hotel chocolat
The menu read:

Ten years ago the founders of Hotel Chocolat bought an old
1745 cacao estate in the Caribbean called Rabot. The cacao
and the culture were the inspiration for this menu.

A dinner celebration with the Manfriend’s family wasn’t intended for review, but the second the Anglo-West Indian faire from Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant – Roast + Conch – hit the table, all bets were off.

I mean, if tuna tartare with cacao guacamole, lime-ginger dressing and crispbread doesn’t do it for you, nothing will.

The other half went for my old flame, the Not-So Scotch Egg, while the others swooned through bites of their new Yorkshire Pudding starter (filled with rare-seared parkin-spiced
beef, white chocolate mash and cacao red wine gravy) and a crispy duck confit potato cake (served with braised red cabbage, and cacao-orange sauce).

Whipping the SLR out was a nessecity.

For the main event, all three men couldn’t resist the chopped rump steak burger (served with aged cheddar, cacao beer braised onions, french fries, creole chutney and crisp dry cured bacon), and I can’t say I blame them; a single bite and I was making a date to return for one of my own. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy my own main, of course. My crapshoot order of pork faggot meatballs (bucket listed) was an elegant surprise; alongside pork belly, crisp dry cured bacon, cacao beer braised onions, white chocolate mash and roast jus. I was delighted with what could have easily turned out to be an unpleasant choice, just as the Manfriend’s mumma was with her Caribbean ‘fish run down’ (though the market fish used changes by the day, the light coconut curry and vegetables would be a flavourful friend to any white fish).

As indulgences go, we were all a tad overwhelmed by the idea of solo treats and opted to share the BAFTA dessert (50% milk chocolate mousse, cacao beer caramel, roasted mixed nuts, and almond dacquoise) and sticky toffee and cacao beer pudding (with insanely moreish cacao-infused whipped cream) between us.

Roast + Conch is a divine treat for chocoholics and foodies alike. Praise Cacao Jesus.

hotel chocolat
hotel chocolat
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life in leeds
I have experienced something of a learning curve while adjusting to life in Leeds.

Not to spoil my latest vlog (below) or anything, but now that I am ten months in, I thought it would be a good idea to employ the most Yorkshire-y Yorkshireman I know to help me share the lessons learned.

…you’ll learn how to speak Yorkshire ‘n’ all, petal.

Enjoy!

julian hakes
Amidst a rough couple of weeks between eye surgeries, my sister* Tiffani finally left the US and made her way over here to join me for two weeks of adventure in Leeds, London, and Paris. Not only that, but two of my favourite Londoners hauled their lovely bums up to Leeds to share in the excitement of her first weekend; an introduction to ‘night’s out’, cathedrals, mystery games, the countryside, latte art, the Great British High Street, and more.

I am a lucky lady.

What I Wore:
Julian Hakes Mojito Shoes from Cloggs (because what better excuse to whip out the coolest shoes I’ve ever seen – plus, they’re on sale!)
Polka dot shirt dress (similar here)

(*Not by blood, but – long story short – after her family took me in and became my family so many years ago, there is no better way to describe her).

julian hakes
julian hakes
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trinity kitchen july 2014
As each month of Trinity Kitchen goes by, I think I get more and more judgmental.

I’m still feeling pretty sour about losing Dogtown and The Cheese Truck back to London.

Thankfully, Trinity Leeds keep pulling rabbits out of their proverbial hat. This month? I made a trip to Banh Mi Booth twice in the first week alone. Emily Boothroyd’s ‘booth’ serves what I consider to be the Daddy of Street Food – succulent char siu pork banh mi sandwiches (the only complaint: the bread seemed to change with every visit, meaning my classic soft/crisp expectations weren’t always met).

The Cauldron, however, wins for must-visit food truck of the month. Slightly burnt out on Vietnamese when I finally took The Manfriend for a trial, I read through The Cauldron’s whiteboard menu items and settled on the ‘Pig Out’ – a slow cooked free range pork belly wrap with a fennel, garlic and chilli rub, ‘bang bang’ sauce, salad, and a minted yoghurt dressing.

I couldn’t imagine spending a better £6. It was the most flavourful and filling meal I have ever had.

As I seem to always catch Flavours Found (Shake Maroc and Roll) when they’re on a break (TEAR! I love Moroccan!) and tend to be far too full to indulge in the seductive lassis or crumpets of Indie Ices and Cook It Up, I sincerely hope I have time to visit the other vendors this month.

Then again…look at that wrap!

trinity kitchen the cauldron

The Cauldron

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gaucho leeds
As The Manfriend wasn’t much of a foodie before dating me (I think we could safely categorise him as a Food Is Fuel connoisseur), it has always surprised me how much he has raved about Gaucho Leeds.

Though he last ate there for his twenty-first birthday (more than a few moons ago), the restaurant had made a lasting impression on him. Frankly, our trip for Sunday lunch was long overdue.

Lured in by their Late Spring Lunch Menu (two courses for £23 or three courses for £26), we descended their secret staircase into a dark and open miscellany of well-furnished rooms to take our seats.

We were presented with two wine lists; one Argentinian-packed plethora of wines (sparkling and still) as well as a charmingly handwritten selection of rare bottles. Knowing we weren’t going to leave without a steak in our systems, I elected a Malbec – a bottle of Domingo Molina Mortero 2010 – to share. This particular Malbec is clean and sharp (the way I prefer my reds) with very pure notes of dark cherry and blackberry, leading into a savoury finish.

It’s a freshly baked bread wine. A pea and mint soup wine. A bruschetta of tomato, basil, and goat’s cheese wine. (Thankfully, those were our starters.) The bruschetta was presented beautifully and was near perfect, barring a slightly overgrilled base. The pea and mint soup, however, was balanced tastefully and was as moreish as soup can get.

In hot anticipation of our mains (the Spring Menu selections of Spaghetti Provencale and Chicken Milanese had to chance of winning out over steak), our 180g medium-rare rib eyes arrived shortly thereafter. Though each was plated with chips and Béarnaise sauce, the ‘sides’ almost disappeared when I bit into the steak. I don’t often choose rib eye when cooking or ordering steak (it might be its American omnipresence in my childhood), but I would happily pay Gaucho the £26 for this course alone.

We slowly drained the Mortero between business talk, planning of our next (BIG!) visit to Gaucho for celebrations later in the month, and indulgent bites of dessert. The millefeuille with fresh strawberries and shortbread didn’t quite live up to the puff pastry versions I have tried in France, but the Manfriend’s ‘Gaucho Eton Mess‘ whipped up a smile so big it didn’t matter.

From maître d’ to our final farewells, service was impeccable and the food – despite a few niggles – was well worth its price. Go, Gaucho.

gaucho leeds
gaucho leeds
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