Thursday 24 September 2015

Trattoria 51 Liverpool...

Trattoria 51 is a charming and traditional Italian restaurant located on Old Hall Street in the business district of Liverpool. Housed in an elegant Victorian building, the restaurant creates a great impression before you even walk in, with its imposing facade.
We were running a few minutes late after going for a few drinks nearby and we were immediately put at ease and given a very warm welcome by restaurateur Attilio Sergi, who seated us by the window affording us a great view of the restaurant and the street outside. The restaurant is split across two floors, with a sweeping bar area which includes a display counter of delicious foods with shelves of delectable wines beyond. 

Friday evening service was in full swing and a buzz of conversation filled the air along with tantalising aromas of Italian food. We sipped chilled Prosecco as we decided what to order from the extensive menu which offers an impressive array of traditional Italian dishes. As always I was drawn to ordering the Fornarina al Formaggio, garlic bread with cheese, but our friendly waiter extolled the virtues of Fornarina Ligure, Garlic Bread with Tomato and Pesto so he kindly asked the kitchen to make us a half and half version. The bread was divine. The cheese topped half was rich and moreish whilst the other half was light and refreshing with a traditional Italian flavour.

 As a starter I chose Melanzane Parmigiana, aubergines baked with tomato, Mozzarella, Parmesan and garlic. This was simply divine and one aspect I love about Italian cuisine is that such a wealth of amazing flavours can come from so few ingredients. It is incredible to think that a dish simply of baked aubergine slices, topped with a rich pomodoro sauce and mozzarella can translate in to such complex flavours. Meanwhile, my dining companion had the Peperone Ripieno; baked Sweet Pepper, filled with Risotto, spicy sausages, Mozzarella and served with tomato sauce baked with rice and Italian sausage.

 Melanzane Parmigiana

 Peperone Ripieno

For the main course we both decided on fresh artisan pasta, for me there was no contest in what to order as the Tortelloni Burro e Salvia sounded delightful. These were homemade Tortelloni filled with ricotta and spinach served with creamy mozzarella, butter and Sage Sauce and Parmesan. This was everything I love about pasta in one sumptuous dish. A hearty portion of lighter than air Tortelloni which gave way to a flavoursome ricotta and spinach filling, whilst plenty of melted mozzarella, butter and sage sauce and Parmesan shavings gave this dish even more levels of decadence. Wow, talk about comfort food! 

Tortelloni Burro e Salvia

Penne Arrabbiata, with tomato sauce, chilli and garlic

My dining companion debated over a wealth of menu options, before settling on the Penne Arrabbiata, with tomato sauce, chilli and garlic. Naturally, I tried his dish too which had a pleasantly spicy kick from the chilli and garlic sauce and a sweet tang from the vine cherry tomatoes and peppers. Both of these dishes were wonderfully traditional and evocative, and if I had closed my eyes I could have almost felt the warmth of the Tuscan sun on my face. We chatted to our host about the slow pace of life in Italy, the fact that lunches are often a much longer affair there than they are in the UK and how much Trattoria 51 aims to recreate this unhurried and leisurely style of dining. I think they have more than succeeded, as the restaurant embodies a welcoming atmosphere which combined with the delicious food only makes you want to linger and take your meal slowly.

As the time for dessert arrived, we were even more spoiled as we were presented with a special Chefs dessert sharing platter which gave us a taste of a selection of the various sweet delights on offer at Trattoria 51.  The large selection included a nutty and rich Torta Caprese, traditional apple tart, handmade biscuits with a jam heart, lemon and lime posset with shortbread biscuit, fresh raspberries and coulis (which the owner revealed his secret recipe for!), homemade tiramisu and wonderful freshly baked biscuit bombes which were reminiscent of Viennese whirls. The lemon and lime posset was wonderfully tangy and refreshing, whilst the tiramisu was rich and creamy. The Torta Caprese added a lovely chocolate crunch to proceedings and the handmade biscuits were delightful. 

Well what can I say, we had a simply lovely time at Trattoria 51. the food, service and ambience were all excellent and if you have not already been I recommend that you go as soon as possible! This is real, traditional Italian food with simple, bold flavours which satisfy the senses and leave you feeling contented and comforted. The dessert platter was a wonderful touch and a really nice surprise to round off a super night, and we were made so welcome by Attilio and his team, so a big thank you for such a great night!

What do you all think, would you like to enjoy some delicious Italian food at Trattoria 51, what is your favourite Italian dish? As always I cannot wait to hear you thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Trattoria 51 
25-31 Old Hall Street 
L3 9BS

0151 236 4739

Until next time,



Sunday 20 September 2015

Matt Worswick Great British Menu Lunch...

Hi everyone I hope that you are all well. I can finally tell you about an exciting press lunch I was fortunate enough to be invited to recently at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa, to celebrate the Chef Matt Worswick being selected to appear on Great British Menu, the BBC television series. The brief was to create a menu to compete for the chance to cook at a glorious banquet marking 100 years of the Women’s Institute at London's historic Drapers Hall, a prestigious accolade which all of the chefs competing were eager to win. We were invited to a top-secret lunch to celebrate Matt's GBM appearance and to preview the menu he had created on the show. The Great British Tasting Menu will be available from 25th September until 31st October only in Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa’s 3 AA Rosette fine-dining restaurant, The Lawns. The six course tasting menu will comprise all four of Matt’s GBM dishes as well as a further two dishes inspired by the Women’s Institute. The special menu is a true gastronomic delight, and it will be priced at £80 per person or £125 per person with accompanying wine flight. 

We gathered in a private dining room at The Lawns restaurant, where we were welcomed with Prosecco and seated at an elegant table set out for the lucky guests. Matt joined us at the table, to enjoy his dishes away from the pressures of cooking for the judges on television, and to talk us through the inspiration behind the menu. 

First up was his dish 'Game Old Bird', Partridge, savoy cabbage, bread sauce and salted blackberries. The partridge was tender and a blackberry caviar offset the meat whilst the bread sauce added an indulgently festive feel to this dish. This was a thrilling note upon which to begin the meal, a dish which combined a wealth of sophisticated flavours and textures. 

The fish course, Grandma's Garden, of butter poached native lobster, garden peas, baby vegetables and nasturtiums was equally sublime. I have eaten lobster many times and it can be tricky to get just right but this was cooked to perfection and the delicate vegetables really allowed the lobster flavour to shine, whilst a lobster bisque dazzled the palate and lifted this course to even greater heights.

Matt explained how he had drawn inspiration for the dishes from his own Grandmother who was a long time member of the Women's Institute. Using the best local and seasonal produce available is a core value of his cookery style, and he has forged close relationships with a wealth of excellent local suppliers in his area, such as Callum Edge and Sons Butchers based in New Ferry.

We had already been on a culinary voyage of discovery by then, and next it was time for the hearty and warming main course which was simply excellent. 'Shall I Be Mother' consisted of Lancashire hotpot, lamb loin, braised baby turnips, caramelised red onion and stock pot vegetables This dish was the type of satisfying and comforting food which you could just imagine settling down to on a cold winter's night. It was sheer bliss, with flavoursome meat, tender vegetables and a delightful addition of the tasty hotpot topped with irresistibly crispy potatoes. This is the type of dish you eat and then immediately want more of!

'Grandma’s Orchard', Matt’s dessert rounded off this spectacular lunch with a theatrical flourish.  A crate of apples was placed on the table, yet upon further inspection we realised these glossy green apples were not all that they seemed. These apples had been specially made to serve Matt’s dessert dish, and after lifting off the lid we all gasped with delight to see that each ‘apple’ contained a crumble dessert within! This was undoubtedly one of the most creative dishes I have ever eaten and it combined a delicious dessert with a fantastical feeling of childlike delight as we opened the apples to discover the denouement to the lunch. An innovative take on a traditional apple crumble, this comprised apple compote, cider pickled apples, spiced bread crumble and cider brandy ice cream. Simply delicious. Having grown up in a Derbyshire farmhouse, I was raised on desserts like apple crumble, usually eaten by the fire after a large pie or a Sunday roast! This dessert was at once a fine reinvention of a classic dish, and an evocation of many happy memories for me, which is what great food should be all about.

The lunch was undoubtedly a feast for the senses in every way and I was privileged to attend. Matt is extremely modest despite his culinary prowess and impressive career trajectory (he has worked with renowned chefs such as David Everitt-Matthias at Le Champignon Sauvage and he achieved a Michelin star aged just 26). It is exciting to see the dishes he creates, furthermore it is a true pleasure to eat them! With this inspired menu, Matt won the North West heat of the Great British Menu and he will now go on to represent the North West in the final heat of the competition after dazzling the judges. 

Before I go, just one last reminder that this Great British Tasting Menu will be available from 25th September until 31st October at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa’s 3 AA Rosette restaurant, The Lawns. Fans of Great British Menu should be quick if they want to book the special tasting menu, which is served with some of the props used on the show such as those amazing apple ramekins! If you have not already experienced the delights of The Lawns Restaurants and Matt Worswick’s amazing cuisine, this is the perfect excuse to treat yourself. Rest assured it is a meal you will never forget and food lovers everywhere should not miss out on this culinary tour de force!

Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa 
Neston Road, 
Thornton Hough, 
CH63 1JF

0151 336 3938    

What do you all think, would you like to try this amazing menu? Which dish do you think would be your favourite? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!

Until next time,



Thursday 17 September 2015

Cava Masterclass at Roja Pinchos

I enjoyed a very special evening last Friday when I was invited to enjoy a Cava Masterclass at Roja Pinchos. I have been to a couple of wine tastings in the past which were enormous fun, but I had never attended a Cava Masterclass before so I did not know what to expect.  Roja Pinchos is a cool and sophisticated restaurant on Berry Street in the bustling heart of Liverpool. 

They serve a delicious menu of Pinchos or Pintxos, which are essentially a type of tapas (which are sometimes served on a stick) which originated in the Basque region of Spain, there is also a range of ever-changing specials on offer and of course their legendary Churros with delicious dipping sauces! I have eaten at Roja Pinchos a few times before and I was looking forward to going back and soaking up the cosmopolitan atmosphere. Last time  I was at Roja Pinchos I enjoyed some delicious Patatas Bravas, wholetail prawns  and chicken skewers with a curried dipping sauce which was just perfect, so I was eager to devour more of their Pinchos during the Cava evening. 

Edward and Clare Ridding, the owners of Roja Pinchos  have won rave reviews for the restaurant since they opened, and for good reason. as they offer  a relaxed style of dining, with amazing Pinchos in a fun environment. They recently opened their Abajo, a downstairs secret bar which is where you can enjoy an enormous range of Cavas as well as a great selection of gins which are served with different botanicals.
We arrived to find a large table had been laid out in the Abajo, set with champagne saucers.  A delicious looking selection of Cavas were set out ready for the Masterclass and Jake Crimmin, a Cava expert from the Codorniu Cava company was on hand to give us the Masterclass, during which we would be trying 5 Cavas, which had been paired with 5 Pinchos specifically to complement them, mutually enhancing the flavours.

Manchego cheese with quince jelly 

We were warmly welcomed by Edward and Clare and Jake told us a little bit about the history of Cava, which is over 500 years old. He explained how to properly taste the Cava, giving the glass a good swirl first and really letting it linger in your mouth to enjoy the flavours, as we tucked in to an excellent Pincho of Manchego cheese with quince jelly.
Cava is currently becoming very popular and fashionable, in the same way that Prosecco did a while ago. As the Cava flowed, we all got chatting and there were so many interesting people at the event, it was a pleasure to chat to them all. We tried the Codorniu Anna Cava during the evening which is a Brut Cava and was simply delicious, due to it being a softer style Brut with a fruity finish.

Some of the amazing Pinchos available at Roja Pinchos 

The secret Abajo is such a cool and tranquil bar! 

Jake delivering us the fascinating talk. 

Jake gave us a detailed insight in to how Cava is made and stored, before guiding us through each of the Cavas. We enjoyed more delicious Pinchos including a mackerel one and then we tried a vintage reserve Cava which was just so dry and refreshing and also a rosé Cava. Rosé wine is one of my favourites, and I always love sparkling rosé. This particular rosé Cava was one of the best I have ever tried, with a real layer of sweetness and plenty of strawberry flavour bursting from it. This was paired with a Pincho of green and black olive tapenade with anchovy,  which really contrasted well with the sweetness of the Cava. 

The final Cava we tried was a Bach Frizzante which is essentially more of a sparkling Moscato wine, one which was deliciously sweet. The sweetness of this made it dangerously drinkable and we all commented how easily it was to keep drinking more and more! This was paired with an amazing Pincho of steak and salsa verde and the smoky steak worked so well with the sweetness of the Cava.
After the Cava had all been enjoyed down to the very last drop, we all moved on to Gin! The Gin selection at Roja Pinchos is carefully curated to offer customers a delightful selection of different options. We all carried on chatting and laughing and before we knew it, it was getting late! We had so much to talk about and it was a joy to meet so many nice people. 

The Cava Masterclass was such a fun and interesting way to spend an evening. The talk from Jake was insightful and the Pinchos and Cava were all delicious! Edward and Clare will be holding more Cava masterclasses in the future and I would recommend them to anybody who enjoys a lovely evening of food, drink and conversation (that's everybody then!) thank you so much to Clare and Ed for such a wonderful evening!
What do you all think, would you like to sip some Cava and enjoy a few extra special Pinchos during a Cava Masterclass at Roja Pinchos?As always I can't wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post !

Until next time,


Roja Pinchos
50 Berry Street
L1 4JQ

0151 378 9563

Sunday 13 September 2015

Brasserie Tapas and Grill at Thornton Hall Hotel...

Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa is a luxurious enclave of peace and tranquility, surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside. I was fortunate enough to stay there before earlier this year and I had the pleasure of dining at The Lawns, the fine dining restaurant headed up by the talented chef Matt Worswick who is set to appear on the BBC show Great British Menu this coming week (more on that soon...!) I was delighted to return to the hotel this weekend to experience their other dining venue, (where Matt Worswick also oversees the menu development) Brasserie Tapas and Grill*.
Offering a relaxed and informal convivial style of dining, the Brasserie menu consists of a varied selection of tapas and sharing plates, as well as daily specials and Grill dishes such as barbecued rump steak and grilled sea trout to satisfy even the biggest appetites.
We arrived just as the sun had broken through the thick grey clouds, just in time to enjoy the picturesque scenery in all its glory. 
A warm welcome ensued at the Brasserie, and we were led to a table which gave us a great view of the outdoor terrace and the verdant lawns beyond. 

Our knowledgeable host talked us through the menu as we sipped a crisp white wine which was chilled to perfection. We were advised to order two to three tapas style dishes per person, and the range on offer was excellent with a wide selection of both meat and vegetarian dishes available alongside charcuterie boards. To start with, we pondered ordering bread with oils and nibbles such as spicy toasted broad beans or salted almonds, but in the end we opted for a special of trio of Bruschette which were excellent. The bread was crispy and fresh and the toppings of tuna, mozzarella and sundried tomato and Parma ham were full of flavour. This was a light and refreshing way to start the meal, or rather the feast which was to follow! 

We chose a range of dishes to share; braised quinoa and smoked chicken salad was Mediterranean and flavoursome, and the lightness of this dish was balanced by decadently delicious croquettes, filled with Manchego cheese and Parma ham and chorizo respectively. The second portion of croquettes were a chefs special and they were perfect. Anything involving melted cheese is fine by me, and these croquettes were divine, with crispy golden breadcrumbs which gave way to a smooth and moreish filling whilst a bed of watercress provided a perfectly peppery contrast.

 Braised quinoa and smoked chicken salad 

We had two portions of croquettes, Manchego cheese and Parma ham and a chorizo filled chefs special. 

 Spicy chorizo 

Grilled halloumi

Spicy chorizo which was served with focaccia was a piquant treat which conjured up sitting on a sunny terrace in Barcelona, whilst the grilled halloumi was buttery with a light and creamy flavour.  I know that the whole ethos of the meal was sharing, but there was no way I was sharing the butternut squash risotto with anybody! I adore risotto and I found this to be the best I have ever tasted. The arborio rice was perfectly cooked in a rich sauce with a little melted cheese and a kick of pepper whilst the chunks of butternut squash added a satisfying sweetness. This was pure comfort food, hearty and soothing in equal measure and something I could happily eat every day.

Butternut squash risotto with sage 

Trio of bruschette 

After this gargantuan feast of delightful dishes, it was time for dessert and we decided to share the cheeseboard and a chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce. The cheeseboard was excellent, with goat's cheese, Manchego, cheddar and stilton, served with a tangy and sweet tomato jam. 

Cheese board with biscuits

The chocolate brownie  was irresistibly rich and dense, with a slightly gooey texture which suggested that it had just come out of the oven. The vanilla ice cream complemented it perfectly and this sinful dessert provided the perfectly sweet note upon which to end a lovely meal.

Chocolate brownie and chocolate sauce

The Brasserie Tapas and Grill is a delightful place for a meal, with excellent service and sumptuous food. The menu makes this the ideal choice for a convivial meal with friends or for an evening out, offering a continental style of dining which gives you plenty to share with your companions. Every dish was beautifully created, with a keen eye for flavour combinations and excellent produce which are the hallmarks of Matt Worswick. We had a lovely meal and afterwards we retired to the swimming pool and then watched the sunset from one of the hot tubs. It was such a wonderful day and the Brasserie Tapas and Grill is a restaurant I would highly recommend to everyone, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere, stylish interior design and superb menu. A big thank you to everyone at Thornton Hall Hotel for such an amazing day! 

Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa 
Neston Road, 
Thornton Hough, 
CH63 1JF

0151 336 3938    

What  do you all think, would you like to share some of the delicious dishes at the Brasserie Tapas and Grill? Which would be your favourite of these dishes? As always I can't wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post! 

Until next time,



I was invited to experience the Brasserie Tapas & Grill. The meal was complimentary for review purposes. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest.