Glynn Purnell's Duck with Spiced Plum Jam

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Did you all have a wonderful Christmas? Happy (almost) New Year too  can you believe that's almost 2015 done? It's just flown by.

I love a challenge so when Stoves asked if I wanted to recreate a chef's recipe from their website I spent ages perusing it for something luxurious which would work for a special NYE dinner party. The dish I ended up choosing was this duck and spiced plum jam recipe by Glynn Purnell. I always think of duck as a real luxury as I rarely cook it at home so it's perfect for a New Years treat. This dish was really easy to pull together and looked super special on the plate. The original recipe can be seen here.

Glynn Purnell's duck with spiced plum jam and watercress
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The mighty BTA sandwich.

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My third breakfast related post on the trot. You'll see now that the only time I successfully navigate breakfast is when I'm not in a rush. We've covered holiday breakfast and attempts at being organised on busy weekdays. So here, to finish the hat-trick is weekend breakfasting at its finest.

My twist on the BLT – the BTA - Bacon, tomato and avocado. The perfect sandwich for a lazy weekend breakfast treat. Make this, or even better, get someone else to make it, and take it back to bed with a cuppa and a paper. It’ll only take ten minutes and really couldn’t be simpler. Sometimes I’ll make it with bagels but it works really well on seeded bread too. I love sourdough as it soaks up the tomato juice without getting soggy.

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Overnight Soaked Oats - honey, banana, mixed berries & other lovely things.

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I'm useless in the mornings. Really useless. My alarm goes off 30 minutes before I need to be out of bed so that I can get the maximum snooze time in. Once the dark mornings set in, it all gets much worse, and to be honest, there are only two reasons I'd ever choose to get out of bed before day light - 1) because I'm going on holiday (and need to get to the airport) and 2) because I need to get to the airport (because I'm going on holiday). 

As you can imagine, my struggle to get out of bed in the mornings has a real impact on my ability to eat breakfast. Over the years I've tried all sorts, porridge, toast wrapped in tin foil to scoff in the car, breakfast biscuits, cereal bars.. nothing has really stuck. In fact, I often don't eat before 12-1pm in the afternoon. Bad Gingey. So, my new years resolution will be to EAT BREAKFAST! 

Perhaps overnight soaked oats are the answer to my breakfast woes in 2016! 

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Review: Blumencafé, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

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I'm terrible at eating breakfast.

Actually - let me correct that.  I'm terrible at eating breakfast most of the time. I'd rather stay in bed for that extra half an hour. I know it's bad but I'm 31 years old and I doubt I'll change a habit of a life time now!

There is one exception to all of this. Holiday breakfasting. 

A lazy, luxurious breakfast/ brunch is perfect for whiling away some time, planning adventures and just relaxing whilst you can. On our recent (and much documented) trip to Berlin, we found a great brunch spot which ticked all those boxes. And, bonus, it was just down the road from where we were staying in the rather wonderful district of Prenzlauer Berg. 

Omelette and bread roll at Blumencafe in Berlin
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Beef Taquitos & Chunky Avocado Salsa

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Who says Christmas is all about turkey & stuffing? Let's heat things up!

The lovely folk behind Mextrade UK have sent me some of their products to try. They are specialists in importing Mexican food stuffs to the UK and supply lots of Mexican restaurants here, including Wahaca. The good news for us is that you can also buy their products online and in some Mexican delis around the country.

ingredients for beef taquitos with La Costena sauces
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Homemade Mat Kimchi - 김치

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My other half used to live and teach in South Korea - one of the reasons I've been eating this cuisine more than I used to. I've always loved Asian food anyway but just recently dishes like bibimbap, kimbap and kimchi are right at the top of my list! 

We decided to try and make proper kimchi (김치), having tried some suspect examples over the last few months; notably a 'vegan' kimchi at the Sneinton vegetarian market which was essentially vinegar and white cabbage in a jar. True tradition dictates that the kimchi be made by an Ajuma and buried in the ground in a clay pot so it was never going to be totally authentic but we grabbed the bits we needed from a Korean supermarket in Beeston and got started.

Home made Mat Kimchi
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Review: Spreegold, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

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Have you ever walked into a place and just fallen in love with it? I want to take a giant forklift truck to Berlin and lift Spreegold from it’s corner on Schonhauser Allee & Stargarder Strasse in Prenzlauer Berg and drop it right down on my doorstep.

beef burger with pumpkin, fries and a beer
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Review: Pieminister, Stokes Croft, Bristol

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Have you heard of Pieminster? If not, where have you been?  This brand of what are essentially 'pie and mash’ shops with a large sprinkling of cool urban styling, is something of an institution in it’s homeland of Bristol.

Pieminister has restaurants and cafes in several locations around the UK but nothing in the Midlands. However,  I'm happy to report that the rumours that they are coming to Nottingham are all true. Set to open early next year, this is music to my hungry ears!  My other half is Bristolian, now living in Nottingham (another excellent export) and on our last trip down there, we made a lunch stop at the original Stokes Croft restaurant.

Pieminister in Stokes Croft
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Review: Prater Gaststätte & Garten, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin

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On our recent visit to Berlin (now very possibly my favourite city on earth), we stumbled onto a really great beer hall in the district of Prenzlauer Berg.  Entry is through a huge sign announcing PRATERGARTEN in gaudy red bulbs. It shone at us like a beacon in the drizzle of a cold November night and welcomed us in, past a big empty space which is no doubt full to bursting with people enjoying beers after work in the warmer months.

  Entrance to pratergarten in berlin
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Christmas Gifts for Foodies

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I didn't manage a crimbo gift guide last year, perhaps because I was feeling a little bah humbug. This year, things are rosy and bright and I'm already looking forward to the festive season. Banish all thoughts of a 'mexican food gift set', 'magazine subscription' or 'cheese plate with knives', and start thinking outside the (themed gift) box:

Days out and treats:


A cookery class at The Woodspeen, Newbury, Berkshire. Having recently attended their 'Chef in the cupboard' course, I could not rate The Woodspeen Cookery School any more highly if I tried. I've been on several cookery classes in my time as a blogger and this one, run by Michelin starred chef John Campbell and his team, is by far and away the best I've tried. For people in the South of England, this is a GREAT Christmas gift idea. Classes start at £95pp and there is a whole range to choose from including seasonal, bread, butchery and steak!

The Woodspeen cookery school near newbury
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Review: Meatcure, Leicester

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One of the more recent independent places to open in Leicester is Meatcure - a trendy burger joint just around the corner from the Highcross shopping centre.

I attended their launch in the summer and enjoyed myself but wasn't sure just how good the food was as I didn't get to try anything other than one small slightly over done burger. To be fair to Meatcure, I blame this more on the Leicester tigers rugby team blocking the waitresses route from kitchen to where I was stood. But that said, it marred my expectations enough to continue choosing the rather fabulous (and also independent) Crafty at St Martins coffee house for my burger hit. I have to say, after this recent visit, my assumptions were wrong, this place is fabulous!

Giant burger and chips
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Host for Hope - raising money for pancreatic cancer

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The start of this week was a blur. It was none stop cooking, and all because of my involvement in this months Host for Hope campaign which is being run by charity Pancreatic Cancer UK.

 I'm fortunate to have not lost any of my close friends or family to pancreatic cancer but I am fully aware of how devastating cancer as a disease can be, having lost my Grandad to it. When Pancreatic Cancer UK invited me to join in with Host for Hope and organise a food related fundraising event, I immediately said yes.


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Warner Edwards Gin Distillery, near Kettering

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Sometimes as a food blogger, little treats pop up. My true love is gin so when I was invited to visit the Warner Edwards distillery with the BBC Good Food Show team, I immediately replied with a big fat yes!

I've known and loved their gin for a couple of   years now, having first discovered it at (funnily enough) the BBC Good Food Show. They are relatively local to me too, around 45 mins drive away, in a pretty village somewhere between Northampton and Kettering. 


Warner Edwards Elderflower Gin

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Review: Kabul Express, Hyson Green, Nottingham

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I'd never eaten Afghan food before last week and I wasn't entirely sure what to expect before walking into the Kabul Express in Nottingham's Hyson Green.  From the street, it's a strange looking place with shiny silver walls, bright fairy lights and gaudy fabrics adorning the windows. 

Once inside and past the plastic water feature though, I was surprised to find a fairly hushed feel with private dining booths along one wall and tables along the other. 

Afghan food in Nottingham
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Winter is coming...

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It's almost time for the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC Birmingham, back this year between 26-29th November. I've been part the BBC GFS Blogger Community for almost three years now and in that time I've met some great brands, tried some delicious new products (which are now firm favourites) and most of all, had a lot of fun.


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Travel Bites: The Maytime Inn, Cotswolds

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We recently took a romantic weekend break. It's the perfect time of year for a trip into the countryside, the weather was neither too cold or too hot and all around us, stunning autumnal colours adorned the trees. We were invited to stay at the Maytime Inn and enjoy all they had to offer. It was picture perfect. Nestled in the quaint chocolate box village of Asthall in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, this place was lovely, homely and peaceful. 

Outside the Maytime Inn, Cotswolds
Stroking the stone lions outside The Maytime Inn
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Afternoon Tea at The Edgbaston, Birmingham

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Question - what do you get when six food bloggers meet up for afternoon tea?
Answer - a million photos and more teapots than you can comfortably fit on a table, however large that table may be! 

Last weekend I headed over to The Edgbaston in Brum for a blogger meet up with some old and new faces. Having looked online, I knew this place was going to be right up my street but it wasn't until I walked in, past the unassuming, almost secret entrance, and soaked up the sheer 'art deco-dence' of it all (see what I did there) that I realised just how great this boutique hotel is.

The Edgbaston boutique hotel door sign
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Review: Trattoria Bonini, Nr Castlenuevo, Garfagnana, Tuscany

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As you know, I love Tuscany and my family has been visiting the same place for over 10 years now. I've mentioned this restaurant before (see here) but after my recent trip last month, I decided that Trattoria Bonini was worthy of its own post. Tucked away on a corner in a small vilage called Monteperpoli, this place is around 15 minutes drive from the nearest town, Castlenuovo.


Ravioli di Burrata pugliese con pomodorini e bruciatini di pancetta


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Review: Lunch at Goodliffes, Loughborough

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I've eaten at Goodliffe's in the past and never been overly impressed. It always seemed a bit style over substance for me and as such, I haven't bothered to blog it before now. They recently had a bit of a refurb and I'm not sure if they've changed their chef (probably not) but the fresh new look caught my eye so old Gingey Bites regular Patrick and I decided to give it a try.  I have to say, I was pretty impressed.

Goodliffes cafe in Loughborough
Image taken from Goodliffes Facebook page. 
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Degustabox; a monthly surprise box!

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I was recently asked if I wanted to review a Degustabox. I'll be honest, I'd not really heard of them but as the concept really appealed to me, I thought I'd give it a go.

This food box delivery service is different from those others you've probably heard of or tried. So, rather than recipes and ingredients to cook meals from (like Gousto or Hello Fresh), this is a surprise box of goodies. Expect new up and coming brands along with some old favourites covering everything from drinks and savouries to sweeties.


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The Deli At Fifty-Eight, Loughborough

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There is a new deli in town. It's small but I'm fairly sure it's perfectly formed.  The ladies behind The Deli at Fifty-Eight in Loughborough have made my day, opening literally across the road from work and very close to my house.

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Review: The Ethicurean, Barley Wood Walled Garden, Nr Bristol

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We ate at The Ethicurean almost a month ago so this review has been quite a while in the making. This is because every time I've sat down to write it, I've been rushed and not able to give it the care it deserves. Hands down, The Ethicurean is one of the best places I've ever eaten in my life.


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Review: Miss Korea, Nottingham

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I work once or sometimes twice a week in Nottingham and find myself out and about there pretty frequently but for some reason, despite its central location, I had never noticed Miss Korea (the same people behind the one in Birmingham), right there on Long Row West, just a stones throw from Market Square. 

Cooking at table with Korean BBQ
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Gloucester Services.. Yes Really..

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Yes.. your eyes are working correctly. This is a blog post about a motorway service station.

A few weeks ago, in a passing conversation about an upcoming trip to Bristol, my brother surprised me with his enthusiasm about Gloucester Services which was en route. He extolled the virtues for a good ten minutes and made me promise we'd stop on the way down.

Gloucester Services in the sunshine

Welcome sign at Gloucester Services
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Mexican Feasting With Friends - Chuck Beef & Two Bean Chilli

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Everyone loves chilli don't they? 

It's one of those staple midweek meals, whipped up on a school night and reheated the next day for lunch (how does it always taste better the next day?). So, when I recently had friends over for dinner and knew I wanted something casual but hearty - chilli won out. The difference is, this was for a friday night feast so it needed pimping into something special!

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Review: The White Hart, Loughborough

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This is my local - exactly half way between mine and my best friends house. Perfect for midweek meets and weekend drunken walks home. I've even had a few first dates there!

The White Hart ticks all the pub boxes - lovely atmosphere, candles on every table, live music at the weekends and local beers on tap. It's the type of place you can go with your parents, friends or partner. SO - I was very excited when they recently started doing food.


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Travel Bites: Judge's Lodging,York

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After the most traumatic night you can imagine in the Scarborough Travelodge we were more than delighted to arrive at Judge's Lodging for the last night of #VinkAndGingeUpNorth. Situated just inside the walls right next to the Museum Gardens, this 21 bedroom hotel has everything you want - history, a nice bar, good food and gorgeous bedrooms.

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Review: Cured, West Bridgford

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Back in May I won a competition on twitter to have dinner at Cured in West Bridgford. I was pretty pleased with this as I had been hoping to go there for a while and see what it was all about. Cool branding in a trendy location coupled with a strong social media presence had all locked the name into my mind.

Cured restaurant and bar in West Bridgford
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Review: Sarangchae, Nottingham

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Having recently read in both Olive magazine AND the Observer Food Monthly that Korean food is the next big thing to hit the UK, I have to say I’m feeling pretty smug.  I’m currently undergoing an education of my own (unrelated but incredibly well timed) which I’m going to say puts me bang on trend for once. In the last couple of months, I’ve tried so many things which are totally new to me and I’m loving every single mouthful. 


Gingey Bites reviewing Tuna Gimbap at Sarangchae
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Tuscan Tomato Bruschetta

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The nice thing about staying in a house when you go away is the option to cook at home. My mum and step dad have been coming to the same place in Tuscany (between Lucca and Barga) for 10 years now with an assortment of children joining them at different times and in different combinations over the years. This year is my first visit since 2011 and despite also being his housemate, I'm here with my brother. We're loving the combination of good food, doing very little and catching up with the family.

tomato bruschetta
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Review: Bettys Tea Rooms, Harrogate

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Bettys is such a Yorkshire institution, I couldn't have stayed in Harrogate and not visited their original site. As part of the great VinkAndGingeUpNorth road trip, Vicky and I went in for breakfast and blooming lovely it was too! Having talked on twitter about my impending trip to Bettys the one thing everybody had advised was get there early! We took note (despite the pain of an earlyish start after a heavy nights drinking) and it was worth it, with no queues to talk of, we headed straight into the dining room.

Betty tea rooms in Harrogate
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Back to School with Burleigh's Gin

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Everyone knows I love gin. I LOVE IT! So when 45 West Gin School invited me to join them at their distillery just outside of my hometown Loughborough, I called my best buddy Patrick and told him to clear his diary pronto. Their master distiller Jamie Baxter is a superhero in my eyes -  not only is he the man behind the East Midland's very own 'Burleigh's gin', in a previous life he also perfected the recipe for the delicious Williams Chase marmalade vodka.

Burleighs gin
45 West gin school


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National Burger Day - Burgers around the East Midlands

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This Thursday is National Burger Day! There is no excuse - we must all go out and stuff ourselves silly with these naughty treats. To celebrate, here's my round up of what I think are the best places to eat burger in the East Midlands....

Crafty Burger, St Martins Square, Leicester

Oh yes... behold... the mighty Krispie Klucker -  Buttermilk chicken, spiced Rice Krispie crumb, 'slaw, BBQ sauce & mayoI'm usually a beefy burger kind of girl but by god this ones good. Crafty are open Thurs / Fri / Sat nights from 6pm so book ahead to get a table. Read my review to get a full taste of whats on offer! 

The Krispie Klucker at Crafty Burger, Leicester. Gingey Bites

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Review: The Star Inn The City, York

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Another instalment from #VinkAndGingeUpNorth - mine and Vicky's recent road trip around North Yorkshire. This time dinner in York at The Star Inn The City. From both my shout out on twitter and conversations with Ben from York on a Fork, we decided upon this place for a couple of reasons. The food sounded good (the owner's other place just outside the city is Michelin starred) and the location is stunning. So, we booked in and here's what we thought... 


The Star Inn the City, York
Inside the restaurant, star in the city york
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Healthy Packed Lunches For The Office

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Recently, I've gone back to taking a packed lunch to work with me. I vowed to avoid dried up old sandwiches this time and have been on a mission to create interesting and healthy lunches every day. All I need to do now is remember to take them to work with me... Doh!

Start with a decent lunch box! I love these systems lunch cubes because they have sections for different bits. I think I got mine for about £4 from the range or dunelm mill. Cheap as chips but filled with healthier things (sadly!)..

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Review: Van Zeller, Harrogate

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PLEASE NOTE THAT VAN ZELLER HAS CLOSED NOW. 

For those of you who follow me on twitter or instagram, you'll know that recently I headed off on a road trip of the north with my best bud (#VinkAndGingeUpNorth). The 4 day trip focused (understandably) around food and drink and we were lucky to try some really delicious things along the way.

The first leg of the road trip was Harrogate, a lovely spa town and somewhere I'd not been to before. After some google research, we decided to book a table at Van Zeller before we arrived to make sure we could definitely get in.

Van Zeller Restaurant in Harrogate
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Product Review: Capsicana Chilli & Lemon Peruvian Cook Sauce

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Occasionally I get asked to review new products and recently, Chilli Ben, expert on all things spicy and the man behind latin inspired Capsicana, sent me a selection of his new of cooking sauces to try. The first thing which struck me was the lovely branding - these look great and I was instantly excited to try them even though I wouldn't usually buy this type of product.

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New Opening: Nosh & Quaff, Birmingham

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Earlier this week I was lucky enough to go for dinner pre-opening at Nosh & Quaff, the brand new offering from Aktar Islam and Jabba Khan (the super talented and very lovely masterminds behind Lasan, Fiesta Del Asado & Raja Monkey). On trendy Colmore Row in the centre of Birmingham, this place is going to be crazy busy when they open next week!


Aktar Islam and Jabba Khan
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Tom Kerridge's Harissa Lamb & Lime Couscous

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Last year I had a table booked at The Hand & Flowers - spent months looking forward to it, only to be unable to go by the time the date came around due to some big changes in my personal life. I'm sure I'll get there one day but for now, I console myself with Tom's cookbook 'Best Ever Dishes'.

As you know, I love a good cookbook and have a rather sizeable collection. By my standards, this one ticks all the right boxes. Gorgeous mouthwatering photography - tick. Interesting recipes which you don't see in every other book - tick. Easy to follow instructions - tick. All good, well done Tom!

Tom Kerridges Best Ever Dishes
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Review: The Pug & Greyhound, Great Glen

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A gorgeous summer evening - a gorgeous village pub. The Pug & Greyhound is in Great Glen, a large picturesque village to the south of Leicester. 

This is the third in the Midlands based Pug Pubs group, owned and run by a dynamic duo with a huge amount of experience in this industry. Since opening around 8 months ago, the restaurant and bar areas have already been updated from the old tired decor of the previous tenants and they have great plans to improve other areas including the large gardens. For a very higgly piggly old building they've done a great job of creating a light and modern feel. Take a closer look and you'll see lots of  nods to the mighty pug too! And if you're really lucky, there might be a real pug there! 

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Veggie Squash & Bean Burgers

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What's this? Gingey posting a vegetarian recipe? Yes I know..it's really happening..

I've decided I eat too much meat. I know some of you reading this will not think such a thing is possible but to see if I feel any better and any healthier, I've decided to try and incorporate at least two vegetarian meals into my diet each week. The chances of me eating quorn on a regular basis are thin so I'm turning to things like curry, pasta dishes and these - homemade bean burgers.

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Review: The Old Bulls Head, Woodhouse Eaves

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The Old Bull's Head in Woodhouse Eaves is the gastro pub equivalent of marmite. It elicits a different response from everyone I ask about it. Following my meal there last month, I've asked a lot of people what they think and it's been straight down the line - excellent or pants. Take Emily, from Recipes and Reviews for example, she thoroughly enjoyed her meal there a couple of years ago yet other friends of mine actively avoid the place.
Gingey Bites review of the Old Bulls Head in Woodhouse Eaves
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Product Review: Ananda's Gourmet - Murgh Makhani

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This was good curry. In fact, it was great curry - and it's not only myself who thought so - good foodie friends ate this with me and we all agreed it was pretty awesome. I congratulate myself on excellent onion and chicken chopping skills, perfect yoghurt stirring skills and my ability to firmly press down the lid of a tupperware box but other than that, all the glory goes to Anandas Gourmet

Pan full of Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)
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