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Review: Hop & Cleaver

20 Aug

Arguably, Newcastle’s Quayside is one of the most attractive part of the city (for a tourist like me at least).

As well as a setting that never fails to impress me, it boasts some of the best cafes and restaurants that Newcastle  has to offer.

One of those is the Hop & Cleaver.

Despite being in plain site, you could be forgiven for missing the Hop & Cleaver, its unassuming facade not giving much away.

Yet inside lies a real gem. Much like its neighbour, The Red House, its nooks and crannies make it cosy and its exposed brickwork gives some of its history away. Unlike its neighbour though, it’s more open and modern, complete with craft ales and flashing sign.

  
The boyfriend and I have been dying to try this restaurant since we moved up here so it seemed the perfect choice for a pre-birthday meal (his not mine).

Neither of us were disappointed.

I was a bit boring and chose the burger, although it was a mighty fine choice. The boyfriend, meanwhile, opted for a smoked sausage and chicken wings crate. We were both VERY impressed!

  
The only thing that let the meal down was the side of onion rings. They were ENORMOUS which I was pleased with but were a bit too oily for my liking. The special vanilla dip with it was really interesting, although the boyfriend wasn’t massively keen.

My sweet tooth couldn’t resist the chocolate brownie for dessert (the pull of bourbon vanilla was too much for my weak-willed Weight Watcher brain). It was worth all the millions of points it cost me though – it tasted just as delicious as it looks!

  
Both for taste and value for money (less than £40 for 2 courses and drinks) I would rate the Hop and Cleaver five out of five. The service, at times, was a little slow but all staff were very friendly. 

We went on a rainy day but the restaurant also has a lovely looking outdoor area which I expect is popular in the sunshine.

If you get chance you should definitely go.

Reading Challenge: Book 16 complete

17 Aug

If you’re anything like me, you were one of the first in line to see Me Before You at the cinema, having been obsessed with the book.

Finding out there was a sequel was even more exciting; what would happen to Louisa? What type of adventures would we follow her on?

I was also a little worried about being disappointed – I had loved the first one so much, what if the second one was awful?

That me the biggest fear for an author too.

 I needn’t have worried though, and I’d Jojo Moyes was at all worried she needn’t be either.

After You wasn’t what I expected but it far exceeded those expectations.

  
It also thoroughly deserves to be my ‘book guaranteed to bring you joy’ tickbox on the Popsugar list.I

I use the word joy loosely – she broke my heart (visibly on a plane) before sticky taping it back together again. But the overall feeling on closing the book was definitely a happy one.

After you, much like its predecessor, will remain proudly on my bookshelf with the rest of my favourites, forever more.

Reading Challenge: Book 15 complete

15 Aug

Having whizzed through my last few books on holiday, I was surprised by how long it took me to get through book 15, Go Set A Watchman.

     

I loved To Kill A Mockingbird and had assumed I would love this. I was right, but it took me a long time to realise it (52 days according to the date on my last blog post).

Go Set A Watchman was slow to get into and then made incredibly difficult reading. It was meant to make you uncomfortable, but it didn’t make it easy to read. Only in the last couple of sections did I really begin to realise what a great piece of writing this book was, and how Harper Lee had definitely not let any of her fans down.

It may have been hard to read but it was 100% worth it. And sadly the lessons it teaches are as applicable now, post Brexit, as they were when the book is set. You would hope we’d moved on from the 1950s, sadly we have but only to a different race.

This one doesn’t really fit into any of the Popsugar categories. Luckily it was the first book I saw in the airport bookshop though so I’m ticking that box 🙂

Reading Challenge: Book 10 complete

11 Jun

Book 10 came as a massive surprise to me. I have to be honest, I didn’t expect a lot from this one; I really like Jenny Eclair as a comedian but you’re never really sure what their novels might be like.

If the rest of her books are like this one though, I’m buying them all!

  
Moving pulls you in from the very beginning. I loved the way it takes you through each room in the house chapter by chapter, slowly unraveling the secrets each one holds, before moving on to the individual characters.

It’s incredibly easy to read, helped by short chapters, and is pretty difficult to put down, which may help to explain how I finished it in less than a week.

I honestly feel like I know each character personally and I think I may be a bit lost now I’ve finished it. 

If you see this book in your local shop or library, pick it up. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

I know I’ve already ticked the ‘book written by a comedian’ box but, as Jenny is also a celebrity, I’m ticking that box instead.

Reading Challenge: Book 9 complete

7 Jun

After a few months of heavy reading, I thought I’d go a bit lighter this month.

And with the weather finally warming up, which better box to tick than ‘a book which takes place in the summer’, courtesy of Candace Bushnell’s Summer in the City?!

  

Obviously you don’t expect literary genius when you open this book, but Candace knows how to tell a story and for fans of Sex and the City, like me, it’s great to read how Carrie meets the rest of the gang.

July foodie penpal reveal

2 Aug

After a break in June, I couldn’t have been more ready for my July penpal box.

This month we were paired up with two Lithuanian ladies, and there was extra pressure on the one sending us a parcel as we had been her penpal a few months earlier!

Our penpal told us she loved chocolate and made her own sweets (a perfect penpal for me)! We relished this challenge and packed up a sweetie box full of our favourite goodies and some traditional English ones such as bonbons and liquorice. 

We’ve also started putting our notes on postcards as I think that’s a lovely way to show people where we live.  

The box we received back was possibly our best yet!

   
 The attention to detail on our box was lovely – I couldn’t wait to rip it open and inside was full of stuff suitable for both Troy and I.

Here are some of my favourites:

Sea salt chocolate – I thought I’d hate this but I LOVE it! And what’s great is I only want it in small doses, making it great for Weight Watchers 🙂

Cinnamon Dreams – essentially a Lithuanian version of Krave, these gorgeous bites of cinnamon cereal are serving as a great snack!

Veri Beri – dried strawberry sticks which I essentially ate it one go one lunch time at work.

What I especially loved is that everything had something English on it do I could figure out what they were 🙂

Yet again another successful penpal swap. We have no plans to stop anytime soon!

If you’d like to get involved, visit Carol-Anne’s blog here

Takeaway shmakeaway

5 Feb

The end of January may have meant I had been paid after a wait that felt like forever – but I’m still broke (and trying to be well behaved).

With this in mind, the boyfriend and I decided to ditch the takeaway menu and try making our own curry last weekend, with a little added help of our foodie penpal recipe 😊

It also gave us the perfect excuse to use our new mini chopper, which I bought the boyfriend for Christmas!

In went the garlic, ginger and onions, whizzed to a purée with the help of our new friend

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The mixture then went into the frying pan, before adding water and korma paste.
Almonds, sultanas, chicken stock and sugar followed closely behind the chicken and it started to look like this..

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While it was simmering, we decided to have a go at making chapattis using the recipe given to us by our lovely foodie penpal, Teresa. She’d packed it in our parcel after reading my naan bread post, which I thought was really sweet.
They were pretty easy to make too – just mix wholewheat flour, salt and water in a bowl until combined

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Then roll out into small balls

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And then flatten them with the palm of your hand and slap into a frying pan

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And this is what we ended up with:

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Pretty nice too! It was only halfway through though that I realised I’d missed a crucial ingredient – the yoghurt! Doh! Ah well, I’ll remember next time…

In case you want a go, the recipe can be found here.