Tag Archives: food

Comfort food time

18 Nov

It’s well and truly autumn and while the goose is getting fat for Christmas, it also seems I’m doing my very best to build up a solid layer of insulation against the winter chill.

There’s nothing better than tucking into a hearty feast on a cold day and now that I’m all grown up and living in zone 4 (eeks), chez littlemissvino has become quite the place for dinner parties.

A couple of weeks ago, two of our very good friends came round so we decided to make Jamie’s chicken pie with carrot smash and minted peas – watch how to make the recipe here.

Having learnt from previous mistakes surrounding Mr Oliver’s so-called “30 minute meals”, we rather smugly prepared the pie filling the night before so that when our guests arrived, all that  was left to do was pop the puff pastry lid on the pie , do the veg et voila! (as Raymond would say)

The pie went down a storm and was followed by homemade chocolate brownies (they were scoffed too quickly for me to take a pic). To accompany the pie, I chose a Langhorne Creek Chardonnay from Asda’s new Wine Selection range – a spot-on match for the creaminess of the chicken pie filling. I’ve often found people tend to shy away from oaked Chardonnays, but a subtle touch of oak can bring vanilla and creamy hints to a wine which make this style of Chardonnay the ultimate pairing for dishes such as spaghetti carbonara, butternut squash risotto and of course Jamie’s chicken pie with creme fraiche and English mustard. It’s currently only £5 too so I’d highly recommend it.




It’s right funky up narf

12 Aug


As I confessed in my last post, it’s been a few months since I last made an appearance so apologies that the following is a bit old news.

A couple of months ago I went to visit my good friend in Manchester. Alice and I met whilst learning to distinguish our Scarlett Miss Charlottes from our Del Boys working at Revolution in Preston (obviously THE place to be) and quickly bonded over a shared hatred of glass collecting and cocktail exams (yes, such things do exist).

Anyway, now I’ve been in the big smoke for a couple of years, away from my native Lancashire, I’ve been out of the loop in terms of where’s good to eat round there. Luckily Alice knew just the place and we headed to The Alchemist in Manchester’s Spinningfields.

The cocktail list was so extensive that we’d actually studied it before heading to the restaurant just to give us more time to catch up while there. With prices ranging from £5.95 to £18.50 for a sharing cocktail, I thought the drinks were very good value and not too ‘gimmicky’. To whet your appetite, a few of the options included cherry bakewell martini, lemon and cherry pie and cola bottle libra. After a long time flitting between options, I finally went for a marshmallow daiquiri made up of Barcardi gold, rose liqueur, limoncello, apple juice and sugar garnished with – you’ve guessed it – a marshmallow. Yummy! As you can see, it went down like a treat:


The food menu options were equally impressive with a variety of world-inspired dishes to choose from including American salt n pepper chicken wings, Thai fish cakes and Moroccan spiced lamb tagine. With only a couple of weeks left until my holiday, I opted for a light chicken stir fry, packed with crunchy vegetables and bags of flavour.


So for all those Mancunians who haven’t quite made it to The Alchemist, I’d thoroughly recommend it. It’s not the place for a quiet, romantic dinner for two but if you’re looking for somewhere with a buzz, this is definitely the place for you.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

7 Aug


Whoopsies…apologies I’ve been somewhat absent the last few months, but you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. With a new job and what feels like a wedding/ engagement do every weekend, I haven’t quite had time to post.

I have however got a brand spanking new blog logo, kindly designed by my brother Jonathan (I’ll pay you back in royalties one day, bro), so to celebrate, here’s a quick rundown in numbers of my life over the last few months:

5 – The number of English wines enjoyed this summer alongside the Jub-Olympics celebrations (drinking is definitely a sport)

4 – The number of weddings attended so far in 2012 (how many times can you wear the same fascinator with different dresses?)

3 – The number of wedding invites already received for 2013 (crap, I’m going to have to buy a new fascinator)

2 – Average daily logins to Daily Mail Online (DMO)

1 – Holiday to Sicily done and dusted, what a distant memory

0 – The number of Starbucks coffees enjoyed in the last two months, savings made: £40.80 = six bottles of wine, get in

And speaking of which, here are a few of the wines I’ve been enjoying the last few months:

  • Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc (available at Majestic) – with delicious gooseberry, lime  and tropical flavours, you can’t go wrong with this wine for a wedding
  • Three Choirs Regalia 2011 (available from Asda) – an English wine perfect for those moments of sunshine and a picnic in the park
  • Chapel Down English Sparkling Rosé Brut (available from M&S) – like strawberries and cream in a glass, yum yum yum!

Finally, as a quick summary, thought it would be nice to include a photo of a card I recently sent to some friends to welcome them into their new home – nuff said me thinks:


Who ate all the pies?

12 Feb

I read in the newspaper the other week that a company in Lincolnshire had created the world’s first steak and Red Bull pie, designed to give you a boost, or wings, so to speak.

Now I don’t know about you, but if I need a caffeine boost, I’ll have a coffee, and if I fancy a pie, I’ll choose a steak and ale pastry delight – I don’t want any of this messing around and mixing of the two together, thank you very much. Which is why a couple of weeks ago, I started the day with my customary tall skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks and concluded the evening with a visit to the Newman Arms Pie Room for my dinner.

Listed as number three in the ‘Time Out 1000 things to do in London’ guide, the Newman Arms Pie Room offers “duvet-sized puffs of pastry” which “envelop such special fillings as venison in red wine” along with mash, veg and gravy. For a post-work Thursday night dinner, The Pie Room ticked every box and my MAHOOSIVE steak and Guinness pie certainly filled a hole and “wasn’t bad for a snack” as my great granddad always used to say after a large meal. While I stuck to the puff pastry version, my flatmate opted for the chicken and leek suet pudding which she described as “simply lavely.”

To celebrate the penultimate day of the working week, we then headed over to Bourne and Hollingsworth to counteract our manly pies with a slightly more feminine cocktail. Tucked away down an unassuming set of stairs, this cheeky basement cocktail bar resembles your granny’s front room with floral wallpaper and chintzy mismatched teacups and saucers to serve the cocktails in, which are usually almost too pretty to drink (but not quite):

To reflect their retro decor, Bourne and Hollingsworth’s cocktail list has a distinctive focus on old-time spirits such as gin and bourbon. Unfortunately though I committed a schoolgirl error and forgot to write down the name of the cocktail I had (the fruity one on the left), but I can guarantee that all the drinks I’ve had there have been tasty. What’s more, some are pretty potent –  my flatmate had a ‘Chimp’s Tea’ made from Monkey Shoulder whiskey, peach liqueur, Earl Grey tea syrup and orange zest which packed a punch and certainly warmed her up on a cold winter’s night.

Both the Newman Arms and Bourne and Hollingsworth provided the perfect atmosphere for Thursday night chilling and I’d thoroughly recommend a pie and cocktails evening (still not convinced on the steak and Red Bull pie idea though).

Taking everything with a pinch of Salt

22 Jan

Through my degree in Spanish and subsequent work on the Wines from Rioja account (for proof, check out this geeky photo of me jumping, second in from the right), I think it would be fair to say that I am an ardent fan of tapas. Since moving to London a year and a half ago, I have made it my mission to sample some of the capital’s top tapas bars, which so far have included Brindisa, Barrica and Opera Tavern. So, with my dad in town last week, we decided to give Salt Yard, the sister restaurant of Opera Tavern and Dehesa, a go and once again I wasn’t disappointed.

What I love about tapas is the flexibility that they offer – whether you’re simply after a glass of sherry and a handful of olives or would prefer to get settled for the night with a bottle of tempranillo and a never-ending stream of little plates, tapas offer something for everybody.

Feeling experimental, Dad decided he wanted to order a selection of bar snacks to get us started, without knowing what their English translations were so, despite several warnings from me, we ended up with anchovies (boquerones), caperberries, extremely spicy guindilla peppers and smoked almonds – three of which we didn’t like (yes, I know, after living in a remote Spanish town for a year, I really should be fully acquainted with this kind of cuisine, but I’m sorry Spain, I JUST DON’T LIKE ANCHOVIES).

After this, I was therefore granted the task of ordering the mains so here are my choices:

  • Confit of Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with rosemary scented cannellini beans
  • Roasted chorizo with apple and moscatel
  • Chargrilled chicken, aubergine caponata, capers and olives
  • Venison carpaccio, lardo, dandelion, marcona almonds and qunice vinaigrette
  • Grilled underblade fillet of beef, prunes, panchetta and Pedro Ximinez
  • Jamon croquetas with manchego cheese
  • Classic tortilla

The food was so bloody tasty that I’m afraid I forgot to take pictures, so the following pics are the only ones I got (only just remembered with the chorizo, oops!):

With an exclusively Spanish and Italian wine list, designed to ‘showcase the delicious indigenous grapes of these countries’, I was intrigued to try one of these indigenous grapes. As such, we chose a bottle of the Albariño San Campio Terras Gauda which came in a lovely bottle:

The albariño grape comes from Rias Baixas in Galicia and this particular example displayed a distinctive perfumed aroma of apricots and white peaches. Light, dry and intensely fruity, it probably wasn’t the best match to our rich, meaty tapas. but on its own was a delight to drink.

Feeling rather stuffed from the mains, we instinctively told the waitress that we had absolutely no room left for dessert, which of course led to us ordering a pudding and, in my dad’s case, two. In the littlemissvino family household, the sign of a good restaurant menu is the ratio of chocolate to non-chocolate based desserts on the menu and on this test, Salt Yard scored a gold star. Out of five possible options, three featured chocolate so I went for the churros with Valrhona chocolate sauce, and Dad went for the hot chocolate ganacha with Turron ice cream, plus the churros. Although he claimed this second set of churros was for ‘sharing’, they most certainly were not as they were just too damn tasty to give away:

With two satisfied tummies, we left Salt Yard vowing to come back, although not before trying Dehesa, Copita, Cigala, El Pirata, Barrafina and Fino……