Saturday, 30 April 2016

#BackingTheBlues Day

Well, wasn't yesterday fantastic? The City got bathed in blue and it was a fun, festive atmosphere throughout. Kasabian playing at the King Power Stadium sold out in three minutes and now a second date has been added. We hold our collective breath for the outcome of the game tomorrow, which could see LCFC crowned champions of the Premier League. Dare we dream it may be so?

There are so many amazing things that went on yesterday so here's a little photographic round up of some of my highlights. What was your favourite?


Here's a little bit of my day. Getting my hair dyed blue, watching #keepupsforcake at Bru, the wonderful staff at 1901: Turkey Cafe bedecked in their blue finery, being one of the supporters interviewed for Radio One at the Dry Dock, seeing Maiyango, Jubilee Square, Radio Leicester and other Leicester landmarks bathed in blue as the sun went down.

And then of course there was the food and drink!


So, we have Lilu's Blue Fox cocktail. They also have amended their menu to include such delights as Vardy Venison and the hilarious Ranieri Rack. Then you can head down to Gelato Village and try their stonking Gelato Dei Campioni - milk chocolate, because it's Ranieri's favourite, cinnamon for Mahrez as the 'spice' behind the team, and fig reduction because Gelato Village are Italian and are 100% behind the Foxes. I had a sample and I think I could probably eat a bucketload of it.

Then we're on to Filbert's Fizz at Exchange Bar with prosecco, Stoli vodka and blue curacao, the already legendary Bru 'Vardyccino', homemade LCFC cupcakes at Danique Hairdressing and the fabulous Foxes afternoon tea at 1901 Turkey Cafe resplendent with blue bread red Leicester sarnies, foxy biscuits and of course, Walkers crisps!
























And here's me with fellow blue hair champion, Julian Joachim. He scored Leicester's first ever Premier League goal in 1994!

Thursday, 28 April 2016

#BackingTheBlues: No Fuchs Given

I've spent so much time on the Backing The Blues Directory recently that I'm afraid I've nothing left for proper posts. So in the meantime let me assure you that the No Fuchs Given cocktail at Bruxelles is delicious. Fruity, refreshing and well worth a try.

And you have precisely 14 hours, until midday Friday 29th to enter my competition to win a free meal at Steakout.

Enjoy your #BackingTheBlues Day tomorrow Leicester!



Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Mussels from Bruxelles

Bruxelles, on Leicester's High Street, is one of those perennial favourites that I have been frequenting since we first arrived in Leicester, now *gulp* well over a decade ago. It's had its ups and its downs in terms of offer and quality, but now the team are firmly re-establishing themselves on the Leicester nightlife map with an excellent new menu range and, as ever, some delightful Belgian beers.


Of course the building itself must absolutely be regarded as one of Leicester's treasures, with the painted domed ceiling representing Leicester's many twin towns and decadent neo-classical features dating back to 1903. Worth a visit any time of the day.


You may remember that they offered a great little mussel dish as part of their participation in the Leicester Tapas Trail in 2015, but now they've beefed up the size and the quality of their mussel offering into something with much better saucing, great side options and the added bonus of a free bottle of Blanche de Bruxelles beer if you share their Facebook post. You cannot say fairer than that!

After a little banter with the welcoming and friendly staff we settled down at our table to sup our drinks and gaze at the beautiful (if slightly ostentatious) architecture. Our meals soon arrived - no long wait here, as you would expect for delicate mussels. The dishes were beautifully presented in metal pans with a generous helping of frites and warm baguette with a lovely crisp crust and soft, warm interior.


Given that we're #BackingTheBlues here in Leicester right now, naturally I had to go with the Stilton, Bacon and Cream Mussels - cos it's blue cheese innit? The Boy opted for the more traditional Moules Mariniere style in a white wine, cream and garlic sauce. Both were absolutely delicious - a kilo of mussels served with a wedge of lemon and an absolute vat-load of creamy sauce. Mine had no shortage of bacon in the sauce - double bonus - while The Boy's was just garlicky enough to complement the mussels without overpowering them. I was worried the Stilton might be a little overpowering but it was unctious, rich and decadent.

My only slight complaint was that although the mussels were beautifully cooked and tender, we did find quite a few broken shells in the pot, which I was worried may attest to the quality. However, this was certainly not reflected in the flavour, I just had to take care not to chow down on edgy shards. As with so many things in life. Overall this did not spoil our enjoyment though, it was warming, satisfying and delicious. And it made me very, very full.

All done! *burrrrp*

Not so full, however, that it was possible to turn down dessert - although we managed to restrain ourselves and just have one lot of Belgian Waffles to share. Served with your choice of chocolate or vanilla ice cream, the waffle is warm and a perfect texture. The cream and strawberry garnish pulled the whole thing together nicely, all in a well executed dish with a lot to recommend it and certainly plenty for us to share between two after all of those mussels!


A stonking evening's meal at Bruxelles then and certainly for £10 (with the beer thrown in remember) an experience that I would heartily recommend and seek to repeat myself. It's my birthday soon after all... I think Brussels would be proud of this offering. Even if we find ourselves out of the EU by our ears, at least we'll still have Bruxelles.


Thanks to Bruxelles for inviting us down and being such generous and attentive hosts - it was very kind and I am certainly appreciative of the opportunity to rediscover one of my old haunts.


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The #BackingTheBlues Competition: Win LCFC themed food!

The #BackingTheBlues Directory is growing day by day with all of the awesome Leicester businesses and organisations that are turning blue today and everyday leading up to a massive celebration of our city's footballing achievements this city on 29th April.

To celebrate this and in honour of the Foxes, Extreme Housewifery has teamed up with Steakout, epic Leicester grill restaurant, to give one lucky winner the chance to take their pick of the Steakout #BackingTheBlues menu absolutely free!




What will you choose from the menu if you are a winner with these Granby Street Meat Magnates? Let me know below and a winner will be picked at random on April 29th!

#BackingTheBlues Competition

Monday, 18 April 2016

Dinner and a Movie at the Phoenix

It was a real pleasure to be invited along to review dinner and a movie at Phoenix in Leicester this week. The Boy and I head over there quite regularly for one thing or another, but ironically not very often for a movie. When Phoenix left its old location on Upper Brown Street, there was some consternation amongst locals. However, I have always found the purpose built building on Midland Street, occupied since 2009, to have great facilities and be just as good, if not better than the old theatre - which is now the Sue Townsend Theatre belonging to Leicester College.

Anyway, Phoenix combines arts centre with independent cinema providing a lively programme of creative classes and exhibitions, as well as indie and blockbuster film. Their main focus for art and learning seems to be digital technology and photography, so if its film-making or lo-fi photography that grabs your attention then this is the place. Of course, it's also home to the annual Festival of Zombie Culture, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary if we see it back again this year.

As well as all of these interesting artistic and cultural ventures, Phoenix is home to a jolly nice cafe bar and it was this that we were invited to roadtest for ourselves. I was pleased at the opportunity as we've only ever stopped by the bar for a quick drink after an event in the past, we hadn't eaten there, although I had always thought the food looked pretty good.



I was not disappointed. Their standard menu is quite regular sounding cafe fare, albeit with delicious sounding flavour combinations - brunch, flatbreads, sandwiches, salads and burgers - but think Cajun, Moroccan and Mediterranean ingredients and spicing styles on offer. In addition to this reasonably priced and very delicious sounding menu, they also have a regularly changing specials board, which is extensive enough to be a full menu in its own right.

Throw into the mix a children's menu (including the option to get small portions of the adult specials, which I think is so important - allowing kids to eat the same as their parents) and some mouthwatering cakes and treats also being available and it's actually got a surprisingly comprehensive food offer.


They also have a wide variety of drinks on offer - including Leicestershire's Langton Brewery beers both in bottles and on draught, a wide selection of international beers and wines and a good menu of locally roasted St Martin's Coffee and other soft drinks.


The Specials board held the greatest appeal for us. I opted for the Tarragon Chicken, which was lightly cooked in a creamy sauce with mushrooms and red onion, served with fluffy white rice. The chicken was soft and the tarragon flavour came through really nicely, providing a great complement to the earthy mushrooms. This was a dish I felt to be of a high restaurant standard and was presented simply, but appetisingly. Good food, cooked well.


The Boy went for the Caballero Deli, with a side of fries. This was a spicy Mexican style sandwich with spiced chicken, chorizo, cheese and jalapenos on a Gallego bread which was beautifully soft inside and had just the right crisp on the crust. Served warm with salsa, the sandwich came with a mustard dressed salad. 

He was more than happy with the gooey, unctious filling, although not quite spicy enough for his (albeit unreasonable) tastes he said it was a satisfying dish, with the fresh, crisp salad being particularly satisfying because of the obvious quality of the ingredients. The humble deli sandwich, made super yummy.


After we had eaten, it was time for our film. You can get a film ticket and a meal on special for £14.75 or £13.25 concessions which we both agreed was a great deal and a lovely evening out that we will certainly do again. They have lots of other offers too - a free loyalty card that gets you money off tickets, or paid loyalty schemes that provide free tickets and ongoing discounts in the cafe. Check out their website for more details. 

The cinema screens are, as you would expect, intimate but well equipped. Everything you want from the big screen, but just fewer people to jostle with and talk all over your film. (Other people are there, obviously, just the room is smaller than the bigger chain cinemas, so there are less seats). We watched 10 Cloverfield Lane, which we both totally enjoyed - being big apocalypse (or is it?) film fans. However, I'm not here to write film reviews. I'll leave that to people who remember what actors are called, rather than just "It's that one! Out of... y'know... thingy!"

Obviously this was taken before anything happened. Copyright has not been infringed.

You can purchase all your regular cinema snacks, popcorn, soft drinks and various confectionery, but best of all you can also get your drink from the bar put into a plastic glass and take that in with you. We found the view to be good, the seats to be comfortable and our only criticism of the entire evening was that there is nowhere to put your drink! Cupholders, or tiny revolving trays that you can pull out from the seat arm would be most welcome - especially for folks of a nervous disposition like myself who know they need to put their drink down during a particularly tense scene to avoid throwing it all over themselves (or possibly the person in front) when the inevitable jump happens.

Not just plastic glasses. Nice plastic glasses.

Big thanks to Phoenix for inviting us down to sample their wares. We'll continue to attend their fun events and workshops, but now we'll be much more likely to head over there for dinner and a movie too. It was really nice to have great, friendly and very efficient service (the wait for food was incredibly short) in such a relaxed atmosphere. A real credit to Leicester.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Two ways with pheasant

Part of the totally unecessary, but immensely satisfactory compensation for the many long hours volunteering with the pruning at the Kingfisher's Pool Vineyard in Rothley recently included a brace of pheasant!

We've not had pheasant to cook at home before, and certainly not local pheasant. We managed to stretch one of the birds out to several meals through some careful cooking. The first dish was a delicious roast dinner crafted by The Boy. 



He braised the pheasant in a delicious bath of Rothley's own King Richard 2015 dry white wine (nothing else would have been fitting) and chicken stock, and gave it a generous coat of bacon to keep the juices in. This was completed by roasting up some parsnips in honey, some crispy potatoes and served with boiled carrots. The cooking liquor was reduced down and then finished with herbs and a touch of cream. Absolutely delicious with the gamey flavours combining beautifully with the wine.



After that I came home to the delicious aromas of the pheasant carcass being boiled up for stock, which was then made into a creamy vegetable stew, with just a hint of cheese in there to give additional richness. This made a satisfying evening meal as well as jealousy-inducing leftovers for work lunch the next day.

Which are your favourite game birds? Comedic answers welcome.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Street art in Porto

Porto, Portugal is one of those fantastic street art is around every corner, it's just part of the culture there. There are obviously established graffiti artists, like Hazul, but there are also lots of Have A Go Heroes as well. Here is my photo gallery dedicated to the street art of Porto. Now you just have to decide whether you prefer the art, or the crap graffiti. I think I prefer the rubbish ones. It's tempting to set up a blog dedicated to Crap Graffiti.






Wednesday, 13 April 2016

#BackingTheBlues: Lilu's Foxy Gin

Today I popped round to Lilu's Fine Dining after work to witness BBC Radio Leicester heading over to record them making their new cocktail for the #BackingTheBlues campaign. If you don't know what #BackingTheBlues is, or what's happening, do head over to my Directory page which tells you all about it.


They have created a special gin cocktail to celebrate everything Leicester City Football Club - combining the best of Leicester, and of course the unmistakable blue that is sweeping our dear city.

Lilu's cocktail is Burleigh's Gin, made in Leicestershire, a gin I love so much I went to discover how it was made and distill my own gin, which is still one of the best days I've ever had. Over ice, they shake it up with blue curacao (I imagine we'll be seeing a lot of this in the coming weeks) and then a dash of bitter lemon and just a drop of blackcurrant cordial is added to give it a deeper blue colour.


It sounds like it shouldn't work, but it does - because the gin is added liberally and its dryness counteracts the sweetness of the lemon and curacao, making it a refreshing, slightly herbal but satisfyingly citrus drink. Not at all syrupy and sweet, but still at the lighter end of your heavily boozed cocktails. 


You can hear all about this cocktail being made from its inventor, Pratik, on the BBC Leicester Breakfast Show tomorrow morning and I will be following it up talking about #BackingTheBlues and this little blog at 7.55am. What an exciting day!

What blue excitement have you been experiencing in the city of late?

Breakfast Treats at Gelato Village

Once again those lovely chaps at Gelato Village have made another happy addition to Leicester's food culture by giving us a beautiful Italian inspired breakfast deal. Now that they are open from 8.30am, you can pop by to pick up a freshly made coffee, or even indulge yourself with some lovely Italian bakery treats.



However, I went along to sample the new Gelato Village breakfast deal. For £3.95, you can bag yourself a coffee, a freshly-baked croissant and a pot of jam. You really can't say fairer than that. It is an absolutely delicious breakfast.



The coffee is your selection from the regular favourites, roasted just over the road at another Leicester staple - St Martin's Coffee. The perfect symbiosis of local enterprise, coffee and gelato. 

I opted for a cappucino which was frothy, light and had a great caffeine hit. It was served with a chocolate coated coffee bean which I found particularly useful at that time in the morning.



While my coffee was being poured and I enjoyed the effervescent company of the Conista, Cristiano, who seems to be irrepressibly friendly whatever time of the day it is, my croissant was just finishing off in the oven. The smell of my freshly brewed coffee with the light buttery toast flavours of my croissant was almost too much to take, so I was pleased that it was only 2 minutes later that my breakfast was served.



A hot croissant with a personal jar of cherry jam. Of course being Gelato Village, this is not just any tub of jam. This is the finest, Italian, organic jam. I went for cherry, but there are many more flavour options if something else tickles your fancy.

Like all the best breakfasts, it carries on into brunch and also past the time that one can reasonably call it brunch but one still may require the healing powers of a freshly baked, warm croissant. You can rock up to Gelato Village at 12.59pm and still get served this breakfast deal.



And let me assure you, it reet set me up for the day. I was able to face anything this morning, following that breakfast, including a 3 hour meeting and a very late lunch eaten on the hoof at my desk. Yet again I have to take off my hat and say bravo Gelato Village, bravo. And many thanks for inviting me down to sample. Now I just have to resist going there for breakfast every. single. day.



Sunday, 10 April 2016

Beautiful vintages at Croft Port

I promised you more port wine didn't I? Well it would be rude of me to renege on that one, so here we go...

After we had visited Porto's own Sandeman as part of our competition prize from Wine Tourism in Portugal, we headed on up the hill of Vila Nova de Gaia to Croft, another ancient and respected port wine merchants.








Founded in 1588, Croft is the oldest of the Port Houses, although it is now part of a larger parent company, like pretty much all of them. It is set up the steep paths and stairs of Gaia and commands a beautiful view out over the town. Despite its venerable history, they are not afraid to experiment - something that made our tour extra special for me.



Enjoying the beautiful winter sunshine, we took our first tasting on the veranda, as one does. First up was a rose port - something I did not even know existed and is only made by the pioneers at Croft. Thankfully this is readily available in the UK - I spotted it at our local Co-op just last week! It was served chilled and was light and refreshing, despite the sticky cherry flavours that were melded with hints of raspberry. I loved it and gave it a solid 8.5 out of 10.

After that, we tried their 8 year ruby port, which had a vibrant colour with its age showing in the halo around the rim of the glass. Even with its age, the huge vats in which it had slumbered for 8 years had meant it kept all of its fresh fruity flavours but still had plenty of depth and body. It was fantastic, but not quite as novel, so *just* an 8 out of 10 for that one!!



After our tastings we were taken on our tour. As we were the only ones that had made the climb away from the tourist focus of the town, along the river, it was a pleasingly private tour which allowed significant flexibility for us to ask lots of questions. We learned a lot more about the brandy used for the fortifying of the wine, the grape varietals used and understood in much more depth the aging processes and the distinctions between the different types of port. For me, this was the best tour I had taken in a long time, with lots of interesting detail, quirky stories and an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide.



The final tasting on the tour was a 10 year tawny port, which beautifully demonstrated the difference in aging styles - being significantly lighter in colour than the ruby and with the fruit flavours having mellowed to give more dry fruit and even nut characteristics. Again, like the 8 year ruby, this scored a good 8 out 10 in my little notebook.

After that, we got chatting with the Croft staff and decided it would be veritably churlish of us not to hang around and buy ourselves a special treat glass of their Vintage 2011 port. What a decision that was! I am still celebrating my foresight and clarity of vision on that one.



I have to start my notes by saying this wine is a golden 10 out of 10. I know! My little wine notebook hasn't seen a 10 in its entire history, and then thanks to Croft and our mates at Recaredo and their 2000 Turo d'en Mota cava we've had two come along at once in the space of just two short weeks. Lucky, lucky wine blogger.

And I am not alone in my enthusiasm for this wine. The Wine Spectator gave it 97/100 and my favourite, Jancis Robinson, editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine, even gave it a stonking 17 out of 20.

My notes for this wine are long, gushing and confused as I added more and more to the page as the wine unveiled its secrets. This bottle aged wine is relatively young but still has amazing structure and light tannins. It is full of blackcurrant on the nose, with hints of plum and vanilla.

When you drink it there is no alcohol taste, just a light fruity sweetness which dances on the tongue. Starting with red grape it softens to an almost mallowy flavour with black cherry, blackcurrants and a hint of spice - menthol, aniseed - which develops into a stronger black pepper on the finish. If anyone is considering buying me a present, do pop along to Connolly's in Birmingham and hand them £55 in unmarked bills in exchange for this delicious wine. You will make me a very happy woman.



The really amazing flavours which had us ruminating and chuntering for a good 45 minutes over this one small glass were the candy notes. The vintage smells of Spring, with roses and violets adding a beautiful depth to the wine. This violet note then follows through into a deep complexity inspired by the spices. Those aniseed, fennel hints (which by the way have undeniable elements of nutmeg and cinnamon as well) combine with the blackcurrant to create a flavour that is firmly reminiscent of Fisherman's Friends, or even, if you remember that far back, blackcurrant Zubes (they're good for your tubes). It may surprise you to learn that this is a positive association. This wine sings in the mouth.

And that of course is not to mention the elements of caramel, malt, and slight honey that are also in there. I think I've made it clear that this is an incredibly complex wine and one that keeps giving you more and more with each sip. Thanks Portugal, you have given the world a gift indeed.
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