crushed wasabi peas again perfect. However talk about over order even though I tried to help D we didn’t get through much of the duck but it was nice.
3 yes 3 mains were ordered because I couldn’t decide between the Lobster jungle curry and the Black Cod, D ordered her favourite Lamb cutlets with miso and Chinese snow pea. No sides though.
The Lobster Jungle curry includes the tiger prawns, scallops as well the most fabulous oriental mushrooms all in a fragrant curry sauce. The Cod was covered in the most sublime sweet sticky sauce and yet still flakey tender white flesh.
I know we sound greedy and some great food was left over but you know what the guilt subsides when you have such a gastronomic treat that was so unexpected. The chefs are magicians and artists, check out the presentation!

G&D

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Mexico, via Leeds

One of our current food obsessions is Mexican.

I thought I’d cover off eating out nd some home cooking in this post as we’re getting Mexican every way we can at the moment!

I’ve written before about the rather wonderful Pinche Pinche in Leeds – the best Mexican restaurant I’ve been to in the UK — admittedly, I’ve not been to many, but it’s still great all the same. This week we popped along to a Tequila tasting and Street Food night and had a rare old time sipping 100%agave tequila (the only tequila you should ever drink BTW) and chomping away on snacks street food taco-style food.

It was all about the tequila to be honest and I was cool with that, the highlight being a deeply flavoursome tequila that at some stage in its making has a smoked chicken (yes and actual chicken) dangled in the cask. Awesome.

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Earlier in the week we were delving deep in Thomasina Myers’ mexican Cookbook. Her food is similar to Pinche Pinche in that it’s all about bright, fresh flavours. We must go to one of her restaurants Wahaca in that there London.

I made a homemade searingly hot salsa using habanero chillis (scotch bonnets) which we found to be completely addictive smearing it on everything. To accompany the salsa, I grilled some fresh seafood from Leeds Kirkgate market – monkfish and jumbo prawns in this instance, marinated in lime and bay along with the essential coriander dressing.

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Mexican food is very simple and not a) stodgy and heavy or b) blisteringly hot.

It’s all about the fresh, vibrant flavours with Mexican cooking. There’s lots of influences in there too – it’s not one dimensional – Spanish, Italian and South American all combine to make exciting food.

I managed to lay my hands on some chipotle chillis (smoked, dried jalapeños) via Simon at Pinche Pinche, so I’m thinking right now they’ll go nicely with some fish or chicken…here we go again!

The Loaf – Crich, Derbyshire

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There are not many places where you get welcomed as a friend, eat delicious food, but also get to take home baking equipment and bread making advice.

After my last post about Jeera in Crich, I promised to review The Loaf on our next visit to pizza night. It was only half way through eating my Capricciosa that I remembered this, so apologies for the rather rushed phone photos. Not much gets between me and my food.

Other than special events like Storytelling nights or Children in Need, The Loaf only opens as a pizza restaurant on Wednesday’s, but it’s a real midweek bonus if you remember to book one of the two sittings. The pizzas are baked in the ovens that are used to bake gorgeous bread for the cafe, and various other outlets, during the day. They have a perfect thin, slightly chewy crust and a traditional selection of toppings. The dessert options are delicious too, tonight we shared the lemon cheesecake and apple frangipane tart. There is no alcohol licence so you need to take your own wine if you fancy a glass, but Ed especially likes their coffee and always finishes the evening with an Americano.

To go along with their bread baking classes various baking accoutrements are now on sale. So tonight I have come home with a traditional cane proving basket, a grignette (a blade for slashing the dough) and a reclaimed oven stone for baking on. I also got a some invaluable advice on how to use it all.

So, Pizza Night is well worth a visit…and I promise that my next post will be a little farther afield than ‘right on my doorstep’.

A quiet Sunday around Kinsale

The breakfast in the Friars Lodge was limited so we ventured into town and went to The Lemon Leaf Cafe. Full Irish for Tony, bacon with poached eggs on toast for Pat, eggs Benedict for mysel and a bacon with sausage bagel for D. Oops forgot that D had porridge to start and I had granola. All the food was spot on but the service was very slow. However the cackling from across the cafe from the local girls made for noisy entertainment.

We had a little drive over to Sandy cove which is very picturesque and the homes will make you jealous.
We then blogged our way into the “the most spectacular golf course on earth” which turned out to be be underplayed because it was breathtaking. We had some drinks and a wander around The Old Head and saw how the other half live, note the helicopter.

We needed a little sustenance and popped into a very smart wine bar called the Aperitif for a antipast platter which was superb. The girls had a glass of wine each but Tony and I shared a special bottle of Ferran Dria”s Estrelle.

Our evening and final venue of the trip was a visit to the famous “Spaniard pub” to see Mick and Jimmy perform,. The weather was incredibly kind to us and the stroll around the estuary was very pleasant. Straw strewn floors, open fires, locals joining in the singing,talk about the real Ireland!

Pat, Tony, D&G.

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The Barras pub, Clonakilty

Pat, Tony, D and I decided to have a drive around the coast and found ourselves in the quaint town of Clonakilty. Of Clonakilty’s many pubs the most popular is The Barras which is famous for it’s live music events. Christy Moore, Noel Redding amongst others have played there. The pub is a full on traditional wood floor, low ceiling, real fire place with pictures of The Luisitania disaster and the Irish hero Michael Collins(probably Clonakilty’s most famous son) adorning the walls alongside musical instruments etc which create a great atmosphere. As with most pubs we found the place is a tardis, tiny entrance then thin and very long inside. As we were going out for dinner in the evening we shared a pizza between us and the obligatory Guinness’s. We will be going back next time we are across the water to get in some live entertainment. We all agreed that we need more proper pubs back home like The Barras.
Pat, Tony, G&D.

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Fishy Fishy Cafe, And a night out in Kinsale.

Our jaunt to Kinsale would not have been complete without a trip to it’s famous Fishy Fishy Cafe. There were eight of us dining so we gathered for a quick pint at The Greyhound pub or as Tony calls it The Black Dog. The restaurant is very contemporary in design, light and airy. We all sat at a long table in the window and ordered some Rose and a rather nice Alborino to go with the fish dishes. Tony and I shared half a dozen Oysterhaven oysters which were superb. Those of us who included myself and stuck to the signature Fishy Fish pie we were all pretty delighted but Tony, Pat and D had, Crab Claws, Pan fried Seabass, Fish and chips and were all a little disappointed, perhaps the hype increased the level of expectation. However the freshness and quality of the produce is such that we will definitely keep this as a firm favourite.

Weekends in Kinsale are incredibly full of musical divirsity with almost every hostelry hosting a live event. We started at The Blue Haven Hotel and were serenaded by a busty blond singing Sinatra to 60’s/70’s ballads……. Tony was joining in with gusto! From there we had the long 20 metre walk to The White House which had a lively young boy band and enthusiastic local support. Several drunken young fellas along with high heeled girls danced away and were as entertaining as the
band. From there it all get’s a little hazy but The Lord Kingsale comes to mind with a middle aged crooner bringing a little respite to the ears.
Final stop was the White House and chats with the locals about football. Stagger back up a short hill to our accommodation The Friars Lodge. The town was still buzzing and as the Irish say we had a good craic!
Pat, Tony, G&D.

The Crown Pub, Belfast

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The Crown Pub in the centre of Belfast is a pretty famous place. Described to me as the Whitelocks of Belfast I was keen to take a look. It doesn’t disappoint. This grand dame of Belfast boozers is jaw droppings beautiful and transports the drinker back in time with authentic etched windows and fabulous fitted wooden booths inside with doors on!

The Guinness is superb and the food is quite good too. It’s clearly a Belfast institution and it has a good mix of locals and tourists that keeps the tills ticking over. Well worth a look if you’re in Belfast.