Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Eat, Drink, Stay: Glasgow

I visited Glasgow with my friend Sarah last bank holiday weekend and we basically ate our way through the entire city. I've compiled a handy list of tips below for you if you are planning on visiting the city yourself (or are like me and just generally enjoy looking at pictures of food..)!

STAY: GRAND CENTRAL HOTEL

99 Gordon Street, Glasgow






We stayed in the lovely Grand Central Hotel right next to the main train station in the centre of the city. We found the hotel through my favourite travel discount site, Secret Escapes for an amazing price and decided to go for it immediately. Our room rate included a glass of champagne, 2 course meal at the hotel's restaurant and even a breakfast each morning. This is definitely one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in - the building itself and the interiors were gorgeous, the staff were absolute sweethearts and the food was gooood. If you're like me and can't usually afford a hotel as nice as this, I would really recommend keeping your eye on the Secret Escapes website - they always have amazing deals which all generally include some pretty great extras too!

Eat & Drink

TEMPUS RESTAURANT at the GRAND CENTRAL HOTEL

99 Gordon Street, Glasgow







As I mentioned earlier, our room rate included a dinner on the first night of our stay in the hotel's own Tempus restaurant. We had their 'Market Menu' and for such a nice restaurant the prices are surprisingly reasonable: all the main courses are £13 each, two courses are £18 total and if you opt for all three it's a mere £22. It looks like they have changed the menu from what we had and there's even more variety now with a few more veggie options thrown in too.

We both had the bruschetta to start with and for my main I went with the butternut squash raviolis with spinach & pesto sauce which was very yummy. The portions weren't that big, but I have to say that I actually prefer it that way as that means I'm not too stuffed afterwards which usually happens if I have more than one course. All in all I would recommend the restaurant for a nice occasion as the atmosphere is really nice and the service is superb too.

STEREO

22-28 Renfield Lane, Glasgow







Something I noticed when researching the Glasgow restaurant scene beforehand was that there seemed to be a huge demand for vegan and vegetarian places and one of the places that immediately caught my eye was a little cafe/bar called Stereo. Luckily we happened to be only about a 3 minute walk away from it and so decided to have our first lunch of the holiday there. It's a tough decision but I think this place was my favourite restaurant of the whole trip - the food was just so good! I actually completely forgot that the place was even vegan whilst eating my quesadillas - they tasted so cheesy I couldn't believe it wasn't the "real deal"! Sarah had the mezze platter which was absolutely massive but which she also demolished pretty quickly - just goes to show how nice the food there was.

THE GROSVENOR

24 Ashton Lane, Glasgow









The lovely Ayden from The Little Blog of Horrors recommended visiting Ashton Lane to me and I'm so glad she did - I don't think I would've found this lovely gem on my own! When trying to find this little street we got lost a few times as it didn't look like there was anything where the map said the street should've been. How wrong we were! Luckily we persevered and suddenly found ourselves on this cute little street not really attached to anything else.

The street is full of different types of food places and after a bit of a mosey we opted for the The Grosvenor as we fancied something simple and tasty for lunch. I was lusting after the pizzas and luckily they agreed to leave the cheese out to make it vegan for me. I chose the one with sundried tomatoes, peppers and rocket and honestly, it didn't even need the cheese. The sundried tomatoes provided nice moisture to it so it wasn't too dry which I sometimes find can be a problem. Yum!

ÒRAN MÓR

Top of Byres Road, Glasgow






Quite close to Ashton Lane there is a gorgeous old church converted into a pub called Òran Mór where you absolutely have to go for a drink! It was so beautiful inside and outside and definitely one of the quirkiest places I've ever had a pint of cider in. According to the website they also do live music which just sounds amazing - think about the acoustics!

BAR SOBA

79 Albion Street, Merchant Square, Glasgow







Bar Soba was a bit of a pit stop for us as it was that time of the afternoon when it's a bit too long a wait still for dinner but you don't really want to have a full on meal either so you're appetite for later isn't ruined! We decided to try and find a nice place in Merchant Square which is this cool little inside market with restaurants, bars, cafes and market stalls - kind of like Covent Garden in London! In the end we decided to go to Bar Soba as I really wanted a cheeky cocktail and some fries and this place seemed to cater for both. I had the sweet chilli fries (YUM!), edamame beans (double YUM!) and a really nice sour cocktail which name I can't remember right now but it was definitely very much yum too. I would definitely go try their main meals as well as I thoroughly enjoyed everything I had and the buzzing atmosphere of Merchant Square in the background was really nice too.

MONO

12 Kings Court, Glasgow





Mono was the second fully vegan restaurant we went to on our trip and from the looks of the menu and the website I believe it might be affiliated with Stereo. Correct me if I'm wrong though! I definitely enjoyed my meal a lot whatever the case - I had the burrito with cajun fries and garlic mayo. The fries and the mayo were to die for - cajun spice and garlic are pretty much my two favourite food items in the world so it was basically a match made in heaven for me. Also, don't worry - the burrito itself was pretty great too!

Have you been to Glasgow? Which places should I try on my next visit? I loved how great the city was in terms of food and restaurants - really rivaled London in my opinion too, especially from a vegetarian point of view.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Mini Recipe post: Black bean & veggie fajitas

As you've probably already noticed, I'm a big fan of Mexican food such as burritos, enchiladas, fajitas - the list is endless! As I happened to have some leftover tortilla wraps lying around the other day, I decided to try and do a little fajita filling of whatever I had left in the cupboard. My recipe is obviously only Mexican inspired - it's probably not super authentic!



I started by chopping two bell peppers into little chunks and added them to the frying pan with a bit of oil and sweetcorn. I then squeezed a few cloves of garlic, added 2 teaspoons of chopped chilli and seasoned it with salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes of sizzling in the pan, I added a small cup of veggie broth and a can of black beans to the mixture and then seasoned some more with smoked paprika.



While my fajita mixture was sizzling on low-ish heat, I took a can of plum tomatoes, salt, pepper & a clove of garlic and added them all to my nutribullet to make a smooth tomato sauce. After that I transferred the sauce into a pan and let it simmer on low heat with continuously stirring until it became quite hot.

I think some fresh chilli would work quite well in the mix as well to provide an extra kick - I think I'll try that next time!



I wanted something fresh in my fajitas as well so I cut up some cherry tomatoes and cucumber into little pieces - they added a nice crunch to the wraps!



When everything is ready, start by adding a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce to your tortilla and spread evenly. After that just pile all your veggies and your fajita mix on top the tortillas and you're good to go! Don't ask me how to eat this without making a mess - I've never succeeded!

What's your go-to easy weekday meal?

INGREDIENTS:

Tortilla wraps
1/2 veggie stock cube
Sweetcorn
Can of black beans
2 bell peppers
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of red chilli
Smoked paprika (and other spices you like!)
Salt & pepper
Tomatoes
Cucumber

Tomato sauce:

Plum tomatoes in their juices
1 clove of garlic
Salt & pepper
(Red chilli)

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Shoreditch shenanigans

I have a weird relationship with Shoreditch. I absolutely love it in the daytime and in the early evening - it seems to be so full of life, quirky places to visit and colourful wall murals everywhere you look. However, come night time, I don't often know what to do with myself there. Everywhere seems to be so busy, and if I haven't really planned where to go specifically, it can be overwhelming to know how to choose the right place. Many times I have just ended up going home early as I just didn't really know where to go.

I like places where I can either dance to good music (having some space to move would be nice too..!) or somewhere where I can actually find a table, sit down and catch up with my friends without having to shout over the music (how old is this making me sound?!). If anyone has any suggestions of places like these, please let me know in the comment box! So far I've really liked The Bookclub (although this can get really crowded too if you go too late) and the food markets such as Boxpark (the best falafel I ever had was here) and Dinerama are fantastic too - but that's about it so far.





Daytime Shoreditch, however, is another matter entirely - I absolutely love it! A few weeks ago me and my friend Mary went to Urban Food Fest in Shoreditch High Street and afterwards had a long stroll around the area taking pictures and just enjoying the lovely sunshine. The Food Fest was really good - the last time I visited was two years ago and it's really grown in that time and there was so much more stalls to choose from this time around. Prices are not necessarily cheap, but I'd say it's still cheaper than going out for a proper sit down dinner, so coming here on a sunny day will absolutely be worth it as the atmosphere is really great (there was even some live music when we visited!).







After finishing our lunch we decided to have a little walk around the area as it was such a beautiful day. We walked through the little back streets (I'm thinking those places I was talking about in the first paragraph could maybe be found here!) towards Old Street taking pictures and trying to find somewhere to have a drink and sit down (again..). After a bit of a walk we finally ended up in a pub/bar called Electricity Showrooms on Hoxton Square.











I've been to this place only twice so far but I absolutely love it! The interior kind of reminds of being in a vintage circus - it's all red walls, colourful glass and neon signs. It actually also kind of reminds me of another place I love, the Wenlock and Essex in Angel - does anyone know if they're somehow related? We only went for drinks (cider for me and hot chocolate for Mary - both very yummy!), but for those who are interested, they also do food.





They've also got a downstairs bar that has a really cool multi-coloured disco floor (is that the right term?!) where I imagine you will be able to go dancing later in the night. I haven't been able to find out what kind of music they play though, so if you've ever been here I would love it if you could enlighten me!







The colourfulness doesn't stop after you leave the pub, either! Right in front of Electricity Showrooms there is this lovely and very vibrant wall painting next to which, of course, I needed to have some pictures taken.. Remember what I said about loving the colourfulness of Shoreditch earlier? Things like this are exactly what I was talking about! My other favourite is the big wall on Old Street, which I have also posed against (of course) - you can take a peek in my Hackney guide for more!





What are your favourite places in Shoreditch? And most importantly, where do you think I could go for my quiet(-ish) but still vibrant drinks with friends?

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

April highlights

Jim's birthday




My boyfriend turned thirty in the beginning of April and we celebrated it by having a lovely, leisurely day exploring London. During the course of the day we visited the Natural History Museum, experienced the London Eye at sunset (very much recommended!) and of course, ate a lot! I had booked us a table at the Dean Street Townhouse in Soho which was absolutely wonderful - we were allocated a cosy table by the fireplace (couldn't have asked for a better one!) and everything from the cocktails and food to the atmosphere was absolutely top notch. I had emailed the restaurant beforehand telling them it was Jim's birthday and the restaurant was lovely enough to surprise him with a complimentary chocolate treat at the end of our meal! So definitely 5 stars from me to this place, and (if you don't choose the steak), it's also pretty affordable and definitely a great choice for those nights that are a little bit more special.

Baking




As soon as I saw these salted caramel apple pies on The Londoner's blog I knew I needed to try them out myself. Sure, mine didn't come out looking necessary as appetizing as hers but it's the inside that counts, right?! I'm still working on getting all of my food to look something other than an absolute mess, but this might be a pretty long process so please just bear with me..! If you're going to try these out yourself, I only have one tip: put more caramel sauce in them than you might think you need. It's the best part and you'll want your pies to be absolutely oozing with it!

My first ever Sunday roast!




I won't go into too much detail as I already wrote a post about my first Sunday roast experience previously, but it did have to make it to my monthly highlights too, didn't it? My roast, though not the most traditional of them all, was super yummy and I would highly recommend popping into the Black Lion for a bite if you happen to be in the Kilburn area!

SPRING!






A few weekends ago on a beautiful Sunday me and Jim took a long walk from Stockwell to Victoria in order to get to know our local area a little bit better. I've lived really close to Vauxhall for about a year now but it's still not a very familiar area to me which is why it was really nice to walk around a bit more and discover some new gems. There's some really nice pubs and restaurants on the riverside and their terraces looked like the perfect choice for a sunny day - if only the nice summery weather of last weekend would make a comeback so I could actually test them myself!

The new Last Shadow Puppets album


I can't remember when was the last time I have listened to one record this much on repeat - this album just seriously gets better and better with each listen! I generally love anything that Alex Turner does (Arctic Monkeys is my all time favourite band!) and luckily this one didn't disappoint either. My favourite song at the moment (it changes a lot!) is Sweet Dreams TN - go have a listen here and let me know if you love it as much as I do!

What did you love last month - did I miss out on anything amazing?