Friday 30 June 2017

June Days

This month I hit 2,000 followers on Instagram (you can follow me here) and whilst I know in the world of Instagram that is not a huge number, I am very proud of myself as it's been a lot of hard work! This month has been rather hectic with plenty of food (ice-cream!) and some beautiful days out in the sunshine. Here are some of the things that didn't make it to the blog this month!

Bubble Waffles

Perfect for a hot day, I finally tried a Bubble Waffle from Bread Point in Newcastle's China Town and wow was it worth the calories! A generous amount of ice-cream, strawberries and frozen raspberries smothered in sauce and squished into a bubble waffle cone. If you live in Newcastle you really need to go and try one of these bad boys. It was actually my first ever visit to Bread Point and it wont be my last, the oriental style bakery has a huge variety of Chinese and Japanese breads, buns and cakes and I want to try them all!

Bubble Waffle - Bread Point Newcastle

My Designer Dupe

I'm such a sucker for a designer dupe and when I found this little beauty at H&M I knew I had to make a purchase.  It's so Valentino inspired that having it with me has actually temporarily stopped my designer handbag lusting. I've been taking it out as much as I can, although I do wish it were a little bigger - poor Simon has nowhere to put his glasses case!

H&M - Valentino Dupe Bag

Sage Loves Parkrun

This month I decided to take part in my first ever organised race and joined the other TGCR ladies for Sage Loves parkrun where we ran 6k for the Sage Foundation. I was so nervous when I woke the morning of the race to heavy rain, I was convinced I was going to slip over in the mud. Turns out running in the rain was actually really fun. I completed the 6k course down muddy tracks and over long grass in 37 minutes which I'm pretty happy with! Unfortunately the run also brought the return of my achilles injury - fingers crossed I'm back to full fitness soon.

Sage Foundation parkrun

A Cake Story

Surprising me with cake is, in my eyes, the most romantic thing that you can do. So when Simon unexpectedly drove to Cake Stories this month for a box of goodies to take home I declared him husband of the year. Whilst I love to think that this spontaneous adventure was a beautiful grand gesture, in reality I think he knew that if he'd suggested the idea I would have said no and reminded him that we are calorie counting! No regrets from me, that Cookies and Cream cake was fantastic!

Cake Stories

The North East Bloggers Picnic

Every Summer the North East Bloggers get together for a picnic in the park and this year we decided to spend our afternoon at South Marine Park in South Shields. There was a great turnout and despite the somewhat bizarre weather (sunshine and rain meant it was a sunglasses and rain mac kind of affair) we had a wonderful time. The kids enjoyed a puppet show by Pip's Puppets (seriously brilliant if you ever need some kids entertainment), the adults had a gossip and then, when we'd had enough of pretending we were warm, we headed to the Ocean Beach for funfair rides and laser quest.

North East Bloggers Picnic

Treats from Scoop and Bean

Our mission to try all of the best ice-cream parlours in the North East continued this month with a visit to Scoop and Bean in South Shields. With so many flavours to choose from I was so spoilt for choice I ended up basing my decision on the colour of my nails (slightly bonkers?) - luckily the bright blue Cookie Monster ice-cream was fantastic. I definitely need to go back soon to work my way through some more flavours.

Scoop and Bean South Shields

The Little Coffee Shop Under the Bridge

I get excited every time I see something new in Newcastle and it really doesn't get any cuter than The Little Coffee Shop Under the Bridge that suddenly appeared under the Swing Bridge on the Quayside one day. With minimal presence on social media it's all a little mysterious but that kinda adds to the charm of the place. It's a great spot to grab a coffee (or even an ice-cream in hotter weather) and watch the world go by. People watching on the Quayside is always the best.

The Little Coffee Shop Under the Bridge - Newcastle

Throw another Geordie Banger on the Barbie

Proof how far from reality an Instagram photo can be, this definitely makes it look like I was slaving over our disposable BBQ but the truth is I was sat on my bum drinking Pimms whilst Simon played chef in the blazing heat! We've finally restocked our freezer with Geordie Bangers (you can catch them at the local food markets and they are SO good!) and they were perfect cooked on the BBQ and served in a stottie (I'm a proper honorary Geordie!).

Geordie Bangers

Rose Lattes at Navaho

I've been wanting to visit Navaho Coffee on Acorn Road in Jesmond ever since I first saw the rose lattes first pop up on Instagram.  Yes I'm a sheep but it had to be done and I'm so glad that I indulged. Beautifully creamy with a slight hint of rose, it was just as good as I imagined. I can't wait to go back and try more of the menu

Navaho Jesmond - Rose Latte


Heatwave!  Summer arrived this month and with it a need to quickly update my wardrobe as cheaply as possible. No prizes for guessing where I ended up - yes, of course, Primark on Northumberland Street. With limited funds I picked up three maxi dresses that I'm now obsessed with and wearing at every available opportunity. I've had so many compliments on this one!

For more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram, I post a new photo every day with plenty of adventure ideas and foodie photos to make your tummy growl!

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Wedding Day Makeup for a North East Bride with Pins, Petals and Powder

I think it's about time we talked weddings! It may be 9 months since I got married but that doesn't mean I've let go of the joy of being a bride and wanting to share more with you about our big day. Today I thought I'd tell you all about my wedding day makeup with Pins, Petals and Powder.

I've never been very good at doing my own makeup and, much like a teenage girl, have picked up most of my "skills" from watching tutorials on You Tube. Despite my best efforts I'm never going to be able to perfect eyeliner, am useless at doing my brows and have never been able to achieve a smoky eye. So, as you can imagine, the thought of doing my own makeup for the wedding terrified me and I knew that I needed help.

Wedding Day Makeup for a North East Bride with Pins, Petals and Powder

Copyright Katy Byram Photography

Hunting for a makeup artist to help you on the most important day of your life is a little daunting. I really wanted to find someone who understood me and would be able to make me look like a more beautiful version of myself without covering me in a thick layer of makeup. So I was over the moon when I discovered Victoria from Pins, Petals and Powder who ticked every box (and some!)

As soon as we'd had our initial chat to on the phone I knew I would be in very safe hands. She asked all of the right questions and was keen to get a good picture of the style of wedding I was planning as well as what sort of makeup I wear on an every day basis. She was very thorough and when we hung up I felt so relaxed and couldn't wait to get started.

We met a few months before the wedding with Victoria helpfully coming to my house with all of her products. As a slightly overwhelmed bride it was lovely to not have to panic about making my way out of the house when I had so many things to do.  We set up a little makeup studio in my kitchen where there was plenty of natural light and set about working on my bridal look.

Wedding Day Makeup for a North East Bride with Pins, Petals and Powder

Copyright Katy Byram Photography

As I was getting married in September we decided to use plenty of Autumnal colours with some subtle gold shades, plenty of glow and a beautiful rose lip. To make the look extra special we made sure that the look was very different to my usual face without making me look like a different person, that meant playing with products I didn't usually wear like eyeliner and highlight.

Victoria went out of her way to specially find products that I'd mentioned or needed to complete my look. We'd had a long chat about how much Simon hates kissing me when I'm wearing lipstick so she'd got me some Lipcote to try out on the day to make sure that there was no transferring.

My makeup trial was one of the most fun parts of planning the wedding.  Victoria and I got on so well and we lost hours playing with makeup and chatting. We kept joking that we'd have to reign ourselves in on the big day as we'd never get finished. I can't emphasise enough how important it is to work with suppliers you get on with when you're planning your wedding.

We got on so well in fact that when Victoria asked me to be a model for her Pins, Petals and Powder You Tube channel I was there like a shot! We created this stunning, more dramatic version of my wedding day makeup

Pins, Petals and Powder

If you want to learn more about the products we used and how we created the look then check out my appearance on Pins, Petals and Powder (and don't forget to subscribe!)

So how was my makeup on the big day?

Having Victoria there the morning of my wedding was lovely, it was so nice to have her looking after me and those few moments sat by the window having my face done were some of the most enjoyable of my wedding morning. I was so nervous and terrified that I was going to cry at any moment but chatting to Victoria as she did my face made me feel relaxed.

The finished look was far better than I ever could have imagined, I felt beautiful and probably for the first time in my life was happy to accept the lovely compliments from my friends and family. Every time I caught a glimpse of myself I couldn't quite believe it was me.

My makeup lasted all day and even on the dance floor at midnight I still looked as fresh as a daisy. Although I had a few bits with me for touchups I didn't need them and happily enjoyed my day without worrying about what was happening on my face.  A day filled with an excessive amount of prosecco drinking and husband kissing - my lipstick didn't budge!

Wedding Day Makeup for a North East Bride with Pins, Petals and Powder

Copyright Katy Byram Photography

I was so happy that I chose Pins, Petals and Powder for my wedding day makeup and I would highly recommend Victoria to any brides looking for something special for their wedding day, not only is she a master at makeup she also does hairdressing and flowers! To find out more about Pins, Petals and Powder and to get in touch with Victoria about your special day check out her website here.

Monday 26 June 2017

Floral Teapots and Smoking Plant Pots - New Summer Cocktails at the Botanist, Newcastle

Ask any cocktail lover in Newcastle their favourite bar and they'll probably tell you all about the Botanist - never ending stories of nights out with friends, a dreamy cocktail list and, of course, that tree in the middle of the bar. The Botanist has truly made its mark on Newcastle and is the key ingredient to any great night out.

New Summer Cocktails at the Botanist, Newcastle
Summer at the Botanist is something truly special with its much talked about roof terrace being the ultimate destination when Newcastle gets sunshine.  Very popular on a Summer afternoon if you're clever enough to bag yourself a seat it's easy to lose track of time - with the stunning views, cute garden furniture and cosy hideaways - it's the best place in Newcastle.

As the temperatures soar and we begin to hunt through the back of the wardrobe for our shorts, the Botanist have relaunched their cocktail menu and it's the perfect recipe for some fun this Summer with floral teapots, terracotta pots and magical fog all taking centre stage.

Botanist Newcastle - Roof Terrace

Last week I was invited up to the roof terrace for a night of foraging, flowers and flavours with an exclusive taste of some of the brand new Summer cocktails that are now available at the Botanist Newcastle.

Our evening began with the "must have" of the Summer, the Watering Can (£25.95) - a 4 to 5 serving mega cocktail to share with your nearest and dearest. There are two cans to choose from - "The Rum featuring Cherry and Thyme" is perfect for a bit of Jamaican flavour Tyneside or, if you prefer more of a British classic, the "Gin featuring Strawberry and Cucumber" is so refreshing on a hot day.

Summer Cocktails at the Botanist Newcastle
As we enjoyed our drinks we had a little introduction to foraging in the North East with the guys from Northern Wilds, who challenged the talented barmen at the Botanist to create some cocktails using some of the plants that they'd foraged from the local countryside.

When it comes to creating cocktails, the Botanist are one of the few bars in Newcastle who use fresh fruits and plants in their cocktails, so their evening collaboration with Northern Wilds was a match made in heaven. We particularly loved drinking through a special stalk straw that tasted just like aniseed.

 New Summer Cocktails at the Botanist, Newcastle

Foraging is something that I never really knew much about before but talking to Northern Wilds they definitely captured my imagination and I added "go foraging" to my bucket list as soon as I got home.

Northern Wilds run a variety of events and courses including introductions to foraging, wild food feasting, creative crafts, wild food cooking and even stag and hen dos.

New Summer Cocktails at the Botanist, Newcastle

The "Pots and Planters" menu at the Botanist Newcastle is where you'll find the really fun drinks this Summer. Dramatic smoke, floral teapots and huge plant pots - the new Summer cocktails at the Botanist are the kind of drinks you'll want to order with friends then share on Instagram.

The big hit of the night was the Raspberry Disaronno Sour (£7.50) served in a terracotta plant pot, it gave an impressive performance with smoke from the dry ice billowing across the table. When the dramatics were over and we all dunked our straws in the pot seemed never ending with a very generous portion of cocktail hidden beneath the ice. A delicious mix of raspberry puree, lemon juice, pomegranate juice, Disaronno and raspberry liqueur - I will definitely be ordering again.

 New Summer Cocktails at the Botanist, Newcastle

The "Pimms Teacup" (£7.50) arrived in a stunning floral teapot that we were all immediately cooing over (I was surprised none of us tried to sneak it away in our handbags!). With plenty of dry ice the smoke came pouring out of the spout which looked pretty impressive although left us a little impatient to get started on the drinking.  In our pot we discovered Pimms, cranberry, poppy liqueur and lemon shaken with breakfast tea.  We all agreed we weren't too fussed about the flavour of this one and were all left a bit disappointed by the amount of drink that was in the pot. I'm definitely more of a traditional Pimms drinker.

The evening ended with a Gin Carafe (£18.95), the most beautiful carafe filled with gin and tonic alongside deliciously fresh fruit. Perfect for sharing it serves 4 and we loved the "Brockmans" - Brockmans gin mixed with blueberry liqueur, fresh orange and mint. I recommend getting together a big group of friends and ordering a couple of these to share on the roof terrace - the perfect way to spend a Summer evening!

 New Summer Cocktails at the Botanist, Newcastle

Safe to say that I'm now looking forward to a long, hot Summer on the Botanist roof terrace indulging in all of their new cocktails!

Who's with me?

I was a guest of the Botanist and enjoyed a complimentary preview of their new cocktail menu in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday 23 June 2017

Summer Fragrances at House of Fraser, Intu Metrocentre

For many years I've been struggling to find my "signature scent". With so many of my friends having a perfume that they love and use above all others, I've always felt a certain amount of pressure to find "the one".

This Summer I've decided to officially stop the search and admit to myself that I'm a proud lover of seasonal scents. I have a dressing table covered in different bottles of perfume and love them all equally. In the morning I decide what to put on depending on my mood, the occasion and the time of year.

Summer Fragrances at House of Fraser, Intu Metrocentre

Summer scents for me are all about delicious sweet fragrances, tropical vibes and smells that instantly transport me to days on the beach, long afternoon picnics and strolls along the North East coast.

Recently I was invited to an evening at the personal shopping suite at House of Fraser in the Metrocentre to try out some of the new fragrances in the beauty hall this Summer. I was in my element playing with all the different bottles of scent and thought that I'd share the two with you that I've been using ever since.

Abercrombie and Fitch - First Instinct 

My new every day Summer fragrance, Abercrombie and Fitch First Instinct (from £35.00) is the perfect scent to throw in my handbag when we're heading out on a day trip in the sunshine. With notes of magnolia, grapefruit zest and passion fruit, it's a beautiful perfume for Summer.

Summer Fragrances at House of Fraser, Intu Metrocentre - Abercrombie and Fitch First Instinct

Its delicate scent makes it perfect for the daytime and I love nothing more than putting on a floaty Summer dress, a splash of First Instinct and then skipping off for an adventure. I definitely prefer lighter scents for Summer days and First Instinct is so easy to wear, striking up the perfect balance of long lasting without being overpowering.

Summer Fragrances at House of Fraser, Intu Metrocentre - Abercrombie and Fitch First Instinct

I can't help but get a little superficial about my perfume and I will admit I do love a bottle that looks beautiful on my dressing table and First Instinct is definitely a beauty. A pretty girly pink with a gold lid, the bottle is a stunning addition to my Summer fragrance collection.

Jimmy Choo L'Eau

The newest scent from Jimmy Choo, L'Eau (from £36.00) is Summer in a bottle with delicious juicy bergamot combined with hibiscus flower.  The delicious scent has real staying power and is one I only have to apply once, it packs a real punch and I love being able to smell it for the entire day.

Summer Fragrances at House of Fraser, Intu Metrocentre - Jimmy Choo L'Eau

I've been wearing L'Eau a lot on date nights with my husband and I think it's going to be a scent that conjures up wonderful memories of warm evenings in the beer garden, romantic strolls along the seafront and eating tapas in pavement cafes.

A little bolder than First Instinct, the Jimmy Choo scent is the one that I reach for when I want that little bit extra and is beautiful worn with a floral evening dress and mega heels.

Of course it doesn't hurt that the bottle is so beautiful, I love sneaking it into my bag for the evening and showing it off - it's the perfect scent to have with you on an evening out.

Summer Fragrances at House of Fraser, Intu Metrocentre - Jimmy Choo L'Eau

With the beautiful weather finally here, don't forget to check out the stunning new fragrances at House of Fraser Metrocentre this Summer.

Does anyone else have a favourite scent for the Summer?  Or are you more of a signature scent kind of person?

This post was written in collaboration with KGA

Thursday 22 June 2017

Turtle Bay, Newcastle - New Summer Menu Review

Turtle Bay is one of my most visited restaurants in Newcastle. Since its launch at the beginning of last year I've been there on date nights, had catch up meals with friends and even held part of my Geordie hen party in the bar. I just can't get enough!

So when I was invited to try out Turtle Bay's brand new menu for Summer I was there before you could say "Rum Punch". The chance to transport myself back to my Caribbean Honeymoon and an excuse to use the turtle emoji! Yes please!

Turtle Bay, Newcastle - New Summer Menu Review

The new Summer menu is the first big change at Turtle Bay since it arrived in Newcastle. Featuring 15 new dishes and 7 new drinks, the menu has been inspired by customers feedback and has some truly delicious additions.

I started my evening with the new dish on the Starters Menu - Okra Ladies' Fingers (£5.10) - spiced panko coated okra fingers with mango mole, fresh lime and corander mayo. I will admit I did have a little look on my phone to see what Okra is (what on earth did we do before Google?) and discovered it's a "flowering plant from the mallow family", it reminded me a little of an asparagus and tasted so good in the panko coating.

Turtle Bay, Newcastle - New Summer Menu Review - Okra Fingers

One of the things I love most about dining at Turtle Bay in Newcastle is how friendly the staff are. I had such a great natter with our lovely waiter and he gave me some fantastic recommendations on the new menu and was really helpful at explaining the levels of spice in the food. Whilst there are plenty of super hot dishes at Turtle Bay there are plenty of options for a spice wuss like me so it's great that the waiters at Turtle Bay are so good at ensuring you pick a dish you'll enjoy.

There are a few new sections to the menu at Turtle Bay but it was the new burger menu that really caught my eye, I couldn't resist. I ordered the Jammin Lamb Burger (£10.95) - grilled lamb & mutton burger topped with crisp gem lettuce, tomato, fresh mint and onion salad, herb mayo in a sweet bun with pineapple jerk glaze. Lamb isn't something that I'd usually order but I was curious to see how it'd work in a burger and was impressed at how delicious it was. I almost ordered a salad to accompany my burger but in the end just couldn't resist Turtle Bay's sweet potato fries - they are some of the best around.

Turtle Bay, Newcastle - New Summer Menu Review - Burger

Of course, if you're being far better behaved than me and want something a little healthier in the Summer months, Turtle Bay have launched a Beach Salad range as part of the new Summer menu. I was very tempted by the delicious sounding Avocado, Butternut Squash and Mango Salad (but that was before I discovered the burger menu!).  Vegans and Veggies will also be happy to with loads of new dishes launched including 16 options for vegans and 23 dishes for vegetarians.

My friend Kelly ordered another of the new dishes off the menu, the Slow Braised Beef Rib (£14.95) Marinated beef ribs, slow cooked and jerk pit grilled with sweet onion chutney and green seasoning.  Served with sweet potato fries, fresh watermelon, lime & coriander chow salad with a choice of jerk glaze. I had a lot of food envy when her order showed up and she had an entire board covered in food. It looked seriously delicious and I think I'll be ordering it myself on my next visit.

Turtle Bay, Newcastle - New Summer Menu Review - Slow Braised Beef

Of course when you're a spice wuss dining at Turtle Bay it's important to make sure you have a lovely refreshing cocktail by your side. I ordered the new Goombay Smash (£7.15) - Cockspur rum, Koko Kanu coconut rum, apricot liqeur, bitters, shaken with orange and pineapple and Kelly enjoyed an Elderflower Cooler (£3.60) Elderflower, cucumber ribbons, fresh mint, lime juice topped with soda.

If you love the cocktails at Turtle Bay as much as me you might be interested to hear that you can now book a "Cocktail Table" in the restaurant or bar to enjoy drinks and snacks!

By this point in the evening we were both feeling so full but the new dessert had really caught my eye and I couldn't resist. The Passion Pie (£4.95) - sweet pastry topped with zesty passion fruit curd, soft baked meringue and fresh passion fruit sauce sounded right up my street.

The portion was huge and turned up at the table with two spoons, luckily for me Kelly wasn't indulging so I got to scoff the whole lot myself. I loved when our waiter came over to check if I was enjoying my dessert only to discover that I'd already polished it off!

Turtle Bay, Newcastle - New Summer Menu Review - Passion Pie

As always I loved my visit to Turtle Bay and was so happy to try more of the menu. There are so many fantastic sounding dishes I think it'll take me a good long while to work my way through them all - the perfect excuse to return I think you'll agree!

Let me know your favourite Turtle Bay dish and what I should try next!

We received a complimentary meal for two in exchange for this honest review.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

New Luxury City Centre Spa in Newcastle - All About You, Grey Street Hotel

With Summer finally arriving I recently found myself looking for a luxury city centre spa in Newcastle so that I could get myself ready for the warmer weather (there was no way my disgusting feet were ready to be unleashed in public!) In the mood to try somewhere new I booked myself into Newcastle's brand new spa, All About You in the Grey Street Hotel.

The beautiful boutique Grey Street Hotel has had a full refurbishment this year with a stunning new reception area and the most gorgeous looking bedrooms. Judging by the photographs it looks like a different hotel, and I can't wait to check in one day soon for a proper nose round.

As part of the refurbishment you'll now find a brand new spa, All About You snuggled away in the basement and it is a beauty. Luxuriously furnished in white and grey with pops of mustard yellow, the spa is so comfortable and smells amazing, I felt at home as soon as I entered.

New Luxury City Centre Spa in Newcastle - All About You, Grey Street Hotel

I was welcomed at the desk by my therapist Rachel who was absolutely lovely and made me feel super relaxed straight away. We had a fantastic evening gossiping about life in the North East and sharing stories.

For my first visit I booked myself in for a OPI Signature Pedicure (£35.00). My 45 minute treatment included a lovely foot soak and exfoliate followed by a massage and acupressure then finishing with an application of polish (with loads of colours to choose from)

City Centre Spa in Newcastle - All About You, Grey Street Hotel

The pedicure station at All About You is like no other I've seen in the region. My seat was a really comfortable huge arm chair and even the sink for my feet looked super fancy.  I had a lovely foot soak with the most delicious smelling products followed by a foot massage that was so good I've decided I'm sacking my hubby as my chief foot masseuse!

Once my treatment was over Rachel took me for a quick tour of the new spa and I couldn't help but let out a few "ooooohs".  There are three gorgeous treatment rooms (including a huge room for couples that would be perfect for a little treat with your other half) as well as a manicure station and makeup counter.

City Centre Spa in Newcastle - All About You, Grey Street Hotel - Treatment Room

There are a huge range of treatments available at All About You including facials, massages, tanning and waxing. With a whole menu of goodies available for pregnant ladies and men, there are also some fantastic looking packages including a Couples Retreat for £85 which includes a massage, facial, chocolates and a glass of prosecco and personalised pamper parties for girlie weekends away and hen parties.

City Centre Spa in Newcastle - All About You, Grey Street HotelAn added little extra that I think makes All About You really special is the Delilah makeup counter. With its perfect location on Grey Street you can pop into the spa to get your makeup done and then you'll be ready for a night on the Toon. They even do makeup lessons (something I could probably do with). I always find makeup counters in the department stores a little intimidating so I love the idea of having a play around with the makeup at All About You.

City Centre Spa in Newcastle - All About You, Grey Street Hotel - Make up

My first visit to All About You made quite an impression and I feel like I've found myself a city centre spa in Newcastle that I can make my regular (I quite fancy becoming a lady that spas!). So I've already booked another appointment for next week - and it's a biggie!  I'm finally being brave and have booked myself in for my first ever wax!  Wish me lucky folks, I'm an absolute wuss with a very low pain threshold!

Yes I'm an absolute geek but after my first visit to the new luxury spa I couldn't wait to tell everyone all about it.  As I made my way back up Grey Street (trying not to trip over the pavement in my flipflops whilst looking at my phone) I was excitedly texting my best friends telling them all about my experience and then I got home and couldn't stop chatting to Simon about my wonderful evening.

I am so excited that I can finally get my feet out in the sunshine!

When you find somewhere that truly makes you buzz with excitement it's a very special moment and I really hope that you all try out the new All About You spa in Newcastle, it honestly is an amazing find!

For more spa experiences check out my previous reviews: The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere and The Garage Spa, Greta Bridge

Monday 19 June 2017

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Newcastle - Paul Amer Tasting Menu

We all know how much I love food. It's not exactly a secret how often I find myself rolling out of restaurants around Newcastle and, if there's one thing I love above all else, it's feasting on a tasting menu that allows me to have five courses instead of the usual three.

Roll up your sleeves guys this is going to get heavy!

I was recently invited to Marco Pierre White Steakhouse in Newcastle to try chef Paul Amer's taster menu. The menus at MPW offer customers a wide variety of dishes - there's a lot more to this Steakhouse than just steak and I couldn't wait to see what Paul was preparing for us in the kitchen.

Our evening began with a Rillette of Smoked Mackerel with light pickled vegetables.  Beautifully presented it was a little larger than I was expecting and I knew straight away that this taster menu would be a challenge even for a pro like me! I'm a huge fan of fish and really loved the beautiful flavours, the perfect start to our meal.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Newcastle - Paul Amer Tasting Menu

Despite knowing that I still had four courses to go I couldn't help but have a little pick at the bread basket on the table. When I say pick I really mean devour, I lost count of how many slices I had but wow the bread was so fresh and tasty and if you can't indulge in bread slathered in butter when you're out then when can you?

I'm sure you wont find many food bloggers who dedicate an entire paragraph to the bread basket but when it tastes this good I can't resist sharing.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Newcastle
Feeling slightly full on bread (I'll never learn) our next dish was a huge bowl of Slow Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil Pesto. It was so indulgently thick and creamy and the addition of the pesto helped to make it one of the most delicious soups I've ever tried.

It took every inch of willpower to put my spoon down before the end but I knew that if I kept on going I'd never be able to fit in the other courses.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Newcastle - Paul Amer

Next on the tasting menu was Lightly Curried Smoked Haddock Risotto. Curry is something that, until recently, I really didn't get on with.  Thanks to my hubby's patience over the last few years my tastes have really changed and now I really enjoy a curry so I was curious to try Paul's dish. The subtle curry flavour worked so well with the haddock, I just about stopped myself from picking up the plate to lick it clean - so delicious.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Newcastle - Paul Amer Tasting Menu
Next came the main event, Slow Cooked Belly Pork, Vale of Mowbray black Pudding, Pommes Puree, Roasted Cauliflower and Caramelised Cauliflower Puree. I'm not usually a fan of pork and I'd never order it in a restaurant as so often it's served too dry, but this dish was a game changer. The meat was so tender and full of flavour. I loved the rich gravy that covered the dish and the potato was so deliciously creamy.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Newcastle - Paul Amer Tasting Menu
The dessert arrived in a flurry of beautiful colour.  Raspberry & Passion Fruit Panna Cotta served with Mini Meringue and Raspberry Sorbet. I was feeling pretty stuffed by this point but when a dessert looks this pretty there was no way I could resist. It was the perfect end to our meal - light and fruity with the perfect mix of sweetness from the meringue and sharpness from the raspberries and berries.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Newcastle - Paul Amer Tasting Menu
Our evening at Marco Pierre White ended with us all feeling like we'd gained at least one dress size. The food was delicious and it was an absolute honour to have the talented Paul Amer cooking for us. I can't wait to go back to MPW soon.

Marco Pierre White invited us to enjoy a complimentary meal and share our thoughts. 

Friday 16 June 2017

My Tips for Eating Healthier this Summer

I really struggle to make healthy food choices during the Summer months. Sunny days and warm evenings automatically make me crave ice-cream cones, picnics, fish n chips and sugary cocktails. It's just so hard to stay focussed.

Having lost 9 stone I know how tricky it can be to stay on track when Summer arrives with all of its temptations. Simon and I are both currently trying to shift some excess weight and those pesky sugar cones at the seaside are making it a little tricky.

Here are just some of the ways that we're planning to eat healthier this Summer!

Tips for Eating Healthier this Summer

Healthy Cooking Books

Admittedly a lot of our cookbooks spend a lot of time sitting on the kitchen table not getting used. We have loads - Deliciously Ella, The Lean Machines, Madeline Shaw.  We just need to start using them! We've made a few recipes from Joe Wicks' Lean in 15 which have become our regular dishes during the week. Our mission this Summer is to get more creative and make ourselves some tasty new dishes.


People in my office laugh at me as I eat my homemade salad every lunchtime but to me it just makes sense.  Avoid the pitfalls of lunchtime cakes and trips to Greggs and make sure you're always prepared with a healthy pre-made lunch. The same goes for eating at home,  preparation is so important. Always make sure you plan your meals ahead and that your fridge is fully stocked with any ingredients that you need - "hangry" people with empty fridges make bad choices!

Emergency Meals

When you're in a hurry and have limited time to make yourself a meal from scratch it can be hard to stay focussed and healthy. We always ensure we have emergency healthy ready meals handy so we're ready for anything. Our current favourites are myhk (My Healthy Kitchen) which are available at Waitrose.

Using high quality, fresh ingredients every meal is under 500 calories and isn't full of nasties.  They take only a few minutes to prepare then you can serve them in your favourite bowl and dine alfresco - heaven!

Tips for Eating Healthier this Summer
Healthier lunch choices on the high street

It's inevitable that sometimes you're going to need to grab a quick lunch on the High Street but a bit of pre-planning can go a long way.  Do your research ahead and save a list on your phone of places that you know do healthier lunch options. Simon and I love the fresh natural food served in Pret a Manger or, if we're out and about in Newcastle, Naked Deli in the Fenwick Food Hall, Nudo Sushi Box and Time Banh Mi all do healthier dishes perfect for lunchtime.

Summer Activities

Everyone loves a picnic or BBQ in the sunshine and just because you're trying to be healthy doesn't mean you should miss out. Healthy kebabs stacked with veg are delicious on the BBQ and don't forget how good fresh salad tastes alfresco. We went to a picnic last weekend and packed ourselves salad and sushi and didn't feel like we missed out at all as we promised ourselves an ice-cream in the afternoon. It's all about balance, don't deprive yourself of the things you love!

Sensible menu choices when eating out

It's impossible to avoid eating out when friends make plans but there are ways that you can make healthier choices. Ask for dishes without some added extras, swap your fries for a salad or ask if the restaurant has a healthier menu. We love eating in Pizza Express when we're trying to be sensible, their leggera menu saves calories without compromising on taste.

Those are just a few of  my tips on how we plan to stay healthy this Summer but I'd love to know any tips you have of your own. We're always looking for ways to stay on track and make better food decisions.

This post was written in collaboration with myhk.

Thursday 15 June 2017

Tealicious, Durham - Ladies that High Tea

Surely the very best way to spend a Saturday afternoon is eating cake with your closest friends. Last month I finally tried Tealicious in Durham, one of the loveliest little tea rooms in the North East. Something tells me by the end of this blog you're going to be wanting to organise a visit for yourselves!

Despite Durham only being 10 minutes up the train track from Newcastle I don't often find myself there. I have no idea why because the cobbled streets, river views and delicious independents make it one of my favourite cities in the country.

I meet up with Lisa and Kayleigh quite regularly for food, we have a shared passion for gossiping over pots of tea whilst eating our weekly intake of calories in one sitting. We try and take it in turns to arrange where to go, I like to think of myself as the Newcastle expert, Lisa is a pro in finding little places in the Northumberland countryside and Kayleigh is our Sunderland and Durham tour guide. It's turned into a bit of a competition now, who can find the very best places for us to enjoy our food, and after Kayleigh organised our afternoon at Tealicious I think she may be winning!

Tealicious, Durham

You'll find Tealicious on Elvet Bridge, one of the many picture perfect streets in Durham city centre. As soon as I saw it I fell in love, it's everything that I love about a tea room. Small and quaint with pretty blue windows and white furniture. It's the kind of place I can't help but press my nose up against the windows as I stroll past.

One of the best things about Tealicious is that you can book a table. YES! For any other tea room fans out there you'll know how frustrating it can be trying to get into a tiny cafe on a Saturday afternoon they tend to be rammed with every seat taken and when you've travelled miles for cake it's not ideal. Kayleigh rang up the day before and secured us a table for three at 2:00 pm - a guaranteed table at prime cake eating time is exactly what you want!

Tealicious, Durham

When we walked into the tea room we noticed it was really cosy and pretty busy but luckily our table was upstairs in a small room that we had all to ourselves for a short while, great news for me as other tea room goers don't always understand why I want to photograph my food before I eat it!

The menu at Tealicious is packed with lunchtime treats, platters and, of course, all of the sweet treats you could possibly need. Luckily the menu is also available online which meant that I knew exactly what I wanted before I'd even arrived.

I decided to loosen my trousers and go for the High Tea for One - a sandwich, scone, a massive chunk of cake and a pot of tea all served on a mini cake stand for only £13.00. How could I ever resist? The best thing about the High Tea at Tealicious is that you get to choose what sandwich filling you want, the type of scone you'd like and, of course, you can visit the cake counter to pick out your cake.

Tealicious, Durham - Ladies that High Tea

Once we'd placed our orders we had a lovely little chat with the owner of Tealicious, Alison, who has such a wonderfully inspirational story. She had always dreamt of opening her own tea room until she finally decided to go for it on her 40th birthday. How many of us waste our days wishing we had the balls to do something like that? Just seeing her pottering around her tearoom, she looked so genuinely happy to be there and it such a joy talking to someone so passionate about their work.

I was over the moon when my cake stand turned up, it was like having a mini afternoon tea all to myself - very special!  I say mini, but really there was a lot of food for one person, but as we all know, I am a cake eating expert and I rose to the challenge.

Tealicious, Durham - Afternoon Tea

For my sandwich I chose Regional Cheese and Chutney on chunky white bread. Freshly cut into huge doorsteps it was such an indulgent sandwich crammed full of delicious filling.

I had the choice of a cheese scone or fruit scone for my stand and I obviously had to go for fruit because there was no way I could resit having my own pot of jam and cream to cover my scone in. There's something so indulgent about getting a pot all to yourself, no sharing and no judgement - I was free to slather my entire pot onto my scone.

Tealicious, Durham - Scone

When it came to picking out my cake I was a little stuck. My favourite kinds of cake tend to be beautiful flavour combinations, rather than just your classic cakes and the counter at Tealicious was so packed with tempting slices there were four I wanted! After changing my mind a few times I eventually went for the Rhubarb and Custard. A delicious sponge covered in a naughty amount of custard buttercream packed with fresh rhubarb.  Oh wow!  It was one of the best cakes I've ever tried (and we all know I've tried a lot!).  I was completely gutted because it actually defeated me, I couldn't quite manage it all!

Beautiful cakes, a wonderful atmosphere and the loveliest staff - I honestly can't shout loud enough about how much I adored Tealicious in Durham. I can't wait to go back next time I'm visiting and I know I definitely need to take Simon!

Let me know if you have any recommendations of where I should try next in Durham.

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