Suzanne HarissaNow when it comes to lovely dining, Sandyford in Newcastle might not spring to mind but our recent trip to ‘Harissa Mediterranean Kitchen’ has definitely opened our eyes. In fact we were a little reticent to share this gem of an establishment but since the blooming ‘Secret Diner has outed it as, “being so good he visited it twice” I only think it’s fair to give our view too.

This place most definitely has curb appeal and we were greeted by the owner (James/Jamie – depending on what day of the week it is) and we instantly felt as if we were at home, quite strangely as if we were going to a friends for dinner. Jamie was so friendly we were sure we’d already met him but couldn’t place where!

With a glass of ice cold water in hand, I started to talk to Jamie whilst Nicola took photos aplenty. My first question was; “What is Harissa” as I had visions of bottles of Harissa sauce in my head as my partner is a lover of all things spicy!  I on the other hand am a bit of a wuss, so Jamie talked through the menu and helped to select flavours that married well but weren’t overly spicy on the taste buds.

flowersThe decor is clean and crisp with such fab attention to detail. Jamie let us into a secret about the copper piping on the ceiling housing the Edison lamps (we’re not going to reveal his secrets though!).

Once all in-situ we were introduced to the restaurant and the concept of Harissa Mediterranean Kitchen or Harrisa for short.  Jamie explained the history of sister company Food Nation (at which point Nicola and I turned to each other and remembered Simon Preston who we’d worked with when promoting The Great North Eco-Feast way back in 2009 and is a director of Food Nation). You can read more about it here to stop me going off in on a whole other tangent!

Now back to the food. I was starving. I’d done a round trip to Leeds and back that day and Nicola had had a mega busy day and still had some prep for her LinkedIn training she was delivering the next day. Two tired, hungry ladies meant ‘eyes bigger then belly’ food consumption!

We started with a melody of nibbles in the form of spiced roasted nuts (hint go for the ones with less dusting for less spice), Honey, Cumin, Coriander & Smoked Paprika Marinated Olives (they warned us they weren’t pitted so all was good) Lemon, Chilli & Fresh Herbs Harissa House Pickles (punchy and well balanced).

Alongside this we ordered some marinated and char grilled Halloumi and some hummus – great flavours but I don’t think I will ever get used to the squeak of that particular cheese.

Fresh and lovely food Harissa

Next, mains. Be careful not to over order; at one point we had everything on our table as we hadn’t yet finished the starters.

We both opted for slow roasted shoulder of spiced pork with apple, grilled spring onion and crackling – they got me at crackling as it’s one of my all time favorites. It was tasty, but there was something missing and Nicola hit it on the head; honey. The very savoury taste needed to be lifted just a little with something sweet.

Et voila, a squirty honey pot was given to us and it really lifted the meal. Thankfully, the team didn’t think we were cheeky in-fact quite the opposite; the chef is going to make this part of the dish.

Mains HarissaDesert. We weren’t going to indulge but couldn’t resist and went for the honey, tahini & pistachio parfait and sesame praline orange and saffron polenta cake. Both were super scrummy but we couldn’t help coveting Laura’s and Kayleigh’s chocolate torte it was a ‘special’ and not on the menu. As we had already ordered it was a tad too late to change so we’ll go for that next time.

honey tahini and pistachio parfait

Overall:

There was a nice blogging buzz in the restaurant and it would be amusing being a fly on the wall watching us all trying to get ‘that perfect angle’! What was even nicer though, was people who saw us eating started to walk in and sit down and were greeted with open arms and the waitress (I’m so sorry we didn’t take your name) looked genuinely chuffed to be helping, ‘real customers’.

Hats off to food, your mission and your fabulous customer service, we’ll thoroughly recommend Harrisa.

Love Suz and Nic. x

 

When I was chatting with one of my friends about weaning she looked at me in horror! I genuinely thought it was ‘normal’ to let babies play with their food. It’s a little like burping isn’t it? You say good boy after each and every burp and celebrate the release of wind but at some point the line blurs and this gesture is no longer acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong when weaning first started I wanted full control of the spoon but when I saw the sheer glee and delight on my little boys face when he delved into his Babymoov bowl and squidged and squeezed the contents and then devoured the contents of his palm (I had only turned my back for a nanosecond). From that point he refused the spoon from me unless I relinquished at least fifty percent of the power.

I loved reading the blog by Babymoov’s chosen nutritionist Julia Wolman who recently answered my queries in my post entitled, Stressless Weaning: The Answers To My Questions  Here’s a little extract of, ‘Mess is Best: Why babies should play with their food!’

This is my son Leo at 8 months. Whilst weaning, my obsessive-compulsive tendencies made me mindful of the clean-up process that lay ahead, on the other hand, the nutritionist in me knew how important it was not to stress about the mess.

All too often I witness babies reaching out to touch a spoon or bowl of food to see and feel what’s in it, whilst the parent ever so quickly retracts it out of their reach. I understand, I have a fear of mess too, and I know it really is so much easier to just steer little hands clear of anything semi-solid. However, when it comes to weaning mess really is best.

Here are five good reasons why it is important for babies to explore (or squish, prod, smear!) their food at mealtimes:

1. It’s fun

2. Learning through sensory play

3. Increasing familiarity

4. Fine motor skills development

5. Hand-eye coordination

Whether using spoons or self-feeding, when babies do it themselves they are learning how to get food into their mouths. And while most of it may go anywhere but their mouth at the beginning, with practice they’ll quickly work it out!

#Messisbest but I must admit that I currently have help from MessyMe to keep it somewhat contained and Bibetta to keep the little fella clothes as clean as possible – read about our experience of these two brands very soon.

 

Image from Northumberland National Park

Were ever you are in the UK you will no doubt be within reach of one of our fifteen National Parks. From the Brecon Beacons to Yorkshire Dales there is certainly something for everyone.

For our National Parks Week experience we visited Northumberland and more specifically Walltown. We’ve never visited this section of Northumberland National Park and were pleasantly surprised as to what was offer. For two days during NPW the site is transformed into a playground filled with adventure aiding imagination and encouraging all to try something different.

Duncan Wise, Visitor Development and Marketing Manager of Northumberland NP joined us in Newcastle and gave us a running commentary along the route to the site (watch out for 2017 when a huge development is occurring because of Lottery funding).

We sampled archery, a zip line, climbing wall, animals and pizza-making. I always knew I had a girly girl yet dare-devil daughter. It was truly apparent in her determined climbing of the wall in slippy trainers and her three go’s on the high zip wire (you weren’t getting me up there). I was even more super proud of Emily at her third go on the zip wire. There was a boy behind her (aged 10) who kept telling his mum just how nervous he was and she calmly turned around waited for him to finish talking to his mummy and said;

My mummy helps people stay safe and she has let me go on here and I’m her most precious poppet so it must be really safe (looks around for my confirmation). That’s right isn’t it mummy?

Heart melts!

After the activities we headed for pizza making. This was a little too popular and it would have been great if more people had been on hand to help. The pizzas were however very tasty!

I was very gutted when Emily decided she was too old for storytelling which I found very strange as we have two stories every single evening but I peaked in the tent and saw that there was a heavy infant contingency if there had been an older group I’m sure she would have actively listened.

On a usual day there is woodland, meadows, wildlife lakes, car parking, toilets, café and firm paths (although access to these in places was quite wet). There are several pleasant circular walks with access for all inclusive of  wheelchair and buggy users (I opted to leave my one year at home and would definitely pop him in a carrier).

Nearby you have Carvoran Roman Army Museum and Hadrian’s Cycleway. Getting to Walltown is easy via the Hadrian’s Wall Bus and there is also an onsite car park (£4 / vehicle all day, with tickets transferable to other National Park car parks along the route of the wall). If you come on your bike there are lockups.

Walltown is a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site perfect for viewing the dark skies over the Northumberland National Park. We are heading back in September to do a guided walk we’ll let you know how we get on.

#Top tip: Wear appropriate footwear in the form of wellies or walking boots. When the site is affected by rain (we are talking the north of England here) is can get rather squidgy underfoot in parts.

Love from

Suz and Emily x

 

Tupperware

So then, what do they have in common? They are both brands that we as consumers use on a daily basis to refer to vacuums and plastic containers.

Actually not one hundred percent true. When people used the word Hoover instead of vacuum I would shudder. It was a pet hate of mine but a couple of weeks ago when thinking about how much Tupperware I have in my life a lightening bolt went off in my realisation that I had been in fact been guilty of double standards all of these years (apologies to all those people who have put up with my wrath of branding), Hoover did a fantastic job of getting into the minds of consumers even though Dyson came first.

The featured picture isn’t really a true representation of all of the plastic containers that live in my cupboards but there is always room for more and the children do need their own (don’t they?)

babybowlsWe’ve been testing out these six bowls for £7.99 from Babymoov. Even though there are to help with our #stresslessweaning Emily my six year old decided that the pink and purple bowls were hers and not necessarily for food.

The bowls have a capacity 250 ml (perfect size), a rewritable surface and has an airtight cover.

These bowls came with instructions, I know right, who needs instructions to use the bowls? Ermmm, that appears to be me. After several attempts I simply couldn’t get the lid to make a safe fit so I enlisted the advice of a fellow Babymoov ambassador who instructed to place on in a circle action rather then putting them directly over the bowl and pushing down. Alas this didn’t lead to a perfect seal which is absolutely okay for home use but I may be a little reticent to venture into the picnic bag with any wet items but would use for dry items and hope that I get the lids on well enough not to dispense the contents all over the bag.

These bowls are really easy to get clean and are dishwasher friendly too.

Look out for the next #stresslessweaning #messisbest post which sees us trying the Babymoov lunch set.

 

 

 

This week 6 to 12 June

Hello everyone. How is your week looking? 

This week our stories are coming from Central Healthcare, Northern Stage, and Il Mulino.

Monday I’m heading to Central Healthcare in Newcastle to see what colonic irrigation is all about. This treatment doesn’t seem to be talked about as much as it once was. It’s something I’ve NEVER tried but I’m happy to put myself in the capable hands of Gill.

Tuesday we have a double bill. Nicola will be sparkling at her networking evening for the ladies of Derwentside! I went along to the first one and I often feel uncomfortable networking but I felt right at home here. I also found my much wanted cleaner in Reliant Robson and it was Claire’s first networking event. So get your #SparkleON! and click here for more information.

Also on Tuesday I will be heading to Northern Stage to watch Julie. Julie is the young and complicated mistress of the estate and is drawn into a dangerous tryst with her father’s butler, John. In the oppressive heat of Midsummer’s night, the couple hurtle towards an explosive conclusion that will shake them and the existing order to its core.

We’ll keep you updated with everything.

Suzanne x