Category Archives: Out and About

OnRoundhay festival by Lucy Reynolds 

Last weekend, I was dancing around, beer in hand, to the strains of Primal Scream and James…in fact, I was so close to the stage, that I could count the spots on Bobby Gillespie’s pink shirt. This weekend, I’m sat in a conservatory, listening to the Archers, wishing I was back in Roundhay park. Thus is life. In fact, last weekend will take some beating, as it was the first OnRoundhay festival, in sponsorship with John Lewis. I am hoping with every fibre of my body that it will be the first of many as it was exactly the sort of thing that sets Leeds out as the jewel in the North (obviously, I’m biased, but I don’t care…LEEDSLEEDSLEEDS!). As we entered the grounds of the park, it was clear to see that this was a family affair, with hundreds of families queuing up to get in. As you entered, a glittery ON sign greeted you, with different pathways for every type of reveller: the Main Stage for the music fans, the Chef’s Stage and John Lewis Food Village for the foodies and the Puffin Magical Storytelling Stage for those with little people (who are probably desperate for a distraction). We chose the fourth pathway…the one to the bar! 



We went inside the guests’ area (I know right….fancy!) and plumped for prosecco, beating the queues at the other venues. There were plenty of bars set up around the site though, serving real ale, gin and even champagne – we found that magical moment of when a band had just hit the stage, meaning there were minimal queues. Festival skills 101! 

After getting our fill of fizz, we went for a wander around, checking out what to gorge on. The festival started at 12pm and we got there for 3pm. The park was already full of hungry mouths, and we saw the Ox Club stand, with spits of whole lamb busily roasting away.

img_4123

img_4122

Next door were perennial Leeds favourites Patty Smith’s, serving up their dirty burgers which are already legendary at their normal home, the Belgrave. Rola Wala and Piggie Smalls were also busy serving their tasty wares, opposite the John Lewis Chef’s Stage. Seeing the queues for food, we decided to go and take a seat for the next talk, which was Stephano Corvucci, who runs CIBO (The Culinary Institute of Bologna). Taking our seat on the front row, it was easy to forget that we were at a festival, as we watched him being interviewed as he cooked a ricotta and spinach stuffed cannelloni, after expertly making the pasta from scratch. What I loved about Stephano’s talk was how honest he was about his food. When the presenter asked him how long it would take him to teach someone on his course to make fresh pasta, he said ‘a few hours’. If I had a cookery school, I’d drag it out enough to make as much money as I could…but then I’m an unscrupulous bastard. He seemed really relaxed, open and enthusiastic about his cookery and it really made me want to fly to Bologna to try it out myself…cookery, that is, not starting my own culinary school (see previous unscrupulous bastard comment). 

img_4154

After whetting our appetites with Stephano’s cookery, we went to decide what we wanted to eat. By now the queues were immense, so my friend and I took a split attack approach and queued up separately for Patty Smith’s and Yakumama. 

Impressed by the vibrant offerings from Yakumama, a food seller I’d not encountered before, we decided to go for the Tiger fries and an avocado brownie for afters. That was the starter and dessert sorted – and a Patty Smith’s dirty burger for our main. 


Now this was when things fell apart for us – rookie mistakes all over the place. We were hungry…nay, ravenous after the Chef’s Stage talk and didn’t realise what the waiting time for food would be like. As my friend queued for Yakumama for 40 minutes, I was still in line for Patty Smith’s, with no sign of getting anywhere near the front. After about 50 minutes, I got to the front to see that there were 12 tickets on order, meaning my order would be another 35-40 minutes. Hats off to the Patty Smith’s crew though, who were working their backsides off and being really apologetic to customers for the wait. I think just due to the size of the event, the food stalls were really pushed to the limit. My friend found me in the queue and had already eaten part of the tiger fries in an attempt to not eat her own arm off in hunger. I too tucked in the the beauteous pile of sweet potato fries, spring onion, fried chorizo, lime mayo and sriracha until there was none left and thought, later on, ‘fxxk…I didn’t take a photo of it.’ In fact, so incensed by our greedy actions, I got in touch with Yakumama, asking for any images of the fries, but I haven’t yet been able to find any of that particular dish. Maybe I dreamt it, in a hunger fuelled haze…we will never know. All I do know is that is was incredibly tasty and filled the hunger hole we had whilst waiting for our burgers. The avocado brownie was eaten during the James gig, and was absolutely delicious. It was moist with a rich chocolate taste that gave you a smug feeling that you were eating, in part, good fats due to the avocado. Chocolate and healthy = winner!


After our wait, we finally got our paws on the Patty Smith’s burgers and practically inhaled them, enjoying their trademark dirty sauce and slightly sweet brioche bun. 


Gorgeous, as ever. After a few more drinks, we settled in to watch the legendary Primal Scream play, and they were wonderful. Seriously, when Loaded started to play, I was so overjoyed, I felt like I had an almost religious epiphany…and Bobby Gillespie was God. At 54, boy can he move! Saying, that, he ain’t got the moves of James’s Tim Booth, who at 56, makes you feel like you could never have as much fun as he does on stage. He has some serious moves and the dude even crowd surfed whilst singing. With Wolf Alice playing beforehand, and Primal Scream and James topping the bill, it was an embarrassment of riches and a real coup for the first On Roundhay festival.

img_4156


In between bands, we walked around, looking at the other foodie offerings, though the queue sizes stayed impressively large. I chatted to someone who had just bought a broccoli laden Mac and cheese from the Mac Shac and seemed very pleased with his little tray full of pasta heaven. We also spied, but unfortunately didn’t have enough room for, a Yorkshire wrap from The Allotment, which was the ingenious idea of a Yorkshire pudding wrap with a myriad of meaty delights inside. Makes you proud to be in Yorkshire, doesn’t it?

All in all, OnRoundhay, to my mind, was a massive success. Even though the queues were huge, the food on offer was fantastic and if it encourages more indie food sellers to set up stall next year, then all for the better. The music was amazing and the whole atmosphere was brilliant – there’s not many festivals where families, foodies and hardcore festival goers can enjoy themselves in harmony. Here’s to next year! 

Thanks to Simon Fogal at Leeds Indie Food, John Lewis, Yakumama for the brownie photo and Ben Bentley for additional photos.

Chicago

Ok, so why visit Chicago?? It’s probably not the first place that springs to mind when picking a North American holiday, but as we found out it’s got lots going for it. Before the trip my knowledge of the city came from stuff like the Chicago marathon, their love of deep dish pizza, Edward Hopper’s painting ‘Nighthawks’, being called the Windy City and watching The Good Wife. Fairly standard stuff, apart from that I was a bit clueless. 

Here’s some great things about the city:

It’s so flat!!

Chicago’s dead easy to get around on foot, but if walking big distances aren’t your thing or you want to venture further afield, the L (elevated train system) is cheap and straightforward to use. On our walkabouts we found Chicagoans so likeable and friendly, the city was far less crowded than New York and I’d say a lot more relaxed too.

Make the most of FREE stuff!!

One of the best things was the amount of free stuff to enjoy, including:

Millenium Park 

A public park slap bang in the Loop where you’ll find Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavillion and the Crown Fountain. Definitely a tourist magnet, Cloud Gate’s seen from North Michigan Avenue and is a landmark that just lures people in.

img_8921-2

img_8902-2

img_8900-2

img_8898-2

img_8944-2

Free views anyone?!

As much as I wanted to experience the Sky Deck in the Willis Tower, I didn’t like price tag, especially when I found out a well known ‘secret’ spot with a fantastic view for free in the John Hancock Centre. Venturing up to the Signature Room on the 95th floor rewarded us with a great view for nowt, in our case we nipped into the ladies toilets where the photo was taken, as the restaurant wasn’t open yet. 

img_7837

We got another free view at Cindy’s in the Chicago Athletic Association, this cool bar has a terrace overlooking Millennium park and cracking cocktails to go with it!

img_8906-3

img_7129-2

img_8940-4

Chicago Cultural Centre

We loved its Tiffany-stained glass domes, marble lobbies and mother of pearl mosaics. 

img_7616-1

img_8036

img_8035-3

Lincoln Park Zoo 

Easy to get to, lots of different animals (200+ species) to see and free to boot; what’s not to like?! We spent a couple of hours there easy!

img_8971-2

img_8972-2

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Centrally located, just off Millennium Park and the Chicago Institute of Art. It was one of our lasts stops before our plane back to the UK and I’m glad we managed to fit it in as this small but perfectly formed museum likes to show contemporary work from new national and international photographers.  

Public art 

The city has so much free art on display, some donated by world famous artists, such as Picasso, Miro, Chagall and Henry Moore. We saw many wandering around the city, whilst many were in the city’s municipal buildings. 

img_8994-2

img_8989-2

img_8995-2

Garfield Park Conservatory 

Easily reached with a trip on the L, this is one of the largest conservatories in the country and was well worth a trip out. There’s a beautiful palm house, fern room, dessert house and tonnes more. If you LOVE succulents, cacti, ferns and palms you will absolutely LOVE this place!

img_9021-2

img_7861-1

img_7851-1

img_7850-1

National Museum of Mexican Art

Another highlight reached by a trip out of town on the L, this museum’s located in the Pilsen neighbourhood. The area itself has lots of character with street art and this gem of a museum, full of thought provoking and beautiful pieces. I wished we’d been able to spend more time to really explore Pilsen, in particular see the colourful murals and try out some of amazing Mexican food we kept smelling. 

img_7889-1

img_7898-1

Explore the outer neighbourhoods

I kept reading about Chicago’s hipster suburbs and in hindsight we should’ve done more of it. The 606 is a useful stretch to consider – an elevated park trail linking four neighbourhoods together (Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Bucktown). A couple of hours spent in Wicker Park before our flight home were definitely well spent, soaking in a bit of suburban culture and a tasty Furious Spoon ramen feed en route.

img_8065-1

img_8112-1

img_8079

Chicago by night

Many of the buildings become illuminated and bring the city’s skyline to life at night. 

img_8908-2

img_8909-2

img_8907-2

img_8950-2

Obviously not everything’s free (shame), here’s some of our favourites:

Chicago Institute of Art 

A place I could’ve stayed all day – their collection of American Art, Impressionist and Post Impressionist pieces were plenty to satisfy my artistic needs. One high point was seeing Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, I was like an excited child when I spotted it from afar! 

img_9004-2

img_9002-2

Architecture boat tour

This was one of the best things we did – learning about the history of the city, the architects and their buildings that shaped the area after the Great Chicago Fire from interesting and knowledgeable guides. I can’t recommend doing this more, 75 minutes well spent!!

img_8985-2

img_8974-2

img_8984-2

img_8981-2

Great food scene

Maybe it doesn’t possess the reputation of other cities, such as New York and San Francisco, but Chicago has plenty going on. With lots of fantastic independent restaurants and bars, the city has a great food and drink scene to brag about, it’s not all deep dish pizzas and hotdogs either! 

Some of our food highlights included:

Minghin Cuisine – this all day dim sum joint was our first port of call after landing in the city. With lots of dim sum classics and roasted meats to choose from, I was completely in my element and ordered far too much (no surprise there!), and ended up being so full I couldn’t manage any more food until the following day!

img_7120-1

img_7176-1

img_7171-1

img_7166-1

img_7175-1

img_7178-1

img_7164-1

img_7173-1

img_7170-1

img_7180-1

Korean at Crisp was a great lunch stop – quick service, inexpensive menu choices (korean burritos, bibimbap, sandwiches, fried chicken etc) and really tasty food. My Seoul steak bowl of bulgogi beef and rice, paired with two awesome sauces was particularly good, inparticular their mayo based ‘atomic sauce’ and ‘smoky spicy BBQ,’ a spicy gochujang sauce.

img_7502-1

img_7505-1

Japanese at Momotaro was booked weeks in advance after reading fab reviews. The restaurant, located in popular Fulton Market District had an interesting cocktail list and mixologists who definitely knew their stuff. Waiting staff were helpful, which was much needed as the menu covers a lot of bases, so even for those knowledgeable with Japanese cuisine it may take of bit of deciphering. For me the hot dishes stood out more compared to the sushi, but on the whole we enjoyed the experience.

img_7593

img_7603

img_7604

img_7607

The Publican in Fulton Market District is one of the city’s current hotspots (along with Momotaro), it’s basically a large beer hall serving great food and lots of it! Expect a menu heavily laden with seafood and pork dishes, brought to diners sitting at long communal tables stretching across the hall from end to end.

img_8010

img_8021

img_8025

img_8023

Tanta, this Peruvian restaurant really showed off the art of fusion food, with a concoction of European and Asian influences their menu makes a point of the cuisine’s diversity. I really liked the helpful serving staff, great cocktails; the Pisco Sour is recommended, great plates ideal for sharing and a lively atmosphere. We really loved the anticuchos skewers with New York strip, potatoes, corn and huacatay and the chafe aeropuerto, a side dish  of pork fried rice in a hot bowl, topped with a shrimp tortilla and a huge smack of spicy garlic in there for good measure. Enough to get scare off vampires! 

img_8195

img_8197\img_8201

Frontera Grill (N. Clark Street) was our Saturday brunch spot. A popular haunt with locals and tourists alike, it soon became full after we arrived and I’m not surprised – great brunch cocktails, lots of choice on the menu, really friendly staff and tasty food.

img_8287

img_8249

img_8255

img_8258

Coffee 

Chicago has great specialty coffee shops committed to serving direct trade coffee, we visited a few whilst we were there including Bowtruss, Intelligentsia and Asado. These three are definitely worth popping into with skilful baristas and great coffee!

img_7635

img_7271

img_8219

img_7613-1

img_7276-1

Doughnuts

I had no idea Chicago had a thing for doughnuts, but the city has shops aplenty with a huge variety for anyone with a sweet tooth to try! We saw many people going in for breakfast, one with a coffee seemed the done thing, from a long list we tried Firecakes, Do-Rite and Glazed and Infused, our favourite was definitely Firecakes. Personally I  found many just too big and too sweet (emphasising my lack of a sweet tooth), however saying that I still wish we’d managed to try The Doughnut Vault and Bombobar also.

img_7619-2

img_7630-2

img_7840-1

img_7841

img_8062-1

img_8059-1

Have you been to Chicago, what did you make of it?

Is there anything we should’ve done that we didn’t?! 

Dubrovnik

Recently my Instagram page has been filled with photos of Dubrovnik, the place had been on my list for ages, so after plenty of to-ing and fro-ing about the idea, we finally visited during the school hols. We’d arrived with high hopes after positive reports from mates who’d fallen in love with the place, and for us the place didn’t disappoint – it was beautiful and relaxing, easy to get around, with lots of cultural sights, decent local wine and tasty Mediterranean food. Our apartment was literally a few metres away from the Stradun which was perfect for us, we could explore to our hearts content and pop back for a bit of a siesta if we needed to.

Here’s a run down of a few must do’s I’d recommend in anyone’s itinerary:

Stroll down the Stradun

The old town’s famous street stretching between the city’s two main gates is probably one of the world’s most photographed. Luckily it wasn’t as crowded as it can be in the most popular months of peak season, being common place for waves of coach parties bringing tourists from the multiple boats that visit the city. It’ll probably be the first thing that catches your eye as you walk through the Pile gate, believe me!

img_9597

Walk the city walls

The most touristy thing to do here, with fantastic ever-changing views, at a steady pace with time to take in your surroundings and the odd photo or two, it’ll take 2.5 hours or so. There’s lots of opportunity along the way to break the journey up, either have a cold refreshment and a sit down or come down and fit in other sights en route. Safe in the knowledge your ticket allows you to hop on and off the wall, (not literally, but you know what I mean!).

img_0028

img_9906

img_9899

img_9878

img_0467

Explore the Old Town’s nooks and crannies

Meandering in and around the narrow streets and alley ways let us gauge a sense of the areas character; where locals go about their daily business, be it hanging out their washing (often in-between houses), chatting in the streets or selling handmade souvenirs. Easy to navigate around, one way or another they seemed to work their way back to Stradun every time.

Visit some churches and monasteries 

Some of the highlights include the 14th Century Franciscan Monastery, with a beautiful and tranquil cloister and it’s pharmacy still in use today. 

img_0092
Cloisters of the Franciscan Monastery

img_0093

Another monastery of note is the Dominican Monastery, built at a similar time to the city walls. A dominant structure, it’s exterior seen to the fullest when walking the city walls, it’s cloisters are peaceful and the church possesses some artistic gems. 

img_9878
Dominican Monastery 

img_0367

img_0366

img_0388

img_0389

In close proximity to each other on the Stradun are the Church of St. Blaise, the Sponza Palace and the Rector’s Palace. 

img_9795
Church of St. Blaise
Sponza Palace
Rector’s Palace 

Explore Dubrovnik at night 

With many of the highlights lit up and on show, a stroll through the old town is worth while a portion of your time with many restaurants, wine bars and musicians to entertain. Our apartment was just off the Stradun, so a few times I tried to capture a shot of a empty street, and was finally successful at 4am.

Treat yourself to ice-cream, sorbet or both!

Before we’d even arrived in Dubrovnik, I’d been given the heads up of how yummy the ice-cream was and it didn’t fail, completely living up to expectations!! With plenty of ice-cream parlours lining the Stradun, we found ourselves spoilt for choice, do the right thing and get a couple of scoops for yourself!

img_9604-1

img_0085

img_0414
Take the cable car up Mount Srd

In a matter of minutes, four to be exact we had panoramic views of the Old Town, it’s neighbouring islands and the Adriatic.

Watch the sunset at Buza Bar

Stepping through a hole in the city wall, some steps lead to a bar that seemed to hang off the side of the cliff. Timing it so we could get a table (it can get busy), the bar has an inviting atmosphere to enjoy the view of the Adriatic sea, Lokrum island and the glow from the sunset.

img_0309

Visit an island or two

A great way to avoid the crowds on really busy days was a boat trip to one of the neighbouring islands. With only a 10 minute boat ride from the Old Port our jaunt to Lokrum gave us a botanical garden full of cacti, succulents and lots of other species of plants, lush forests, a secluded salt water lake (The Dead Sea) perfect for a cooling swim and local inhabitants peacocks and rabbits.

Lokrum Island

Dinner at Taj Mahal

Yeah, the name may not sound very Croatian and when I first read it I stupidly had second thoughts about going there. However, after looking at the menu of traditional Bosnian food I was won over and my meat loving husband needed no convincing after that!! The service from the get go was spot on and the food awesome – I can highly recommend the Genghis Khan platter!!!

img_0439img_0442

Have you been to Dubrovnik, what did you make of it?

Was there anything we should’ve done that we didn’t?

Yammo!, Bath

If you’ve read my most recent post on Soya, you’ll know that apart from eating, a bit of the weekend was spent running as some friends and I had entered the Bath half marathon. Our accommodation for the weekend was a house we’d booked through AirBnB, about 10 -15 minutes walk north of the city. After the usual settling in period at the house, we walked into the centre and took in our surroundings, out of our party of five, three of us had never visited the city so it was nice to explore a little. Four of us were running and we’d all eaten an early breakfast, so by midday we were pretty ravenous, and as always carbs were the first thought on our minds. 

Everyone had assumed I had a list of places already researched to go, but on a rare occasion I didn’t, it was actually refreshing not to have done any work for it!! We weren’t after a posh restaurant or anything like that, but somewhere informal just to fill our stomachs and rest our legs before the big day. So after a quick internet search the place Yammo! popped up, an Italian diner which advertised itself as a Neapolitan street food kitchen and pizzeria – we thought it ticked all the boxes.

image

Located on Walcot St very close to Pulteney Bridge, the place looked quite small and with all the tables occupied it seemed we’d be out of luck, but it was our lucky day as there were a couple of free tables upstairs. Initially unbeknownst to us the place had won awards the last couple of years; including best newcomer 2013, (Bath Good Food Awards), UK Best pizza chef 2014 for its Margherita pizza, (PAPA Industry Awards) and just a few days ago were named Best Restaurant at Bath Life Awards 2015.

Apart from pizza the menu has lots going for it, using as many local ingredients as possible they offer a choice of dishes including small plates, antipasti and burgers. So it was no surprise that we  ordered a broad selection of items, including a couple of pizzas (Margherita and a Diavola), one burger with extra salami, whilst myself and a friend wanted to share four small plates.

image

image

image

Here are the pizzas (£9.95 and £10.95); I can’t comment on the pizzas myself, but as far as my friends there was praise aplenty for both. They weren’t the uber thinnest of bases, but it didn’t matter as the base was a tasty one with a bit of chew,  their toppings were kept simple and to good effect too.  

image
The Margherita
image
The Diavola with spicy salami

A side of crispy polenta (£3.75) were very moreish, again treated simply with some grated parmesan and a few salad leaves they were delicious. 

image
Polenta fries

The burger (£13.95) belonged to the other half and he was pretty quiet on the other side of the table, meaning that he was happy and it was spot on I reckon!

image
Italian Job burger with spicy salami

The four remaining dishes all came out at the same time, yes there was a lot of fried stuff, but most involved lots of carbs and it was exactly what we were after! All of them were excellent, the bolognese arancini (£5.75) were massive, perfectly golden, with a tasty ragu and risotto rice that was unctuously sticky and a stretchy mozzarella cheese centre. They were so so good!! Next up the potato croquettes (£4.95), again size here wasn’t an issue, there was lots of parsley, parmesan cheese, and when cutting into them soft, stretchy mozzarella cheese was on show. Third up the polpette a sugo (£7.25), on the menu it said they were based on ‘Nonna’s secret Neapolitan recipe, so surely they had to be good! Made with a mix of beef and pork these were perfect, soft in texture without falling apart, covered in a wonderful tomato sauce using San Marzano tomatoes. Last but by no means least the macaroni cheese frittatine (£4.95), now I’d never had it like this before, basically cubes of macaroni cheese with honey roasted ham running through it were deep-fried, so they had a golden cheese crust. Out of all of the these may have been my favourites out of four very good plates!!

image

image
Arancini filled with bolognese
image
Macaroni cheese frittatine
image
Polpette a sugo
image
Croquettes

If you’re in Bath at any point, you may be a local or just visiting like I was, then Yammo! is definitely worth a try! You’ll get some cracking food, decent service in informal surroundings at a reasonable price. 

Do you have any recommendations for Bath? I’d love to know which eateries are your favourites!

Yammo! 

66 Walcot Street,

Bath,

BA1 5BD

01225 938328

http://www.yammo.co.uk

Lunch at Bills

A couple of weeks ago, we were in Surrey spending Christmas Day with the other half’s family. Staying a few miles away in Woking, we fancied lunch somewhere on Boxing Day, but found slim pickings in terms of independent restaurants open that day, making it a little tricky with limited options. After a wander around the town centre we noticed one of the Bill’s restaurants. I’d seen them pop up a number of cities of the UK and had heard promising things of their food. So why not?

image

image

I wasn’t overly hungry for a change, so no starter (this time) and a quick once over at the menu pointed me towards the fish finger sandwich!!! Oh I love fish fingers, they remind me of being a child and they’re right up there with the best of sandwiches I reckon. The other half being a little more predictable was seduced by the idea of the burger.

Service was polite and friendly, certainly no evident signs of hungover staff to be seen, with drinks orders being taken quickly. As it was Boxing Day the place was quite busy, but our waiting time wasn’t overly long which is always a good thing!

The skin on fries were tasty,  lightly golden and crisp, but I do wish they’d get rid of the silly containers/baskets they often use. Just put them on the plate! The sandwich was more than enough to satisfy my appetite, the fish fingers were made with chunky pieces of cod and were predictably meaty. Covered in breadcrumbs and paired with rocket and tomato ketchup, I was happy. The only bit that let it down a little was the bread, it was supposed to be toasted, but it was barely-there if you know what I mean. I would’ve preferred it not toasted at all or more noticeably toasted to get the toasty crunch when you take a bite.

image

image

I can’t comment much on the burger, it seemed to be doing the job. Now that I look at my photo the bun is too big for the burger though, the picky diner that I am. Anyway, the other half enjoyed it and that’s what counts, I suppose. 

image

Lunch cost us £27.28, including soft drinks and service charge. A little more than I was expecting, but hey ho, it was Christmas. 

Food: a good lunch was had, nothing special but did the job.

Service: decent enough, polite and efficient.

Atmosphere: a fairly busy environment, especially being sat near the area. Music not too loud so you can easily hold a conversation with others. A decent place to take families and large groups.  

Leeds is yet to have a Bill’s restaurant, so I wonder if and when it will get one of its own?

Bill’s

27 Commercial Way

Wolsey Place Centre

Woking, GU21 6XR

Bill's Restaurant on Urbanspoon