Weeks of sorting and organising thousands of photos have enabled me to discover albums of hidden gems I had almost forgotten about. With our blogger friends (Oli and David) living it large in Malaga, I can’t help but reminisce about the last trip Mo and I made to Spain over a year ago. I wrote about our weekend exploring Madrid, and then that was it. I’ve not really shared much else.

So let’s jump from the beginning… to the end!

Last stop on our 10 day Spanish road trip: Cordoba

Ahh… Cordoba.

Visits to the South of Spain are usually centred around the coastal resorts, Granada or Seville if you head west. Cordoba is still part of the Andalucia region but perhaps not top of the list on places to visit. Or at least I didn’t think so.

 

Where we stayed

We stayed at the Ayre Hotel, Cordoba. A decent hotel. We had a lovely room, the hotel itself seemed a bit dated (quite 80s), but it was pleasant, clean surrounded by beautiful greenery and reasonably priced, so we weren’t complaining.

We enjoyed a meal at the hotel restaurant, again nothing to write home about but it was nice. There was also an outside pool which we couldn’t wait to check out – although it took us a while to step inside as it was FREEZING. And watching people get in and out was great entertainment, all of us egging each other on to at least give it a go.

 

What we did

There’s quite a bit to do in Cordoba but Mo and I were slightly pressed for time. Well actually, we probably could have done more, but we did choose to spend an afternoon by the pool, sacrificing sight seeing for an afternoon of relaxation. But of course, we made sure that the one place we did visit was the beautiful Mezquita.

Truly a unique building, Mezquita is known not just as the Great mosque of Cordoba, but as a mosque-cathedral. Famous for being one of the most accomplished examples of Moorish architecture, this is one not to miss when you’re in the city.

 

 

To briefly touch on its history, a small church originally stood on the site which was apparently used as a prayer site for both Muslims and Christians (however this latter point has been debated). In 784 when Abd Al-Rahman took control of the city, the construction of the Great mosque began, and the building was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. In 1236 Cordoba returned to Christian rule and the building was then converted to a Roman Catholic Church, how it remains today.

It’s quite surreal walking through the archways and rooms, as the presence of both religions is visible. The archways themselves threw me right back to those we regularly saw in the Holy mosque in Makkah, so similar in colouring and style and in some places, material.

The most striking feature once you walk in is that of the hypostyle hall, over 800 columns made from Roman temple remains and onyx and marble and jasper I believe. The ceilings are high, the lighting varies as you walk through, the arches inspired by those from Al Aqsa mosque in the Palestinian capital, Jerusalem.

 

 

The mihrab (from where Muslim congregational prayers are led by the Imam) is absolutely stunning, full of traditional Islamic art feature such as geometric patterns, religious calligraphy, fluid patterns and lots of symmetry. For those who don’t already know, the mihrab is the part of the mosque which indicates the ‘qibla’ – the direction Muslims face when praying. The mihrab is usually a semi circular niche built into the wall, you’ll find them or variations of them, in nearly all traditional mosques.

 

 

Of course, as the mosque was converted into a cathedral, there are also a lot of Christian elements. The minaret was converted into a bell tower, which you can check out actually, the views over the city from the top are quite spectacular. And of course spend some time in the courtyard too, appreciate the scale of this heritage site and enjoy the fresh pools and orange trees that add a bit of tranquility to this popular tourist hot spot.

 

 

Aside from Mezquita, we also spent some time exploring the nooks and crannies of the city, wandering from street to street with no real plan, except to enjoy the fresh, warm air and the new environment.

 

 

 

What we ate

Probably the most iconic food story of our trip happened here, in Cordoba. So you may want to pay attention…

It was our final night in Spain. It had been an amazing trip, Mo and I had loved every second of our journey, even the hours spent in the car had felt like an adventure and we were quite sad to call an end to it all. But alas, the trip had to end some time, so we decided we’d see it off in style with an extra special meal out. We both put on our finest outfits. I even spent time straightening my hair, totally going above and beyond my normal holiday get up and go routine.

Our hotel was slightly outside of the city centre so we were excited at the prospect of finding a local restaurant, one that would boast authentic food, charming atmosphere, preferably some good quality tapas. We looked around on google for places nearby and we were a bit stumped, so we decided to go down and have chat with the hotel concierge. Map in hand he mentioned an area of trendy restaurant bars, popular with young professionals, where locals in the area go. That was it, that was exactly what we were after.

We hopped into the car and drove down to the location hotel concierge man had mapped out, and yes there it was, a street lined with trendy looking joints, Mo and I were excited for a lovely evening ahead. We parked up and started walking down… both of us wondering whether we should be concerned at how quiet it seemed. It was definitely dinner time? There were plenty of cars? Where were all the people?!?

A few strolls up and down we found there was only one place that seemed to be truly open for business, it looked nice, everyone around us spoke only Spanish. Looks like we hit the jackpot. We walked to the back where everyone seemed to be congregating and asked the lovely waitress for a table for two. She looked oddly at us, pointing to a few options in a gesture that sort of signified ‘take your pick.’ Being outdoor, a lot of the other tables were occupied by smokers, so we picked a place slightly away from the action.

All smiles, Mo and I were excited again. Food time! The waitress popped back asking if we wanted drinks, as she popped a bowl of peanuts in front of us. We asked to see the food menu. Again the waitress looked quizzically at us. We asked again and to our surprise we were handed a one page third of an A4 leaflet with poor lamination advertising no more than four food options (yes I’m a graphic designer so the paper quality means something to me).

Oh dear. What the heck was going on.

Trying to stay positive, we’d already made all this effort to get here we might as well just order what we can and make the most of it. So… two pizzas it was as that was literally the only thing we could actually eat on the menu. To be fair we’d had a really good baguettini style pizza before so it wouldn’t be so bad having it again. And this was a nice place so surely they can’t go wrong with a margherita.

Midway through our chat about how odd this ‘restaurant’ was Mo gasped. Eyes popping out of his head.

Mo: You’re not going to believe this
Me: What?
Mo: The waitress is making our pizza
Me: So? What’s the problem?
Mo: You need to see how she’s making it
Me: How???!?!
Mo: She has just reached into the freezer.
Me: yea?
Mo: Picked up a double pack of Dr Oetker pizza
Me: what… the….
Mo: She has taken them out of the box
Me: are you su-
Mo: And into the microwave they go.

Needless to say not long after dinner was served. We had a good laugh. It didn’t taste that bad. But boy oh boy that was one) not the fancy meal we had in mind and two) as if we just paid EIGHT Euros for a ready meal pizza!??!?!

Luckily, the next day we redeemed ourselves, determined to ensure the fine dining German chef Dr Oetker was not our final food memory of Spain. After our visit to the Mezquita, we thankfully enjoyed the meal we had been craving. Taberna La Romana – Reasonably priced, freshly-cooked (I repeat freshly-cooked) with tables looking out over the bridge to the Calahorra tower and for anyone who’s after a great gift, there’s a beautiful silver jewellery shop just next door, Joaquin Espaliu Designs.

 

 

When I grew up in Saudi Arabia, there was actually a compound named ‘Cordoba’ where a number of school friends lived. It’s quite weird thinking that back in those days I never realised Cordoba was actually a city, let alone one with such a great history and such beautiful landscapes. Our trip there was short but it was sweet and we’re glad we took the time to pass through on our way back to Madrid.

As a Muslim, the South of Spain is a truly special place, as it really is so interesting to learn and to see so clearly the influence the Ummayid leaders left behind and what part it played in shaping some of these areas.

Of course, the question we always ask, would Mo and I go back?

Definitely, there’s so much we didn’t get a chance to see: Calahorra tower, museum of fine arts and the Roman temple of Cordoba to name but a few.

However the next time we do make a trip over, we’ll be sure to do a much more comprehensive search on restaurants and fine dining beforehand. We’ll save Dr Oetker for the Aldi shop back home.

 

 

 

Have you been to Cordoba? What did you think?

 

 

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On the lead up to Christmas things always get pretty hectic. Last year was no exception. On the Thursday night I had double booked, but as I had committed to the Blogger Dining Club first, I cancelled my other plans and stayed loyal to my virtual and not-so-virtual friends. I finished work, but had to run some last minute errands in town. Of course I had to do them on a day when it was chucking it down. And of course on the day it was chucking it down I had to forget my umbrella at home. And of course the one day I was going out for a fancy meal after work I forgot to pack some spare shoes to dress up my work clothes with.

So when the time came to join the group at Don Giovanni’s, I looked like an absolute mess. My hair, my bags, my coat… all were soaked and as I walked in to a restaurant filled with Christmas parties my heart sank at how unglamorous I was. All those times Mo has lectured me about making an effort to look half decent, well I really wish I had listened this one time. But I had nothing to worry about as I headed to where the others were waiting at the bar and Georgie, our chief hostess, swiftly took my bags and coat and ordered me a drink (non-alcoholic obvs) to relax, assuring me I looked fine (lies but I appreciated the gesture) and that now that I was here I should just relax and enjoy.

And that, is exactly what I did. There were familiar faces and lots of new ones too. Some full time bloggers, some part-time bloggers, Georgie had got together a pretty great mix of talent and after lots of talk on how crazy December had been we all headed to our specially decorated party table.

Georgie and the team at Don Giovanni’s had done an exceptional job of putting together a magical looking table for us to spend the evening at. The flower decorations by the Flower Lounge were gorgeous and gave our space such a cosy feel, everything from the place cards to the menus had been thought out and beautifully arranged. We had some lovely gifts on the table too, few boozey treats – not my cup of tea for obvious reasons, some honey water from Just Bee and a gorgeous gift box from Kiehls. I’m not a beauty blogger, but I am currently going through a skincare upheaval so it was very much welcomed and I’m currently putting them to the test…

 

 

My seat was right at the end, and I enjoyed the company of new friends that night Donna (I’ve actually met Donna before but it was nice to spend proper time together), Alice and Laura. After gushing over our gifts, crackers and getting the photographs done and dusted, it was time to sit back and do what we were here to do. Try out the food. Well that and make new friends, but I feel we’d already accomplished that part.

I had been excited about my meal for days and I was right to be. For starters I chose the JC Octopus – Ricotta mousse topped with grilled octopus, pickled radish, micro basil and slow roasted cherry tomatoes. For mains I couldn’t resist the Ravioli Aragosta – Homemade ravioli lobster in a lobster bisque with a touch of chilli.

 

 

The octopus was probably the best I’ve had in the UK, coming second to what Mo and I tried at Ocana in Barcelona. It wasn’t chewy in the slightest, perfect texture and I loved the sharpness of lemon with the cherry tomatoes and ricotta. The homemade ravioli was equally as good, the portion was quite generous though so I was struggling to get through. I’ve mentioned before that there is no shortage of Italian restaurants here in Manchester, Don Giovanni was one that had slipped off my radar, which is quite surprising as I don’t work too far from it. But the service was fab, the food was good and the atmosphere was cosy and intimate. I definitely want to take Mo back for him to try the octopus. Literally can’t wait to eat that again!

 

 

The evening ended with some festive tipples and Georgie, bless her, had made sure that the bar prepared an exciting non-alcoholic treat for me to enjoy. It’s things like this that really touch me, when people go out of their way to make sure you’re accommodated. One of the things about being in the UK, wow drinking is a really big deal here. But thankfully being a non-drinker is becoming just as popular these days, meaning people like me who remain alcohol-free can still go out and have a lovely evening with friends without feeling left out. And you know what bloggers are the best bunch, because we all have so much in common! We’re all some kind of super cool girl boss. We’re all practically running our own businesses and we’re all trying our best to balance life and make a difference.

2017 was the year I realised that no matter how well or how little I know my fellow bloggers, I do genuinely love being around them. They motivate and inspire me to push forward and hey, it might seem like all we do is take pictures and chat on social – well in actual fact the good thing about blogger events is we all know the drill and we can help each other get all the important stuff out the way so we can sit back and do exactly what we did that evening… just enjoy being together.

Can’t wait to see everyone again next month 🙂

 

 

*** Big thanks to Georgie for inviting me to the Blogger Dining Club and to her and Don Giovanni’s for organising such a wonderful evening. Of course all pictures are my own, apologies for them not being so great again, I was having a real battle with my own shadow that evening as it kept ruining my shots! ***

 

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bents winter food market

 

I moved to the UK back in 1999 and boy were things different here. Well compared to what I was used to anyway. Streets were different, houses were different, days out were different. One of the strangest things I remember the first year of our return, was learning that a trip to the garden centre in England, was not actually just a trip to a garden centre… it was a day out??

Does this happen anywhere else in the world? Or is it just a UK thing I wonder?

Honestly, I came to realise that nothing is more exciting than stumbling across a new garden centre and I’m not even any good at gardening. Garden centres to me usually mean… a nice hearty lunch, lots of beautiful plant life, great gift sections and home and garden ware that’s ready to be the envy of all your friends and family.

Sorry… wait, I take it back. There is something more exciting than stumbling across a new on. And that is, taking a trip back to an old one!

The best ‘old’ one of the lot? Bents.

Ahh Bents.

Many, many years ago my dad took my mum to Bents garden centre and ever since my mum has taken countless friends and of course her family to experience the joy of a day out in Bents. A few weeks ago I was invited to the launch of their new Winter Food market, a brand new venture they had decided to embark on after many years of contemplating.

For me, no trip to Bents is complete without taking mother in tow, so Mo was left at home that evening and instead Mum and I scheduled some quality time together. It had been a long time since my last visit, thinking back it must have been at least 6 years (at least). When we pulled up into the car park I was literally gobsmacked by the sheer size of it.

 

 

Was it always this big? Or perhaps the addition of hundreds and thousands of tiny fairy lights made it seem so much grander. We drove into the vast car park and found ourselves walking through the food market entrance. Yes the food market. The last time I visited Bents the food section was quite small. A few counters, few shelves… but now there were fresh patisserie counters, a whole freezer section, fresh fruit and vegetables… and of course no area of Bents is complete without fantastic displays interspersed amongst it all.

 

 

It was so hard not to spend all our time shopping for groceries, but we wanted to visit the market first before spending time looking around (I had just come straight from work and food was very much required).

Heading out into the outdoor garden section, there in the corner sits the new Winter Food Market, a collection of mini huts, picnic tables, outdoor heaters and of course lots of Bents decorating touches. We walked into the evenings private event and took a stroll around the food stalls on offer. When the Christmas Markets come to Manchester, a year can not go by where I don’t indulge in a fresh crepe on a cold evening. So I was glad to hear this market revolved around food.

But not just any food, food for everyone. Yes to my pleasant surprise I have finally found a market where I can queue up and order a HOT DOG. You have no idea how good that feels. And yes ok it’s a vegan hot dog, but you know what, it tasted damn good! If vegan hot dog doesn’t take your fancy, there is an incredible pulled mushroom roll you need to buy and try. Truth be told I do not like mushrooms. And yet, here was a sandwich full of them and it was the most delicious thing I’d eaten in a very, very long time! There was a sweets stall with fresh waffles – and crepes and of course one dedicated to drinks. Again, even the hot drink section, instead of just brewing mulled wine like every Christmas market does, there was also a non-alcoholic apple toddy, infused with ginger and cinammon. Oh but you have to try the hot white chocolate – up there with my favourite Slatterys one, thick and creamy but not overly sweet.

 

 

It was pretty busy that night, tables were full but we spotted a couple of picnic table end seats available and the family on the other side of it invited us to perch and enjoy our meal sat down. We happily accepted, my mum completely drawn in by their beautiful baby girl. As it turned out, they were members of the Bents family. In all my years of coming to Bents, I had no idea this was a homegrown family business. In fact, Bents are celebrating their 80th year and we learned that family is an important part of everything they do. If Mum and I didn’t love Bents before, we certainly have an extra soft spot for it now. The hospitality and friendliness demonstrated not only by the famous family but also the staff on the night really blew us away.

 

 

There was entertainment playing on the stage in the corner, the lights twinkled, we were surrounded by flowers and plants, there was a lovely atmosphere. The Open Skies Glass House at Bents has one of those magical roof systems, where the panels can open to let in the fresh air, the cool crisp chill of winter. But unlike the markets in town – as soon as the rain decides to fall those panels can close right back up keeping you safe and dry and allow you to crack on with your evening.

 

 

Before we knew it, closing time was upon us. What we thought would be a quick visit to the markets turned into a whole evening out. Time had flown and it wasn’t long (a week later to be precise) before we were back to properly explore the store and purchase the odds and sods we needed. Return visits are so important, I’ve mentioned before people are always quick to point out to me that I must only receive good service when people know I’m a blogger. Well you know what, if people want to be rude, blogger or not they will be rude. I’m a firm believer that so long as you treat people with respect they will return the favour. And anyway, I can’t ever remember anything BUT good service at Bents, so the fact that we are still receiving it should be of no surprise.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the happenings of the city, I feel so guilty having neglected places like Bents over the last few years. The opening of the food court is a real game changer, Mo and I recently bought some frozen pastries to cook for guests we had staying over and they were fantastic! Although my top food court tip – Honey dew pomelo fruit is absolutely AMAZING. You will not find a pomelo this beautifully sweet in a normal supermarket, if you find it at all!

All in all, I’m so glad Bents decided to follow their dreams and finally open this Winter Food Market experience, I think it’s a great addition to the centre and gives us just another reason to return.

Who am I kidding, like we ever needed another reason 😉

 

Fan of Garden centres? Do you treat it as a day trip too? Have you been to Bents? 

 

Few details:
The Winter Food Market is open now until 22nd December.
Mon – Tues 12-5pm
Weds – Frid 12-8pm
Sat 12-5pm
Sun 12-4pm

 

*** Thank you to Bents for inviting my mother and I to taste the goods at the Winter Food Market. The hospitality we were shown was exceptional. Of course all opinions and photos are my own ***

 

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sky high afternoon tea with Roberts bakery

 

Man I hate heights. Really really hate them. I remember walking along the top of a castle wall in Harlech crouched down to ground level because I was scared of swaying and falling off. I remember the time we tried to make it to the top of the TV tower in Rotterdam and I had to hold G’s hand up the stair because the wind was so strong and at the top I plastered myself against the wall to once again, stop myself from falling off. It’s funny because I LOVE a good view point, I love climbing to the top but somehow the moment my mind concocts a way for me to tumble to my death… then the knees turn to jelly and I physically struggle to move or enjoy myself.

So, naturally, when the WeBloggers decided to meet up and experience afternoon tea on a sky high platform suspended by a crane, I happily accepted (poor them right?).

My fear of heights has always been a bit of a running joke amongst friends and family, as most of them have had the pleasure (for them, not me) of experiencing my comical solutions to dealing with my issues. I decided this was a great opportunity for me to spend time with my WeBloggers who I hadn’t seen in yeeeears, to enjoy some good food and drink and to show my friends and family that I could do it.

I arrived on time, bumping into a new blogger friend Kirsten, from the LIFB Issue, where we came off the tram and saw this mysterious sky high dining table in action. Didn’t look that high, what was I so worried about?

 

 

Great. On we went to registration, where we were briefed by some of the Roberts Bakery team, the event organisers. Have you heard of them? I hadn’t and couldn’t believe that considering how much I love bread, I had never seen them in the supermarkets. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the brand, and judging by the way of their brand promotion… I liked what I saw.

 

 

Wristbanded. Boarding pass in hand. Security brief completed. Valuables locked away. Off we went.

It had started to rain so we all gathered close around the table, under the canopy and I just happened to be stood by a corner seat. A second later I was somehow being strapped into said seat, whilst the security chap chirpily pointed out that I had the best seat in the house as I could turn all the way round to enjoy the view.

Yes you heard that right, turn all the way round.

No thanks was the thought that came to my mind, and after asking him to return and re-tighten my harness and tuck my chair closer to the table so I was well and truly wedged in, I waited for all the others to take their place.

All safe, the infamous opening track to Star Wars bellowed around us as we rose gracefully into the air. It was beautiful. Magical. The views as I turned were spectacular and…

It’s lies.

 

 

At the start I was terrified, not even the excitement of having my favourite opening sequence song made me feel better. The wind didn’t help and being on the corner left me feeling very vulnerable. Internalising a whole load of fear and anxiety whilst trying to be a cool-I-can-handle-anything blogger was harder than I thought. But I think I pulled it off 😉

I say it’s lies, but actually it did become the truth. It was quite magical being that high up and surreal to be doing it at a dinner table looking out over Greater Manchester.

 

see I did calm down eventually 🙂

 

Roberts bakery knew exactly how to put us at ease too, by serving up a scrumptiously innovative afternoon tea. Their exploratory had created a range of new flavours and the meal presented to us was created using some of their hot off the press and a number of secret squirrel items…

 

 

As soon as the food landed in front of me I started to relax and enjoy myself. It was so nice catching up with fellow bloggers, Diane, Holly, Kat, Jacinta and Laura. We worked our way through the tiers, Roberts bakery hosts explaining their new creations as we went on, they were so good at making us all comfortable and they kept the tea flowing!

 

 

The marbled red pesto and pink peppercorn was the most unusual one I tried, we enjoyed trying to work out the spices and tastes, sharp pepper flavour definitely was a bit of a talking point. There was even mini loaves with turmeric and ones with cheesy centres!

If I had to pick a favourite there is no question whatsoever that the sticky toffee scone with soft fudge and sticky dates (doesn’t it just SOUND amazing?!?!) was my winner. I could’ve eaten a whole pack and I will most definitely be purchasing some the minute it hits the shelves! (I look out for it all. the. time.)

The sky high afternoon tea was one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve had to date, and it was so nice to share it with such great company too. The hospitality we received from Etihad and Roberts Bakery was fantastic. Their campaign was tailored around #EmbraceTheNew and they sure had found a way for us all to do just that!

Once back on firm ground we were all quite excitedly chatting about how nice it was to do something different, without having to leave Manchester! I called my fantastic four team hoping to hear words of pride – which there were some, but my plan backfired a little as I was faced predominantly with words of upset for not including them ????.

We ended the afternoon with a giant goody bag and Kirsten and I shared a tram ride back to the City as it was back to work for me.

I was a little bit disappointed that none of us were able to get a photo of us actually suspended up there, but as it turns out a friend of Mo’s in Leeds shared a tweet from his friend in Manchester – who managed to take a pic of us up above the Etihad! (credit for this pic goes to @thegingerwig)

 

 

My mum came to stay over the weekend and it was the perfect opportunity to crack open the Roberts bloomer loaf and give it a try. I’m not usually one for seeded bread but this was delicious! We caned the loaf within a few days, it worked perfectly on it’s own or teamed up with Mo’s marvellous masala egg.

 

 

Looking forward to seeing some of the new and exciting flavours on the shelf in the near future and it’s time to hunt for a new experience to challenge myself with…

The sky’s the limit! (right?)

 

 

What’s the most unusual dining experience you’ve ever had?

 

 

*** Thank you to Roberts Bakery and WeBlogNorth for inviting me on this very special afternoon tea. Of course all opinions and photos are my own (unless stated) ***

 

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I’ve tried a number of Vapiano restaurants before, but never here in the UK. I remember walking into my first one in Berlin (many, many years ago) and loving being surrounded by greenery and the innovative way fresh herbs were placed on tables. That was by far my favourite part of the restaurant. I had very vivid memories of the for quality, so when I had the opportunity to try out the Manchester restaurant came about I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to push aside my love for the design concept and concentrate more on what really matters. The food.

It was a dull, cloudy lunch time, I met up with G and we power walked over to the Corn Exchange to enjoy a fast pasta lunch, in celebration of national pasta day.

I know I said I wouldn’t be sidetracked by the interiors, but they are pretty special. Why? because they’re so simple. Simple in design, simple in the way they look and they very much let nature do the talking. There’s a beautiful green wall, signature herbs on every table and of course lots of beautiful olives trees dotted around. The tables are oak, most are intentionally long, to encourage groups, friends or even strangers to perch together and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

 

 

If you haven’t been before, Vapiano is a different to your usual restaurant. You are given a credit type of card when you arrive and any food and drink you order is added to your smart card, you can then settle the bill on your way out. Vapiano doesn’t have a central production facility like most other chains, all food is made fresh on site – this includes the pasta, you can even watch it being made. There are numerous counters where you go up and place your order, watching it from start to finish adding however much or little extras as you want.

Great! All the smells, the sounds… the bright red tomatoes drew me in and I knew I wanted a tomato based dish. I chose Gambaretti – King prawns, tomatoes, spring onions, tomato sauce and fresh lemon. G decided to go rogue and order a risotto, not quite grasping the concept of national pasta day.

 

 

As our dishes were cooked we watched, I wanted extra chilli and it was nice to be able to ask and have my dish tweaked to how I like it. Watching them cook, I kept glancing at G thinking I’m not quite sure this portion size is worth what we’re paying… but once it was all cooked and plated up, the portion looked at least twice the size of what I thought?!?

It was a very, very generous portion and it was perfect. the pasta was beautiful the sauce was beautiful and the king prawns were a fantastic size, you can tell Vapiano stay true to their ethos of sourcing high quality ingredients.

G’s risotto was equally as tasty, not too creamy and heavy as a lot of risottos are, the best thing was knowing it had just been cooked right there in front of us, eating a luke warm risotto is never enjoyable.

 

 

After watching the fresh pasta being made at Vapiano it was funny that by chance my mother was coming to stay the following weekend for a ‘pasta-making’ session, something I had promised to try with her as part of her birthday present. It was so interesting to actually try out the process for ourselves, really added a sense of appreciation to the team of chefs that do it day in day out. We had a blast doing it at home – but it was far too long a process for me to fit into my everyday schedule.

 

 

(P.s. we also made CHEESE!?!?! so alongside our fresh pasta we enjoyed some fresh HALLOUMI too!!! I know, it’s got naff all to do with pasta but we were so proud and it tasted SO GOOD. But note to self and others – making cheese is hard. I repeat HARD.)

 

 

There are so many Italian restaurants around Manchester, well not just Manchester, everywhere you go Italian style food is usually available. What we have here in Manchester, are a large collection of high quality Italian eateries. Readers of my blog will know I am a huge fan of the San Carlo group and I wrote some time ago about how you should pick which of their restaurants to visit based on the occasion. Well I’m going to adopt that same analogy here with Vapiano.

Yes Italian food is everywhere. Yes even in the vicinity of the Corn Exchange there are a number of pizza and Pasta joints to choose from. So what would make me choose Vapiano… well, here’s my opinion: If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy casual dining, great ambience, FRESH food how YOU want it, then this is the place to go. After tasting Vapiano in three countries, I’ve not been disappointed once… and it is nice to know that I have one here at home.

And hey, who can say no to a restaurant that offers free home-grown herbs to all that pass?

 

 

*** Thank you to Vapiano Manchester for inviting G and I to check out their Manchester restaurant. Of course all opinions and photographs are my own ***

 

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