Autumn at The Dining Rooms

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Is it too early to have an ‘Autumn Dish of 2018’?

I think the Crispy, Hot and Sour ‘Bang-Bang’ Cauliflower starter at The Dining Rooms Norwich, is mine.

This is the kind of starter that you wish you’d ordered three times; for Main and Dessert as well.

This tangy mountain of roasted cauliflower is studded with a lovely homemade ‘kimchi’ relish that is rich, sweet and tangy. Smoky, roasted almond puree lends a creamy quality that lingers on the palate. A nutty, comforting friend to the heat that sizzles and shimmers in all of this roasted vegetable’s crispy crevices.

Cauliflower just got very exciting. It sounds good, it looks good, it tastes amazing.

The rest of my meal was also really well-conceived and tasty.

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A lovey piece of steak cooked perfectly. Gloriously chunky chips. I love a good béarnaise sauce and this one was so rich with salty butter, it verged on tasting cheesy. However, it was balanced by a hefty, fragrant amount of fresh tarragon and a side of lemon-dressed leaves.

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Hello, little Baked Alaska ❤ the bonfire crackle of popcorn crumb sang on this dish. I’d have loved a slightly crisper meringue and some kind of fruity element to cut through the sweetness, but was not disappointed by a buttery biscuit base and creamy homemade ice cream. Phwoar.

Special shoutout to front of house; the service was friendly and knowledgeable, utterly professional and really welcoming.

Check out The Dining Rooms, this Autumn and pop into Cinema City to watch a film, while you’re there.

 

Visit The Dining Rooms at Cinema City St. Andrews Street, Norwich NR2 4AD or check out their insta @diningroomsnrw

 

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Cake and Relaxation

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Sometimes, when the noisy city become just a little over-stimulating, it can be a refreshing change of pace to escape to the countryside. The extra bonus of abundant  homemade cake is also eternally welcome.

 

I grew up in ‘the middle of nowhere’, Suffolk, so there will always be a special place in my heart for it’s winding country roads, gently rolling fields and fresh scents of cattle, oil seed pollen and clean air. This weekend I returned to visit and had a lovely bike ride through the back lanes, followed by tea and cake in the beautifully chic and effortlessly relaxing Moriarty’s Cafe at Walsham le Willows.

 

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Moriarty’s is a peaceful little nook that is the perfect destination for an ambling adventure through the fields. We were ushered through to a sunny little spot in their beautiful garden, which was full of scented herbs and colourful mediterranean stylings. The peace and quiet was blissfully relaxing; the hospitality, friendly and chilled.

 

A leisurely lunch is a thing of blissful enjoyment, when you have both the inclination and opportunity to slow down and savour the moment. Nourishment can become a social event, interspersed with long, rambling stories and sun-basking. Dessert (go on, why not, rude not to) can be shared; infectious giggles and nibbles from each other’s plates.

 

A moment in time, that’s just for you.

 

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And what a moment it was. Moriarty’s offered a lovely range of baked goods, with a mixture of classic treats and deliciously diverse flavours.

 

Whenever I see an array of fat, golden scones tumbling across a counter display, I feel excited. Cream teas inspire a feeling of Enid Blyton-esque adventure that never fails to lift my spirits. Having said that, my bicycle companions and I eschewed these fluffy delights on this ocassion for a selection of cake.

 

As seen above, we enjoyed a walnut brownie, plum and frangipane tart and a fat slice of strawberry and rosewater sponge.

 

Each of these exquisite choices were flavourful, well-baked and fresh.

 

And all of a sudden, our happy munching was the only noise to disturb the tranquility of the moment.

 

Visit Moriarty’s Cafe at The St, Walsham le Willows, Bury Saint Edmunds IP31 3AA (closed on Sundays and Mondays) or check out their insta @moriartyscafe or Facebook @moriartyscafeuk

Brick

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Crisp dough, tomato sauce, a generous cheesing and a few immaculately curated toppings. Whoa there, be still my rumbling stomach.

 

You will find Brick perched loftily, looking down at Norwich Market with a benevolent fire in its belly. A fire that cooks deliciously crisp pizza that comes piping hot and laden with simple, delicious toppings, straight to your table.

 

So, I visited this little gem on a lazy Friday evening, in the midst of our British mini-heatwave. Greeted by a cool blast of AC and wonderfully savoury smells emanating feom the kitchen, I knew that this was the perfect choice to spend a few hours, feeding my belly with the best pizza in town and nourishing my soul through a good catch-up with a pal.

 

Pizza must be the best possible accompaniment to the animated exchange, laughter and empathy shared between hungry aquaintences. Oozing slices scooped up into mouths that can barely pause to chew, for talking and sharing stories. Strands of molten cheese wiped from chins and comfortable silences that allow for crusts to be chewed; light as clouds on the inside and crisped, with the slightest hint of bitter chargrill on the outside.

 

Sizzling hot discs of culinary alchemy, dusted with fragrantly spicy dried child flakes or splashed with tangy tabasco. The polite formality of forks, discarded; giving way to tearing, folding, dipping and sharing.

 

As if anything can improve on that, I have two words for you:

 

Nutella.

 

Doughballs.

 

And on that high note, I’ll sign off for now. Here’s to Brick, their lovely pizza, and the firm foundations of friendship.

 

Visit Brick at 39 Market Place, Norwich NR2 1ND or check out their insta @brickpizza_norwich or website: http://www.brick.pizza 

The Different Market

I’m really excited to tell you about a wonderful day that I spent at The Different Market on Saturday 23rd June 2018. This inclusive event was located in Blackfriars’ Hall, which is part of The Halls; an atmospheric former friary on St Andrews Street, Norwich.

Local market stalls included crafts, fashion, handmade skincare, jewellery, greeting cards, henna, houseplants, spices, condiments and scarves.

I even got a lovely personalised keyring written in Arabic, made right before my eyes, by the super friendly and talented Chacha Jewels (find her on instagram at @chachajewelsuk).

The cultures and nationalities reflected among the vendors included British, Zimbabwean, Polish, Bangladeshi, Arabic and Indian and the customers were just as diverse! There was a wonderfully friendly feeling about the day; with lots of smiles and laughter. Kids ran around, whilst the adults shopped for bargains and chatted over the wide variety of refreshments.

Tasty treats available to purchase included; fresh mint tea, baklava, sweets, brownies, mocktails, chocolate fountain, teas, coffees and a perfectly pink rose syrup infused milk.

I enjoyed a refreshing lime and mint cooler, with a deliciously sticky piece of baklava from Sahara café. Full of nuts and honey and fragrant orange blossom water; a mouth-watering little energy boost to keep me going as I navigated the different stalls, which included:

 

Aga & Kat, Polish Folk Art. Instagram @agaandkat

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Leslie Terrance. Instagram @leslieterranceshop

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Knot to Forget. Instagram @knottoforget

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Plus, check out my previous delicious post about @thebrowniebaker_

One of the elements that really stood out to me was the community spirit. Stallholders made the time to pause and chat about their products, whilst also admiring the work of other craftspeople.

The NHS Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney Service was in attendance, providing advice and signposting for mental health and wellbeing support.

I stopped and got some decorative henna; the essential oil in the paste, creating a soothing ambiance as I chatted with Meanha, the event organiser and inspirational local charity ambassador and social inclusion advocate.

 

Elegance of Henna. Instagram @eleganceofhenna

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Meanha gave me an insight into the team of local women behind this event; Project Sadaqah Norwich. This social movement takes the Islamic concept of ‘Sadaqah’, which means ‘voluntary charity’ and applies it on a local level; creating the change and positivity that they wish to see in the world and encouraging the wider community to share and celebrate this.

The day ran extremely smoothly, which was down to the polished and professional hosting provided by Meanha’s volunteer team, who clearly put a lot of effort and care into creating a forum that could celebrate local diversity and raise a charitable donation in aid of an environmentally sustainable and therapeutic orphanage in Tanzania.

Thank you for my goodie bag, ladies. I’m looking forward to your next event!

 

To find out more, please follow @projectsadaqah_norwich on Instagram.

 

Sahara Cafe and Patisserie, 67-69 Magdalen Street Norwich NR3 1AA                            Follow them on Facebook or Instagram @SaharaNorwich 

 

The Best of Brownies

Sometimes, even the most diligent blogger succumbs to temptation!

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So, these sticky remnants were the Chocolate Caramel Brownie, made by The Brownie Baker, Norwich. A soft pillow of fragrant chocolate with a sweet swirl of creamy caramel running through it. Intensely flavourful, but also effortlessly light; making it the best brownie that I have had in recent memory… and I don’t make that claim lightly.

Brownie’s are serious business! Everyone has their own criteria for what makes a good one. For some, it’s a crispy top and a gooey middle. For others it’s a dense texture, with a flavour so deep that it hints at bitter coffee notes.

Equally, there are those of us whose favourite bit is the moist, middle portion; and those who squabble over the crunchiest, crumbliest piece from the corner.

The Brownie Baker manages to bring the best elements of the brownie together to make a soft, rich, luxurious treat that is a true delight to eat. So good, I’m already excited for my next one. With a wide range, including a berry and white chocolate blondie and a jaffa cake studded chocolate orange brownie, I know that I will not be disappointed, by taste or creativity.

I promise, next time, I will pause before that perfect first bite, to take a picture to share with you!

 

For more information about The Brownie Baker, follow them on Instagram @thebrowniebaker_ 

Food and Mood – Mental Health

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Disclaimer: I’m not a Mental Health Professional; all of the following thoughts are from my own experience and interpretation. They won’t fit everyone and they aren’t based on research evidence. If you’re worried about your wellbeing, please speak to your GP or other healthcare provider. If you’re in crisis and you feel unsafe, call 999 or the emergency services number in the country you reside in.

 

This post is intended to be a little different from the norm.

 

Like 1 in 4 other people in the UK, I have experienced a mental health issue and right now, I feel like my wellbeing isn’t where I’d like it to be. Some days it’s a real struggle. The national charity Mind (https://www.mind.org.uk) describes ‘five ways to wellbeing’.

 

Connect…

Be active…

Take notice…

Learn…

Give…

 

For me, the overarching sentiment behind this idea, is the importance of making time for yourself and nurturing your wellbeing, happiness and mental health. Life is not always easy and all of us face challenges to different extents; everyone deserves time, help and support to survive and thrive.

 

So, as this is a food blog; here is my culinary spin on the five ways to wellbeing:

 

  • Connect over food. Whether that’s getting out of the house and meeting up with a friend or colleague, baking at home and inviting people to visit you, or sharing ideas and thoughts on an online forum. If food makes you smile, share the joy.

 

 

  • Take notice of the little things; make time for meals and for enjoyment. Whether that’s the smell of sizzling onions, the taste of a perfectly sweet strawberry, or the crunch of a golden fried samosa between your teeth. I know it might sound strange, but sometimes I even enjoy the sensation of warm water and bubbles as I do the washing up!

 

  • Learn a new recipe. It may not be the right time to tackle that 5ft croquembouche with the sugarwork swans, but it’s good to try something different. Maybe pick a simple dish you’ve never tried before, or dream up a new spin on a classic. Seeking inspiration from other cultures can be really rewarding so check out your local markets and independent groceries.

 

  • Give your time to a local charity café, soup kitchen or foodbank, offer to cook a simple meal for a busy friend in need of a break, or just show a little love to your nearest and dearest, with a tasty treat or two. Sometimes a simple cup of tea speaks volumes.

 

Although it’s not something I’ve experienced personally, if anyone out there reading this is struggling with their relationship with food and eating, or feeling that this part of life is causing them more distress than comfort; please know that you are not alone and you deserve help and support: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk

 

 

Local Norfolk and Suffolk people; the Wellbeing Service can help you start to think about ways to improve your wellbeing and manage stress, low mood or anxiety. You can talk to your GP about your options, or even make your own referral into the service: https://www.wellbeingnands.co.uk

 

Dal-icious

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Dal is a lentil-based dish that can thrill the most jaded of tastebuds. Today I was in search of a lunch that could comfort and nourish and I found it at Indian Feast, which is Stall 23 on Norwich Market.

 

Their tarka dal is so fresh and light in taste and texture; it’s a steaming puddle of subtle spice that sits proudly atop a cloud of soft, perfectly cooked rice.

 

I enjoyed mine with a smattering of fresh coriander and diced onion scattered over the top, which provides yet another layer of texture and flavour. Think nuggets of juicy, pungent red onion popping across your tastebuds as velvety lentils release ginger and garlic scents on your palate.

 

If that’s not enough; there is an additional option of jeera rice; a fluffy white rice with cumin seeds that lend their earthy, spicy aroma to this delightful dish.

 

As far as I’m concerned, double carbs were made for those moments when you feel a little fragile and you need some substance from your lunch. And, I’m not talking simple stodge here; but something much more complex and nutritious.

 

The tarka dal with jeera rice from Indian Feast is truly a hug in a box. A cozy and delicious (or, dal-icious) meal that injects sunshine straight into your veins.

 

I’m not one to tempt fate, but I’m kinda looking forward to a rainy day, just so that I can order tarka dal and listen to the rain bounce off the Market roof as I eat and watch a bustling sea of umbrellas slowly submerge the high street in colour.

 

Visit Indian Feast on Norwich Market, Stall 23.