REVIEW: TAMPOPO CORN EXCHANGE

A couple of weeks ago I was invited my Tampopo to come and try the new menu and as someone who often books people in for reviews, I jump at the chance to be on the other side! So I headed to Tampopo based in Manchester’s Corn Exchange to enjoy the delicious treats on offer.

Tampopo offers a wide selection of Pan-Asians delights and as a vegetarian I know this type of cuisine is always a pretty safe bet for variety.

The meal starting out with a vegetarian platter (sorry to the girl on my table to missed out on the meat haha) – the platter included Vegetable Tempura, Vegetable Spring Rolls, Corn Fritters and Balinese Tofu style! The selection on the starter was amazing and it was so nice to have as much variety as the meat eaters! The selection was the perfect mixed of fried, sweet, savoury and spicy – definitely would recommend.

To go along with my starter I opted for a Singapore Sling – the balance of sweet, from the cherries and pineapple and tart from the grenadine! It went down a little to easily if I’m honest.

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From my main course I had the Vegetable Spicy Rebus Noodle Soup – this dish can also be made for Vegans too! The soup is perfect for those who enjoy a little kick of spice, as my boyfriend think hotter is better when it comes to food I’ve slowly started to embrace the heat! The soup is topped with an hard boiled egg which I think is the perfect accompaniment as it offer a little relief from the heat. Our lovely server for the even explained that Tampopo had worked with a veggie/vegan chef who appeared on MasterChef (her name escapes me) to create some of the new dishes for the menu – which I think is great! It’s so excited when restaurants embrace everyone dietary requirements to create tasty and flavourful meals, rather than the simple and plain dishes other restaurants offer.

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Another note, the portion sizes are very generous! I couldn’t even finish all of my soup – which was not a reflection on the taste but just shows that my eyes are too big for my belly!

I really enjoyed my visit to Tampopo – the food, drinks and service was all great and there is a lot of options for vegetarian which makes me a very happy girl! I can’t wait to go back with my other half to try out some more dishes from the menu (to be honest I used to only having three options at a restaurant haha!) I would definitely recommend you go and try it out.

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COMPETITON! LIFESUM & THE NORDIC GUIDE

The lovely team at Lifesum & The Nordic Guide have teamed up with me to offer you lovely readers an amazing prize! You’ll be able to get your hands on a copy of The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer, as well as, a year’s premium membership from Lifesum lifestyle app.

Lifesum is an app which helps you track you eating and exercise habits by offering a number of different plans – one of my favourite parts of the app is the quick plan test! It’s a simple quiz which help you highlight the right plan for you – if your not interested in calories counter or your goal is to gain muscle rather than lose fat Lifesum can help! In summary Lifesum is healthy living, simplified. Lifesum is an app that helps you to get healthy your way, no fuss – here are a few screenshots of my favourite features.

 

Secondly, I have a copy of The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer to give away along with a subscription for the app! If you’ve lived the hygge way, it’s time to take some inspiration from Sweden and find out about lagom – a well-balanced approach to living a healthier and happier life.

Written by Dr Bertil Marklung, a doctor and researcher at Gothenburg University, this essential book makes the most of contemporary research to provide you with pragmatic and realistic advice that will make a difference to your future.

Debunking many myths (it turns out coffee is good for your health, after all!), the compact guide explains how the things we have been told are bad for us can sometimes be quite the opposite.

The book is split into 10 different sections such as time for recovery, be an optimist, eat yourself healthy and choose the right drink.

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To win and get your hands on this book and fabulous app like this post, comment! I’ll be picking a winner on 31st September – good luck!

96 HOURS IN PRAGUE

Prague has always been on my travel bucket list, since as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to travel there! I’m not really sure why to be honest but it’s architecture and history has always intrigued me. As I mentioned in my Hamburg post my boyfriend and I decided to swap trips as our presents, so last week I decided to take my boyfriend to Prague for a long weekend! We booked 4 days (3 nights) in the capital and it is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and 4 days were definitely not enough! Prague is such a beautiful, interesting and intriguing city and I would definitely recommend everyone adds Prague to their bucket list. There is so much to see and do and I’m not sure you could ever be done with it! I’m already planning my next visit.

IMG_2936We stayed at the Panorama Hotel which was an old school but very fancy hotel! It had a spa on the top floor with a pool, hot tub, spa and sauna – the hotel was lovely with a bit of an 80’s vibe. Our bed was MASSIVE – we could both starfish which is good because James already runs hot. The hotel was covered in gold – which I obviously approved of! But I would like to try something modern next time, maybe an air b&b or something a little more chic. IMG_2945

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On our first night we went to this really cool bar called Vzorkovna – it was a literal maze, full of swings, ladders, twist, turns and spiral staircases. The bar worked on a chip system which meant to gave money over at the door and then at the bar itself you just place the chip on a pad and it takes the money off – pretty much just like contactless payment. It was such a cool place full of people from around the world listening to random music, drinking tasty (and cheap) beer! Plus there was this massive dog pictured above which I could literally ride into battle – it was so random but it fit into the bar so well! I would definitely recommend if you’re heading to Prague that you definitely pay this bar a visit – you will not be disappointed. IMG_2941The second stop on our first night was this really strange but cool bar on a boat – the view from the boat was beautiful and my drunken picture does not do it justice haha! We have friends who live in Prague who took us to these bars and they seriously have good taste. My first night life experience in Prague was perfect, it was full of laughs, good drinks, good company and full of life! I love European cities which don’t stop at night, Prague still has a buzz about it even at 4am – I’m disappointed we didn’t get to find more bars like these – but I’ll definitely be back to find them all.

IMG_2947With 4 days in Prague we had a lot to see in such ashort time. Thankfully the transport system in Prague is really impressive! Trams, underground, buses and boats – there are a number of ways to get around Prague and all of them are cheap and quick! For 24 hour ticket on the transport it only costs £3.50 – can’t really argue with that! The one thing I would say for the transport is ALWAYS BUY A TICKET AND GET IT VALIDATED! We always bought tickets but didn’t understand they you needed to get them stamped once you got onto your transport! One night we were heading back to our hotel after a few drinks, we were sat on a tram for a few stops and then all of a sudden three men dressed in everyday clothes nodded at each other and then stood up and pulled out their badges asked for our tickets – it’s was the strangest moment of my life haha! We got a little telling off for not validating our tickets (which we had no clue we had to do) but they went on their way – my heart was seriously racing haha!

As I’ve mentioned Prague is such a beautiful place! Here are some of my favourite pictures from our trip!IMG_2953We indulged in a light lunch in the sunshine which was stunning, especially when we heard it was snowing in the UK! IMG_2957IMG_2958Charles BridgeIMG_2959Vltava RiverIMG_2960IMG_2967This is definitely my favourite photo from our trip! It is the view that makes me fall in love with Prague again and again! We were lucky enough to grab a table by the water and enjoyed a drink in the sunshine.

prague-2.jpgLetna beer garden with a sunny view prague-3-e1493653038153.jpgThe astronomical clock prague 1Prague CathedralIMG_2970After a long walk up a steep hill we reach Prague Castle and the palace and were rewarded with this view! I took this picture on our last day and it just made me want to stay even more – the sun was shining, the view was so appealing and I just knew there was so much more to see of this beautiful city.

One of the foodie highlights from this trip was the Tredlnik – this delicious treat is 100% Instagram porn and the second we walked by we knew we needed to try them.  They are cones made from the same pastry as donuts (which are delicious!!) and then they are coated with chocolate on the inside! We opted to have them topped with vanilla ice-cream and topped with chocolate sauce – literally it was heavenly, a little heavy and next time I’d just go for the chocolate coating but still heavenly. Here are the chocolate cones being made!Have you seen a more perfect picture?

Honestly, I would 100% recommend Prague to anyone and I will definitely be going back some day! Have you ever been to Prague? Let me know your favourite things to do there and if you have any tips for when I return.

Bill’s Restaurant – Review

An indulgent meal at Bill’s Restaurant based in the Intu Trafford Centre was exactly what I needed after a long day and a lot of pampering.

The restaurant is very kitsch and there is a lot to look at while you wait to order, I love the decor of this particular restaurant as it’s very warm and inviting! Bill’s is situated on the top deck of The Orient, opposite The Weatherspoons. Its location was spectacular for people watching but also for the food, staff and atmosphere.

Bill’s offers a number of delicious drinks and cocktails including a Bramble Mojito and an imperial punch, but as I was driving I stuck to something soft. I decided against a boring Coca-Cola and chose a snazzy Pink Lemonade. (I’ll definitely be back to try some cocktails)

 

For my starter, I had the Roasted Squash, Red Lentil and Coconut Soup with crème fresh and coriander which tasted incredible. The dish was really warming and had a great collaboration of flavours, I really enjoyed the infusion of coconut and the roasted squash which created a delicious taste. The soup came with two slices of beautifully toasted bread which left me set to burst. I lost the picture I took with my professional camera so this one will have to do! It does not do it justice..

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For my main, I had the Halloumi & Hummus burger with a side of skin on fries, as a vegetarian I have had my fair share of Halloumi & Hummus burgers, therefore, I was expected good things from Bill’s. I was presented with a burger towering on the plate, the burger filled with halloumi, hummus and salad! It was so big I had to cut it before trying to eat it. Once I halved the burger I began to dig in, the halloumi and hummus worked really well together and the halloumi was the perfect side of salty. I also really enjoyed the skin on fries, they were crispy, tasty and grease free which is a massive plus. Overall the burger and fries were delicious and it left me with a serious food baby.

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To end the evening, I had a latte as there was no room left for dessert and I needed some energy for the drive home! The service was outstanding and I notice all of the customers received the same out of care and attentions (not just those who were reviewing). Everyone was very welcoming and on hand to help with meal choices! This was my first time at Bill’s in the Intu Trafford Centre but it certainly won’t be my last.

The season of giving

As the song says Christmas is the most wonderful time of year, it is the perfect time to see your family, cuddle up on the sofa, drink hot chocolates, enjoy some delicious food and give & receive presents. However, for some families it isn’t the most wonderful time of the year, 1 in 5 families in UK are living below the poverty line and Christmas can be an especially hard time of the year and some of those families rely on food banks. personally, I think that are wonderful lifelines to families/people who are struggling, at one point in our life we will all need help, for some, that might be from the doctor, dentist, vet, car garage or a food bank, there is no shame is asking for help because in the long run it can only be positive.

Researching homelessness, food banks and poverty in the UK has made me realise how extremely lucky I am. I’ve had a wonderful education, I have a supportive family, a great job and lovely friends. I’ve never had to worry about my next meal or where it is coming from. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who works with homeless charities and often gives to food banks, I never realised there were food banks around me and seeing the growing number of homeless people in Manchester has honestly broke my heart, the tenacity of some individual is humbling and it made me realise there are so many ways in which I can help.

After I did some googling I found my local food bank and printed off the list of items they need donations of, so I went to Tesco and filled up my trolley, now I’m not saying everyone should go to their local supermarket and spend a fortune because it is an expensive time of the year, but if you could buy an extra bag on pasta or few extra cans of soup during your weekly shop then that could make the difference to a family in your area, some supermarket even do food bank drop offs.

Here is a list of items which food banks accept:

Pasta, Rice, Tinned Meat, Tinned, Fish, Tinned Vegetables, /Fruit, Tinned Pudding, Soup, Long Life Milk (Powdered), Snack bars & Biscuits, Long Life Fruit Juice, Tea, Coffee and Sugar.

You can find a list of everything food banks accept of websites such as this: http://manchestercentral.foodbank.org.uk

I hope this has inspired you to help not only this season but throughout the year, but why not make someones Christmas a little easier this year.

 

 

 

Breakfast at Banyan Bar & Kitchen

As the Corn Exchange continues to undergo it’s transformation my colleagues and I were invited to Banyan Bar & Kitchen to try their breakfast offering during their soft launch.  On arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff and on first impression the restaurant was open, fresh and beautifully decorated. We were sat by one of the large front facing windows from where we admired the sunny Manchester morning (we don’t get many of those).

I ordered a breakfast tea which came in a black teapot and a beautiful tea cup, which if I’d had the chance would have left with me in my bag!! For my meal, I ordered the smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs and was immensely impressed be the perfectly cooked eggs and delicious avocado recipe.

The only point of improvement I would make would be to offer more vegetarian options on the main menu. Yes, there are less vegetarian, but when eating with carnivore friends.. we pull rank!

I fell in love with the Banyan decor, the walls were coloured in a beautiful sea blue and the pick ‘n’ mix chairs were an eye pleasing teal colour. The restaurant was decorated with copper/rose gold accessories such as the light bulbs and vases and as someone who loves copper/rose gold I couldn’t have been happier! The decor is fresh, on trend and appealing to everyone but it also has a sense of character which will definitely help Banyan to stand out in the Corn Exchange.

The experience at Banyan was perfect and I really enjoyed spending my morning there. I can’t wait to go back and sample the evening menu

For the first look at all the places/events I attend, follow me on Instagram: @sarahraynard