Sunday, 24 July 2016

Restaurant Review: Trying new Dishes at Wagamama, Manchester Spinningfields


So while I'm usually all about discovering new and exciting restaurants opening in Manchester, sometimes it's great to rediscover old favourites.

I've always loved Wagamama as a go-to for a tasty, authentic and inexpensive lunch stop off but I must admit, I'm a little guilty of repeat ordering my favourite dishes every time I go (hello Chicken Kare Lomen...).

So lucky I was to be invited into the Manchester Spinningfields restaurant* a few weeks ago to try out some of the latest options to hit the Wagamama menu.

Some people may be put off by Wagamama's set-up - you tend to sit on large benches with other restaurant-goers, your order is handwritten on your paper place setting and the food comes out as and when ready.

I actually find the whole experience refreshing; there's nothing fake about it. You can see the food being freshly prepared and promptly brought over (rather than sitting under some lightbulb in a chaotic kitchen for 20 minutes) and the whole casual dining experience suits me down to the ground.

The authenticity of Wagamama runs through all the extras too. I'm a big fan of imported beers but unless you're somewhere specialist, the only Asian beer you're likely to find on the drinks list is limited to an Asahi.

Wagamama's drinks menu is pretty impressive and, given the nature of my visit, I decided to try something new - a Lucky Buddha beer. The beautifully-shaped (*read* Instagram-worthy) bottle is pleasing enough but more than just looking pretty, it's a refreshing and crisp lager which has quickly become a favourite of mine!

Chris enjoyed an 'Iki' (which I can also vouch for being great) and with a recommendation from our waitress, I also decided to accompany my beer with one of the new 'Super Juices'. All named in relation to their benefit, I went for 'Power'; a mix of spinach apple and ginger. I was a bit sus as I'm definitely not your typical green juice drinker but it was actually a welcome surprise. The kick of ginger was great and definitely a nice palette cleanser between courses.

The sides (eaten first as starters) we chose were a mix of old and new. Our long-time favourite is Wagamama's Chilli Squid, crispy fried with a chilli and coriander dipping sauce on the side - perfect as always.

Next up was Tori Kara Age, a side which I believe is a menu stalwart, though we'd never tried it previously. These seasoned bites of crispy chicken were served with a soy-based sauce on the side. After dipping them into the sauce (and enjoying them that way, I might add), our waiter spotted us and corrected us as to the rightful manner to eat the dish - tipping the entire sauce pot over the chicken pieces and waiting a little while for them to soak up the flavour. We admitted that he had a point! They were delicious and we'd definitely order them again.

Our third and final side was the newly added Duck Wraps. Crispy Duck with Pancakes is an all-time takeaway staple of ours so we didn't need much convincing to order this one. Beautifully shredded pieces of duck were served with cucumber, spring onions and thin Asian-style pancakes, ready for assembling. The hoisin sauce with this dish is given a tangy twist with an added cherry flavour - yummy!

For mains, we opted for two completely new menu items; Grilled Duck Donburi and Steak Bulgogi. Chris' duck dish was first out the gate; tender pieces of duck served in a teriyaki sauce, on a bed of sticky rice with all the trimmings, topped with a fried egg and kimchee on the side to boot.

The food envy didn't last long as my Steak Bulgogi shortly followed; a beautifully pink, sliced sirloin steak sat on top of soba noodles, with spring onions, kimchee and a tea-stained egg. The whole dish was stunning, especially the steak which was absolutely perfect - not a feat I've come to expect from non-steak-renowned restaurants.

Despite being absolutely stuffed (we'd usually order a max of two sides which is plenty for us) our brilliant and attentive waiter persuaded us to try a dessert - something else we'd never ordered at Wagamama.

Faced with more delicious options than expected (the Coconut Mochi Ice Cream and Banana Katsu are now on my must-try list), we decided to share a portion of the Mini Cakes for a bit of variety.

These little bite-sized portions of passion fruit cheesecake, white chocolate and ginger cheesecake and chocolate fudge cake were incredible; so much nicer than I'd expected. Each one was so rich and full of flavour - even though we were full to bursting by this point, they were a perfect end to an amazing meal!

Have you got a favourite dining spot that's long overdue a re-visit?


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Wedding Planning: Wedstival'16 at Capesthorne Hall


So a little update on the wedding planning!

We're still yet to book a date/venue, though that's something I definitely want to lock down in the next couple of months.

Still in the gathering ideas phase, it's great to visit a variety of wedding fairs to get inspiration from a wide range of suppliers and venues - I always think that seeing what's not 'you' at these sorts of things helps inform what you do want as well.

I'd already been to the National Wedding Show in Manchester earlier this year, as well as a quirkier fair held at Victoria Warehouse (a really cool, industrial venue with lots of scope to do your own thing).

As a bride to be, there are a great many accounts and sites that fast become your favourites for wedding inspiration. For me, one of these is the Brides up North site, particularly when it comes to venues and local suppliers.

When I saw them advertising 'Wedstival'16', I knew it would be right up my street; even though it was being held at super posh (read expensive) venue, Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire, the promised festival vibes and outdoor aspect really appealed as something a little different. Chris had yet to experience a fair so I coerced him into coming along - it is his wedding too after all...

Capesthorne Hall was insanely beautiful. Every room was dripping with chandeliers, red velvet, gold and baroque detailing. Swoon.

Admittedly and unsurprisingly though, it definitely was not us. We feel we are actually on the cusp of sorting a venue - more on that to come!

Onto the outdoors.

We loved the festival set-up at the event (that is, until we got trapped in the marquee after a spontaneous torrential downpour - I was wearing sandals, sunglasses and no jacket...)

The grounds were set up with hay bales, cute stalls and food carts, as well as an amazingly decked out tent from Big Chief Tipis.

We found lots of great suppliers in this area, including a flowers and decoration company, a couple of great photographers, a vintage jewellery brand and a fantastic bridal boutique which is based in Altrincham where I live, yay!

Though we've not booked anything yet, we're definitely getting somewhere with planning. We've seen a few venues and think we know where we want it to happen and the time of year, so we're definitely moving in the right direction.

I'm desperate to get a date booked in so the rest of the planning can commence. I can't wait to start making things and collecting decorations and I know my bridesmaids are desperate to get going on my hen do! I'd say my tastes differ from the average but my girls know me pretty well so whether it's at home or away, I'm confident my send off into marriage will be memorable, unique and mind-blowing in equal proportions!

My next steps will be dress shopping and beyond which is both terrifying and exciting!

Are you planning a wedding? Let me know how it's going!


Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Manchester Brunch at Evelyn's with Little Mistress


So firstly - wow, I've been gone a long time. There's no particular reason for this other than simply just having come out the other side of an incredibly busy time. I've just moved into a new flat and started a new job too! It's been stressful at times but now I'm through it, I'm incredibly happy and content with things.

This post flashes back to a few weeks ago, when I spent a wonderful morning with clothing brand, Little Mistress who took us out for an incredible brunch at the superb Evelyn's Cafe and then onto their new concession at Debenhams in Manchester city centre.

Evelyn's Cafe Bar Manchester menu coffee

I was actually yet to try Evelyn's but it wasn't exactly a hard sell; it was set-up by the folks behind Mughli -  my all time, hands down favourite Indian restaurant in Manchester, so I pretty much knew it'd be great!

It was so hard to choose something from their small but perfectly formed menu (everything sounds incredible) but I eventually settled on the buttermilk pancakes with blueberries and honeycomb butter and was not disappointed - they were definitely among some of the best pancakes I've ever had.

Evelyn's Cafe Bar brunch best pancakes

The d├ęcor in Evelyn's is just as impressive as the food. It's simple but oh so artisan. There's fresh flowers and plants everywhere and hints of copper hardware in the tableware and lighting.

Evelyn's Cafe Bar Manchester decor interior

After a great chat with some familiar and new bloggers, as well as the girls representing Little Mistress, we headed to the Debenhams concession for a first-hand look at the new collections, including a high-profile range in collaboration with Chloe Lewis of TOWIE fame.

Little Mistress Fashion Debenhams Concession

Little Mistress carries a few different lines under their brand. The new Chloe Lewis collaboration is girly with a a bit of a vintage twist. There's lots of pretty pastels and soft floral prints - it's glam but can be worn every day. 

Then there's the Paper Dolls collection which is more based around occasion dresses and formal styles. If you're looking for a great dress for the races or a wedding, or even as a bridesmaid, they've got some gorgeous yet affordable styles.

Finally there's Girls on Film - which is my favourite range. Still in keeping with Little Mistress' glamorous look, the GoF collection is more casual with a bit of an edge. There's lots of great co-ords and plenty of pieces with bold, unique prints and detail like fringing - perfect for festivals!

Little Mistress Girls on Film Collection
Chloe Lewis Clothing Line
Little Mistress Collection SS16
Little Mistress Dresses Concession
Chloe Lewis Little Mistress White Lace Up Top

Above, I'm wearing the Chloe Lewis White Hippy Top with a lace up front, which I wore to the brunch. I don't often wear white (such a queen of darkness) so this is a nice change for me, especially for summer - I've actually been wearing this loads!

I also took home the Girls on Film Light Grey Tassel Jacket from one of the photos above. It's made from a super soft faux suede and makes for a perfect semi-light cover-up with this unpredictable weather we're having. Hopefully I'll get a post up soon with it styled up!

Have you spotted anything you like from the collections?


Sunday, 27 March 2016

MyBag Spring/Summer'16 Preview


So it's officially Spring - and while everyone gushes over the pieces of clothing they plan on adding to their new season wardrobes, my thoughts haven't turned from getting my hands on a new piece of arm candy after attending MyBag's SS16 Spring Preview recently!

I've always been a firm believer in the idea that it's the accessories that make an outfit and MyBag certainly deliver the goods in that department; not just curating an enviable selection of handbag brands (would you believe it) but also offering a beautiful range of sunglasses, watches, scarves and more.

Being a big fan of the online retailer already, I was definitely giddy to see what MyBag had on offer for the Spring/Summer'16 season.

Their showcase was held at one of my favourite Manchester haunts, Artisan - a casual but classy restaurant filled with interesting design detail. Did I mention the most amazing cocktails, too?

On to the bags!

Press event at Artisan restaurant Manchester
Photo credit: Garry Finch

Grafea SS16 backpack clear
Pizza and bespoke cocktail Artisan Manchester
Lulu Guinness SS16 at MyBag
Olivia Burton Watches Spring Summer 2016
Ted Baker bags Spring Summer 2016 at MyBag
Ted Baker SS16 White bucket bag
Karl Lagerfeld totes at MyBag SS16
SS16 lilac Grafea backpack
Grafea SS16 purple leather backpack
Photo credit: Garry Finch

It's difficult to pick out a favourite range! Lulu Guinness has long been a favourite accessory brand of mine (I'm lucky enough to own an LG clutch already) and the new pieces on show from MyBag didn't disappoint with lots of lilac and quirky details. I can't begin to tell you how incredible the lipstick clutch is, there's even a little mirror inside the lid!

I loved the new range from Ted Baker, especially the drawstring bucket style and teeny shoulder bags that would be perfect for the summer's festivals. The large totes from Karl Lagerfeld scream 'fashion' and are certainly eye-catching enough to satisfy the boldest fashionistas. 

However the bags from Grafea were top of my list. Made in beautfiul leather in traditional, minimal shapes but with fun details like metallic finishes, multi-coloured fringe and fur pompoms - I was in love! I particularly adored the baby rucksack in lilac, perfect for spring. I'm soon to become a bonafide commuter a and am on the hunt for a great backpack and Grafea's have definitely caught my eye.

We were lucky enough to come away with an amazing goody bag filled with products from the likes of Real Techniques make up brushes, Vita Liberata tan and Wet Brush Pro.

Though I was completely blown away by this gorgeous personalised luggage tag from The Cambridge Satchel Company. I can't wait to take it on my travels!

personalised leather luggage tag

Which bag trends are you loving for spring?


Monday, 21 March 2016

I'm Getting Married! The National Wedding Show with Rock n Roll Bride


Okay so big BIG news right now.

*disclaimer - if you follow me on Instagram, this may well not be big news...

Yes, that's right - I got engaged!!! *ALL the heart eyes, bride and ring emojis*

It happened on Valentine's Day (which seems like an age ago now). Chris completely took me by surprise by getting down on one knee during a walk in our local park. I of course broke down in happy tears in the middle of the park. Luckily not many people were around, though a lovely passing jogger saw the whole thing and came over to congratulate us!

After furiously Whatsapping my favourite people with the news, we went off for an impromptu romantic lunch and picked up a bottle of champagne on the way home to celebrate. I've been on cloud nine ever since.

Of course with this news comes all the planning. Luckily, I come into my element with this kind of thing. I absolutely love planning events. I can't wait to start booking things and concentrating on the small details of the wedding to inject our personalities into the big day and make it truly amazing.

My love for Pinterest has been reborn with a vengeance and I've already got multiple secret boards filled with awesome ideas.

Of course pretty pictures are all well and good but it's essential to get some real world, tangible inspiration from available wedding suppliers; which is how just one week into our engagement (Bridezilla alert), I found myself heading off to Manchester's National Wedding Show with one of my best friends/bridesmaids in tow.

Now, it wasn't actually my intention to be thrown into the deep-end of wedding fairs this early into proceedings but it's not so often that the National Wedding Show comes around and especially with this being the first with its own section curated by the wonderful Kat - a.k.a. Rock n Roll Bride.

I've followed Kat on Instagram for quite some time, which is as easily appealing without a ring on your finger due to her own quirky, colourful style. So, when I found out that this upcoming show would mark her first foray into wedding fairs, I knew I needed to go!

We had a fantastic day gleaning inspiration from some amazing local and national suppliers. I'll leave you with some photos below.

It was great to meet Kat and also Sophie - the founder of Crown and Glory, who I'm sure you'll know for their beautiful headwear (think amazing flower crowns, awesome headbands, colourful bows and everything in between).

For those who don't know, Sophie and Kat have teamed up to create the most sparkly kick ass collection of bridal headpieces: the Rock n Roll for Crown and Glory Collection.

As well as checking out this crazy beautiful collection of veils and accessories, I of course picked up the latest edition of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine - an absolute must-read for any unconvential bride!

The National Wedding Show is sadly over for this season but will be returning to London, Birmingham and Manchester in September.

I'm hoping to document little previews of my wedding plans along the way on the blog so keep a lookout for that!

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