Review: Kayal, Leicester

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Earlier this month after a twitter discussion, I found myself heading into Leicester on a foodie blind date. I met up with fellow foodie and chef extraordinaire Laurie and local and equally fabulous food blogger Emily for a couple of drinks followed by dinner at Kayal on Granby Street, just a few mins walk from the train station. Specialising in Keralan cuisine with a focus on seafood, there are a couple of restaurants in the Kayal chain, including in nearby Leamington Spa and Nottingham and I've only ever heard good things about them.

We were in good company, past diners include Gok Wan, Paul Hollywood and the Hairy Bikers. I was also surprised to see that on a Tuesday evening, the place was pretty full! The decor is a little on the 'interesting' side, this doesn't look like fine dining but go with it, you'll be very well fed by friendly staff!
Kayal South Indian Restaurant in Leicester
Kayal, Leicester

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Happy 1st Birthday Gingey Bites!

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Today marks 1 year since my first Gingey Bites post. It all began with a rude pie followed swiftly by my first restaurant review of a small and not very impressive place in Loughborough.

1 year ago today I was unmarried, we were living in a little flat and I was about to become unemployed. Losing my job hit me hard and starting this blog was a way to fill the time between job hunting. Little did I know that a year on, I'd be blogging more than ever and loving every minute of it!

Today I've got my very own husband, a lovely house and a really great job. To top it all off... I have a cat (I know..cat geek).

Anyway enough self congratulation.

What have I learnt?
  • Food bloggers are warm, passionate and kind people
  • There's a whole online community you'd never know about
  • I am better at cooking than I thought
  • It is possible to eat your own body weight in cheese
  • Having a hobby is rewarding in so many ways.
Most read posts?
Here are my most read posts.  Its a random selection, have a look, let me know what you think! Is there anything you want to see more of?

1) Olive Magazine 7 meals for £35 to the test
2) Make ahead and cut down that Christmas stress!
3) Kings Heath - Brum Yum Yum
4) Salted caramel & choccy swirl cheesecake
5) Olive Magazine Bagel Challenge!


Here's to the next year :-)
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Talking Wine with Susy Atkins

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Whilst we were at the BBC Good Food show last week, Mum and I were lucky enough to sit down with wine expert Susy Atkins.  As well as writing a wine column for the Sunday Telegraph's Stella Magazine, you may recognised Susy from her regular appearances on Saturday Kitchen. She breaks down the jargon making buying and trying wine easy to understand for all!
 
Once we'd sat down and got our introductions out the way, I got to asking Susy some questions. She was chatty, friendly and great fun.
 
Some people would describe what you do as a dream job. How did you get into it and was there a point when you realized you wanted to work with wine?
I wanted to be a journalist so when I finished uni I did a post grad in Journalism. Then I went to work for a business magazine and I learnt on that job that although I enjoyed the journalism, the subject matter didn't interest me in the slightest. I had to find somehting which did so when a job came up on a magazine called 'Wine' I jumped at the chance, spending time at evening classes to learn as I went along. I worked there for several years and then went freelance so that I could travel the world. I even spent 5 weeks as a wine hand in Australia, lugging and washing out barrels (although I was too weak to lift them)! Then I began writing for the Which? Wine Guide and eventually ended up being their co-editor. Since then I've been freelancing for a zillion years (not quite Susy!)
I recently read your review on Aldi wines – I don’t think we always realise you can get a very decent wine without spending the earth.  Do you have any stand out recommendations for under £10?
Yes, absolutely. The stand out for me from Aldi was their Macon Villages - its £4.99 - how do they do that! Occassionally incredible bargains do come up although I do recommend spending £6 - £7, you'll often be surprised at what you can get. Tesco Simply Muscadet too.. very nice and things like Chilean Pinot Noir - for £6 or £7 you can get something like a Cono Sur which will be much cheaper than the original Burgundy Pinot Noirs where you'll pay £11- £12 or more.
What is your up and coming wine tip for this summer?
Give another chance to the old fashioned classic European wine regions - they are reinventing themselves. Eg Beaujolis - its not been good for years but recently its really turned around. Muscadet too and even Vinho Verde (a Portugese wine) which used to be very old fashioned but a new generation wine makers are coming in now with a riper, fresher taste. Plus, at 10% alcohol you can drink it all day!
You’ve talked about wines being enhanced by the food that you are drinking them with – so often I think we just drink the same thing and don’t really think about how it matches what we’re eating. What are your very basic tips for matching different wines with different meals?  
When things have very bright flavours, you should crank up the flavours to match. Complex flavours like Asian flavours for example need something big like a new world wine whereas something like fish will need a fresh European wine. The most important thing to remember is to balance like for like. It sounds obvious but people often try to be clever by contrasting flavours and then it goes wrong. Either the food or the wine overwhelms the other. Go for a flavour which compliments the food - eg red wine with blackcurrant flavour goes with lamb - white wine with apple flavours goes with pork.
I find that you make things sound very straightforward and simple. It seems as though the 'snob factor' around wine is being broken down - how can people get into it?
I agree, people shouldn't be intimidated by wine and things have changed alot in the last few years. It should be for everyone. My tips for anyone wanting to teach themselves more about wine are:
1) Make sure you try lots of different wines and don't get stuck in a rut. Every opportunity - parties, dinners, meals out, always try something different & don't be scared 
2) When you do try someting different, think about it. Is it sweeter, richer, drier - for better or worse, think about what you do or don't like. How is it different from your usual tipple. 
We are so lucky in this country to have such a broad range of wines to try. If you go to France or Australia for example, the majority of the wines on sale will be not only from that country but from that region. Take advantage of what we have here which is huge variety!
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your days, what would you go for?
It would be something sparkling definitely. I'd feel awful not to have a red or a white wine again but it'd have to be sparkling. England - we make great sparkling wine now, especially down in Devon and Cornwall. We're not that far from Champagne! It'd have to be a dry bubbly!

You can follow Susy on twitter @SusyAtkins.
We finished the interview by putting Susy's tips straight into action by enjoying a cold glass of crisp clear Reisling - a variety which neither mum or I would usually go for. All thats left to say is 'cheers' and thank you Susy for so many great tips. Heres to trying more new wines in the near future!
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BBC Good Food Show Summer 2013 roundup!

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It came and went so quickly! This Weds I was at the BBC Good Food Show for what turned out to be yet another great show! I was lucky enough to be joined by my wonderful Mum - aka Mummy Bites. She went out of her way to embarrass me at every opportunity but then that's why I love her! We had a great day learning about some of the bursary winners, local producers and more. This weekend sees the show's climax - The Saturday show has sold out but if you're thinking of a last minute trip, you can buy tickets on the day - why not head over tomorrow?

After a couple of talks from some really great innovative and up and coming suppliers, we set off to roam the show. Of course we had to go to the Supertheatre for a live cooking demo and this time it was Theo Randall and Tom Kitchin - I was totally thrilled as I've been watching them all week on Chefs Protege. Every day you will find chefs and TV celebrities cooking on stages, whether its the Supertheatre, Belling or Masterchef stage so make sure you plan ahead to get a good seat. I was particularly gutted to miss Glynn Purnell who is on stage at the show today.


We also spent time in the producers village, picking up some great show bargains and sampling all that was on offer. As usual, there was a great selection - everything from spices and rubs through to cheese, wine, oils and chillies.

Here's are my favourites from the show:

Orchard Pigs
With the lovely Robert at the helm, Orchard Pigs is based in Wrexham and they produce a selection of pies, 'dragon' eggs and puddings. Their dragon eggs are great! I loved the spicy version. Think cumin, paprika and wonderful spiced pork wrapped around a free range egg. We loved their Tractor Wheel Pies. Similar to a pork pie but with a lighter pastry and less jelly, all the bloggers agreed that these were delicious. (shhhhh... don't tell my neighbours in Melton Mowbray!). Look out for Robert and his team at other food shows up and down the country.


Edible Ornamentals
My glamorous assistant Mummy Bites!
You may have seen that I've posted a couple of recipes recently using Edible Ornamentals Chipotle Chillis. They are based in the Midlands and grow so many varieities of chilli, selling plants, dried, fresh and chutneyed chillis. Their stall was fanstastic, full of plants and colourful bowls of chillis.

Pussy
Yes I know! Still, the lady on the stand told me that it was chosen to shock - and shock it does. In an energy drink world dominated by Red Bull and Monster, they needed something to stand out. This drink was really good, all natural ingredients and very refreshing with hints of gooseberry and apple. It didn't feel like an 'energy' drink in the traditional sense. Look out for it in Tesco and Selfridges.

Spicentice
I've spoken about these guys before - Leicester based Spicentice produce wonderful spice kits and rubs. The selection this year was bigger than ever and owner Ketan told me that they are working on new ranges all the time. I picked up a few goodies to test over the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled!

The British Tomato Growers Association
A great stand with a union jack made from tomatoes, these guys had some great tomatoes on display of all shapes, sizes and colours. I picked up some sweet piccolino cherrys and have already demolished most of the punnet!

Jabberwocky
You may remember my previous posts on our search for the Midlands Best Streetfood? Well, the winners of that search were given a pitch at the show - Jabberwocky, Fresh Roots and Ross & Ross. On our way out, Mum and I popped out to Jabberwocky for a toasty for the drive home. You can't miss their battered old green van. They don't just do the 'toasties' we know and love, they push boundaries with some fantastic combos - go for something sweet, you won't be dissapointed!

Jabberwocky & Mummy Bites

If you weren't able to attend the Good Food show this year, either because tickets had sold out or because you live too far away, don't worry, there are more coming up:
Finally, having been lucky enough to sit down with both Natalie Coleman, MasterChef champion 2013 and Susy Atkins, Saturday Kitchen and Telegraph wine expert, keep your eyes peeled for interviews - coming soon!
Meeting Natalie Coleman was a highlight of the day!
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BBC Good Food Show Summer - its on its way!

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So, next week its the BBC Good Food Show Summer -12-16 June -  I'll be attending on the Weds and cannot wait. If you've never been before and aren't sure what to expect, have a look at my overview from the Winter show last year here.

BBC Good Food Show Summer logo
The Summer show looks to be bigger and better than ever with a new app (I've just downloaded it) to help you plan your day and find your way and a whole host of celebrity chefs doing their thing. Once again, the supertheatre will have live cooking demos from chefs including James Martin, Glynn Purnell and Tom Kitchin and winning dishes will be on the menu in the Masterchef restaurant.

 
 Shelina Permaloo and Greg Wallace in the Supertheatre 

As you know, for me, its all about #local so I'll be heading to the producers village once again to search out my local suppliers and as part of the BBC Good Food Blogger community, I've been involved in the search for the Midlands Best Streetfood.  It will be great to see some of our local food heros there at the show as a result and I recommend you all to get over to the Ross and Ross and Jabberwocky stalls to taste what they have to offer. You won't be dissapointed.

 
Ross and Ross slow cooked lamb burger

This year, I'll be interviewing Natalie Coleman, 2013 Masterchef champion and Susy Atkins, Saturday Kitchen Wine Expert. With my mum beside me, we're sure to have a fantastic day.

My one top tip - take a big bag and comfortable shoes. Lots of traders take card but keep cash on you for little purchases!  I'll report back and let you know how we got on and in the mean time, whet your appetite with my pictures from the BBC Good Food Show Winter here.

Finally, if by some miracle you still don't have tickets and can blag a day off work, get 15% off standard day tickets with discount code GB15
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Hello Fresh Review!

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Being a food blogger certainly has its perks and last week I was lucky enough to be sent a Hello Fresh box to review. It arrived well packed and with plenty of ice packs to keep the veg fresh and meat chilled. As there are just two of us in our house (not including the cat) we opted for the 3 meal box including meat and fish, for 2 people.

Opening the Hello Fresh box
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Meal Planning Monday (3 June 2013)

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Another week is about to start and this one is going to be hectic! With a very busy few days in the office planned, as well as my Dads birthday, we're going to need to be organised with our meals if we stand any chance of keeping away from the takeaways and focussed on healthy eating!



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