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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Restaurant review: The Northall at the Corinthian

It was my best friend Caz's birthday a couple of weeks ago. I was keen to take her out for dinner to celebrate. I ended up choosing the Northall restaurant at the Corinthian Hotel near Trafalgar square as I'd eaten there before and really enjoyed the experience. 

The Northall - source
The Northall is pretty expensive so I was really pleased to find a pre-theatre Toptable offer of three courses for £30 plus a glass of champagne - pretty good value I thought. The menu itself is good too. Some set menus can be really restrictive in terms of options and some are clearly just offering the cheapest food too. The Northall's menu included steak without an additional charge which I was impressed with. 

The surroundings are very plush - it feels like you're in a very exclusive place; perfect for treating the birthday girl. The service itself was amazing in terms o f our waiter, Omar, who was the sweetest waiter imaginable. The only problem was that we had over an hour wait between our starters and main course. This was fine as we had loads to talk about, and weren't actually going to the theatre, but it would have been hugely annoying if we had been off to watch something.

I started with butternut squash soup and goats cheese which they poured out of a jug for me at the table. I particularly liked the addition of the goat's cheese as it added a welcome tang. Caz chose a duck terrine which she enjoyed. Sorry about the state of the photos - phone plus low lighting makes for terrible pictures.

A special note on the bread which was delicious. We would have accepted more when they offered us a second helping had we known how long we'd have to wait for our mains! Caz had a rich red wine risotto. Unfortunately, Caz is an expert risotto maker and found the Northall's sadly lacking - it was bit too stodgy for her liking. My rump steak was delicious and perfectly cooked to my liking, although bizarrely they didn't bother to ask how I liked it cooking.

I chose badly for dessert; the promising sounding raspberry mille feuille wasn't great. It was served with a citrus sorbet which together with the raspberry was far too sharp for my taste. Plus there really weren't anywhere near to a thousand leaves of pastry more like three. Caz chose a saffron and white chocolate cream dessert with pear caviar which was deliciously decadent. I couldn't taste or see any hint of the saffron though. We finished our meal with complimentary chocolates (made with water, not milk - apparently this gives a purer flavour. I didn't like them) and coffee owing to our long delay in food.
I would definitely recommend the Northall for a special occasion, but only if you're using a special offer. It's probably not worth the money if you were to pay full price for everything. 

Where do you like to celebrate special occasions?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Doughnut cupcakes

I get into school at a time which I think is ridiculously early, around about 7.30am (Sorry Abby, if you're reading this, I know you get in much earlier). Annoyingly my body clock doesn't reset on a Saturday and this morning I found myself wide awake at 6.30am! 

However, one good thing came out of it which was that I managed to make this recipe that I've been dying to try for ages; cupcake doughnuts. By 9am the kitchen was full of delicious doughnut smells! 

I can't recommend this BBC Good Food recipe enough. It's stupidly easy to make and the end result is exactly what you'd expect - a perfect combination of cupcake and doughnut without the huge amounts of calories from fried doughnuts. At around 220 calories per doughnut, these make the perfect Saturday morning treat.

I used raspberry jam, but lemon curd and Nutella work brilliantly well too. 

Makes 12

140g caster sugar, plus 200g for dusting 
200g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
100ml natural yoghurt
2 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
140g butter, melted
12 tsp seedless raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius

1. Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the yoghurt and eggs.
3. Fold the melted butter and wet ingredients to the dry with a metal spoon.
4. Lightly grease a 12 hole cupcake tray
5. Add 1 dessert spoon of batter to each cupcake hole and then add a tsp of jam. Finally top with the remaining batter.

6. Bake for 18 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
7. Allow to cool in the tray for 5 minutes, remove from the tin and roll in the sugar.

What's your favourite Saturday morning baking recipe? 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Bringing blogging back

Sorry I've been absent for so long. I recently started working at a new school as a science teacher and have been run off my feet. Sadly weekends have been taken up with endless marking. I'm still managing to catch up with my favourite blogs, but Fresher Food, Fresher Approach has unfortunately fallen by the wayside.  Additionally, as I said to the lovely Lucy from Lucyonthelookout, occasions worth blogging about have become far more sparse too!

However, I really enjoy blogging and being absent has really sucked. I was thinking of how I could start blogging again more frequently and have decided that my posts will just have to be much shorter, so apologies in advance for that! I'm also writing this post on my phone waiting for a train, talk about time management!

I stumbled across this amazing yurt cafe on the way to Bristol Temple Meads station. Seriously quirky and unexpected in the middle of Bristol's business district.

It was such an unseasonably warm day that we sat outside and I had an odd combination of elderflower and pink gooseberry sorbet and tea. Both were delicious and very well priced.

How did you spend the lovely warm weekend? How do you manage to keep blogging when time is short?