A weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is a medieval market town and the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Rory and I decided to travel to Stratford to celebrate our birthdays. Having only ever been once with school, and Rory never, we thought it was a great opportunity. I love Shakespeare; I have a passion for his plays and have read and performed many of his works. When I looked to see what show was being performed the weekend of our birthday I was slightly miffed; The Tempest, it was not one of my favourites, and in fact I had never read the play before. But, we booked anyway and hoped the stage would bring it to life.

Boy did it, a magnificent performance by all! I would like to highlight the three characters which for me stole the show; Prospero, Vertricula and Ariel. Ariel looked only about 18, but he was incredible, and I was in awe at his talent! I won’t spoil it for anyone who may be going but I will say it is worth going to! Highly technical and very well presented, great use of lighting and projection as well as use of the stage. Brilliant performance by all involved. Rory, who before going had stated his disliking of Shakespeare’s work, came out shouting about how incredible it was (believing GCSE English had “ruined Shakespeare” for him originally). The RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) will be performing Julius Caeser March to September next year and we are really hoping to get tickets!

Stratford-upon-Avon is covered with restaurants, all the way up Sheep Street and across Chapel Street (as well as many others I am sure). On the first evening we went to a pre-theatre meal at Sorrento’s, having been recommended by our B&B host (more about Paul later). A delicious well-presented meal; starting with Insalata Caprese, (mozzarella cheese with tomato and basil), as well as Bruschetta Sorrentina (garlic bread topped with tomato, basil and mozzarella); we combined the two and created a delicious new starter. For mains we ordered pan-fried chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce with chips, and a lasagne also with chips. The lasagne was delicious and had a pleasant surprise of meatballs within it. Finally, for dessert Rory had panna cotta topped with chocolate sauce, it was the best dessert he had all weekend, which says a lot, as you will read, we ate a lot! I had an apple tart, which was nice, but nothing special. Sadly I forgot to take my camera and couldn’t record any photos…

We stayed in a lovely B&B a very short walk from the centre called Hamlet House. I chose this B&B due to location, and great reviews, which turned out to be accurate. The room was lovely, the location great and the price reasonable. But the best part of it was the welcoming host and the incredible breakfast we got to enjoy twice! On the first day we both had a full English, and wow was it full. Creamy scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages, bacon, toast, fried potatoes which were delicious and fresh orange juice, tea and coffee. Not only was the food incredible, they offered a range of breakfasts as well as homemade omelettes with herbs fresh from the garden, smoked salmon scrambled egg, many types of cereals and fruit. A great display of food and a great start to the day! You can view Hamlet House here.

Hamlet-house-breakfast

On Saturday evening we made the error of not booking anywhere to eat. Oops. We really wanted to go to a new Thai restaurant, which had just opened up called the Giggling Squid. Unfortunately they were fully booked till 9.30pm. So we wandered down the road, after looking in many windows at hoards of people and many menus, we finally stumbled across a place called Wildwood. We went in at the perfect time, although the waitress said they were fully booked, after asking when they would have a table she asked her manager and we managed to sneak in and get a table. I am actually really glad as we would never have gone here if we had booked the Giggling Squid.

For some reason Rory and I can’t seem to order just a main, we always go for a full three courses. Our waistlines don’t appreciate this. To start with we shared garlic pizza bread with mozzarella and caramelised onion and a classic Bruschetta. The onion pizza bread was out of this world. A very simple dish but the best garlic bread I have ever eaten, it was delicious as it had the perfect amount of sweetness in the onions and the pizza dough. It made me really regret not ordering a pizza! The Bruschetta was also tasty but had a little too much oil for my tasting.

Garlic-bread-caramelised-onions

Garlic-bread-caramelised-onions

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

Then the mains, Rory ordered a meat calzone, a ginormous pizza covering most of his plate. A great base and a delicious sauce, he had no complaints. It was topped with garlic butter, which just hit the spot. I ordered tiger prawn pasta with a creamy white wine sauce. This may well be the best pasta sauce I have ever had, it was creamy and tangy, the prawns were cooked to perfection, it was delicious in every way.

Meat calzone

Tiger-prawn-pasta

Sadly the puddings for me disappointed, I ordered the Eton mess, it was an Eton mess Sundae which just didn’t really work for me, but Rory ordered an Oreo, Malteaser sundae which from his face he enjoyed thoroughly!

Sundae

One thing I would say about Stratford-upon-Avon is that the food was without a doubt incredible, but it really lacked a good bar or pub. The pubs we went in seemed very Wetherspoonsy and served average wine at high prices. Even the oldest pub in Stratford, the Garrick, which was heaving with people, seemed pretty average. With such a huge tourist trade I would have expected a few high-end bars.

I am not going to talk about the Giggling Squid where we did end up going on Sunday, we ordered two tapas platters which were tasty enough but in my opinion it was overpriced and not the most incredible food I ate this weekend. It did however look incredible…

Thai-food

Thai-food

Finally, the tourism; Stratford-upon-Avon is heaving with tourists and tourist activities. We managed to complete everything we wanted in the short time we were there. I recommend Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s (Shakespeare’s wife) house and gardens. We bought a 3-house ticket online for £18 (here) and would definitely recommend. There also any gift shops and Christmas shops which are always fun to look around in. The MAD museum was fun but short. But the best in my opinion was the butterfly farm. Incredible to see such amazing colour and creatures; and a gecko or two as well!

Hope you enjoyed this post, and wasn’t too long for you! I could have said so much more! If you haven’t been to Stratford-upon-Avon I highly recommend you go and visit the RSC as well. I would say you can do everything in a couple of days with ease, but it’s a beautiful place to visit. Let me know what you thought of Stratford by commenting below. Don’t forget to subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on any posts. Thanks for reading! Like, comment, share and subscribe.

Hard ta-pas(s) up on

This weekend has been mental! It is my birthday on Tuesday so my boyfriend (Rory) and I went home to see my family. Saw some good friends on Friday evening down at the local pub, Saturday day spent walking my two little Jack Russell’s at Clumber Park and in the evening going to see the local pantomime. Then on Sunday another pub visit near home and a great Sunday dinner with some of the famalam. A quick drive back up to Manchester; moving Rory’s stuff out of his house and into mine, until our new place is ready next month. With all this I have barely had time to think, let alone blog, so this post is a little later than normal.

However, Rory and I always have time to eat, so tonight after moving Rory’s stuff we decided to take advantage of the Didsbury location and go to my all time favourite restaurant in Manchester; Pinchjos. This is without a doubt my favourite restaurant; I would highly recommend anyone visiting Manchester to come here! A quaint little Spanish restaurant, seating about 26 people in total and offering a great selection of fresh home cooked food and a good wine selection.

pinchjos-restaurant

Rory brought me to Pinchjos on our second date, and since then we have gone back many times and never been disappointed. The food is unbelievably good, the wine is delicious and staff are very welcoming. Although the service is a little slow, it is made up for how amazing the food is! Genuinely can’t rave enough about the food (try it yourself if you don’t believe me).

pinchjos-outside

In the traditional tapas style everything comes as it is cooked. First out of the kitchen doors was the Gambas Pil Pil. An obvious choice and favourite of mine, king prawns cooked in chilli and garlic, bubbling away as it comes to our table; a delicious meaty taste with a great kick of chilli after swallowing.

pinchjos-gambas-pil-pil
Gambas Pil Pil – Regular price (RP) £6.50
Next up Patatas Bravas, I don’t know anyone who goes to a tapas restaurant and doesn’t order Patatas Bravas. Small, fried potatoes with smoked paprika and bravas sauce; a very simple dish but cooked perfectly, the potatoes were chopped smaller than normal, almost sautéed as apposed to in chunks, but I enjoyed it all the same.

pinchjos-patatas-bravas
Patatas Bravas – RP £4.95
Then came the Meat Paella, Rory’s favourite; chicken marinated in paprika with chorizo and piquillo peppers. This dish was full of flavour; perfect amount of chorizo for a great smoky flavour without overpowering the dish. This went very well with the patatas bravas!

pinchjos-paella
Meat Paella – RP £6.50
Cheese has got to be one of the best creations, so many forms and such amazing tastes. Halloumi, an ultimate favourite was next to be eaten. Pan fried halloumi with oregano served on a fresh salad. Fried just enough to create a golden skin, but not too much to let it go dry and rubbery; melt in your mouth halloumi which had such a delicious salty taste I only wish there was more of it!

pinchjos-halloumi
Pan Fried Halloumi – RP £5.95
The penultimate dish was Pinchitos; skewered chicken breasts marinated in ginger and chillies served on tabbuleh. The chicken just came away from the skewer, and it had a wonderful tasting marinade that just makes your mouth water; so much flavour, again the only problem being that there isn’t enough (maybe we are just a little greedy though)!

pinchjos-pinchitas
Pinchitos – RP £6.50
Finally, the last dish of the evening, fresh to order tortilla, which is a Spanish omelette with potatoes and seasonal vegetables, served with what I believed to be bravas sauce. A delicious combination of vegetables and potatoes; which with the tangy bravas sauce went down a treat. This was a new one, which we haven’t ordered before and definitely will again!

pinchjos-tortilla
Tortilla – RP £5
I couldn’t give Pinchjos a better review if I tried, I absolutely adore he food cooked here and love the quaint, simple look of the restaurant. Dishes range from £4 to £7 but on Sunday to Thursday, 5-7pm; a wide selection (all I have discussed) are £4.50 each. Definitely a reasonable price for the delicious food! You can check out the restaurant here.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and it tempts you into trying the restaurant, if you do I would love to hear what you thought of it, comment bellow or tag me on Instagram. If you don’t want to miss out on any of my posts, subscribe today by clicking below. Like, share, comment and subscribe.

Loaded potato skins


Loaded potato skins are one of my go to simple dishes, so easy to make, very minimal effort for such a great tasting meal. I hadn’t eaten these skins in months before my sister cooked them for me a few weeks back, I completely forgot how much I love them! Both Claire and I have been cooking these skins for as long as I can remember, we can both guarantee how delicious they are!

I never understand why restaurants serve loaded potato skins without any of the potato flesh, it is beyond me, it really adds to the flavour of the potato and it is such a waste! This recipe has no waste, all of the potato is used and eaten and it tastes pretty darn good!

The ingredients are usually in your cupboards (I mean, who doesn’t have the sauces for nachos on demand right?), and if you don’t have them they are pretty cheap to buy! In a bit of a rush? You can speed up the process by cooking the potatoes longer in the microwave and then grilling them to give a good crunchy skin (this is important so they hold the filling).

The longer a potato is cooked the better, I often put them in, and then go to the gym, or go for a shower etc. You can come home from a days work, quickly put the potatoes in the oven and then sort everything else out. They also taste great the next day! So make extra and take to work, just reheat in a microwave for about 3 minutes till the middle is piping hot.
loaded-potato-skins-1
loaded-potato-skins-oven
loaded-potato-skins-3
Hope you enjoy this weeks recipe below, let me know what you think in the comments below. If you don’t want to miss out on my weekly recipes/reviews then subscribe today by clicking “follow Chefwynd” below.

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Loaded potato skins

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Loaded potato skins with salsa, bacon and cheese, topped with sour cream and chive dip


Ingredients

    Ingredients
  • 2 medium-large baking potatoes
  • 2 rashes of smoky bacon
  • ½ jar of mild salsa
  • 100g mature cheddar cheese
  • 1 cal spray oil
  • Salt
  • ½ jar sour cream and chive dip (to serve)
  • Equipment:
  • Baking tray
  • Kitchen foil
  • Large bowl
  • Sharp knife
  • Grater
  • Spoons

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Pierce several holes in the potatoes with a sharp knife or fork
  3. Place both potatoes in a microwave and cook for 10 minutes on full (750w microwave)
  4. Line a baking tray with kitchen foil, place potatoes on foil and spray with oil (I use 1 cal, but you can use any oil) and sprinkle with salt on both sides
  5. Place tray in middle of pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, then take out and leave to cool on side
  6. Then, take your bacon and lay this on your grill, grill this until cooked (I like it crispy so about 10 mins, remember to turn it half way through)
  7. Once the bacon is cooked take out and turn grill down to 160 degrees
  8. Take the cooled jacket and cut in half length ways
  9. Grab a bowl and scoop the potato into it, place skins under the grill
  10. Cut up your bacon (I use scissors), into small 5mm cubes and put straight in the large bowl filled with potato, add the salsa, ⅔ of the cheese and butter; mix well
  11. Take the skins back out of the grill and load them with the mixture in the bowl. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and place back under the grill for 5 minutes until the cheese has melted
  12. Take the loaded skins out and transfer them onto a plate, add a good dollop of sour cream per skin and enjoy!

Giovanni’s Delicious Deli Lounge, bon appétit!

Sadly this week I went to review “Almost famous”, unfortunately I will not be writing a review for this place due to the 45 minute wait on our food arriving and the bland overpriced burger. Sorely disappointed and will not be going again.

On a lighter note, I had a delicious lunch just off Piccadilly gardens at Giovanni’s Deli. Giovanni’s is a lovely family run business with a great selection of sandwiches, Panini’s and hot food. Giovanni prides itself on selling “Tasty. Delicious. Homemade.” food and boy does it deliver!

Giovanni’s has huge windows allowing plenty of light into the room, accompanying a nice open space; which made everything seem brighter. A lovely variety of bright yellow chairs, with various indoor plants on each table. Although very quiet, with only one other customer, it was 2pm and a Sunday so I wasn’t too surprised. I imagine the place is heaving on a weekday lunch and so it should be. Giovanni’s had great service, huge choice of food, all at a very reasonable price. As well as offering the usual eat in or takeaway, they also deliver to your home and office.

Giovanni's deli lounge

Working out of the city centre often means my lunch options are limited, without a car I have only a few options. This is one of the reasons I would love to work in the city centre (ignoring the traffic and the vast amount of patience required of course). Lunch is essential for any day, but specifically a workday, I imagine there is nothing better than being able to take a nice stroll down to a local deli and ordering a delicious hot Panini or some soup on a cold winters day.

Let me start with the menu. There was a wide variety of Panini’s and sandwiches such as ham and cheese, tuna melt, mozzarella and pesto etc. As well as these they also offer a “gym fit” menu; egg white omelettes, filled sweet potatoes etc. Brilliant! The deli is located a 30 second walk from the popular “The Gym” making Giovanni’s an obvious choice for a protein boost. Early morning workout; followed by a low-carb and high protein breakfast; the perfect way to start your day.

If Giovanni’s haven’t already, they should look at affiliating themselves with “The Gym”, sending people back and forth would be a great way of linking brands together and building a community (I think that’s the marketer in me coming out here).

Food, food, food; tasty, homemade food

Rory ordered the Chicken Pesto Panini (£4.95) and I ordered the Tuna Mayo Panini (£4.95) both with a side of chunky chips (£2 each). The chicken pesto Panini was fresh chicken breast, with pesto, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Proper quality ciabatta bread used which makes all the difference, a really great Panini. The tuna mayo was the same, tuna mayonnaise with melted cheese, on soft quality ciabatta bread. The chips were just standard chunky chips, delicious as always. Great sized portions as well, could have easily had a bowl of chips to share.

Giovanni's deli lounge
Chicken and Pesto Panini – £4.95
Tuna mayo panini
Tuna Mayonnaise Panini – £4.95
Chunky chips – £2
*Disclaimer: rant coming…

My only comment would have been the cup of tea I had. I am a huge tea lover, it is the rock to my roll, I couldn’t be without it. A good cup of tea isn’t that hard to make, but every tea drinker has his or her own personal preference. I personally like very little milk with a strong tea bag. The waiter unaware of other tea styles made a tea and poured milk straight in and brought it over with the tea bag still in. This for me is weird. It’s okay if the place doesn’t have teapots etc. But just give me a little jug of milk with the mug and I can do it myself. He didn’t ask whether I even wanted milk let alone how much.

Other than the strange tea, I would highly recommend this place; especially for a quick bite to eat on a lunch break when you just want to get out of the office, or on a Saturday afternoon mid-shopping trip. Brilliant location, great food at reasonable prices; I will definitely be going again! Check out their menu on the website here.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post and I didn’t ramble too much (I could talk for hours just on cups of tea’s, but I won’t). If you like my blog posts please subscribe via email below. I would love to hear your thoughts of Giovanni’s! As always; like, share, comment and subscribe.