Manchester Eats Festival 2018 – Heaton Park, July 7th & 8th *

Long time readers of this blog will know I am a massive foodie. I am also a huge fan of food festivals. Topher and I are lovers of Disney World’s Food & Wine Festival at Epcot but can no longer go as it’s during term time and he works in a school. Sad face.

Much closer to home I was also hoping the Ideal Home Show would be back to Manchester this year and bring it’s Eat and Drink festival along with it but my dreams were shot. Another sad face.

Enter Manchester Eats Festival

That’s right, Manchester has a food festival coming up! My food loving heart is overjoyed. Manchester Eats Festival is in Heaton Park next weekend (7th– 8thJuly), tickets start from just £7.50 and kids under 14 go free. I will be there with bells on. And trousers that have a stretchy waistband! Plus the weather looks like it’s going to be just as hot as it’s been in the last week or two. So don’t forget the sun cream!

Highlights of the festival include demos with top chefs such as Marco Pierre-White, Ed Bainesand more, free workshops, street food, a prosecco tent, food marketplace, gin garden and vintage fairground rides. Plus one of their exhibitors is Reds True Barbecue. I’m sold.

It’s perfect for going with your friends or you can even bring the whole family along. There’s something for everyone – whether you’re into your alcohol or you can’t stop talking about healthy living. I’ll be telling my friends with little ones about the free cookery class for kids – maybe they’ll end up with a master chef? There’s even something for the vegans so don’t let dietary restrictions stop you from giving it a whirl.

I can’t bloody wait. I’ll be attending with my fellow foodie Claire and hopefully we  If you end up going and see me around – come and say hi. I’ll probably have a mouth full of food but something tells me I won’t be the only one! Those who can’t make it check out my post about it in a couple of weeks.

Tickets for Manchester Eats Festival are available here.

Are you a fan of a food festival?

*Post in collaboration with Manchester Eats Festival.  All photos provided by Manchester Eats Festival.

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Bake with a Legend – Baking Bread with Paul Jagger

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I’m a good cook but when it comes to baking and desserts I’m a bit of a jinx.

Nothing seems to go right – the worst thing being the Bailey’s cheesecake that Topher refused to eat after one bite. So when I got the opportunity from Bake with a Legend to attend a cooking class, I jumped at the chance.

bake with a legend - paul

Photo courtesy of Bake with a Legend

Bake with a Legend is a series of cooking class that takes place across the UK and lets you learn from the greats. The class I attended was in Manchester and would be learning to bake bread with Paul Jagger from GBBO 2015.

I didn’t start watching Great British Bakeoff until 2016, the year after Paul’s round, but after immediately falling in love with the show I found the previous seasons online and binged. I was happy to hear that it was both Paul and we’d be making bread as I still remembered his amazing lion he made. If you haven’t seen it, just google “Paul Jagger Bread Lion”. Even Paul Hollywood said it was one of the best things he’s seen in bread ever!

bake with a legend - garlic

Our three hour class (which included a glass of fizz and snacks) was an informal affair where we learned how to make grissini sticks and Asian inspired garlic bread.

bake with a legend - mixing bowl

bake with a legend - paul jagger

I really enjoyed the format of the class.

Paul would show us a few steps and then we would go to our work benches and try it ourselves before going back to him where he would then do the next bit. Being able to do things piece by piece left little room for error and I didn’t feel like I was rushed at all. This was particularly useful being a blogger and having to take a million photos during the whole class.

bake with a legend - rosemary

bake with a legend - prove

Paul was a great teacher and very down to earth. Everything was explained in detail and he took great care in making sure we were all up to speed. This may have included saving my dough when I messed up… Bit of advice, just use one hand to knead a sticky dough – don’t stick both hands in like a pillock!

bake with a legend - dough

bake with a legend - tray

While our bakes were in the oven, we got to sit down with Paul and ask him questions. It was so interesting to find out about the audition process behind GBBO and what really goes on during filming. Luckily during this time, the helpful staff were keeping an eye on all our ovens to make sure nothing burned!

bake with a legend - garlic bread filling

bake with a legend - finished grissini sticks

I was amazed to find that both my grissini sticks and my garlic bread came out looking perfect! We were given bags to take everything home and I felt so proud showing Topher all of it. He was astonished that I had made them and the filled garlic breads made for a delicious lunch.

bake with a legend - filled garlic bread

bake with a legend - me and paul

Bake with a Legend costs £99 for a single person and £175 for a pair and I would definitely say that it is worth the money. It’s great for birthdays, hen & stag parties and couples too. The couple sharing our bench were gifted the class for Christmas from their children and it makes me think about doing the same for my parents. They both enjoy cooking and it would make a change from the same old gifts I get them every year.

It’s something I would bring Topher to in the future too – there was another couple there that day and I think it’s such a good idea for a date day!

bake with a legend

Photo courtesy of Bake with a Legend

I had a brilliant day with Paul, the other bakers and the Bake with a Legend crew and look forward to getting back into the kitchen again. Thanks Bake with a Legend!

*My place in this cooking class was free of charge but as always, my opinions and words are my own. 

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Sky High Tea with Roberts #embracethenew

I love a good Afternoon Tea but I’ve never been on a Sky High Tea before

So when I got an invitation to join Robert’s Bakery and try out some of their new products at a Sky High Tea, I couldn’t say no. Did someone say baked goods? The bakery aisle has always been my favourite. Roberts is a northern bakery that has been around since 1887 and is currently embracing the new with some awesome new products.

What is a Sky High Tea you ask? It’s afternoon tea…on a table that’s suspended 100ft in the air. Not one for the faint hearted!

sky high tea - ticket

A few weeks ago on a particularly wet day, myself and some fellow lovely ladies from We Blog North headed over to the Etihad Stadium to meet with the brand.

sky high tea - eithiad

I wasn’t sure what to expect but the Robert’s team were absolutely lovely and explained away all our fears. I’m actually afraid of heights myself but luckily not enough to stop myself doing things like this! We were perfectly safe as each chair came with seat belts and no handbags were allowed to come with us. We were also protected from the rain with a cover so that was very reassuring.

sky high tea - rain

sky high tea - we blog north

If you have a spare half hour you should definitely check out the other’s blogs: Jacinta, Kirsten, Laura, Holly, Kat and Asma. So once we were all individually strapped into our seats (which can spin 360 degrees btw!), we were off!

sky high tea - table

The table rose a hell of a lot faster than I was expected and before I knew it, we were 100ft up. It actually didn’t feel that high at all…until you looked down of course!

sky high tea - diane and asma

sky high tea - view

sky high tea - stadium

sky high tea - long way down

Once we were all used to the height, it was time to get down to business. Afternoon tea time. Here was the menu:

sky high tea - afternoon tea

Bottom tier:

Stilton, Walnuts and oh-so-sweet Pear, on Seriously Seeded Bloomer

Creamy Wild Mushroom Crispy Bacon on Mightily Malted Bloomer

Chorizo, Fabulous Feta and Rocket on Wondrous White Bloomer

Peri-Peri Chicken on Fiery Corn Ready-to Rolls

sky high tea - sandwiches

I could only eat the chicken and the mushroom sandwiches as I don’t eat pork but I can confirm that they were both delicious. My favourite was definitely the chicken as I loved the combo of the peri peri with the fire corn roll.

sky high tea - chicken

The middle tier:

Fresh Courgette, Mushroom and Turmeric Mini Loaf

Marbled Red Pesto and Pink Peppercorn Mini Loaf with Creamy Goats Cheese centre

and a special surprise of Bijou White Bread roll with a centre of Camembert and Rose Jelly.

sky high tea - bread

The latter was my favourite as I’m a massive fan of camembert. The goats cheese roll was my least favourite as although I love goats cheese, I’ve discovered that I’m not a fan of pink peppercorn. It was just a tad overpowering for me. The courgette was also very tasty but the camembert was a clear winner.

Top tier:

Sticky Toffee Scones with Soft Fudge and Dates

Lemon and Orange Scones made with zest and squeezed juices then mixed with candied citrus

Both served with clotted cream

sky high tea - scone

I loved the citrus scone but I could have eaten the sticky toffee one all day and every day. Still dreaming about it now! I’ve never had a flavoured scone before (unless you count cheese) so this was a lovely change from regular scones.

Finally, we were all given a taste of Robert’s gin and tonic fun buns.

sky high tea - buns

I was a bit apprehensive as I’m really not a fan of gin (probably comes from my rebellious teenage self taking a swig of a bottle from my parents liquor cabinet and instantly regretting it…) but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by these. They have the sweetness that you’d want from something that’s called a fun bun but then they have that kick of gin at the end. The kick isn’t too overpowering for someone like myself that doesn’t like it. But it’s enough of a kick that gin fans will love it. Apparently things that are supposedly gin flavoured are usually way too subtle so this definitely hits the mark for all you gin lovers out there.

sky high tea - g&t bun

sky high tea - staff

After a lovely afternoon tea, we headed back down to earth where we were sent on our way with some goody bags. I was really happy to find that one of the items was the gin buns. Also, Topher got to try the firey corn rolls which were definitely up his street!

sky high tea - goody bag

Thanks Robert’s for a great experience that certainly livened up what would have probably been a dull Thursday lunchtime!

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Tampopo Trafford Centre – Thai Taste Tour

I’ve never been to Thailand but it’s definitely on my bucket list. 

Having only just started getting myself acquainted with the food of the country in the last year, it’s safe to say that I have a lot to learn. So when I was invited to Tampopo Trafford Centre to try out their Thai Taste Tour Supper Club, I couldn’t say no.

Tampopo has 4 branches and a kiosk in Manchester. The Trafford Centre is their largest. The chain is inspired by East Asian cuisines from Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Tampopo Trafford Centre - decor

Topher and I arrived just after 8 in the evening and it’s quite obvious that one of us was pretty tired!

Tampopo Trafford Centre - diane

Tampopo Trafford Centre - Topher

However he soon perked up when we were served some prawn crackers to munch on while we decided what to drink. Tasty!

Tampopo Trafford Centre - prawn crackers

Thai Taste Tour Supper Club

We both went with mocktails – Pink Lemonade for me and a Virgin Mojito for Topher. We tasted both and recommend them if you’re looking for something refreshing to go with your meal!

Tampopo Trafford Centre - mocktails

Our server began by taking us through the main ingredients that you tend to find in a lot of Thai dishes. Her knowledge was incredible and she seemed super passionate about what she was sharing with us.

Tampopo Trafford Centre - ingredients

Our first course was the Corn fritters and Thai salad. I really like corn fritters so was pleased with the dish. Both were delicious and came with a kick!

Tampopo Trafford Centre - corn fritters & thai salad

Next was the Tom Yam Soup. We both had mixed feelings on this. I loved the taste but it was a bit too spicy for me, while Topher loved the spice but wasn’t a fan of the taste. So I guess it just depends on personal preference.

Tampopo Trafford Centre - tom yam soup

The Pad Thai was next. This was by far my favourite dish of the night. I could have eaten an entire bowl of this stuff. Really craving it right now actually! It was mild and full of flavour and just incredibly moreish. Both of us hoovered these down!

Tampopo Trafford Centre - pad thai

The final savoury dish was Hot and Sour Stir Fry & Red Curry Veg served with rice. Both of us loved the taste of this but due to my wimpy taste buds, it completely blew my head off. Topher was perfectly happy though. If you’re a fan of spicy dishes, I definitely recommend this.

Tampopo Trafford Centre - hot and sour stri fry & red curry veg

The final dish was a mango sorbet which was a welcome end to the meal. My tongue needed cooling down! It was perfect.

Tampopo Trafford Centre - mango sorbet

Overall I’m so glad we tried this Taste Tour, it was a great insight into Thai food and I’m so happy to have discovered Pad Thai.

In between courses, Topher and I perused the menu and we will definitely be back to one of the Tampopo restaurants. I lost count of the amount of amazing dishes I want to try. Plus, the atmosphere was so nice and the staff were incredibly friendly and knowledgable.

Tampopo Trafford Centre - mural

Thanks for having us Tampopo! We’ll be back!

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#WorldPastaDay at Vapiano

Just in case you didn’t know, tomorrow, October 25th is #WorldPastaDay and last week I was invited to Manchester’s Vapiano to come and celebrate. 

Situated in the Corn Exchange in the city centre, Vapiano is one of the few restaurants that Topher and I hadn’t tried yet. Quite surprising considering how much we eat pasta at home. I always favour the more tomato based dishes and if it has seafood in it, all the better, while Topher says that carbonara is hands down his favourite.

#WorldPastaDay - vapiano

#WorldPastaDay - interior

#WorldPastaDay - vapiano interior

So last week we had a little date night at the restaurant. First of all, the interior is gorgeous – spacious, clean and very atmospheric. Great for dates, hanging out with friends and even bringing the whole family along.

#WorldPastaDay - bar

We started the evening by collecting our cards that would record our food and drink and finding ourselves a seat so we could peruse the menu. Topher chose Vapiano’s own brand of Pomegranate tea drink while I opted for a virgin mojito as I was driving.

#WorldPastaDay - drinks

Vapiano works in a different way to most restaurants. You walk up to the counter, order your dish and they make it for you there and then in front of your eyes. It’s great because it gives you the option to customise your dish to make it into your favourite.

#WorldPastaDay - counter

#WorldPastaDay - pizza making

You choose a dish from the menu then pick the type of pasta and there is also the option to add more meat or seafood as well as cheese and mushrooms.

#WorldPastaDay - pasta types

I chose the Gamberetti E Spinaci which was king prawns, basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, onions, spinach and cream. Having never tried a campanelle pasta before, I decided to choose that for my pasta dish. My favourite is trying new things after all! It turned out to be a great decision as the chef who made it actually said that this pasta paired well with the Gamberetti E Spinaci. Score.

For the final touch, my favourite pasta could never not include cheese so when asked I had to say yes!

#WorldPastaDay - pesto

#WorldPastaDay - cooking

#WorldPastaDay - herbs

Topher being a lover of carbonara had to go for his favourite, the fusilli pasta with bacon, onions, egg and cream. With cheese on top of course. Topher is also a massive fan of pepper so asked for a little extra.

#WorldPastaDay - carbonara

Both our dishes were delicious and we can’t wait to go back and sample some other things on the menu including the risotto and pizzas!

#WorldPastaDay - pasta

Happy #WorldPastaDay!

What’s your favourite pasta dish?

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