Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Great Geordie Burger Quest Part 2: Fat Hippo Underground.

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Since my first Geordie Burger Quest, I’ve visited quite a few burger toting establishments and I’m now running up a backlog of burger related blog posts. My next visit was a highly anticipated one; The Fat Hippo Underground was probably one of the most recommended to me, via Twitter. Was I in for a treat or a complete anti-climax?

I’d heard the Fat Hippo’s latest venture, a city centre restaurant, tends to get extremely busy, so I booked a table for a Tuesday evening. The restaurant itself is situated next to The Theatre Royal and is entered by stairs taking you into the subterranean burger restaurant.

To be honest, FHU annoyed me before I even got the chance to eat anything. I’d booked a table, four days previous. Despite this, I was told abruptly by our server, as soon as we were seated, that we could only have the table for an hour. Now, if we’d walked in off the street, that would be fair enough, but I’d booked in advance and wasn’t told any of this at the time of booking.

Despite having a time limit for our meal, we choose some starters to begin. I opted for the deep fried pickles, which were encased in a crispy batter and came with a garlic mayo. They were nice. ‘Nice’ is such a crap description, but that’s how they were. They didn’t blow me away, but then I’ve had Meat Liquor’s version and there’s no competition really. The pickles were also really greasy and due to our server not supplying us with any cutlery or napkins, I ended up wiping my hands on my jeans. Lush.


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I’d tried to extract some information from our server about the burgers whilst ordering, but any questions were answered with singular words and a ‘can’t be arsed’ gaze. It didn’t seem that I was going to get any help with ordering, so I figured that the ‘Fat Hippo Burger’ would be a good choice. The burger features a double 4oz patty topped with smoky bacon, chorizo, cheese, onion rings and ‘Fat Hippo sauce’.

Our burgers arrived quickly and were piled high onto serving trays, accompanied by hand cut chips, lettuce, tomato and pickles. I’d also added some ‘Problem Child’ hot sauce to my order, to spice things up. So the big question is- Did the Fat Hippo Underground live up for my high expectations? Sadly, in a word- no.


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The burger looked impressive, towering on the tray, stacked high with toppings. The chorizo was tasty, however the cheese was a tad on the rubbery side and the bacon was too fatty. I had to remove the onion rings from the burger, they were far too greasy and I couldn’t fit the burger into my mouth with them in (I’ve got a big mouth, but it’s not that big). The combination of the burger and the grease from the toppings was too much for the bun (which was a decent effort, but too soft) and I ended up with most of the contents slopping back onto the tray.

The burger patty itself was a pretty decent bit of beef, which was nicely seasoned. Though despite being asked my cooking preference, my burger wasn’t served pink, not even close. This was probably down to the fact it would be pretty difficult to cook a burger that thin, medium. One single, thicker burger, instead of two might have been a better option. Overall the burger had a lot going on, maybe too much for me to handle, but elements of it were really tasty.

The burger was accompanied by hand cut chips, which I left pretty much untouched, I ate two of them. They were horrible, big chunks of watery, tasteless potato. They were too chunky; there was no crisp to the outside and no fluffiness on the inside. They were just really, really poor. I probably should have mentioned my disappointment to the servers, who did four half arsed check backs during our main course, but by that point I think I’d just given up.

Fat Hippo Underground has all of the elements, to become my favourite burger joint, but it just didn’t happen. Having said that, I would visit again,for some reason I feel like they deserve a second shot. I’ll also be paying the Jesmond branch a visit on my Geordie Burger Quest, to see if the original is better. Unfortunately Fat Hippo Underground wasn’t what I’d hoped for, so I’m going to give them a 6.5/10 and cross my fingers for better things next time round.

Claire.

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...

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..Or a lovely bunch of coconut products. It’s that time of year again- summertime! Where long, hot days are filled with beach trips and basking in the sunshine. Oh, wait. I live in the North of England, that’s not what happens at all. But at least I can recreate the feeling of being on a tropical island, by smelling like one, even if it’s more likely to rain all summer long. Coconut is one of my all-time favourite scents and as soon as there is the tiniest glimmer of sunshine, I start to douse myself in the stuff.

I start in the shower, by using Original Source Coconut Shower Gel. I’m a big fan of Original Source products as they’re really cheap, but smell so good. My tropical shower theme is continued with the Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner by Organix; I love the smell of these products, but are sadly a bit too heavy for everyday use on my hair. I use the serum from the same collection, before blow drying my hair, but again I have to use it really sparingly.

I love the pistachio Dry Skin Fix body butter by Nip+Fab and the coconut one is just as good at moisturising, but sadly doesn’t have a very strong scent. I usually mix in some Coconut Beautifying Oil from The Body Shop, to boost the scent. This stuff smells amazing and has so many uses- I use it on my body, as a facial oil at night and even to calm my frizzy hair on humid days. It gives your skin a lovely glow, which would look great on tanned skin (sadly I have the complexion of Caspar the friendly ghost).

To finish off my coconut bonanza, I spritz myself with a few sprays of The Body Shop’s Coconut EDT, which has a very similar smell to Harajuku Lover’s G perfume (but is cheaper and easier to find) and is a perfect summery scent.

Do you guys have any coconut product recommendations for a nutter (get it??) like me?

Claire

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Great Geordie Burger Quest Part 1: The Garden Kitchen.

If you've ever read any of our food posts, you'll know that us Trebles & a Mixer girls love a good burger; which lead to me to wondering- "What's the best burger in Newcastle?". I had this thought while having some lunch at The Garden Kitchen in Eldon Gardens, having scanned the menu, there was only one obvious option for me- the cheeseburger.

Whilst chomping away on The Garden Kitchen's offering, I devised a scoring system, to aid me in my quest. Firstly, and most importantly, the burger itself needs to be assessed. The quality of the meat, flavour and seasoning are all to be considered. How the burger is cooked is another important factor, I prefer my burgers to be served pink; so to me, if a choice is offered, I feel its a sign of a good burger.

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The Garden Kitchen's cheese burger comes with an 8oz beef patty, I wasn't asked how I would like it cooked, but I overheard another customer being told the burgers were served medium, so it would be "pink inside, but not bloody". However, when mine arrived, it was definitely cooked through, fortunately it was still pretty juicy. The meat itself was of a decent quality, but could have done with slightly more seasoning. Luckily, the chuck steak used in the burger had a decent flavour to it.

The next aspect to consider is- the bun. For me, there's not two words I love more in the world than 'brioche bun'. Personally, there's little else I really want a burger to be served in. The Garden Kitchen's burger was served in one of my beloved brioche buns. Sadly, it was a little dry, but otherwise was a lovely sweet tasting brioche topped with sesame seeds.

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I find that the accompaniments to a burger can either make or break it, you can have the best quality beef burger in the world, but if it's smothered in a substandard cheese, the whole thing can be ruined. The Garden Kitchen's patty came with melted cheddar, a slice of beef tomato and crisp romaine lettuce. On the side was a small pot of pickles, which was a nice touch in contrast to the usual two tiny slivers of gherkin which you see in so many other places. For an extra 95p I added a pot of 'dirty sauce' to my meal, which was a tangy, spicy mayo and helped give the burger the extra flavour and seasoning it needed.

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This particular burger came with fries on the side, which curiously came in a paper bag, which I didn't really understand and reminded me of how the fries in my local chicken shop are served. After dumping my fries out onto my plate, I was slightly disappointed to see the bog standard, skinny, McDonald's style fries that so many other places serve. They were hot, crispy and salty though and with the help of the 'dirty sauce', I munched my way through them.

Overall, as burgers go, the first burger in my quest was a pretty good offering, with only a few areas letting it down. The Garden Kitchen charge £9.95 for their cheese burger, which I think is an alright price for what you get. The place itself, despite being in the centre of a shopping mall is quite quiet and relaxing, and I found the staff were attentive and helpful.

I'm going to give The Garden Kitchen burger a 6.5 out of 10, getting my top Geordie burger mission off to a pretty good start. Any suggestions of places to try in Newcastle or the North East are gladly welcomed. I have a few restaurants on my list already, but I am always looking for more to try, no matter how big or small.

So- What's the best burger in Newcastle? I'm pretty sure I'm going to have fun trying to find out.

Claire
x
 
Disclaimer.
I am obviously not a food critic. I'm just your average Geordie lass, who loves burgers. The burger I ate at The Garden Kitchen was bought with my own hard earned pennies and all opinions are my own. Cheers.



Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Eating Out: The Old Boathouse.


HEY! HELLO! HI! Does anyone remember when this blog was written by two people?? Probably not, because I’ve been slacking for about a year now, leaving poor Bryden to keep this thing going, but I’m finally back! I’ve tried to write a couple of posts to get me back in to the swing of things, but nothing seemed right. There’s been a couple of attempts at tedious ‘catch up’ posts, which I ended deleting. To be honest, I’d kind of fallen out of love with blogging, I had a lot of ‘real life’ stuff going on, with work, moving house etc. and poor old Trebz & a Mixer fell by the wayside. Anyway, let’s pretend I haven’t been the world’s worst blogger for the past year and get down to the important stuff- food. 

Towards the end of last year, my mam kept telling me about a restaurant that she’d visited with my dad a few times and based on her description, I demanded a visit. The Old Boathouse is located in Amble, Northumberland, just up the coast from my parents’ house, and is situated right on the marina, meaning the seafood they sell is literally fresh from the sea. After my dad forced us to participate in a stroll along the promenade, on a freezing cold, bleak January day, we arrived at the restaurant.  As the name suggests the building was once a boathouse for the local lifeboat. Inside the restaurant is quite small, but doesn’t feel cramped, with various nautical décor as you would expect from somewhere named The Old Boathouse.



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The food, naturally, focuses on fish and seafood, with a lot of produce brought straight from the local fishing boats to the restaurant (I spied a box of freshly delivered, poor crabs waiting for the chop) with menu staples such as fish and chips, crab and lobster. There are also extensive lists of daily specials on the walls and for the seafood haters amongst you (seriously, what is wrong with you??) there’s non fishy options such as steaks and pizzas, which look equally delicious.


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Naturally, as I’m a fan of devouring crustaceans, I opted for the lobster. This is usually served with salad, chips and garlic mayonnaise, but as I’ve been trying (and mostly failing) to curb my calorie intake lately, I asked to swap them to oven roasted new potatoes, which wasn’t a problem. My mam went for crab, which was absolutely huge and delicious, and my dad chose a salmon dish from the specials board. The portion sizes are decent; however there isn’t any scrimping on the quality of the ingredients.


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I’ve been back to The Old Boathouse for another family meal since my first visit and I’ve got a feeling it’s becoming a place that we’ll be going to for a long time to come. It’ll be a lovely place to visit in the summer, as there’s seating outside, where you can sit and watch the boats sail past, whilst getting elbow deep in lobster. 

Does anyone else end up with lobster EVERYWHERE when they eat it, or is it just me? I’m talking- on your forehead, in your hair and even in your eyebrows? Nope? Just me then….

Claire
x

Monday, 28 April 2014

SSSizzling!


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I was excited to see a e-mail drop into our Inbox last week inviting us to take a look at the new Sizzling Pubs menu. I had never been to a Sizzling Pub before so I was interested to check it out.


Our nearest pub was the Powder Monkey in Wallsend. Claire wasn't available to come along so I went along myself and brought a couple of friends with me. Sizzling Pubs are a chain dedicated to cheap eats with maximum flavour. The menu is huge and there is something for everyone on there. The kids menu are looked great offering loads of options for kids to pick from. The menu gives them the opportunity to build their own meal - great to stop those tantrums when an unwanted vegetable appears on the plate!



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We were greeted by Neil who was absolutely wonderful and encouraged us to try and squeeze in a starter, main and dessert so we could try a bit of everything - I thought to myself ''Challenge accepted!''


We decided on a sharing starter and some pulled pork nachos for our starter so we could have a pick at everything. The portions were VERY generous.


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Pulled Pork Nachos

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Sharing Platter

For mains I opted for a 'build your own burger' and ordered a beef burger with pulled pork, monteray jack cheese and onion rings which of course came with chips. My friends ordered the mighty mexican fajitas (a combination of chicken, steak, peppers and onions), surf and turf (steak and scampi) and a 10oz rib-eye steak. My friends mains all came on the chains signature sizzling plates.

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10oz Rib Eye
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Beef Burger with Cheese, Pulled Pork and Onion Rings
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Mighty Mexican Fajitas
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Surf and Turf
Already stuffed to bursting we soldiered on and ordered desserts. I ordered the cherry and rhubarb steamed sponge pudding with custard (amazing!) and my friends ordered a cookies and cream sundae, toffee honeycomb sundae and a profiterole sundae.

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The Ice Cream Sundaes
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Cherry and Rhubarb Sponge Pudding
We spent a good 3 hours in the pub taking our time which is great for me because I take ages to eat. We didn't feel pushed to leave and the pub had a really relaxed atmosphere. Some people were dining and some people had just came in for a quick drink at the bar. The chain also has some great drinks offers on the go as well.


So would I go again? The answer is yes. The food wasn't and isn't meant to be fine dining but there's something about these types of meals that I love. The food is good, cheap and hits the spot. 

Bryden x

Disclaimer - We were contacted by the PR team for Sizzling Pubs to consider a review of their chain and sample some items off their new menu. My friends and I received a complimentary meal. No direct payment was received for this post. All thoughts are my own.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Lane 7

Just before Christmas my friends and I visited Lane7 in Newcastle for some bowling and food. The food was amazing and the bowling was so much fun despite being absolutely terrible at it! I lost!

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Bryden x

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Eggs a la Rachel Khoo

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I absolutely adore Rachel Khoo. I love the simplicity of her recipes and that she uses ingredients that aren't hard to find or expensive. I also admire the fact she was able to cook/film/write/test recipes in her tiny little kitchen in Paris. As someone who was cursed with a tiny kitchen for 18 months I know of the daily struggle of cooking/keeping things tidy/finding a place to store something or even trying to find the space to put plates on the bench! In my shoe box kitchen we didn't even have a cupboard big enough to store dinner plates. 

I came across Rachel's column in the Standard. A brilliant way to test a few recipes before investing in her books. The first recipe I tested was her Cheats Eggs Benedict recipe (I'm convinced it's an eggs florentine though as it has spinach and not ham or bacon but I will let her off). This is a lot quicker and simpler than the traditional recipe of making a hollandaise. It's also a lot healthier and very slimming world friendly! From what I gather Rachel also painted the picture which can be seen on the recipe page - A very clever woman indeed. I have made this every Saturday for a month now and I'm not getting sick of it. I sometimes add a couple of slices of ham or bacon into the mix too.


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CHEAT'S EGGS BENEDICT
Serves 2
160g frozen spinach
1 English muffin (I used some of my dads homemade bread this time. You could also use a slice of wholemeal toast cut in half for your muffins too - This is my favourite way!)
2 medium free-range eggs
Sea salt
Black pepper
½ tsp sumac
½-1 tsp harissa paste (depending
on your desired heat)
80g Greek yoghurt
30g salted butter

Place the frozen spinach in a heatproof bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover the spinach entirely. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to defrost.
Cut the muffin in half and toast under the grill or in a toaster.
In the meantime, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a gentle simmer and maintain on a medium heat. Crack one of the eggs into a wine glass
(I find this makes it easier to guide it into the water). Using a wooden spoon, stir the water to create a little whirlpool, then pour the first egg into the centre. Repeat with the second and leave to cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll or a clean tea towel. (Cut off any stray bits of white to tidy them up.) Season.
Drain the spinach into a colander and squeeze out the excess water. Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of sumac. Mix the harissa with the yoghurt. Spread each muffin half with butter and divide the spinach between them followed by the eggs, then dollop on the harissa yoghurt. Serve immediately, preferably with a Bloody Mary.(taken directly from http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/rachel-khoo-cheats-eggs-benedict-
9157508.html)


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Bryden x

 Crossed posted FROM Bryden's personal blog http://the-northern-life.blogspot.co.uk