Sunday, 22 May 2016

Lancaster House Hotel, Lancaster and The Foodworks Restaurant.

Despite Lancaster being the county city of Lancashire, its one of those places that I rarely visit. Its an impressive city with an ancient castle and also the home to an equally impressive university. So we were pleased to be invited to enjoy a stay at the Lancaster House Hotel and a experience a  meal in the award winning Food-works Restaurant, the perfect excuse to venture a little further north.



Lancaster House Hotel is a comfortable four star hotel, situated very close to the university, its a little out of town but for me that's a good thing, and its easy to find, just off the A6 and well sign posted. Handy for the Southern Lake district, The Trough of Bowland or Lune Valley its ideal for town, country or coastal pursuits.



Boasting 99 rooms and 19 suites, the hotel is decorated in a comfy welcoming country style and is proud to serve local seasonal produce throughout the hotel to guests.Part of the English Lakes Group, Lancaster House Hotel features a pool and spa area, Sandeman's Bar (the Port and sherry people with whom they have a long standing partnership) and Food-works Restaurant, plus various function suites and conference facilities.



The other hotels in the Group are Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel and Marina on the shores of Lake Windermere, Waterhead Boutique Hotel and Dining also on the edge of Windermere, The Wild Boar Inn, Grill and Smokehouse situated close to Windermere and The Midland Iconic Art Deco hotel in Morecambe. Each hotel having its own unique personality.

We enjoyed our stay at Lancaster House, the young team were very welcoming and everywhere was clean and tidy and ensured that our stay was comfortable and relaxing, our room was a beautiful suite over looking the front of the hotel, it even had a Juliet balcony. The suite was spacious, tastefully decorated and the bathroom area was huge with a big tub and a generous raindrop shower and an impressive array of nice smellies for your ablutions.

I also like the fact that there was carafe supplied so you could collect  refreshing drinking water from the cooler  for your room rather than nasty plastic bottles, there was also an ice machine on the landing area too. The room has two (yes 2) wide screen televisions, one in the bedroom and one in the lounge area, the room was quiet and despite being someone who never sleeps very well in hotel beds, I had a good nights sleep at Lancaster House. Our only extremely minor niggle was in this day and age why not swap out one of the standard sockets for a usb combined socket so you can charge your phone whilst you sleep, plus its a bonus for your business guests who can make use of the free wifi.



Before our dinner reservation we availed ourselves with the facilities in the pool and spa area, the pool area is well organised and had a special area just for the little ones, plus a lane for the more dedicated swimmer and  an indoor Jacuzzi. Just off the pool area was the steam room (out of order at the time of our visit but should be fixed now), the sauna (traditional Finnish wood style) and an outside a large spa pool. The hotel also has a well equipped fitness area, were Mr LF tried out a few of the machines to offset his forthcoming dinner in the Food-works restaurant.


The Food-works Restaurant decor is contemporary and we just loved the mural of traditional Lancashire Folk, this combined with teacup chandeliers and dark wood dining tables and modern stripped back tableware gives the restaurant a unique ambiance.



Before dinner we chatted with Damien Ng - Executive Chef at Lancaster House about his  foodie influences (Gordon Ramsay), his careful sourcing of local produce for the menu and his favourite dishes to eat and cook (Lancashire Hotpot and any fish by the way).



The menu is varied and has something for everyone, plus lots of traditional Lancashire favourites including hotpot, Morecambe shrimps, parched peas  and of course fish and chips.



I started with slow roasted courgette, stuffed with tomatoes and Lancashire cheese, with a tomato garlic sauce. This was tasty yet light and started my meal off very well.



Mr LF has to choose the Lancashire platter of Goosnargh chicken liver pate, Morecambe bay shrimps on a chive potato cake, Black pudding bon bons and parched peas. This was served with a good chunk of bread and butter and disappeared very quickly, Mr LF particularly liked the pate and the parched peas which reminded both of us of our childhood and eating parched peas dressed with malt vinegar at Bonfire parties.



My main of Sea Bass, samphire and balsamic reduction was delicious, Damian know how to cook fish perfectly, crunchy salty samphire with a sharp yet sweet balsamic drizzle to cut the meaty fish.



Our other main just had to be Lancashire Hotpot served with hot aromatic spiced red cabbage, tender lamb pieces in a tasty sauce, moist falling potatoes and tender carrots. 



We followed with Sandemans sherry trifle, much to Mr LF's delight this was a traditional trifle with jelly layer, custard and fresh cream topping, good Sherry kick but the custard layer was a little disappointing and could have done with more vanilla to balance with the sherry notes.


My choice was Peanut butter cheesecake, a crunchy base with creamy cheese cake topping, not very peanut buttery but very tasty all the same, served with chocolate sauce and crispy crunchy shards of sesame toffee.



All in all a very enjoyable meal and of a very high standard, the service was attentive and efficient and the ambiance relaxed but with a special edge, we dined on a Saturday evening and the restaurant was almost full, so if planning a visit I would book ahead. the soundtrack playing was also a perfect complement to the decor / ambiance, its difficult to get right but we thought it was great.

Breakfast the following morning was served in the at Restaurant , there was a good quality buffet array of breakfast items, a nice range of hot and cold items were available. Special mention as well to the very good cup of tea served (in a lot of hotels it can be very wishy washy but not here) and I always find a cooked breakfast much more enjoyable if you don't have to wash up afterwards !


The hotel also has excellent Green credentials and is installing a 250W solar panel array, it also has 2 electric vehicle charging points and even has a loo in Africa twinned to its loo in the reception area.

You can find Lancaster House at

Green Lane
Ellel
Lancaster
LA1 4GJ

Bookings via the website 


                               Luxury Bedroom



We stayed and dined on a complementary basis, we were not compelled to write a positive review and all thoughts and views expressed are our own.


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Middle Holly Cottage Tea Room and Cake Parlour - Afternoon tea



In Lancashire we pride ourselves on a warm and friendly welcome and there is no finer way to spend an afternoon then enjoying the delights of afternoon tea. On a cold blustery spring day we ventured forth to Middle Holly Cottage in Forton for such an afternoon.



On our journey up to Forton where Middle Holly is situated, we saw the cars temperature gauge plumet by 3 degrees and experienced hail, rain and thunder. Fortunately for us Middle Holly is really easy to find being situated just of the A6 and on arrival we were warmly welcomed into the cosy tea room and cake parlour by Gill who runs Middle Holly with her husband Andy. 

Originally from Cheshire but now firmly settled in Lancashire, Gill and I enjoyed a lovely chat about all things food, the WI (she's a member just like me), the Clandestine Cake club, catering for free from diets and Lancashire in general.



Gill is really passionate about her beautiful B and B and tea room being the best they possibly can and she carefully features the best  quality local and seasonal produce on her menu's. She wants all her customers to experience a warm, genuine and memorable experience when staying or eating at Middle Holly.

Gill makes all her own bread, cakes, jams, chutneys and her eggs come from her own  garden hens and sources all her other ingredients as locally as she can. For example she proudly serves Dewlay's Lancashire Cheese, which is little a few minutes walk down the road.



We were invited to experience the Deluxe Afternoon tea which was served in the pretty Garden Room area, thoughtfully decorated in country pastels and the tea, cakes and sandwiches all served on eclectic vintage china, complete with home knitted and crocheted tea cosies by Gill's Mum !

We started our tea with a shot glass of homemade seasonal vegetable soup, very tasty and flavourful which was very welcome given the weather outside, Gill makes sure that when she blends her soup you still have little chunks of vegetables so you can really taste the fresh vegetables in the soup.


Next came our tottering tower (cake stand), strewned with viola flowers, salad and herb leaves, and bedecked with finger sandwiches of home cooked ham, egg mayonnaise and Lancashire cheese and homemade chutney, all served on homemade organic bread. Gill likes to ring the changes and try different flours in the bread baking (most of the bread is made by Andy), so our selection was farmhouse white and  a seeded bread. The sandwiches were delicious, generously filled  and the homemade bread makes such a difference to the taste experience. Alongside our sandwiches we also had a little bowl of Lancashire Crisps, we love those too and again show careful thoughtful sourcing.

Our next  cake stand layer was a fruity raspberry fool served in a pretty vintage teacup and homemade crisp and light chocolate eclairs. The fool was perfectly balanced in terms of sweetness and tartness so as not to be cloying, the eclairs light and airy and filled with fluffy whipped cream.


The top layer of the stand has two huge pieces of cake, which we split in half so both myself and Mr LF could experience the floral rose and almond cake and slated caramel layer cake. Again all homemade, We particularly loved the salted caramel layer cake with its salty yet sweet topping. By this stage we were getting very full so we agreed with Gill to take away our scones (choice of fruit or plain), if you can squeeze them in they come accompanied with cream and  a choice of Gills Homemade jams. The scones are huge, and unlike a lot of other scones I have tried, not in the least bit disappointingly dry and tasteless, these were light and tasty, they were our treat later in the day when we returned home with the last of our homemade rhubarb and strawberry jam.



Last but not least a handmade homemade truffle each, just to round things off !! 

Outside Middle Holly has views over to the Bowland Hills, a little misty and obscured whilst we were there due to the inclement downpour but stunning non the less. 

We loved our visit to Middle Holly and meeting and chatting with Gill, despite it being an awful day the tea room was still fairly busy, so if you are planning a visit I would book just to be on the safe side as given the high standard of afternoon tea and cake on offer, Middle Holly is sure to be very popular. The tea room is currently open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and in the summer on Sundays too.

Check out the website for further details of the tea room and B and B


Our meal was provided free of charge for review purposes, we were not compelled to write a positive review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

John Caffery - Manager of Chorley Dukpond




This months featured foodie is John Caffery, Manager / Maitre D of Duk Pond in Chorley towncentre, John is passionate about local seasonal food and is happy to head up this newly opened deli / cantina / tapas bar. Pop in for a warm and friendly welcome and some great food, you can find them on Cleveland Street, close to the market. So we can understand what make our foodie tick he ansewered our usual selection of questions.


What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?
2 cooks and a suitcase, by Dougie Bell

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
The most Diverse, quality food in the country

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
A cheese maker

Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
My global Knife set

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
  • Heston Blumenthal (To Cook),
  • Johnny Depp (would make my wife happy),
  • Luc Besson and Guillermo Del Torro (favourite film directors)
  • Peter Kay.
  • Stan Lee,
  • Steven Fry.

What advice would you give to your younger self ?
It will all work out in the end.

Describe your style in three words
Eclectic, rock n roll,

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
A pressure cooker

What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Running my own business

What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Trusting the wrong people

Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
I used to be the lead singer in a punk rock band




Sunday, 24 April 2016

Cakes Regional and Traditional - Julie Duff



In what seems ages ago I was kindly sent a copy of a the lovely Cakes, Regional and Traditional by Julie Duff by the publisher - Grub Street. I love a good recipe book and this was let me tell is fab, its stuffed full to the gunnels with over 200 recipes for some fantastic British Cakes. 
Handily the book is divided into small and large cakes both regional and country (meaning baked across the country), there is also a section dedicated to Ginger cakes too. The recipes are throughly researched and you get the feeling that these are recipes that have been handed down through the generations and all the ones I have baked from so far have been very reliable.

 Now avaliable in paperback its a great addition to my extensive cookery book collection (bookcases now groaning !). I am pleased to note that there are all the Lancashire favourites featured and also a couple of more unusual ones too, the only little niggle with the book being not every recipe being illustrated.


Pictured are the Lancashire Teacakes which feature in the book and are for the unitatited a little like a fruited scone , using strong bread flour but raised using baking powder. They were very tasty served buttered and disappered quickly.

The book is avaliable from any good local book seller - ISBN-978-1-910690-06-2 published by Grub Street.


Saturday, 9 April 2016

Love Chin Chin - review and giveaway




Love Chin Chin is a tasty West African snack food sensation, based on a traditional family recipe this scrummy treat is very moreish. Crunchy yet cakey Love Chin Chin is avaliable in four flavours, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon and chilli.

"Crunches like a biscuit and tastes like cake"

The 70g packs feature only natural ingredients and are decorated with ethnically inspired motifs. Love Chin Chin is avaliable in 400 ASDA stores and 90 Tesco stores.

Popular with the whole family Love Chin Chin is not too sweet or too salty and is delicious with a coffee and ideal for lunch boxes.

We particularly enjoyed the cinnamon and vanilla flavours and loved the crunch yet cakey mouth feel, definately a satisfying snack. The Great news is that you too can try Love Chin Chin as we have a case of 24 packs to giveaway in an easy enter rafflecopter draw.





Rules for giveaway

We have one case to giveaway (this can be either single flavour or a mixed case) - 24 packs in a case, this can only be posted to UK addresses and will be sent direct from Love Chin Chin.
  • Simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget above. 
  • To be in with a chance of winning you must complete ALL the required fields. 
  • All entries will be checked and verified before a winner is announced. 
  • You can increase your chances of winning by Tweeting on a daily basis. 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a random winner. 
  • The competition runs until the 17/04/16
  • If you win, you MUST send me your delivery details and choice of case quickly and within 24 hours or the prize will be passed to the next person drawn. 
Please see the Terms and Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget for the rules and more information.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



The Prize for this giveaway is provided by Love Chin Chin who will send the item direct to the winner.
     
                                                              Love Chin Chin

Friday, 1 April 2016

Chris & Christine Thomasson - Rivington Chocolates


Partners Chris and Christine  Thomasson are Horwich based artisan chocolatiers who formed  Rivington Chocolates in November 2014. 

Combining the best Callebaut sustainably produced chocolate with fresh tasty fillings using local produce whenever possible. 

They work from home, producing small batches to ensure our chocolates are always fresh, trying new flavour combinations and always looking to build and improve our product. 

They are excited to have made their first batch of bean to bar chocolate; 70% Ghanian dark; vegan – described as ‘Lush’ by a customer and it is hoped their second batch will live up to this.

Rivington Chocolates can be found every month at Bolton Artisan Market and other local events.





What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?
The Good Housekeeping Step by Step Cook Book, I've had it since I was 18; its been very well used.

What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Tasty,comforting and full of surprises.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
A hippy or our cat Mo.

Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
I have a chocolate mould that is a beautiful domeshape- allows endless variations that look amazing.-

Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
Family and friends – always the most special times.

What advice would you give to your younger self ?
Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself.

Describe your style in three words
Classic, polished, and surprising.

What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
A grinder for making bean to bar chocolate

What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Rivington Chocolates and completing a triathlon

What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Not going with my instinct

Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
I'm a qualified scuba diver

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter spiced currant biscuits




























After all that chocolate, I thought I would bake something fruity and traditional. What better than a lovely buttery currant biscuit, not too sweet, not too spicy.

Currant biscuits are a traditional English Easter treat, but  they are frankly great at any time of year. Biscuit baking is much more forgiving than cake baking and  is something I should do more of.

These bakes expand only slightly whilst baking and store well in an airtight tin, they would also make a fab gift in a pretty basket or box for any celebration.

What you need
  • 300g plain flour (gluten free works ok, just watch the texture)
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 175g butter, cold and diced
  • 1 egg - beaten and mixed with 1tbsp of water
  • 125g currants
  • 1 egg white
  • caster sugar for sprinkling
Prepare a couple of baking trays - lightly brushed at oil

You will also need a 6cm ish cookie cutter

What you do

  • In a food processor whizz the flour, icing sugar, spice and diced butter until the texture of fine breadcrumbs, a mixer or even by hand would work too
  • Add the egg/water mixture to the processor and mix until it clumps.
  • On a floured surface turn out the mixture, pull the mixture together and knead in the currants
  • Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or so
  • Pre heat the oven to 160c 
  • Flour the worksurface again and roll out the chilled dough to approximately 4mm thick, cut out round and place on to the prepared trays, keep rolling out until all the dough is used up.
  • Brush with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with a little caster sugar before baking for 10 - 15 minutes until lightly golden and sparkling.
  • Remove carefully from the trays to a wire rack to cool fully.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

We Should Cocoa Round Up - Eggs !

Wow, 27 enteries for this month's We Should Cocoa, thanks to everyone who took the time to link up to this month challenge. Our theme was EGGS, in all there forms, including chocolate eggs, which alot of our participants used in creating their delicious entries.

                                   

Hopefully the theme I chose worked well for you all, eggs are such a versatile ingredient in all there forms, I am always amazed at the level of creativity from my fellow food bloggers and once again they didn't disappoint, I want to eat them all......

                                                           We Should Cocoa Badge
Next months linky is being hosted by none other than Helen at Casa Costello, so go join in the fun and find out what theme she has in store for you all.

So onto our round up, just be prepared for the sugar rush !

                                                     Fudgy, rich chocolate loaf cake topped with a chocolate glaze and Cadbury Creme Eggs. Easy, quick and simple to make! Creme Egg Chocolate Loaf Cake     
       
                                                                 

First up we have a Creme Egg loaf cake from Kerry Cooks a delicious decadent bake featuring the seasonal creme egg.

Next, non other than yours truly - Lancashire Food with a Marbled banana and chocolate hazelnut loaf cake decorated with crispy chocolate eggs, it has the added bonus of being gluten free.

                                                 Easy Peasy 5 Ingredient Creme Egg Chocolate Tart     

                                                       

Another creme egg recipe - Easy Peasy 5 ingredient creme egg chocolate tart from Easy Peasy Foodie

A very moreish Mini Chocolate  and orange marble bundt cakes from Dom over at Belleau Kitchen.

                                                


                                                               


Next up we pop across to The Gluten Free Alchemist for some scrummy Gluten Free Choc Cross Buns

A fun cute Banana Choc chip cake hiding as a Minion Cake from Green Gourmet Giraffe was our next link up.

                                                        3 layered raspberry & white chocolate cake presented as an illusion cake with jelly beans        

                                               Creme Egg & Malteser Chocolate Tiffin Bundt Cake

An amazing Illusion Cake was linked up by Only Crumbs Remain, so clever. Hiding underneath is a Raspberry and white chocolate cake.

This cute no bake Creme Egg and Malteser Chocolate Tiffin Bundt cake is from Karen over at Lavender and Lovage.

                                                        

                                                     Creme Egg Double Chocolate Muffins

Creme Eggs also feature in our next two recipes , Gluten Free Alchemist is back with a decadent Easter Creme Egg Mousse Cake. We also have Creme Egg Double Chocolate Muffins from Plate to Pen.

                              Easter chocolate cakes

Next up is We Should Cocoa co founder - Choclette with some very tasty treats of Spiced Rum Easter Chocolate Cakes 

                                                          Hot Cross Bun Microwave Mug Cake, all the delicious flavours of a traditional Hot Cross Bun ready in minutes in your microwave    

                                                Easter Galaxy Golden Eggs Chocolate PiƱata Cake - Jo's Kitchen

Clever Janice at Farmers Girl Kitchen has managed to create a Hot Cross Bun Mug Cake which can be whipped up in a flash. I am a great fan of mug cakes.

Over at Jo's Kitchen we have a Easter Galaxy Golden Egg Pinata cake, a perfect easter treat if I ever saw one.

                                                             Creme Egg Chocolate Cookie Bars        

                                           

Baking Queen - Lucy got creative and created with Cadbury Creme Egg Chocolate Cookie Bars

Mainly Baking - came up with the inspired idea of marrying hot coss buns and chocolate custard to make the ultimate bread and butter pudding dish - Chocolate Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding

                                                                 

                                                

Kat at the Baking Explorer linked up with these cute Chocolate Meringue Easter Nests, which I am sure would be popular at any Easter get together.

A Chocolate Easter Cake hopped up next from The More Than The Occasional Baker, so cute. Love the Chocolate Ducky on top.



                                        Malteser Malteser Bunny and Mini Egg Chocolate Cake

I loved Frys Chocolate Creme's as a child and Cakeyboi has stuffed his brownies full of them, for this decadent treat of Frys Chocolate Creme stuffed  Fudgy Brownies. Save me a piece please !

Mummy Mishaps created this delightful cake - Malteser Malteaster Bunny and mini egg cake for a friend (I want to be your friend), I just love the combination of the dinky bunnies and eggs used to decorate the cake. 

                                             Cute, simple and fun Easter Nest Cupcakes, great for getting your little ones involved in the kitchen this Easter.    

                                                         Raw Cacao Cupcakes - A slightly more healthy Easter treat

Some very Spring celebrating cupcakes were linked up by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen - Easter Nest Cupcakes , perfect for parties.

Another cupcake up next, but probably are healthiest bake of this round up from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary in Shetland, her Slightly More Healthy Easter Cupcakes use raw cacao.


                                                        Chocolate Orangw Curd | BakeNQuilt.com        

                                              

Bake n Quilt, cooked up some lovely looking Chocolate Orange Curd.

Caroline's Makes made some cute seasonal Chocolate Easter Cupcakes


                                                              easter caramel meringue nests     

                                                

Easter chicks, everywhere ! How to Cook Good Food presented us with some Easter Caramel Meringues, here chocolate being the mini eggs and eggs being the star ingredient.

More chicks, this time as actual cakes clever Caroline at Caroline Makes used a special cupcake kit from Lakeland to create these Easter chick Cupcakes.


                                        

                                        Smarties Chocolate Mini Egg Brownies

And lastly two brownies receipes both featuring chocolate eggs, we have Broken Easter Egg Brownies from Dom at Belleau Kitchen and Food Feasting and Fun with their Chocolate Mini Egg Brownies.


Phew, think I need something savoury now....

Thanks to everyone who linked up and with such fabulous recipes, remember next month is over at Casa Costello.

Also why not check back to Tin and Thyme for loads more "We Should Cocoa" inspiration.


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