Sunday 27 October 2013

The Lakes

Last week was shit.

I came down with tonsillitis and haven't felt that wiped out in who knows how long.
After a few days of not being able to talk, eating Ben and Jerry's (sore throat remedy, ahem), not parting with my duvet and keeping my eyes glued to Downton Abbey (why have I never watched this before! So much scandal!!), I started to feel a bit better.

Which was good. Because James & I had planned a weekend away in the Lake District for our three year anniversary! Now, before you think I'm going to get all soppy on you, picture this:

I'm wearing joggers, scoffing percy pigs as we trawl up the M6 on Friday eve. It's hardly the picture of star-crossed lovers.

Anyway. We got to Oakbank House late on Friday and went straight up to our room. After a hearty complimentary breakfast the following morning we scampered off down to the lake shore to see what the craic was.

I think it's safe to say Lake Windermere is one of those places that doesn't need the sunshine for you to appreciate its beauty.

We decided to give the big ferry a miss and decided to explore the lake sans captain (aka we rented one of those tiny red motor boats in the photo above.)

It was wet.

But fun! The boat didn't go very fast at all, which was good 'cos you got to see all the little islands and boats moored around the harbour at your own pace.

Which, when I was 'driving', was slow.

It's tradition on holiday to go to the pub before midday in our eyes, so we headed off to the Hole in t'Wall to take shelter from the rain and get a little squiffy by the log fire..

As it was just after 11am, no one else was in the pub. Unperturbed, we nursed our med'cin. On the way out we passed a few fellow pub-goers who looked a little sheepish edging in through its old oak doors before midday. I think our red wine smiles gave them the confidence they needed. Hic.

We pottered around the village trying to decide where to eat that evening...

(FYI Vinegar Jones do amazing chips & mushy peas and Pasty Presto next door claim to sell 'the best Cornish Pasty' - bit ambitious seeing as we're at the other end of the country but James enjoyed his all the same..!)

In the end we settled on Indian. Anyone that knows us two will appreciate that we take Indian dining very seriously.. (not a bad word shall be said about West Didsbury's finest The Great Kathmandu). So we went in with high expectations.

Mela was really, really good. I had a sizzling dish involving spiced mince, chicken tikka, onions and chilli in a rich tomato sauce and James had a pretty decent lamb balti. A bottle of tempranillo later we paid up and moved on to another bar. It didn't quite beat the Great Kathmandu (represent), but it's well worth a visit if you like Indian food - you'll need to book though as we found out (the hard way!)

On Sunday we made friends with the locals:

Now, I've never been a fan of the swan. Elegant, yes. Graceful on water? Sure.
Sneaky bendy-necked creature that would peck you 'till it hurt and laugh (if he could) whilst doing it? Absolutely.

However, these beautiful beasts were on their best behaviour - despite pecking our feet just a little hard (I'm on to you, goosy), it was quite cute.

How menacing does this guy look?

They soon got bored of us when the duck feed ran out, so we put on our walking boots and got stuck into a big-ass country walk.

I just had to take a picture of the walk's official name. It sounds like the title of an X-rated film - I can say that despite the mud, things didn't get as dirty as Cockshott Point...

After all our exploring, the hearty full English 'grill up' we'd had for breakfast was long forgotten and we were in desperate need of a food fix.

Cue, cream tea.

On our return we stumbled across an old steam train railway line which was up and running - how Beatrix Potter is this..

Two fingers up to tonsillitis! The trip was just what the doctor ordered, I'm definitely going again - any recommendations?

How was your weekend? x

Saturday 19 October 2013

Bakerie vs.Didsbury Lounge

Mezze-type tapas and antipasti is my favourite type of food to eat with friends.

Last week I was lucky enough to graze on mezze twice; once at Bakerie in the Northern Quarter and again at The Didsbury Lounge, in er, Didsbury.

First up, Bakerie. It was a Tuesday and I was catching up with an old friend so couldn't wait for 5.30 to roll round.

The Bakerie prides itself on being 'all about the bread', so naturally you're landed with the mother of all bread baskets; sour dough, focaccia, granary, rye and a good old white bloomer, warm and squidgy and made straight in front of you.

We got there just in time for happy hour, meaning our bottle of red only set us back £4.50 each (winning).

As you do with mezze menus, we went a bit mad with the food. We ordered the meat platter and chose salami napoli, serrano ham & chorizo which comes with caramelised onion relish and garlic sauce.

We also ordered a cheese platter with insanely generous slabs of smoked cheddar, brie and a Shropshire blue cheese, which came with a pot of pickled gherkins and grapes.

It didn't stop there. Oh no. We asked for marinated olives, balsamic vinegar, hummus and a tomato and fennel relish. Oh yes.

Everything was incredible and we ate and ate for hours. The only thing I wouldn't order again was the garlic sauce - it was essentially a garlic butter that looked like icing.

The atmosphere was great - I'm glad we got there early as there aren't too many tables so it filled up pretty quickly. 

My photos of Bakerie didn't come out the best they could, so I've nabbed these two from the website:

It was the perfect weekday evening:  picking and choosing lots of different foods, all washed down with a bottle of wine and half a year's worth of gossip.

It was my third time there and I've still not sampled their stews or gourmet toast - would you recommend?

Price: It all came at £37, so for just short of £20 was well worth it for the amount of food & drink we had.
Atmosphere: pretty 'weekendy' considering it was a Tuesday evening
Service: good
Overall rating: 4****

I went to the Didsbury Lounge a few days after with Anna for some serious Sunday chilling.

Because it was Sunday there was plenty of hangovers going on - with some people choosing hair of the dog to tackle it and others preferring to satisfy their cravings with hearty, warm food.

I'd like to point out here that for once we weren't actually hungover.

Didsbury Lounge offers all types of food from breakfast to burgers, but their speciality (in my opinion) is their Smorgasbords (try saying that to a good looking waiter without a) sounding like Sean Connery or b) giggling).

We ordered the six dish Smorg (£12.99) but it wasn't an easy decision. There is SO MUCH scrummy sounding food to choose from that whittling down from twenty choices to six took ages.

In the end, we plumped for; lamb meatballs in Thai broth, a trio of lamb, chicken and beef burgers, skewered Teriyaki chicken kebab, mixed olive salad, Greek salad, aubergine dip and artisan bread.

YUM. There was just one thing - perhaps I'm just being a bit greedy but you don't get near enough the same amount of food as in Bakerie. I've had the ten dish Smorgasbord before (£19.99), but at basically £20 without drinks you're looking at more pricey grazing!

Price: we paid under a tenner each but remember this was without booze.
Atmosphere: nice & chilled - other customers included young families to groups of friends.
Service: v. flirty waiter!
Overall rating: 3***

If I had to sum up in a sentence I'd say... Bakerie wins hands down for weekday evening vibes, but the lounge is best for chilling out and massaging a hangover on a Sunday.
© Frankie's Weekend. All rights reserved.