Monday 30 November 2015

How Do You Get Lucky?

I've been thinking a lot about luck and fate recently. Call me a little soppy but with my wedding creeping ever closer I've spent quite a lot of time feeling like the luckiest girl alive.  Luck is a weird thing. Some of us believe in it, some of us swear that things are coincidences and others believe that everything happens for a reason, whether that's due to a higher power, or just hard work. There's no denying, though, that sometimes, it really is a question of luck as to whether you'll be successful, or a winner.

Take the lotto for example. If you head onto sites online to find EuroMillions prizes, you just have to hope it's your lucky day. There's no strategy to winning the lotto, and that's just part of the fun. Some people, however, are convinced there's more to it...

Lucky Charms

Did you ever notice that kid in exams clinging on to a scruffy looking teddy bear?  For me it was always "Rabbit", as a child I'd carry him around stuffed up my jumper, convinced he was bringing me luck and even now as an adult I like to know that he's close by. People associate items which remind them of good times as having some sort of symbolic meaning which will help them along their way. Of course, studying is probably the best way to ace a test, but if a little trinket is what you need to boost your confidence, who's anyone to judge?

Lucky Rituals

From 'magic spells' to prayers, to being a little bit compulsive, some people are convinced that certain actions they partake in will affect the outcome of a circumstance that's actually out of their control. It helps people feel more relaxed about the situation, which in turn might help you actually harness the power of the placebo.


Some people are the opposite. They're not looking to encourage good luck, they're looking to ward off the bad. Think of your typical New Year's Eve. If you're not too busy kissing at midnight or tipsy from all the champagne, some people will most likely be indulging in their own little activities to ensure the year is a good one. This article by Glamour magazine explains more (and it even gives tips on getting lucky in love... oh, come on, you know that's part of why you wanted to read this piece...!)

So, what's your verdict? Are some people naturally luckier than others, or even born lucky? And can you actually change your luck with your actions? Is determination and hard work the key to success? Or are some people simply in the right place at the right time? Whether you think it's sealed in fate, a combination of everything, or all based on some kind of conspiracy - you decide!

November Days

November was a pretty busy month over on my Instagram which is no surprise as my diary was rammed full of exciting events and plans.  Here's what we've been up to this month.

Autumn Leaves

The first week of November was beautifully warm and sunny up here in the North East. The biggest surprise being the first weekend of the month when we got to stroll about in t-shirts, I'm not sure if we were actually having a heat wave or if I've just finally become a northerner who doesn't feel the cold.  The clear blue skies brought with it some gorgeous days on the Newcastle Quayside and the golden brown trees that line the river banks were soon dropping the most perfect crispy leaves.

Glitter Queen

With Christmas edging ever closer the hunt for the perfect party outfit began.  I'm not entirely sure why I felt the sudden urge to buy myself evening wear, I'm not exactly inundated with Christmas party invitations. Nevertheless I found myself suddenly obsessed with the idea of buying something with sequins and there began a very frustrating trek round the shops.  Ladies who have rather large tummies like me will sympathise - why do glitzy Christmas dresses always have to be figure hugging?  I finally found myself something gorgeous with this lovely little number from H&M .. now who wants to take me to a Christmas party?

Let there be Light

Simon's Mum came to visit us and we took advantage of having a hire car for the weekend and dragged the poor lady round a silly number of home shops. As usual the trip to Ikea was the highlight but we also went to Homebase where we picked up these gorgeous copper lamps for our bedside tables. We're so happy we no longer have to get out of bed to turn the light off.

North East Blog Awards

This year's North East Blog  Awards was held in one of my favourite places, Bonbar. Thanks to all those who nominated me, unfortunately I wasn't shortlisted but my lovely friend Ashlie from Sugar Rushed won Best Parenting Blog which made my night. Her blog is a fantastic read and she recently wrote a post about her Hot Chocolate Station, that's gone viral!  It's definitely worth a read if you're a fan of delicious hot drinks in the Winter.

Shopping in Kiko

My new obsession with bold lips continues and I finally ventured into Eldon Square's new makeup shop Kiko this month.  I bought myself an Intensely Lavish Lipstick from their new Rebel Romantic range - it's love!

Photo Pegs

My little home office continues to be my favourite room in our new house and my blogging desk is where I spend most of my time. Poor Simon didn't have the easiest time getting the shelf above my desk up but I am one grateful girlfriend because I love it.  I bought myself some rope and pegs from Urban Outfitters and am hanging my Instax photos from the shelf.  I can't wait to take more!

Christmas Wrapping

We all know that I am beyond useless at creative things, yet I continue to try!  I decided to get a little fancy with my Christmas wrapping this year and have bought some brown parcel paper and am using some of the wrapping goodies I got from My Little Box last year to make the packages look pretty.  I'm impressed with myself!

For more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you're following me on Instagram

Saturday 28 November 2015

My North East Story: This Northern Gal

This month's My North East Story comes from Kelly who blogs at This Northern Gal, a lifestyle blog full of wonderful stories and adventures from the North.  Tea drinker, book reader and beach lover, reading Kelly's blog is just like hanging out with a friend you've known for years.

1. What is your North East Story?

I’ve lived in the same house in Darlington for as long as I can remember. The North East is my home and always will be. Even now that I’ve moved to Scotland for university, this is the place I come back to when I need to slow things down and recharge. I’ve learnt, laughed and cried here. I’m not going to forget it in a hurry.

2. Why do you love living in the North East?

There is a real vibrancy to life here. Everywhere you turn there is something new to catch your attention. I swear I spent most of my time reaching for my camera; this place is too beautiful not to share! More than that though, I love living here because of the people within it. Friendly smiles and good mornings are met with enthusiasm. As a bit of a natterer, I love the fact that people like to talk to one another. You can’t beat that sense of community that comes from people just being nice to one another.  Oh and did I mention the food? You can’t beat northern scran.

3. Where's your favourite place in the North East to relax?

It has to be a beach, though picking just one would be hard. Give me a good walk in the sand and some fish and chips (scraps, salt and vinegar, no plastic fork) and I’m a happy lady.  Failing that, let me loose in Eldon Square for a few hours and I’m sure I can shop away my problems. I might even pop into Baltic while I’m at it. I can loose many an hour wandering around there.

4. Recommend some yummy food places

For Mexican food and some seriously yummy cocktails, you want to check out Voodoo Cafe in Darlington. Their quesadillas are amazing. If you’re feeling a little more health-conscious, I’d head to the Health Warehouse. Tucked away in the back of the shop is a vegetarian café that does some seriously moreish dishes.   Their smoothies are also phenomenal.

For a real treat, head to Vesuvio. Not only do they stock the best wine in town but their food will leave you licking your lips and daydreaming for days afterwards.

If you find yourself in Newcastle for the day, you have to go Flat Caps Coffee. That stuff is gooooood guys. For a more substantial brunch date, take yourself to Olive and Bean.

I could talk about food for days. Eating some yummy food and then yakking about it on my blog is one of my favourite things to do.

5. Describe your perfect day in the North East

I’d head over to Whitby for the day. After a long walk in the surf, I’d head to Humble Pie N Mash to recharge my batteries (and because they really know their pies).

From there, it would be time for a stroll amongst the shops, admiring the jet and sweets alike. Maybe even an ice cream, if I’d left any room after my pie... I’d find a coffee shop and read to my heart’s content. I’m a bit of a gothic lover, so it probably would be Dracula!

Content, and with lungs full of fresh sea air, I’d head home and curl up in my living room as the day drew to a close. I would cuddle my pup until he fell asleep, like he usually does within ten seconds of having snuggling into someone.

Make sure you check out This Northern Gal for more adventures in the  North East and beyond

Friday 27 November 2015

Wedding Chat: Be my Bridesmaid

As soon as I got engaged one of the things I was most excited about was asking my favourite ladies if they'd like to accompany me down the aisle.

I've always considered being asked to be a bridesmaid a huge honour, and there's no better way of showing a friend how grateful you are of their love and support than asking them to play a huge role in the most important day of your life.

My bridesmaids are made up of five very special ladies, and although this may seem like quite a large number, I can't imagine my day without having each of them by my side.  Unfortunately the lovely girls in my life are scattered all over the place, meaning that I don't get to see them as often as I'd love to which made asking them the all important question a little tricky.

I wish I could have asked them all in person, but with no immediate plan to see most of them and finances pretty tight I decided to surprise them all with a special card.  I've had an agonising few months waiting whilst we got our venue and date finalised and I've been desperate to ask them for what feels like the longest time!

I had a few ideas of special ways I could ask "will you be my bridesmaid" but in the end I decided to go for something simple with these really cute cards I found on Zazzle.  I wrote each girl a special message and quietly popped them in the post.  I wish I could have been there when they each opened them!

So!  To Lydia and Eleanor, the best sisters a girl could ever ask for; Clare my oldest friend who knows me better than anyone and Kate and Lauren friends who have always been there for me and made me realise just how special they are since I've relocated up north ... let's do this!

Monday 23 November 2015

Christmas at the Botanist

It's hard to believe that it was only a year ago that The Botanist opened in Newcastle. Since its launch it's been so popular and I've enjoyed wonderful nights of live music, warm Summer afternoons on the Roof Terrace and have slowly been working my way through the cocktail list (which, if you've been, you know is more like a book!)

But the one thing I've really been looking forward to is seeing what The Botanist would pull out of their never ending bag of tricks for Christmas time.

Last week Christmas well and truly arrived and I was invited along for a little sneaky peak at what's to come.  If, like me, you love this time of year a trip to the Botanist will definitely get you into the Christmas spirit. 

Putting down the cocktail menu just this once I indulged in one of my favourite festive treats, a steaming hot mug of mulled wine. Served in a gorgeous botanical mug (that I really wanted to pinch), as soon as the delicious spicy smells hit my nose I felt excited for the big day. 

Of course, Christmas isn't Christmas without a mountain of food and the Botanist have pulled out all the stops with their Enchanted Nativity Menu which launches today (23 November).  It is a bit of a bargain (three courses for £22.50 at lunch or £27.50 at dinner) and features a great range of delicious dishes to choose from.

Chatting about food (especially the festive kind) is one of my favourite things to do, so here's a quick run through of what you can expect from the menu.

For Starters we enjoyed a warming mug of thick and creamy Roast  Vine Tomato Soup served with crunchy bread.  It was delicious and perfect for a cold Winter's day.  I don't like to play favourites but this was my favourite of the three.

Another popular Starter for our party was the Chicken Liver Pate which was one of the nicest pates I've ever had.

For those wanting a lighter start to their meal there is also a Beetroot and Roast Pepper Salad with Walnut Dressing and Peppered Goat's Cheese Crumb.

There are four options for the Mains including Roast Fillet of  Salmon served with Crushed Minted Peas and Hollandaise and the most delicious Sirloin Steak served with Baby Spinach and Forestiere Garnish.

Of course every festive menu needs the all important Traditional Roast Turkey served with all the trimmings. I think you'll be hard pushed to find a Christmas dinner as good as this one!

The surprise hit of our evening was the vegetarian option, Pumpkin Ravioli with Crispy Shallots and Sage.  It was absolutely beautiful and I'm thinking of starting up a campaign to get this added to the main menu. 

For me a menu is always judged on its desserts and the Botanist did not let me down with their festive menu choices.

If you want to be traditional there is, of course, Christmas Pudding served with Brandy Sauce but there are another two choices to tempt you if that's not your thing.

The  Orange and  Bitter Chocolate Truffle Torte with Mint Sugar is a chocolaty treat not for the amateur.  It's beautiful but rather rich so you may struggle to fit it in at the end.

My favourite dessert was the Sliced Apple and Almond Tart with Caramel Ice-Cream which I polished off far too fast. 

If all that wasn't enough to tempt you in from the cold, the Botanist have plenty more Christmas treats up their sleeves.

The popular Roof Terrace has been transformed into a Winter Wonderland Terrace complete with cosy corners and warm blankets.  The perfect place to snuggle up with friends over a spiced cider and mulled wine.

Music will also play a big part in the festive celebrations with two sets of live music every day and on Thursday 3 December you can enjoy Christmas Request Night, the perfect time to sing-a-long and request your favourite festive tunes from the live musicians (apologies in advance that I will be there singing very badly ... I do love a good sing along!)

Another date for the diary is Tuesday 22 December when the final Christmas countdown will be made complete by the Botanist's Carols by Candle Light featuring a full acoustic choir!

I think we all know where you'll find me this festive season!  See you all there!

Friday 20 November 2015

Sunday Lunch at Pleased to Meet You

I love a Sunday roast!  Back when I lived with my parents in Norfolk we had one every week and it's definitely something I took for granted. 

Last weekend Simon and I realised that it had been many months since our last Sunday Roast and as we're not brave enough to attempt cooking one at home we decided to head to Toon to see what was on offer.

I've heard on more than one occasion that Pleased to Meet You not only have an amazing gin menu but also serve one of the best Sunday lunches in Newcastle so that seemed a pretty good place to start.

Enthusiastic as ever we booked a table for 12:00 pm and were the first people through the doors for our lunch.  I think seeing customers so early in the day confused the bar a little as our trip began with a muddle over the menus - we were given the normal menus with no mention of roast dinner.  I'm sure you can imagine how my face dropped when I thought that perhaps Sunday lunch was off the cards.  Luckily after a bit of investigation we were brought some Sunday menus and my diva strop was averted.

The Sunday lunch menu at  Pleased to Meet You offers a full variety of roasts with a choice of chicken, lamb, pork and beef as well as a vegetarian option.  I was pleased to see all of my favourites included but struggled to make my decision. It's hard to know what to go for when you're ordering a Sunday lunch out, a beef roast is my favourite but all too often when I've ordered beef in restaurants it's been a little tough.

Despite hearing nothing but glowing reports for their Sunday lunches I decided not to take the risk and opted for chicken, happy in the knowledge that Simon was ordering beef which meant if it looked tasty I could probably pinch some off his plate.

We had a little wait for food which did become a little uncomfortable as the bar was very chilly.  If I'm out for Sunday lunch in the Winter time I love to feel warm and snuggly so waiting for food in a draughty bar wasn't ideal.

The chilly temperatures were forgiven as soon as the food turned up.  Plates piled high with meat and veg with Yorkshire puddings as big as my head.

My chicken was tender and juicy, the roasties were crispy and fluffy and the veg was fresh and crunchy.  The rumours were true, Pleased to Meet You serve one of the very best Sunday lunches I have ever tasted.

Despite my food being amazing I still suffered a serious level of food envy when I saw Simon's beef, there were generous pink slices covering his plate and as soon as I saw his knife cut effortlessly through it I knew I had to have some.  I managed to get myself a good three forkfuls and it was perfect, I will definitely be ordering the beef on my next visit!

We were so full we couldn't even consider taking a look at the dessert menu, which we all know is unheard of for us!

If you're looking for somewhere in Newcastle for a delicious Sunday Lunch I'd definitely recommend Pleased to Meet You ... but maybe take a nana blanket for your knees!

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Fenwick Unwrapped at the Discovery Museum

If your diary looks anything like mine in the run up to Christmas you probably don't really have much spare time between now and the big day. Festive parties, visiting friends and trips back home mean that Simon and I are now pretty much booked up for the rest of the year!  This weekend was, in fact, our last free weekend in Newcastle so to celebrate we decided to spend Saturday pottering about in the city that we love.

Every great weekend should start with breakfast so we sleepily dragged ourselves out of bed to get an early bus so we could get through the door of Café Royale before the crowds descended.  The early Saturday alarm paid off when we arrived to a half empty café and our pick of the seats.

Café Royal has one of the finest breakfast menus in Newcastle, it is stuffed full of all of my favourite morning dishes which makes the decision making process pretty tough.  So tough in fact that I, rather embarrassingly, decided to order two things off the menu. 

First up Toasted Banana Bread with French Butter which I just about managed to wolf down before my second course of Creamy Porridge with Wild Berry Compote and Toasted Seeds turned up.  I like to think that destroying evidence of the Banana Bread (I didn't even take a photo!) means that it never happened and we can all pretend I just had porridge. 

I love porridge but have never ordered it out before as my belly tends to always opt for whatever sounds the stodgiest, but as the day was pretty wet and cold I decided porridge would be good fuel.  It was delicious!

Simon decided on his breakfast with great ease and ordered his favourite, Waffles served with Bacon and Maple Syrup.  He was particularly impressed with the Maple Syrup pourer and is now trying to convince me to get one for the house.

Breakfasts demolished we decided the day was best spent indoors in the warm so strolled our way over to the Discovery Museum.

Despite having lived in Newcastle for a few years now I hadn't managed to make it to any of the museums.  I decided the  Discovery should be my first as soon as I saw that they had a special Christmas exhibition, "Fenwick Unwrapped", celebrating over 40 years of Fenwick's famous Christmas window display.

Fenwick opened its very first store in Newcastle in 1882, making it the oldest of all its nine stores across England and very special to all of us up here in the North East.  Waiting for the grand unveiling of the Christmas window display is as important to Geordies as Christmas puddings and Turkey lunches.

The Christmas window display at Fenwick really came into its own in the 1960s when a friendly rivalry with fellow Northumberland Street store, Callers saw Fenwick making their window displays bigger and better each year to beat Callers. 

Since 1984 production of the window display has been taken over by a German animation company, the windows are fully assembled in a workshop in Berlin before being transported to Newcastle where it can take up to a week to reassemble the display in Fenwick's window.

The displays over the years have covered all kinds of themes from Winter wonderlands and Santas workshops to celebrating children's stories.

You can see the whole timeline of the Fenwick window at Fenwick Unwrapped including photos of every window display.

I was eager to see the display for 1981, the year  I was born and loved that it was Alice in Wonderland, which was also the theme for last year's window.

The 2012 display is a special one for me as it's the very first Fenwick Christmas Window display that I saw.  I remember Simon practically running me down Northumberland Street to show it to me as he knew how much I loved Christmas.  The happy music and colourful lights captured my heart immediately, I'd never seen a window display quite like it!

As well as an interesting insight into the creation of the Fenwick's Christmas windows the museum also has a great collection of toys through the ages to look at which Simon and I thoroughly enjoyed.  Nothing beats a great trip down memory lane and we had a great time being transported back to our youth and chatting about which of the toys we owned.

We had the most fantastic time at the Museum and loved learning more about something so special in our city.   The exhibition continues until 10 January and is completely free so make sure you head there for a look!

Let me know if you're planning a visit to Fenwick Unwrapped.

Monday 16 November 2015

River Beat, Gateshead

In the shadows of the High Level Bridge, overlooking the Tyne you'll find new bar and restaurant, River Beat. Bringing something a little different to Gateshead, River Beat offers a delicious variety of Thai tapas in beautiful surroundings with a great atmosphere.

Simon and I are always eager to try out new places so after a particularly cold and soggy walk along the Quayside on Saturday we battled against the wind across the Swing Bridge in the search of a comforting lunch to warm us up.

River Beat is the perfect lunch location and a great escape from the city centre crowds.  We decided to order from the Daytime Special menu which offers fantastic value with any soup and Banh Mi for £9.50 served every day before 6:00 pm.

We all know how long Simon and I can take trying to decide what food to order so we took our time and enjoyed a cheeky glass of Prosecco each whilst trying to choose between three delicious sounding soups and five tempting Banh Mi.

If you're going to spend a relaxing Saturday lunchtime perusing a menu, River Beat is certainly a great place to do it.  The restaurant is beautiful with dark wood, plush chairs and a stunning marble fireplace that I really couldn't take my eyes off.

Decisions finally reached I chose the Beetroot Borscht with horseradish foam and garlic croutons.

My bowl of steaming hot soup soon appeared and I couldn't quite get over how huge the bowl was. I was impressed by the really generous serving and quickly got started.  I enjoyed endless spoonfuls of the delicious thick soup and loved the big chunks of beetroot.

If I thought my soup looked impressive I hadn't seen anything yet!

Simon opted for the Garden pea and mint soup with the optional extra of crispy bacon and we knew he had the winner when his bowl was put in front of him!  Just take a look at this beauty!  I love when food looks as good as it tastes and the presentation of dishes at River Beat is absolutely stunning.

I quite often find myself leaning towards the vegetarian options when I'm out and about so for my Banh Mi choice I ordered the Sweet potato and black bean patty with BBQ whisky ketchup in a brioche bun.  The patty was crispy on the outside with a delicious centre packed full of flavour.  It was a great alternative to the overly stodgy burgers you usually find in restaurants.

River Beat offer great recommendations if you're stuck ordering and they recommended the best Banh Mi to go with Simon's soup.  He was very happy he listened to their advice as the Honey lamb koftas in a pitta bread with Yeman dip and garlic feta sauce was a fantastic choice.

We were impressed with our lunch and the Daytime Special really does offers great value for money.  We were so full afterwards we ended up not needing any dinner that evening (unheard of for us!)

Let me know if you decide to go and visit River Beat!


Friday 13 November 2015

Kracklin, Gourmet Roast Sandwich Shop

It's official! It's that time of year where the thought of hibernating suddenly becomes all too tempting. I'm not a huge fan of the dark and cold months of Winter so, in true Chloe style, I like to keep myself feeling warm by filling my tummy with as much comforting food as I can possibly manage.

So it's really good timing that new gourmet sandwich shop Kracklin has just arrived in Newcastle offering us all a lovely little place to hide from the cold and some rather delicious hot food to put the smile right back on our faces.

I have my daily commute to thank for discovering Kracklin.  I pass it on the bus every evening and have been watching its development eagerly from the window.  Its location on Market Street, means it's not going to benefit from passing shoppers but I think once word spreads this little place is going to be very popular.  I don't think Newcastle has ever had anywhere like Kracklin, and wow are we ready for it!  

Simon and I paid them a visit after a busy morning shopping.  I quite often suffer from pavement rage if I attempt to hit the high street on a Saturday so we arrived feeling a little grumpy and in desperate need of a sit down.  Pushing open the door we were hit with the wonderful smell of roasting meat and we immediately felt at home.

We eagerly made our way to the counter where there was a fine spread of meats to choose from and a menu of sandwiches that made our mouths water in anticipation.  Honey Soy Chicken with Pickled Mooli and Saracha Aioli; Porchetta with Salsa Verde and a fantastic choice of sides - Kracklin served with Apple Jam and Poutines (fries with cheese curds, gravy and kracklin).

It's not too often Simon and I pick out the same but we both decided to order the Reubens, a toasted sandwich filled with homemade Salt Beef, Swiss Cheese, 1000  Island and Pickled Cabbage. Our sandwiches were brought over to our table and our eyes couldn't quite believe the size of them.   Mammoth doorstep sandwiches completely packed with filling. 

We rolled up our sleeves and got to work!

Our sandwiches were beautiful and so filling, just what we needed after a morning shopping. I struggled to finish mine and it kept me going for the rest of the day.  These bad boys are like eating two meals in one!

Next time you find yourself in Newcastle with pavement rage I highly recommend you get yourself away from the crowds and head straight for Kracklin .. with the shopping stress of Christmas just round the corner, it's going to be just what we all need.

For some more sneaky peaks at new restaurants in Newcastle this Autumn, check out my handy little Wow 24/7 Guide


Wednesday 11 November 2015

Christmas at No. 28

It's not unusual in the blogging world to start celebrating Christmas early.  You may remember that last year I ended up eating my first Christmas dinner in November, and this year is much the same (and I'm not apologising because I LOVE Christmas!)

If you're as organised as me then your thoughts may have already turned to organising Christmas nights out with friends and I have a bit of a gem to share with you.

No. 28 is a fabulous bar hidden away at the top of Grainger Market in the centre of Newcastle. It won North East Bar of the Year in 2013 followed by Best Late Night Venue in 2014 so if you're looking for somewhere to celebrate Christmas you couldn't be in better hands.

If you've never been to No. 28 then you really must make a plan.  It is easily the prettiest bar in Newcastle with its quirky décor, colourful interior and cosy corners.

For our bloggers Christmas party we were asked to don our finest festive attire, for me this meant my "go to" blue lace dress that I bought from River Island a few years ago.   To get into the festive spirit I added some sparkle to my nails and a red lip.

I couldn't help but get swept away in the Christmas spirit as soon as I entered the bar, with the festive tunes playing and a Christmas tree to admire it wasn't long before we were all discussing our favourite Christmas traditions and our plans for this year.

Of course no Christmas party is complete without a large tray of  Roses and we eagerly grabbed a few handfuls each.  I am more than a little obsessed with the green wrappers (coffee flavour for anyone who doesn't have a geek like knowledge of chocolate like I do) and was rather ashamed to see I'd gathered quite a collection of empty wrappers in front of me pretty rapidly.

Every good Christmas party comes with some alcohol and after sipping a few glasses of fizz it was on to some wine tasting.   I'm not terribly good at wine tasting, but somehow managed to figure out that one of the glasses had a banana like taste that seemed to impress everyone else (let's hope no one realises it was a complete guess!)

The canapés were quick to follow and we feasted on delicious bite sized treats created by Chef David Hallam whilst singing along to the Christmas tunes (imagine my disappointment when I woke up the following morning and it was still October!)

We had a fantastic night and if you like the look of our "fake Christmas" you can celebrate Christmas for real in the same private area that we had to hold your own Christmas party.  The food is delicious with the canapé package only £8.00 per head or, if you prefer, a three course traditional Christmas menu (complete with amazing boozy desserts!) for £25.00 per person.

Monday 9 November 2015

Autumn Comfort at Gustos Newcastle

I love Autumn. I could pretend it's because of the beautiful changing colours of the leaves or the opportunity to go for long walks in the crisp air, but in reality it's because I can hide behind big snuggly jumpers and indulge in warming dishes in Newcastle's best restaurants.  Autumn sees the arrival of some of my favourite foods and I am more than ready to embrace the flavours of beetroot, carrot and parsnip and fill my tummy with warming soups, pastas and hot desserts.

Gusto on the Quayside have recently launched their brand new Autumn menu and if, like me, you are a big fan of hearty meals now the weather is turning cooler you are in for a treat.

I popped along to my favourite Quayside restaurant with the lovely Katie to check out the new menu.
Many old favourites remain (I was relieved when I realised the Peking Pizza still existed!) and there are a few new additions, perfect for the Autumnal season.

The day had been a particularly wet and cold one so we were both more than ready to get cosy.  I love Gusto at this time of year, the beautiful lights in the restaurant always put me in a good mood and it's one of the best restaurants in Newcastle to warm yourself up on a miserable day.

Tackling the important things first, I had a long look at the cocktail list.  I always struggle choosing what to have as everything sounds so good.  As Simon is endlessly talking James Bond at me I decided to go for a Martini, but a Chloe friendly variety!  Strawberry and Vanilla Martini, made with fresh strawberries, Ketel One, Licor 43, shaken with lime and gomme and served in the all important classic martini glass. 

Reading through the menu I decided to make an effort to eat seasonally and therefore try things that perhaps I wouldn't usually order.  There's something really lovely about eating with the seasons.  Filling yourself up on hot comfort food when the weather turns cooler is a definite way to keep your whole body feeling warm.

For my starter I opted for a new addition to the menu, the Cauliflower Soup with taleggio, herb crumb and baked focaccia.  Cauliflower isn't usually a flavour I'm that bothered by so I was interested to see how it would work in a soup.  Served piping hot it was indulgently creamy and it wasn't long before my bowl was completely clean.

One of my favourite meals to enjoy in the Autumn months is macaroni so I was really happy to spot that Oven Baked Macaroni has now appeared on the Gusto menu.  A delicious classic dish with the added magic of cauliflower, truffle oil and Grana Padana crumb.

The new addition to the menu that really got us interested was the Butternut Squash and Dolcelatte Pizza with flaked almonds, sage and mozzarella.  Butternut Squash really isn't something I'd ever think to have as a pizza topping so I was happy when Katy ordered it.  I managed to steal a slice off her and surprisingly it worked really well!

Of course my favourite part of any meal is always dessert and I managed to resist my usual Gustos treat (Chocolate and Coffee Mousse!) and instead focussed my attention on the newest addition to the menu, Banana and Salted Caramel Meringue.




I'm not sure I can actually put into words how much I enjoyed my dessert!  It was perfection and I was trying really hard to savour every single bite so it wouldn't come to an end.  The Meringue had a crispy shell and gorgeous soft and chewy centre and it tasted so good with the banana, salted caramel, cream and mint.  I'll definitely be ordering it again!

We finished our evening with a Peach and Passion Fruit Julep - peach puree, passion fruit and mint smashed through with Woodford Reserve and gomme, dragging the time out for as long as possible before we had to head back out to the cold Quayside.

I don't think it'll be long before I'm back in Gusto, I just can't seem to stay away, and having had a sneaky little look at the Christmas menu I think it's safe to say I'll be returning for the festive season!
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