Monday 30 January 2017

Dinner at Provenance Restaurant...

As soon as I heard about Provenance Food Hall and Restaurant* I was intrigued; combining a food hall downstairs with a stylish restaurant upstairs, this is a concept which appeals to my obsession with good food. Provenance is located in Westhoughton, just outside of Bolton and as the name would suggest, the ethos of the restaurant places an emphasis on the origin of the food. The Provenance philosophy is to offer a wide range of locally sourced food and the menu consists of a pleasing balance of fine dining inspired dishes as well as comforting classics, so there is something to appeal to everybody from lobster thermidor to sausage and mash. With everything from breakfast and afternoon tea to Sunday Roast available, this is a restaurant which has plenty to offer and the steak night every Tuesday always proves popular.
After a warm welcome from Stuart on front of house, we were seated at a candlelit table next to the window, allowing us to watch the world go by. The interior design aesthetic at Provenance is understated, with polished wooden floors and a neutral colour scheme accented by framed black and white photographs, some of which give a nod to the history of the building which was once a toy shop. Beyond the well-stocked bar area, the bustling kitchen was visible where evening service was well underway.


I sipped chilled Sauvignon Blanc which was fruity with a subtle note of citrus, as we consulted the menu poring over options including Chateaubriand, fish pie and the Provenance burger served with treacle cured bacon and Lancashire cheese.
I decided on the soup as a starter; a silky pea soup which had a fresh and bright flavour evocative of spring time, this was the perfect warming dish for a chilly evening.

My dining companion ordered the baked camembert, which was served with freshly baked paprika pastry twists which were buttery and flaky. The side of pickled vegetables was also a nice addition to the dish, as their sharpness contrasted well with the intensity of the cheese.

It has been a while since I have enjoyed a really good plate of fish and chips, a classic dish which is a favourite of mine, but which can so often be underwhelming. I decided to order this for my main and I was glad I did as it was a good example of how satisfying this simple dish can be when done well. The individual components all shone in their own right, a large fillet of flaky haddock encased in golden beer batter, served with chunky chips, a tartare sauce which had a piquant bite and crushed peas. This was an excellent plate of hearty comfort food and it restored my love of fish and chips and reminded me why I find it so hard to resist. 

My dining companion was equally enamoured by his main course of rump steak, cooked medium rare to his preference and served with mushroom, confit tomatoes, pickled onion rings and chunky chips. The steak was tender and juicy and the B√©arnaise sauce he chose to accompany it was creamy and rich, with a delicate herb quality which sat well with the flavour of the steak. I always find it refreshing when a steak comes as a complete meal, rather than having to order multiple sides to complete it and the accompaniments at Provenance were classics which brought out the flavour of the juicy steak. 

On to dessert and who could resist a sticky toffee sundae; this was a wise choice which held layers of fresh cream, ice cream, rivers of toffee sauce and chunks of sticky toffee pudding. There is something about an ice cream sundae which I always find to be evocative of happy childhood memories and I would certainly order this dessert again. 

My dining companion ordered the chocolate mushroom, which we had already seen on the menu and were eager to try. This was also recommended to us by Stuart who served us throughout the evening, who explained that it is something of a signature dish for award winning head chef Lewis Gallagher. We were wowed by the appearance of the dessert, which looked like a mushroom and was beautifully plated with shards of chocolate and pistachio textures. The smooth milk chocolate flavour was a treat; not overpoweringly sweet and well balanced by the pistachio. Overall this was a stunning dessert which showed the creative flair, technical skill and imagination which I admire chefs for.

We settled back and relaxed over a cup of coffee as we enjoyed live music from the pianist who was playing the baby grand piano, the ideal way to complete such a lovely meal which delivered in terms of both excellent service and delicious food. I liked the idea of Provenance and I found that the combination of food hall and restaurant worked well and the relaxed ambience and sophisticated food created a winning formula which made for a lovely evening.

Provenance Food Hall & Restaurant
46-48 Market Street,
Westhoughton, Bolton,

 01942 812 398

What do you all think, do you like the sound of a restaurant which serves fine dining and comfort food in a friendly setting? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was invited to review Provenance, this meal was complimentary. All opinions stated herein are my own and honest.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Cocktails and sushi at Neighbourhood Liverpool....

Last night I went along to Neighbourhood in Liverpool to enjoy a press tasting of some of their food and cocktails. Neighbourhood is a stylish restaurant and bar located on Castle Street; this area of Liverpool is one of the best places to go out for food and drinks as there is such a good selection of restaurants and bars in the vicinity. I have visited Neighbourhood in Manchester many times and I am happy that there is now a Neighbourhood in Liverpool too, adding another cool venue to the wide range of bars and restaurants in Liverpool. 

Neighbourhood has a strking design aesthetic which is sympathetic to the history of the building which was once a bank. There is a sense of grandeur about the place, with lofty ceilings and a mezzanine level with a stunning private dining space. Many of the original features of the building are still visible, which gives it even more of an air of elegance. 

We were welcomed with Prosecco and given some hints about what the evening would entail, including tastings of food and drink as well as a surprise.  We took our seats in the opulent private dining area, which has a vast table with wraparound plush leather banquette seating. In no time at all we were served delicious cocktails and platters of dainty food began to arrive at the table. We were treated to a selection of goodies including mini burgers, succulent lobster tacos and prawn tempura in a light and golden batter. 

The Prosecco continued to flow as more bottles arrived at the table, complete with sparklers which created a festive atmosphere. The surprise of the evening was revealed as Neighbourhood chef Jordan arrived to give us all a sushi masterclass. He talked us through some fascinating information about the origins of sushi and the history of this popular delicacy, before he started to make us various sushi rolls to enjoy.

We were given the chance to join in, making our own sushi. I enjoyed seeing the various types of sushi being prepared and we also sampled some vegetarian sushi, avocado rolls which were so tasty and perfectly complemented by the cocktails and Prosecco. After so many delicious dishes, the evening concluded with a plate of tempting desserts including chocolate brownies which had a deep flavour and a rich and chewy texture.

Thank you very much to Chloé, who hosted us for the lovely evening. I met some great people and caught up with some friends, it was a fun night and we heard all about the legendary Neighbourhood Nights with live music and cocktails flowing until the early hours so I definitely need to go along soon to enjoy Neighbourhood again.

62 Castle St, 
 L2 7LQ

What do you all think, have you dined at Neighbourhood and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Sunday 22 January 2017

Banana loaf with Madagascan vanilla icing...

I was excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with Ape Snacks recently, who sent me a box of their healthy coconut snacks which come in several tasty sweet and savoury varieties and they are full of fibre and gluten free too. I have always loved baking banana bread and my family always enjoy it when I bake a loaf of it, which usually means that it does not last for very long! This weekend I thought it would be fun to bake a banana loaf topped with some of the snacks which Ape Snacks sent to me. I used my favourite banana bread recipe, which I always go back to again and again; it makes a very moist loaf which is just irresistible and I find it is great for breakfast or served as a dessert.

This time I wanted to make it more as a cake which we could all enjoy with some afternoon tea, so I decided to bake banana bread with Madagascan vanilla buttercream icing, topped with walnuts and Ape Snacks crispy coconut curls with salted chocolate. This recipe is so simple, and it turns out well every time I bake it.

2 free range eggs, beaten  
140g self-raising flour
140g sugar (I use ordinary granulated sugar, caster sugar is not necessary) 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
2 ripe bananas, mashed 
140g butter or margarine

Icing and Topping
140g butter, softened
280g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
Ape Snacks crispy coconut curls with salted chocolate
1 teaspoon Madagascan vanilla extract 

In a mixing bowl, cream the softened butter or margarine and sugar together with a fork until fluffy, beat in the eggs and then add the mashed bananas. Add the flour and baking powder to the bowl and mix everything well until it forms a smooth mixture which drops from the end of a wooden spoon. Meanwhile heat the oven to 180°c (gas 4) lightly grease your loaf tin and line it with baking parchment.

Pour the banana bread mixture in to the loaf tin and bake on the top shelf of the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes, until the loaf looks golden and springs back when you press it gently and a knife or skewer comes out of the loaf clean.

Make a batch of Madagascan vanilla buttercream icing, by creaming together the icing sugar, butter and milk in a bowl along with a teaspoon of good quality Madagascan vanilla extract. Add a little more milk to make a more fluid icing (which I wanted for this loaf cake).
When the loaf has cooled, turn it on to a plate and layer the icing over it, smoothing out with a palette knife. Decorate with walnuts and a sprinkling of the Ape Snacks crispy coconut curls with salted chocolate, and there you have it, the perfect cake to accompany your afternoon tea.

What do you all think, have you baked a banana loaf recently and would you like to try Ape Snacks?As always, I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Thursday 12 January 2017

A sunny winter stroll...

I enjoy going out for long walks and I find it more appealing than ever on those winter days when the air is crisp and clear and the sun is shining. January is the perfect time to blow away the cobwebs and get outside to enjoy those bright days which seem to herald all the promise that a new year can hold. Last year I purchased this grey coat at the end of the winter season in Zara and I am so glad that I got it, because it is the type of coat which is so easy to throw on with jeans and a t-shirt. It is structured enough to add a polished edge to a casual outfit and it is warm too. I do not share fashion content with you very often because I do not always feel confident, I would rather keep it real with you and admit that, instead of pretending that I feel vastly confident every day. This is the real me and I know some of my readers struggle with confidence, as you tell me so in your comments and emails daily. Personally speaking, there is no magic formula for confidence but I just try to embrace my shape, wear clothes which suit me and most importantly relax...ultimately life is too short to worry about what anybody else thinks, so be happy and find something to smile about every day. There is always something.

We live close to the water and when the sun is shining there are some beautiful reflections to enjoy, so we headed to the marine lake close to where we live, to soak up the afternoon sunshine and the incredible views. 

It felt so good to go for a long walk after so much time spent relaxing over the holidays.
I teamed the Zara coat with high waisted skinny jeans and over the knee boots from Primark, an Iron Maiden t-shirt from Pull and Bear, a Zara chain handle handbag and my favourite pair of Balmain sunglasses. I love outfits like this which are easy to put together, comfortable and casual.

The sunset over Hilbre Island was breathtaking, it is moments of pure tranquility like this which make me pause and think about things...we get so caught up in the rush of life that it sometimes seems impossible to take a moment to appreciate our surroundings, but indeed it is vital to do so. 

The new year is a time to reflect, to measure how far we have progressed over the past year and to look at what we want to achieve over the next twelve months. In all honesty, I find the thought of the blank canvas of the year ahead exhilarating; there is always something to enjoy despite the challenges life presents us with. 

There is always so much to think about in life, but nevertheless sometimes it is important to think about absolutely simply stand and look at a beautiful view and to breathe in the sense of possibility. That is what this walk was all about, unwinding and appreciating our surroundings...taking a moment to seek solace in nature. 

When it comes to clothes I usually resort to a particular default look when I do not have work events to go to. My weekend casual look often consists of jeans, boots, a t-shirt and a coat paired with a smaller handbag (I use a bigger handbag in the week to carry my laptop in) it is funny how I own so many clothes and yet I usually end up resorting to the same style formula! 

Outfit details:
Coat and bag- Zara
T-shirt- Pull & Bear
Sunglasses- Balmain
Boots and jeans- Primark

In seemingly no time at all, the day gave way to twilight and the last of the golden light disappeared in to the hazy blue sky.

It was a lovely afternoon and the fresh air and peace and quiet was just what I needed. It was so calm and relaxing and the stunning views were unforgettable. It was nice to press the reset button and to welcome 2017 in a way which seemed only fitting, enjoying each moment in a way I sometimes neglect to do. 

What do you all think, do you like going on walks and what aspirations do you have for 2017? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post. 

Until next time