October 31, 2014

Fallow Brunch

Everyone has a go to place. That place that when someone asks you where they should go for food/drinks you can recommend it without hesitation.

Fallow is mine.

It's a small, cozy cafe, come bar, come live music venue, come all round awesome place. It's chilled, pretty cool and the best bit..it's literally a hop skip and a jump away from where we live. Over the past couple of months it has become our second home on a Sunday morning. 

When we're feeling a little worse for wear, with sore heads and rumbling tummies, we head to Fallow for a delicious brunch.

I've gone on about it so much that one of Dan's only requests for the whole weekend was to go to Fallow for brunch.

So who am I to say no!
We found a table by the window upstairs and ordered mochas and smoothies to get our day going.
The smoothies are the bomb. I get one every time. This time I got a fruity strawberry and banana one which was delish.
Now for the realllll good stuff..
Dan went for a (very) large, proper fry up. Something he has been deprived of whilst living in Spain. Those Spaniards just don't know what they're missing!
This one was a real winner. Although slightly overwhelmed by the size when it first arrived (which actually didn't stop him from licking the plate clean), I don't think I've seen him that happy with a fry up in a long time.
I mean you can't argue with that now can you...
Me on the other hand, well I went for my staple scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on a toasted bagel. My go to. I was going to venture out of my comfort zone and mix it up a little, I really, really wanted to, but when it came down to it I just couldn't resist..
Ummm, soooo good.
I'm pretty sure Dan was more than impressed by his first time at Fallow. I did get a bit worried as I'd hyped it up so much and wondered whether it would actually live up to expectations.

Luckily we were in complete agreement that it was awesome.
Phew, reputation still intact. 
So I can now confirm that a Fallow brunch is officially the best way to start the day.

October 30, 2014

Mr Coopers House & Garden

I got my favourite person back for the weekend. We were celebrating a bit of a landmark date so Dan hopped on a plane and we had a whirlwind of a weekend.

After nearly two months of attempting to communicate via broken text conversations, crackly Skype video calls, the odd phone call and a couple of hand written letters the day had finally come.

We met at the restaurant. Dan's phoneless at the moment so 24 hours prior we had agreed a time and a place to meet and that was that. It felt like a first date all over again and dare I say, I actually felt a little bit nervous and maybe slightly apprehensive, but still very excited.

Dan booked a table for lunch at Mr Coopers House & Garden which is one of two of Simon Rogan's restaurants at the beautiful Midland hotel.

I think Dan's words were lets start the weekend as we mean to go on. So we did.
We were seated in the gardens, right under the big tree and got to chatting.

Time is a funny thing. There are some people that no matter how long or how far you've been apart as soon are you're together you can just slip back into your old ways then it feels like you've never been apart. The distance itself isn't easy, trust me, I'm not the long distance relationship type - I find it very difficult, but when you see each other again it makes it all worth while. I feel very lucky to have someone like that.

To get our lunch underway I started with a warming and very autumnal spiced pumpkin soup with pearl barley, pumpkin and aniseed dolmades. It was so delicious and very aromatic.
Dan went for pan fried chicken livers with hyssop, baked apricots and tzatziki. He wasn't overly fussed about it - but I think that was more because he's not a huge fan of liver rather than the actual dish, so that was a faux par on his behalf rather than the actual food. 
Now let me show you around. The restaurant is very grand. It's light and airy with huge bay windows, and beautiful chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings.
The garden theme is illustrated by walls of greenery, indoor trees and canopies.
The main event consisted of perfectly cooked barbecued salmon with tomatoes, grapefruit and ginger sauce. It was absolutely delicious and even I had mild food envy when I first saw the dish.
However when I tasted my barbecued stuffed spiced aubergines with salt baked celeriac, wild mushrooms and a herb cream, all trace of my food envy completely vanished. It was so delicious!
We've always got room for something sweet, so pudding came in the form of a rich sticky caramel tart with mascarpone ice cream.
Along with white chocolate mousse torte, banana and macadamia.
Naturally we shared both and they were both incredible. Caramel is one of my favourite things and well mascarpone ice cream, what a revelation! It was completely out of this world!!

After finishing our wine under the tree we headed over to Grand Pacific, which is attached to one of my favourite restaurants in Manchester, Australasia.
We sat outside under heaters and perused the menu.
It's never too early for cocktails, and after all we were celebrating, so I ordered an Australasian Porn Star.
Whilst Dan got a Lucky Beer in a buddha bottle. Is this not the coolest thing ever...
I was extremely happy with my choice. It's fruity, a lil' bit tangy and comes with a shot of bubbles on the side. It really is as dreamy as it sounds!
My view wasn't bad either.
We finished our afternoon with a few more drinks at one of our favourites, The Alchemist, before heading home to let Dan catch up on a few zzzz's...well for half an hour at least!

The lunch deal at Mr Cooper's House & Garden is fantastic and incredible value, two courses for £15 or three for £19. It's really not one to be missed!

October 28, 2014

Let The Sun Shine

We had a fairly heavy, incredibly fun, night out the night before our last day.

Curiosity took us for a nosey around the red light district, which to be honest was what I expected. A bit of a surreal experience, but it had to be done.

We quickly moved onto a couple of bars in Leidsplein square where we made friends from all around the World and stayed up until the early hours of the morning.

It did however leave us feeling a little worse for wear the next morning. After hectically shoving all our stuff back into our backpacks and grabbing a quick breakfast we checked out of our hostel and took to wandering around Amsterdam.
As sods law had it, the day we didn't want to do anything the sun came out for a bit so it seemed a shame to waste it. We headed to Vondlepark with the intention of hiring bicycles. After all, when in Rome.
However cycling and hangovers don't mix/it's probably not legal, so we stuck to having two feet firmly on the ground and walked around the park instead.

It was so beautiful and relaxing. After our previous couple of days of torrential rain we just sat and soaked up a few rays.
After buying a few souvenirs and postcards to remember Amsterdam by we headed to the train station to hop on a 6 hour train to Berlin. Despite being told by people that we should reserve a seat on a train out as soon as we got to each destination we decided to risk our first one and just turn up - we were newbies to this whole thing (we did save ourselves a good €30 each though). We got to the station pretty early but luckily it wasn't busy and we all managed to get seats together.
In the 3 days we were in Amsterdam we managed to get a really good feel for the city. However there were a couple of things we didn't get round to doing including riding bikes around Vondel Park and visiting the Anne Frank museum which is a shame because both of these were high on my to do list (and probably two of the main tourist attractions). Saying that, we still had an amazing time, saw plenty of other things and ate some reallyyyyy good pancakes. So it wasn't all bad!

I guess I just have a great excuse to go back now.
Amsterdam - complete!

Berlin, here we come..