Super-duper Hen Do

I’m afraid this post is a little late (sorry Kim!) since my hen do was actually 2 weeks ago now but things have been a bit busy around here. I can’t believe the wedding is next Saturday! A friend at work went to a 3 day wedding last week and the planning that must be involved in that is unimaginable to me.

Fortunately I had zero planning to do for the hen party as my fabulous maid of honour did all of the work and everything was a complete surprise to me. And what a lot of work she did too! Our group convened just before 2pm on Saturday and got home around 2am on Sunday after a four part party! Amazing.

Kim, planner extraordinaire, had been careful to make her hints about the day as cryptic and worrying as possible. For example, when I asked her what sort of clothes I should wear she answered that it would have to something I could bend down in for the daytime event. Hmmm… She did say she wasn’t going to make everyone wear something stupid… except for possibly me. Fortunately I escaped with a main ‘costume’ of a circlet veil and a ‘Bride To Be’ sash. She did make us look stupid though…

So part one of the hen do was bowling! This was not something I would have guessed since I knew we were staying in town and I didn’t know town had a bowling alley. Apparently it’s only been there a month or two. So off we went to All Star Lanes in the Great Northern which was appropriately American themed.

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It’s been a while since most of us had been bowling but we valiantly pressed on with the sides down. I got an impressive 9 on my first roll, only to follow it with 5, 5!, gutterballs. But once we got going the points started pouring in. We like to tell ourselves that anyway.

Kim

Kim

Susie

Susie

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Mom and I

Mom and I

Mom (who will now tell me off for putting up this picture of her.)

Mom (who will now tell me off for putting up this picture of her.)

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Annie

Annie

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Cris

Cris

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Katie

Katie

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She just had to go one better than the rest of us.

She just had to go one better than the rest of us.

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Kim had also prepared a variety of games, challenges and forfeits for the day. None of us were allowed to say the name of my fiance, Chris, which was made all the most amusing by having Cristina (who usually goes by Cris) in our group. We each had a name badge, her’s said ‘She Who Must Not Be Named’. Yes my friends are also geeks.

No one slipped up on this until after we had finished bowling but we didn’t make it out of the centre without me mentioning the cursed name. That was when I got the forfeit:

Possibly not my sexiest look.

Possibly not my sexiest look.

Kim had also arranged a less embarrassing forfeit for anyone who lost a game. I guess that is why she worked so hard to win at the bowling.

Bowling may not be our talent but it sure is fun.

Bowling may not be our talent but it sure is fun.

As the lowest scoring bowler my mother’s ‘Partner In Crime’ Annie had the forfeit:

I think she looks very glamorous.

I think she looks very glamorous.

After the working up an appetite bowling we headed down the road to Opus One for one of my favourite things, High Tea!

Kim and I have been here a couple of times before so we know they do a good spread.

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Most of us went for the traditional afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and a variety of cakes. I think the scones were my favourite part of the meal, light and sweet. Cris had the gentleman’s high tea which has things like pork pie and mini fish and chips instead of sandwiches. It looked good although sadly I didn’t get any pictures of it. It looked so good that Kim commented to me that we should bring Kieran (her partner) and Chris out for one. Ooops…

She actually ended up using the 'C' word more than I did!

She actually ended up using the ‘C’ word more than I did!

To keep the fun flowing Kim also had a game for us to play during our meal and pulled out some post-its and pens from her bag of tricks. We played a hilarious game of couples Guess Who I Am while we waited for our food. I think the winner got theirs within four or five questions but there were several occasions of people using their 20 questions and being none the wiser. Katie got the glasses for this game having the only historical couple in the game. I was the only one who wrote a fictitious couple which I thought was interesting and Kim got the only non-romantic couple whom I had never even heard of.

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We did take the moustaches off to eat after I tried to drink with mine and failed miserably.

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I just thought the glasses would add something.

Since Kim had not made everyone wear something that made it obvious we were a hen do she insisted I came to the ladies’ with her as ‘context’ for her moustache. For the record, it is a very nice bathroom with real towels and everything.

Kim also used her sticky notes to have everyone write down a date for Chris and I, they are secrets and whenever we need a date after the wedding we can draw one at random. We then have to follow the instructions. I hope none of them say ‘Go to Spain’ because that could be tricky for a mid-week date.

Since we were on a hen do I also got a special present from the management.

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The chocolates were a rich fudge-like treat and I adore strawberries with melted chocolate.

We found this in the restaurant/hotel lobby. After all, what would a hen party be without one?

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After lunch it was time for a quick trip home to change into evening wear before heading out again (5 women, 1 bathroom, you do the maths!). Sadly Katie had to go home at this point but were joined by my lovely soon to be mother- and sister-in-law.

For our evening festivities we went to Manchester 235, the casino in the Great Northern. I think this was a great choice as it is a very glitzy, hen partyish thing to do. Also I have never been to a casino so it was very exciting!

When we arrived there we were ushered into the VIP lounge for our own private cocktail making class. Those of you who have read previous posts will know that Chris and I both enjoy making, and drinking, cocktails so this was particularly cool. Since Kim enjoys drinking the cocktails we make I guess it wasn’t an entirely self-choice of activity :p.

Anyone who has ever been out with me knows I am a complete lightweight so when they started me off on a shot of something strong and strawberry I was already well on my way. It may help explain the following pictures if I point out that Mom is as bad as I am and also that we made A LOT of cocktails so that even the hardiest drinker was giggling.

We started off with a cocktail everyone made.

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The first cocktail was strawberry vodka and amaretto topped up with bubbly and garnish with a strawberry. Yum yum. So good in fact that when Annie wasn’t looking Mom started drinking her’s as well!

For the other cocktails the guys teaching us would make a sample one and pass it round then ask for a couple of volunteers to try it themselves.

Firstly we had a cosmopolitan. As the bride (and someone who likes cosmopolitans) I thought I should be first to volunteer. This round was a straight up contest between Sandra (Chris’ Mom) and myself. She won and got to have a shot as her reward. I got to light a piece of orange peel though which was quite exciting.

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See the cosmopolitan in the front? I'm sure we took pictures of the cocktails up close but I don't seem to have them, they must have been on someone else's camera.

See the cosmopolitan in the front? I’m sure we took pictures of the cocktails up close but I don’t seem to have them, they must have been on someone else’s camera.

The next cocktail on the list was Kim’s favourite: the Mojito! My Mom and Susie took on this challenge as Kim wanted to taste both and be the judge.

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I'm not 100% sure how it got a moustache.

I’m not 100% sure how it got a moustache.

After this the challenges got more tricky with Sandra and Cris competing with Annie and Kim to make a coffee cocktail… only using one hand each!

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Next up was a Hudson/Hardman duo competition with Sandra and I competing against my Mom and Sandra’s daughter Vicky. To make it more interesting Mom and Mum were both blindfolded and Vicky and I had to guide them. They couldn’t decide which Sex on the Beach was best so we all got shots.

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They also made a personalised cocktail for me after asking my hens for some of my characteristics.

It was passionfruit, spiced rum and strawberry puree muddled together then chipped ice was added and the cocktail was topped up with champagne. While they were making it the manager came through and told them to use the good Crystal champagne which we later found out was £365 a bottle! This was definitely the most expensive drink I’ve ever had. It was good too. To top it off the hollowed out passionfruit skin was filled with 65% proof rum and set on fire and a strawberry was added to garnish. And, if that’s not enough pizzazz for you, cinnamon and sugar was sprinkled on top causing a whoosh!

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You can't see the flames as well here but Annie and I's reaction should speak volumes.

You can’t see the flames as well here but Annie and I’s reaction should speak volumes.

As well as the one they made Annie and I also made this cocktails. Annie put the correct 1 measure of rum in her’s. I couldn’t remember how much went in so I asked and was told ‘whatever you want’ so I put in two O:-).

There were so many names suggested that I couldn’t pick so I amalgamated them into one: Raunchy Rachel’s Fairy Cup of Tea on Fire! Delicious.

But the alcohol didn’t end there (sorry liver).

I believe this is called a Jaeger train? You lift the end cup and...

I believe this is called a Jaeger train? You lift the end cup and…

... the shot glasses end up in the larger cups, how clever is that! And I could even do it decidedly tipsy.

… the shot glasses end up in the larger cups, how clever is that! And I could even do it decidedly tipsy.

Many thanks to our good natured teacher, one of whom even ended up wearing a ‘I said Chris’ moustache over his real moustache.

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After the cocktail class we stayed at Manchester 235 for a 2 course dinner (with wine of course, we had free drinks vouchers after all).

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The food was very good as was the dinner time game of ‘I have never’. Amusing the ‘loser’ at this game was Chris’ Mum and the ‘winner’ was mine! My mother really is a child of the 60s and 70s.

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During dinner several other people had to wear the moustache (thank heavens, Kim and I were getting tired of our monopoly after several failures each).

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Adventurous moustache!

Adventurous moustache!

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But the evening wasn’t over yet!

Kim had also booked us in for a gambling lesson plus we had vouchers for a £5 bet each. As I said I had never been to a casino so this was a new and fun experience. The guy teaching us how to play was also excellent so I would highly recommend the casino.

First we learned blackjack, at which I was doing alright. Unfortunately finding a £2 in table after the lesson was hard, most of them were £5 in.

He even gamely wore our glasses.

Then we had a lesson in Roulette.

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I played a few real games of roulette as well and managed to turn my free £5 into £15 so I was pretty chuffed. Mom did significantly better at the fake game unfortunately, winning a fake fortune.

My winnings.

My winnings.

Susie won a pound but it was a fortuitous pound since on the way back from cashing it a random man playing blackjack bought each of us a drink. Win. Thank you random man.

So overall we had a great and hilarious night. Thank you to all my hens, you are so much fun! I hope you had as good a time as I did. And mostly a huge thank you to Kim who orchestrated everything perfectly.

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Comedy Store

If you are in Manchester any time and looking for a fun night out I would definitely recommend a trip to The Comedy Store. We’ve been twice now (see, it must be good, we went back) for family birthdays and have always had a really good evening.

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We went on a Saturday for the “Best In Stand-up’ night which meant we got a variety of 4 or 5 comedians including the MC which means if someone doesn’t tickle your funny bone there are plenty of others who will. Overall Chris and I have found that the standard of comedy is pretty high and always has me giggling. I particularly enjoy watching hecklers get ripped to shreds.

The theatre itself is two floored (although the bottom floor has been the only one open when we were there) and quite cosy but not claustrophobic. The smoke blowers and the ‘comedy store’ lights make for a cluby atmosphere which works well on a Saturday night. It is also a good place to people watch between shows as quite a variety of people come.

They do a 7pm and a 9:30pm slot so it makes a nice after dinner entertainment still leaving time to go out on the row of bars next to it. Just don’t fall in the canal outside!

You can make a real evening of it and even eat there, which is what we did both times and then went to the later show. With 2 courses for £14 in their downstairs restaurant or a selection of bar food upstairs there is some selection and I can vouch that the food in the restaurant is pretty good.

Wild Mushrooms in garlic and cream on toasted ciabatta

Wild Mushrooms in garlic and cream on toasted ciabatta

Thai Fishcakes with a chilli and coriander salsa

Thai Fishcakes with a chilli and coriander salsa

Chicken... I can't actually remember what kind >_<

Chicken… I can’t actually remember what kind >_<

Homemade Steak and Ale pie with chips, vegetables and gravy

Homemade Steak and Ale pie with chips, vegetables and gravy

Chicken again! My memory is awful.

Chicken again! My memory is awful.

Italian Meatballs in a plum tomato and basil sauce with garlic bread

Italian Meatballs in a plum tomato and basil sauce
with garlic bread

Red Thai Chicken Curry with rice and naan bread

Red Thai Chicken Curry with rice and naan bread

Chicken wrapped in Parma Ham stuffed with Mozarella with roasted new potatoes and garden peas.

Chicken wrapped in Parma Ham stuffed with Mozarella
with roasted new potatoes and garden peas.

I had the mushroom starter and the red Thai curry and both were delicious, although in fairness I love anything with mushrooms!

After dinner a member of staff escorts you to your seats for the show which is a nice touch, we have always had good and attentive service there.

If you do go to the comedy store one word of warning: Don’t sit in the front row!

Ning – Northern Quarter

This post is a little late (read 3 weeks) due to a few health issues so please forgive me. Now presenting… VALENTINE’S DAY!

I am a complete romantic and fortunately for me my other half is as well and decided to take me out for a lovely meal… the day before Valentine’s day. We may be romantics but we are also practical and going out one day earlier is about half the price, gives more menu options and will have fewer crowds.

Chris works on the opposite side of the Northern Quarter to our house so every day he has to trot down Oldham Road to get to the office. On the way he passes Ning, a Malaysian and Thai restaurant which always smells heavenly. After many weeks of saying we should go Valentine’s day seemed like the right occasion. Since it won the 2012 Asian Curry Award for Best Malaysian Restaurant we figured it would be pretty good. Let’s just say that the award was well deserved!

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As well as smelling fantastic Ning always looks warm and inviting with long purple drapes and big lights.

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Since they have a 2 courses for £14.95 deal we decided to splash out and get starters as well as mains.

Chris started with Calamari with a sweet chilli sauce for dipping. Calamari is a new dish to Chris so he wanted to try it and thoroughly enjoyed it. He said the calamari was cooked well without getting to a rubbery stage and well flavoured while the chilli sauce was spicy without being overpowering. I have had calamari before and tried a piece and I have to say I agree. I don’t usually like anything from the ocean due having worked in fish factories too often but calamari is not too fishy. It just goes to show, it is always worth trying something!

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I decided to have the Masalodeh. If, like me, you have no idea what this is without looking at the menu description it is as follows: “Delightful Indian-inspired lentil fritters made with onions, chillies, cumin & fresh curry leaves, servied with either a yogurt & mint (V) or sweet chilli dipping sauce (Ve)”. I had it with the yogurt and mint option but also had a quick dip in Chris’ sweet chilli and can confirm both work well. The fritters themselves were very solid (I had expected the crunchy surround to cave when I cut into it but the whole ball was full of yummy lentils) and just the right amount of spicy, warming without making you run for the milk. The yogurt complemented the drier fritters perfectly. I would definitely have this again.

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For mains Chris decided to have Nyonya Lime curry with chicken which he describes as “sweet, well spiced throughout and utterly gorgeous.” It comes in chicken, seaford or vegan. To accompany he had some egg friend rice which came in it’s own little container which I thought was rather cute.

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I opted for Ayam Percik: chargrilled, marinated chicken breast on a bed of spinich with the ‘chef’s special’ curry sauce. I figured if I am having Malaysian for the first time what better place to start than with a Malaysian and chef’s special? I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of chicken I got in mine, several large pieces! The chicken itself was tender and well flavoured. The spinich had been cooked perfectly and had just right amount of crispness still. The sauce, however, was fantastic: it was very sweet but not overpowering, the flavours were well proportioned for maximum taste, spicy enough to be warming but not enough to burn. Highly recommended. I had mine with jasmine sticky rice.

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Rice bowl 🙂

Since it was (almost) Valentine’s day we opted for the alcoholic drinks. Both of us found drinks on the cocktail menu we had not previously tried and wanted to but will now definitely want to try again!

Chris had a lychee martini. At first I thought he had an egg martini :s. I have since learned that alcohol soaked lychees are delicious but have a similar texture to calamari. Quite odd.

Chris had a lychee martini. At first I thought he had an egg martini :s. I have since learned that alcohol soaked lychees are delicious but have a similar texture to calamari. Quite odd.

 

Mai Tai! I have always wanted to try one. Light and dark rum with apricot brandy topped up with juice. I love fruit brandies.

Mai Tai! I have always wanted to try one. Light and dark rum with apricot brandy topped up with juice. I love fruit brandies. It is also pretty.

 

We were so full after dinner we decided not to have dessert and went for a walk instead. A whole two blocks to Home Sweet Home for a cup of tea night cap. Funnily enough while there we ran into Kim who was going to some sort of cheesecake meeting, of which she has yet to post pictures. We stuck to a plate of their famous cookies.

A warm, homey way to end a warm, exotic night out.

 

November/December

So I have been a very poor poster recently but it has been incredibly busy between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I almost ran out of time to breathe. So here is a few of the highlights. And a New Year’s Resolution to do better.

This was slightly before Thanksgiving but…

Emma and I went for high tea at Sugar Junction since I had a voucher and Emma has not had high tea before. I had a beef and horseradish sandwich and an egg mayo sandwich. The fillings were yummy but it was served in a bun which is not a good amendment to the high tea formula. The scones were very good but the choices of sweets were strange with something pink and some kind of crumbly fudge. I did enjoy my Victoria Sponge and Bakewell slice though. The tea itself was, as always, delicious and I do love a china tea cup. Overall mixed reviews for Sugar Junction as always, another good for the price but not worth full price I think! Still, I hope Emma enjoyed it. One day she will have to come to mine and I will make her a traditional high tea.

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Then it was Thanksgiving. I forgot to take photos this year but it was much the same, foodwise, as last year so please look HERE.

This year we had Chris’ parents over for Thanksgiving so that they could see the wedding venues. There was a Christmas fair in the church so Mom, Annie and I did a little shopping. While we were at it Mom and I practiced walking down the aisle.

Mom and Annie at the church standing in the aisle.

Mom and Annie at the church standing in the aisle.

While we were home Chris and I also had a few wedding things to attend to. We had a meeting at the church to do the formal booking and form-filling-out after which Chris treated me to breakfast.

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And we also had a meeting with our Minister and another one with our photographer. After which Chris and I got venison burgers for lunch… see a pattern? There used to be a man who had a stall next to our house which sold venison, boar etc… until he closed down, so when we saw it at the Grimsby markets we could not resist.

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We also went for lunch at the reception venue, Laceby Manor Golf Club. Just as before the food was of a very high quality and in generous portions, this bodes well for my reception food!

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I had a chicken, leak and mushroom pie and Mom had chicken and mushroom stroganov.

So you can see even just the Thanksgiving period was busy before we even got into Christmas stuff!

Shortly after Thanksgiving my parents came over to Manchester to do a bit of Christmas shopping. We spent the day hitting the Manchester Christmas Markets. I got a few ideas of presents for Mom but sadly by the time I went back to get them for her one place had sold out and the second had disappeared entirely! Odd.

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After shopping the four of us went to Grinch for dinner. The food here was ok but not great. Mom had to send hers back to be reheated and they only had Pepsi, not coke. I also found the décor weird: some really awful modern art and a painting of a naked woman being the worst. So overall not a bad meal but not somewhere I would go again or recommend. A pity since I love the name.

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We did get some great cupcakes from the markets which we had for dessert. One was ‘cherry bakewell’ and the other was cinnamon.

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Chris and I both had staff dos. His was at Bluu Bar, a place which annoys me no end by being RED! With some diligent searching I found 2 things that were blue. We also had canapes that were not canapés but I have to say were very tasty. Meeting Chris’s staff was interesting… most of them seemed very nice… one or two of them seemed very drunk :p.

Then there was the weekend of the 2 Christmas dinners. I have had 4 Christmas dinners altogether (not as many as Chloe who even packed 2 into one day!).

We had our work do at Bella Italia in the Arndale which is a place Kim and I often go to when we want something quick and close. I love Italian food. I had mushrooms for starters, Cannelloni for my main and a cheesecake for dessert. They were all delicious and I had a really good time out with my team.

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The next Christmas dinner was at Kim’s house. As you can see from the various Come Dine With Me posts (which we are starting again in the New Year… watch out for Chris’ curry coming up next!) we try and have sit down dinners with our partners when we can. As you may also notice we are terrible at arranging them!

Kim went American style for her starter and main with buffalo wings for a starter (which I could eat a whole bowl full of), with homemade blue cheese sauce and pulled pork with jacket potatoes and red cabbage for the main. She did the pork as maple flavour which I personally prefer to the smoked type. For dessert we had a chocolate fondant with a salted caramel centre. Fondants are hard to get right but Kim’s came out perfectly, all hot and melty in the middle. Delicious! Please check out the recipes for these treats on her blog Full As An Egg.

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The next weekend was another weekend at my parents doing last minute Christmas organisation and baking (the second baking period this season). I stayed until Christmas Eve so that on the Sunday I could go to the Christmas Carol service at church where Mom and I did some excellent harmonising. On Christmas Eve morning we got up very early and went to the butchers which is a tradition for Dad and I.

I returned to Manchester on Christmas Eve and went straight to Chris’ parents where I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day. I had a great time hanging out with my soon to be in-laws who were all very welcoming. They also gave me some very cool gifts. We got up early on Christmas, opened presents and had bacon butties followed by Chris and I rushing out for Church. The church we went to was the same one that his parents got married in which was very cool and the sermon was interesting which was a bonus! Unfortunately we had to sing ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, the only Christmas carol I really can’t stand. The only Christmas carol sung at every Christmas thing I have been to this year. After church we visited the Grandparents then went home for Christmas dinner. Steve, Chris’ Dad, cooked a great Christmas turkey with all the trimmings! Yum yum.

I will put up some pictures of presents later 🙂

Since Christmas things have not quieted down!

This weekend my parents came over to give us our presents and we went out for a 4th Christmas dinner!

Chris and I had passed a new restaurant near the Town Hall recently so we decided to go there. Avalanche I would recommend. The service was exemplary, the food hot and tasty and the setting was very classy. While drinks were quite expensive the food itself was reasonably priced so Chris and I will definitely be going there again.

Lasagna

Lasagna

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Salmon and anchovy

Salmon and anchovy

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These 'icicles' looked amazing and really reflected the light well.

These ‘icicles’ looked amazing and really reflected the light well.

While Mom and Dad were over we also took Chloe bridesmaid dress shopping… but that’s another post…

Did I mention I also did a lot of overtime in December? *falls asleep* zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Le Relais de Venise

Chris and I are total scroungers and Manchester is a great place for free stuff. So when the food and drink festival was on we realised this was a prime opportunity for some food samples. To make us sound less like cheapskates we did actually buy some churros. We did however skip lunch in favour of free samples.

Of the places offering tastes of their food Le Relais de Venise definitely won: there were several different kinds of cheese, bread, red wine and some kind of chocolate brownie cake. The cake was particularly good! They were also giving out 50% off vouchers so Chris and I decided to go for lunch one day. Kim had been a while ago and recommended it and, after all, who doesn’t like a good steak?!

Le Relais de Venise has a different approach to their food menu in that they only actually have one thing on it. Well, one main meal anyway. Steak. Also included is a green salad with walnuts starter.

I have mixed feelings about the restaurant itself as I was expecting something grander for a place on King Street with such a select menu. Why is it that we equate minimalism with poshness? I also don’t quite get why it is Venetian, is steak something particularly Italian and no one told me? While the room did have some painting up of Venice I did not think they were very good paintings. That being said I enjoyed the toilet doors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now don’t get me wrong, the overall decoration of the room was ok but the table clothes had paper covers so the waitresses could write on them and it all felt a little crowded, maybe it would be better at night. There were some nice touches though; a very high ceiling, nice vases and a big mirror. Their bar also looked very well stocked.

While I was disappointed with the setting the food was not a let down. I probably wouldn’t pay full price for it (£21!!!) but at 50% I will definitely be going again.

The starter salad was light and delicious. I really enjoyed the sauce on it, a mustard vinaigrette. I found that the sharpness of the vinegar complemented the creaminess of the sauce overall.  A refreshing starter.

The main steak is definitely worth going for. It may be expensive but you do get a very good amount of food for it. The steak and chips is actually served twice so that it remains hot and you get a full plate for each serving. The chips were thin and crispy while the steak was tender and juicy (I had mine medium), it literally melted in my mouth, exquisite. The steak sauce is apparently a family secret and was a rather surprising shade of green but it was actually very good on both the steak and for dipping chips in.

Doesn’t that look good? And you get two lots! Fantastic! We had the house red wine with it which was also of good quality (as far as could tell, I know squat about wine).

Overall I would definitely recommend the steak here, it was gorgeous, and it was served promptly and hot. The waitresses were prompt and friendly in spite of it being a very busy Saturday lunch time and had cute french uniforms (the only thing that was french other than the name…do french maids actually wear french maid outfits? I don’t know).

We did not have dessert but the menu for afters was bizarrely extensive. I can recommend the chocolate dish they were giving samples of. Yummy.

If you feel like splurging and enjoy a good steak I would recommend going, I have some 50% vouchers left so give me a call.

My Cousin’s Wedding

Last weekend was the wedding of my cousin Laurence and his lovely partner Katie. Katie has been in our family for a while now since she and Laurence have a very cute two year old son, Tristan, so it was great to see them tie the knot!

The wedding was held at Old Clee Church back home in Grimsby. They have some beautiful stain glass windows and it is suitably impressive for a bride to walk down the aisle. Even the pews weren’t too uncomfortable! Unfortunately there are no pictures of the inside of the church as photography was not allowed.

When we first came into the church the groomsmen gave us each a white rose for our buttonholes/dresses which was a lovely touch. My cousin Fred, Laurence’s brother, was the best man during the ceremony (he and the oldest brother, James, shared best man duties with Fred filling the role at the church and James filling it at the reception).

All of the men in the bridal party (including Tristan) looked splendid in grey morning suits with dark red flowers for the buttonholes. Katie’s younger bridesmaids were wearing very cute dresses with dark red tops and white organza skirts which I believe were made by some of Katie’s family. Her Maid of Honour (which is apparently an American term?) was wearing a dress of the same red. Her dress was tight to mid-thigh and then flared out. It suited her figure very well and looked great when she was dancing.

Katie’s dress was of course the main event, as it should be. She had a beautifully long train and skirt with lots of layers and small crystals sewn in. The top was a corset style, sleeveless top again with lots of sparkles. With a long veil and her grandmother’s tiara to top it off Katie looked every bit the glowing bride. Beautiful. Her bouquet was of red roses which matched the men’s buttonholes and the bridesmaids’ dresses.

The ceremony itself was lovely. I know all of the women in my part of the family had tears in their eyes when it came to the vows! It was an honour to get to share such a precious moment with my cousin and his new wife.

After the ceremony there was the traditional throwing of the bouquet, which was un-traditionally caught by the bride’s mother! Laurence and Katie also chose to release doves as a symbolic gesture of their love along with one for Tristan showing their love for him. And now we finally have pictures!

 

 

My cousin James and my father James.
Also Chris on the left looking very serious and my Uncle Pete, the father of the Groom, on the left.

 

My dad and my cousin Fred.

Laurence and Katie had a heck of a get away vehicle.

The meal reception was held at The Old Coach House.

Starters was a choice of melon, prawn cocktails, tomato soup or chicken liver pate. I chose the tomato and Chris had the prawn. I heard the melon with rhubarb and mint compote was very good although the pate was a little runny.

 

 

The tomato soup was delicious, I would go so far as to say it was one of the tastiest tomato soups I have had.

The main course was a choice of Salmon, Chichen with mushroom, Vegetable Wellington or 21 day aged Beef.

Everyone at our table had the beef except for me, I had the chicken. However my Mom said she enjoyed her Salmon. I’m not sure if anyone had the vegetarian!

 

Supreme of Chicken Forrestiere with wild mushrooms, smoked bacon & thyme jus and baby onion compote.

 

Roast sirloin of 21 day aged beef hand carved and served with rich stock gravy.

Dessert was a choice of profiteroles, ice cream, strawberry cheesecake or forest fruit pavlova. The cheesecake was a perfect balance of sweet and tart, delicious, but the pavlova definitely stole the show on presentation.

 

And a few detail pictures.

Chris bought me a Cosmopolitan with a sparkly stick!

 

The Guestbook

 

Centrepiece

 

Place settings and favours.
Aunt Coralie’s top tip: Write each person’s food choice in the place setting so people remember what they ordered!

 

Laurence and Katie at the top table.

 

Unfortunately we had difficulty hearing the speeches as the staff decided to sort cutlery during them but what we did hear was very touching with just the right amount of humour. James did his best man speech very well, especially considering that he had had a whole day to prepare (Laurence’s original best man was unable to attend due to the birth of his daughter 2 days before). Both his speech and the Maid of Honour’s did what any good wedding speech should do and made my eyes teary. Admittedly those of you who have watched tv with me, or a movie, or seen me read or, well, met me at all know that this is not a difficult tast but still…

The evening reception was held at the Constitutional club in Cleethorpes which has a good sized dance floor and a cheap bar. What more do you want? A buffet was served there but in all honesty we were all still pretty full! The cake was also served there.

The cake was also made by relatives of Katie.

 

 

The first dance was lovely, it was clear just how in love they were. It doesn’t come out well in photo because of the lights but you can get the idea.

All in all a lovely day and I know Katie and Laurence had a great time too. It has been wonderful to see how exciting they have been finding their first week of marriage as well. The joys of Facebook updates :). I hope they have many, many happy years together. And it is good to know there is a new Hudson woman just as I am about to become a Hardman.

My sister Chloe is staying with me this week and has written a short guest blog about the wedding as well:

“Had a brilliant time. Katie and my Cousin Laurence looked wonderful, my Cousin Tristan looked so cute  and Tristan looked so grown up.  The food was brilliant at the Coach House.

 

The speeches were beautiful.  I hope that Katie and Spud have a very, very happy Marriage.

 

Everyone looked lovely and were very friendly.

 

I loved the Wedding out-fits.  Katie’s dress and Laurence’s Morning Suits looked wonderful.

 

I really was privileged to go to the Wedding, Meal and Reception.”

 

 

Come Dine With Me Night 4

Finally! Since night 3 was 6 months ago I think this either proves that Kim and I are frequently busy or just lack organisational skills… no comment.

So finally it was Chris’ turn, his menu was originally designed for February but since this has been such a cold and wet summer so far it was absolutely perfect. Chris also had decided to have a different cocktail accompanying each course which gave a nice variety to the evening’s beverages.

Starter

Chris’ starter was a salad with salt and pepper chicken served with a cocktail he has deemed ‘The Hulk’. It is apple schnapps and white rum topped up with lemonade. It was a lovely, light starter.

 

Main

The main course was Taterash, a stew of minced beef, carrot, potato, gravy and various herbs and worcester sauce. Yummy. Served with bread to mop up all the gravy. The accompanying Toffee Apple cocktail was perfect with it.

Don’t you just love my Denby cups!

 

Toffee apple is a hot cocktail of apple juice, kalua and spiced rum. This was definitely the best loved cocktail of the evening.

Intermission

For our entertainment Chris provided a couple of games. First we played the Annoying Game. This is a game that gives you a topic, such as ‘golf courses’, ‘things a priest might say’ or ‘things that come in tins’, and you have to name a set number of them while the game makes irritating noises like car horns or babies crying. It was hilarious.

Dessert

Chris and I were watching Heston Blumenthal a while ago and saw this dessert. Chris promptly made about 3 in one week to practice but since it is delicious I was ok with that.

Dark chocolate and mint ganache! (We have also had it as chocolate and orange ganache and just chocolate but with strawberry popping candy in the shortcake base). This one was mostly dark chocolate so it was very fruity and rich. It also meant the at the sweeter cocktail was a perfect counterpart to it.

Strawberry milkshake is just strawberry and cream vodka mixed with milk and topped with cream and grenadine.

 

All of this was followed by a backstabbing game of zombies (as between friends of course) and more Toffee Apples. A very fun evening of good food and hanging out with friends. 10/10 Chris 🙂