Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Beer Lovers Tapas Trail

Those lovely chaps at Leicester CAMRA have been so nice in supporting the Leicester Tapas Trail and sharing the information about it with their members that I thought I should make an extra-special bespoke trail just for them.

If you're not sure what the Tapas Trail is, it's simply £3 for a dish and a drink across 11 of the best independent venues across Leicester. No bookings or vouchers are necessary (although could be wise to ring in advance for a larger group), just drop in during their service hours and ask for the Tapas Trail.

So, if you are a beer lover, where are the tippety-top best Tapas Trail venues for you to visit? Well, I would recommend following my bespoke Beer Lovers Trail. It's only 3/4 of a mile in total, so there is no more than 15 minutes walk to visit all four of the venues involved and of course, as you only pay £3 for a drink and a dish at each venue following this whole course will only cost you £12. Cheaper than a meal out in many places!

Venue 1: Natterjacks, Braunstone Gate

Offering a matched dish and drink especially created for the Tapas Trail, you can get your experience off to a fine start with a freshly made falafel tray, served with tzatziki, pitta slices and salad, which has been matched with a 1/3 pint of Brewdog Punk IPA. 

I know that everyone has almost certainly tried Punk IPA by this point, but it is a lovely beer and a great match on the menu. With a nice, light vegetarian dish it is a great place to start so that you can bear the whole 10 minute walk to the next venue. Braunstone Gate is NOT far away. Get out there and enjoy it.

Head through Castle Gardens to take the scenic route, or if you're heading out after 5pm or so when the park shuts then walk along the roads to St Nicholas Circle and up to Taps via Peacock Lane.

Venue 2: Taps, Guildhall Lane

Celebrating the Oktoberfest in style, enjoy a specially created German sausage cassoulet, with a bean only option for vegetarians, and a beautiful homemade bread with a European beer. 

During the Tapas Trail we've enjoyed the Sly Fox Oktoberfest pilsner, Flying Dog's Marzen and the Swiss "1936" so far, all of which have been excellent, so go down and take your chances!

Venue 3: Bruxelles, High Street

A Leicester stalwart, you know that Bruxelles has an excellent reputation for some wonderful beers. During the Tapas Trail they have not let the side down and are offering a full three course meal (still only £3 for a drink and a dish, so £9 if you want to try all three).

Waffles bitches. Like science, but not.
Dogfish Head IPA, Gimbergen and Leifmann's Fruitesse all feature on the menu, paired respectively with mussels, a Belgian beef stew or Belgian waffles. They are wonderful, I thoroughly enjoyed the mussels I tried last week and I love that they have used the Trail to showcase the Belgian vibe that they do so well.

Venue 4: Queen of Bradgate, High Street

Now all you need to do is cross the road and you are at the final venue on our Beer Lovers tour. And, appropriately, the Queen of Bradgate are offering a real taste of Spain in their Patatas Bravas. You can pair that up with any half of cask or craft beer here, so make the most of the opportunity and try something new!

As you can see, I chose to have my patatas bravas with a glass of wine, which is a possibility also for you. But you are on the Beer Lovers Trail, so I'm guessing you'll be leaving that for now.

I hope you enjoyed the Beer Lovers Trail! Send me and the venues some feedback by using the #tapastrail hashtag on Twitter.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Halloween Haberdashery

Halloween is coming, time to get your costumes planned. Why not do something a little different this year and treat yourself to some fabulous fabric and spooky accessories and get a bit more creative? Make yourself something beautifully horrible for Halloween with Extreme Housewifery's top haberdashery recommendations!

Apothecary Labels Fat Quarter from Eclectic Maker

I adore this fabric. The price is right at £3 for a fat quarter, and I'm pretty sure this would make a cushion cover that you'd be proud to have on display all year long.

I think I'm also tempted to make myself a tote bag from it, since we'll be seeing the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge next week - time to get on that tote vibe. Check out DS Quilts free fat quarter friendly pattern download if you're not sure where to begin!

Creative Craft Supplies Bewitching Bats Buttons

How cute are these? It'd be a simple matter to change the buttons on a favoured jacket and give it a Halloween spin with these little beauties. Just £2.50 a pack as well - it's the little details that make all the difference as we all know.

This would be a great touch as a fastening to a vampire cape costume for adults or children too.

Skull and Crossbones Buttons from Abakhan

I am a bit obsessed with buttons, so I can't resist putting another recommendation in here. These skull and cross bones are super cute and the more I look at this Halloween haberdashery the more I think it is totally appropriate to use all the time.

There's still plenty of time to buy yourself a pattern and make an epic coat with pirate themed buttons!

Crafty Ribbons' Monsters Ribbon

Let's finish on a cutesy not, it doesn't all have to be blood and gore at this time of year. This ribbon is super sweet and would be a top choice if you're looking for a simple way to decorate your pumpkin without carving it!

I think this ribbon might make it time to revive the hair ribbon! I wonder if there are any styles out there. Oh wait, of course there is - we have the internet

Thank you internet.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Enjoy the Tapas Trio on the Leicester Tapas Trail

Bruxelles have joined the Tapas Trail and I must say, they've come up with a rather exciting menu. Remember, it's £3 for a drink and a dish at all of the participating venues right up until 18th October 2015. 

We popped in to Bruxelles last night to give their menu a whirl and we were not disappointed! You have a selection of options to choose from - try one, try them all, at £3 each you can't go wrong. For your starter you can pick up a portion of mussels in a delicious wine and cream sauce. This has been matched with a third of a pint of Dogfish Head DNA - a nutty IPA with a lovely citrusy finish. Something a little bit US, a little bit UK.

I opted for the mussels myself and I found them to be deliciously plump and I thought the sauce was really lovely. I certainly needed all my bread to make sure I mopped up every last drop. I will definitely be having this dish again!

Moving on to your main, you can pick yourself up a third of a pint of Gimbergen Blonde, matched up with a mini Belgian beef stew. The Boy opted for this one and he did say that the meat was a little chewier than he was expecting, but I think that is the style of stew rather than a fault in the execution! 

It was rich and thick and again came with some bread for all of your juices. As the nights begin to draw in I can see that this will become a firm favourite.

Finally there was a Belgium waffle, again a perfectly miniature portion, teamed with one of my absolute favourites, the Leifmans Fruitesse. I'm a big fan of Leifmans deep, fruit filled beers - I suppose they could be construed as a bit girly, but I hope that everyone can enjoy them!

So there you have it! A great range of dishes on offer and just one of 11 venues in Leicester where you can try something new without breaking the bank. I am loving the Tapas Trail so much.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Natterjacks on the Leicester Tapas Trail

 We've been getting out and about and enjoying the Leicester Tapas Trail, have you? I've realised that some people think you have to book, or register online, or have a special voucher to enjoy the Trail. 

None of these things are true. Just head to the Tapas Trail page on this blog to find out which venues are taking part, and then go visit them during their service times and you will get to enjoy a dish AND a drink for just £3. No sign up, no catch, just go and enjoy great food and great drinks at a pretty sweet price as often as you like. But remember, it's only on until Sunday 18th October!

Someone's enjoying their homemade bread....
This is a group of friends enjoying the Tapas Trail at Taps, on Guildhall Lane. You can read all about their Oktoberfest themed £3 offering on another post I wrote here. I am eating a ridiculous amount of tapas this month. There may have to be a short period of fasting when all of this is over.

Anyway, today's spotlight is all about Natterjacks Bar and Kitchen, on Braunstone Gate. They have put together a very special menu for you to enjoy. They have matched a third pint of Brewdog's very finest Punk IPA with a cute platter of freshly made falafel, served with salad, pitta and homemade tzatziki.

A wonderful dish that is perfect for vegetarians, but will of course be heartily enjoyed by even the most committed carnivore - it's a great balance. And you can swap out the beer for a soft drink if you prefer. I've heard on the grapevine that you can also swap out the tzatziki for a sweet chilli sauce if you are of the vegan persuasion.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Top four winter events in Leicester

We've had some glorious sunshine over the past few days, but the nights are drawing in at a pace now. We all know what's coming, and it isn't great. Icicles on the nose, jacket blown off in the gale, and drenched from head to toe, yes, it's the Great British Summertime. No, wait, winter, that's the next one isn't it?

Well, there's no need to stay abed moping! I've found some great things happening this chilly season so you can look forward to the next few months instead of dreading them. Don't pin all your hopes and dreams on the big day in December, do some fun stuff in the meantime. You're welcome!

Friday 30th October
Alex's Wish Mad Hatter's Tea Party
St Martin's House

Support a fabulous local charity and get yourself a lovely excuse to have a champagne afternoon tea, all in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. Tickets are just £20 and you can buy them online. 100% of all proceeds goes to continuing the search for new treatments or even a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a serious life-limiting muscle wasting condition.

As well as the afternoon tea, there will be a charity raffle with some great local prizes and also a Mad Hatter competition with prizes for the best hat. What's not to like about that?

Sunday 1st November - Light switch on
Wednesday 11th November - Diwali Day
Cossington Street and Belgrave ROad

As the mantra goes, Diwali in Leicester is the biggest outside of India. It's the biggest event in the city's calendar and it's all freeeeee! Watch fantastic fireworks, a stage of live entertainment, the light display on Belgrave Road and this year an even bigger programme of arts and cultural events that are taking place all over the city.

Saturday 21st November
Cocktail Xchange presents Reyka Vodka
The Parcel Yard

A very special evening of cocktails and entertainment is available, currently with earlybird prices at £20 per ticket. You'll get to enjoy three specially crafted Reyka vodka cocktails as well as a vodka tasting and bar snacks. There will also be entertainment on the night, including music and interesting talks... about vodka! A great night out with your mates and tickets are limited to just 50 available, so don't miss out!

Saturday 5th December
Bossa's 23rd Birthday Party
Bossa Cafe Bar

It's Bossa's 23rd birthday and to celebrate they're having a party! Head down to celebrate with them and you can enjoy prices straight from the 1990s. Brilliant.(Said in the style of the Fast Show, obviously.)

And if you can't wait that long, don't forget the Tapas Trail is running until Sunday 18th October. Drop in to any of the participating venues, whenever you feel like it, to enjoy a drink and a dish for £3. We've been enjoying the excellent street food menu at Roxy's Kitchen in Bossa Bar, a real treat! No sign up, no vouchers, no messing - just pop in and ask for their Tapas Trail dish.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Leicester Tapas Trail: American special at Firebug

We joined some friends on the Leicester Tapas Trail this weekend and popped in to a couple of venues to sample their £3 dish and drink deliciousness. Firebug have upped the ante on their offer now, giving you the choice of a mini beef or chicken burger along with a spirit and mixer - a choice of JD, Bacardi or an Absolute of your own flavour preference. 

We all took the opportunity to have a JD and sat in the garden enjoying the last of the day's sunshine as night fell. The chicken burger was great and our wedges were perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. 

We had Swiss blogger Patrick from Laptopien along for the ride with us. I hope there couldn't be a better way to try Leicester hospitality and the great food and drink on offer in our city.

Happily, I can also announce that the Turkey Cafe will be joining the Tapas Trail tomorrow. There are rumours that they may be offering their now legendary Garbage Fries - see me ranting about how great they are in my review here.

So now we have 11 city centre venues, all offering a dish and a drink for £3. How much more can we pack in to the remaining three weeks of the Leicester Tapas Trail? Well, I have quite a lot of people to see after work this week, so I reckon we can probably squeeze a few dishes in during that time!

For full details of the Tapas Trail including participating venues, just head along to the main Tapas Trail webpage here. There are no sign ups, no vouchers, no worries - just drop in to any of the venues and ask about their Tapas Trail offer.

Edit: 04/10/15

Firebug have added more options to their Tapas Trail delights! Now as well as the veggie chilli you can also get beef chilli - this has been my personal favourite at Firebug for many a long year now! Only 2 weeks left to enjoy this great offer, so don't delay!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Blackberry wine and pruning the vine

As the season progresses, I continue to spend every spare moment I can volunteering at Rothley Wines, which is sadly nowhere near as much time as I would like! 

This week I was on blackberry picking duty so that we could make some blackberry wine ready for lovely Christmas gifts next year. After about 3 hours picking I had just over 8 kilos of blackberries, so I'm pretty happy with that and vineyard boss, Liz, had nearly the same.

As usual we were accompanied in the vineyard upon our toils by a faithful band of chickens who had to be shoo-ed away from eating the low hanging grapes. This is not the sort of tricksy behaviour I have come to expect from these winery chickens! They must have been feeling in particularly mischievous humour. 

Anyway, I was given an extra special gift by the ladies for popping down - a perfect blue egg, laid that morning just for me. Could it be any more idyllic?

Once we had picked our blackberries, we went into the winery to get the wine started. We blitzed up the fruit, added sugar and boiling water to help the sugar dissolve and then topped up to the correct ratio with cold. 

After that it was just a simple matter of adding the yeast and yeast nutrient, strapping a brew belt around the fermentation buckets to keep the temperature at a good level for fermentation and then left it to do its business - easy peasy! 

After the blackberry wine was on its way, I had a little bit of time left to do a bit of pruning and training of some of the two year old Siegerrebe vines. The Siegerrebe grapes are starting to turn a dusky plum colour and so excitingly it looks like a selective harvest of some of these grapes may well begin at the end of the week. It's a beautiful, aromatic grape and I can already taste the potential for some delicious wines.

Siegerrebe, before the colour change begins
I'm really excited about the forthcoming harvest and wine-making process - the culmination of all the hard work this year in the face of frankly rubbish weather conditions. It's going to be so satisfying to see the process all the way through. I'm getting a dab hand at taming the unruly Siegerrebe vines now and helping to expose the grapes to every last drop of sunshine we can send their way to help develop their sugars.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Oktoberfest Themed Leicester Tapas Trail

In case you missed it, I'm running the Leicester Tapas Trail until 18th October 2015. Put simply, you visit a participating venue, give them £3 and they give you a delicious drink and something to eat. You can't say fairer than that.

Taps, on Guildhall Lane, are one of the latest venues to join the Tapas Trail. I thought I'd share with you a little insight into what they are offering for the princely sum of three pounds... Taps is a super friendly bar, with its USP being beer taps on the tables so you can pour your own when you visit. They also have an excellent selection of bottled and draught beer from around the world, which is what we're taking advantage of on the Tapas Trail.

As part of the Taps Oktoberfest celebration, you can bag yourself either a can of Sly Fox's Oktoberfest, a malty lager brewed with German Vienna malts and German hops, or a bottle of Flying Dog's own special edition, Marzen, brewed with 100% German ingredients giving a full bodied sweetness.

Pair this up with a German sausage cassoulet with homemade bread, all perfectly spiced and lovely and warming you are talking about a slice of fried gold for just 300 of your English pennies. If you're vegetarian, not to worry, the cassoulet is also available as a bean only model without the sausage. 

I know I keep carrying on about how great all of the Tapas Trail deals are, but I seriously keep getting blown away when a new venue joins in and offers something truly incredible. You've only got 3 weeks left to enjoy the Trail, so I urge you not to miss out! Taps are offering their deal between 12pm and 9pm Monday to Saturday. Prost!

Friday, 25 September 2015

DIY Food and Wine Pairing

Phew, it's been a busy old year! What with all the tapas trailin', the art, and distilling my own gin I have to confess I've been struggling to fit all of the blog posts in that I wanted to share with you. I'm kicking myself that I haven't talked about the DIY food and wine pairing day that I hosted for my friends on my birthday, way back in May.

The birthday wine selection. I know some of them are the same, but still satisfying nonetheless.
This was the first time I'd hosted a wine and food matching event on my own, and so logically you have to make your nearest and dearest the guinea pigs! I'd been inspired by the wonderful day we had tasting and sampling at Terroir Feely in Saussignac. The biggest challenge for me is that most of my good friends don't actually drink wine and so I had to wait for my birthday to come round, so they HAD TO DO WHAT I WANT TO DO 'COS IT'S MY BIRTHDAY. Not that I'm a birthday diva or anything, it's just a good way to manipulate people to do your bidding, at least for a couple of hours.

Chateau de la Jaubertie 2011
Many of these wines came to us from The Case (many thanks guys, much appreciated). They generously supported my food and wine pairing aspirations by providing me with four incredible bottles of wine for me to share with my friends, complementing the selection I had already collected from France and elsewhere. Sadly I don't have tasting notes for all of them because of course I was busy being the dedicated hostess and it was my birthday, so sometimes you have to throw journalistic accuracy to the four winds.

However, the whole point of this point is to encourage you, nay, beg you, to host your own wine tasting. It's so much fun and you don't have to (necessarily) know anything about wine. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed explaining to my guests a little about the wines I had selected, where they were from and talking through the tasting process, but I think that wine is very much like art - it's all about your opinion. You know what you like and what you don't, so just get some mates together, enjoy some wine and marvel at how different foods affect what you are tasting.

I brought in a bunch of different cheeses, including the Echourgnac cheese that we brought back from Bergerac. This is dressed in an incredible local walnut liqueur which gives an amazingly deep nutty flavour. We also had a sharp goat's cheese, an earthy blue and a mature Welsh rarebit cheddar. I teamed this with smoked salmon and Polish speck from Leicester Market - an attempt to give a food platter with as much variation as the wines I was providing.

I also decided to put out some avocado, because I couldn't really recall anyone ever giving me a good idea of what avocado matches with and I love it so much that I had to do a little bit of experimentation. In the event it turned out that one of my friends, a confirmed Jack Daniels drinker, really enjoyed it with the Chateau de la Jaubertie, Bergerac 2011. This is a big, deep wine with a hefty, full and slightly peppery flavour with big black fruit that opens out later in the mouth. 

The fascinating thing was that he identified that the avocado in combination with the wine created a metallic flavour, which he really loved and I also enjoyed, but I could see would really put a load of other people off. This was the really cool thing, finding those flavour notes and interesting combinations which were respectively enjoyed and hated by various members of the party.

It has given me the idea now that you can essentially use careful balancing of food and wine to create your perfect flavours. Have a wine that's nearly perfect, but a little heavy on the florals? Find a food that takes that note away. There must be a dream combination out there for everyone.

By the way, this is the Alain Marcadet Touraine. It's one of the biggest sellers in the Case restaurant. Super fruity, but dry and crisp, it was one of the true hits of the day. I loved it with the smoked salmon, but that's probably not what you're supposed to like it with!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Leicester Tapas Trail: Anyone for pudding?

Well, we've been enjoying the Leicester Tapas Trail for nearly two weeks now and we're getting some lovely feedback from people enjoying testing it out not just online but also in person in the bars themselves, which has been really lovely.

But of course, up until now, there has been one limitation to the Tapas Trail - it's all savoury. Delicious, but savoury. Hang on to your hats though, we have pudding! Those cheeky chappies at Gelato Village have jumped on board the Trail just today and now you can get yourself a cone or cup of up to three flavours of gelato and a hot drink for just £3, as well as all the other delicious goodies that are available at the other venues.

Of course it would be rude of me not to pop in today and have a little try, just for research purposes you understand. I adore the pistachio gelato, as I've mentioned before so of course I had that, but I also tried the bonet (dark chocolate with amaretto and a touch of rum) which was mentally delicious and you could probably bathe in it and then eat the bath, and the classic strachiatella with its shards of dark chocolate. A taste sensation and followed by a delicious St Martin's Coffee home-roasted bean cappuccino. It made me a very happy bunny.

If you would like to find out more about the Leicester Tapas Trail, just click the tab at the top of this blog or jump over using this link. There are details of all the venues and their service times and remember, it's a simple concept, one dish, one drink, three pounds.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...