Food

Join us as we eat our way around the North East and further afield.

Luke weaning

I will be the first to admit it. If I could shy away from weaning Luke I would, if I could setback the crawling a little I would. Yes I want to stop time! The realisation slaps you in the face. They are ready to move on. Try something new, but as a mummy or mammy as you would usually say from the North East of England you, like me might not be ready.

TOUGH now man up and let the weaning begin! In a recent post Breast -vs- Bottle I introduced you to the questions that I asked Julia Wolman RNutr. It was great to speak with Julia as although I love the NHS and them successfully bringing my children into the world when it comes to feeding I have done and still do feel a little lost.

Julia’s educational background includes a BSc (Hons) in Applied Human Nutrition, and a Masters Degree Psychology and Nutrition and is registered with the UK’s Association for Nutrition. With over a decade of experience working with NHS Trusts I love that Julia has delivered training to schools and children’s centres, and running healthy eating projects for local families.

.  But before I give you the answers I just wanted to let you know that Luke FINALLY starts on the ladder at the end of the month but only if he isn’t teething as teething can mimic the effects of an intolerance/allergy (sore bum, little cough, eczema flare, to name a few).

Q. What are the best substitutes for dairy products when weaning?

A. There are more then you might think they include;

Dairy free soya spread, dairy free margarine, dairy free sunflower spread, calcium enriched oat drinks, oat cream made from oats, vegan cheese, soya desserts and tofu for calcium.

Q. His porridge/breakfast cereal tastes disgusting to me as I make it with his milk but will he just be used to it?

A. Luke is used to the taste of his milk but you could try mixing with just water.

Q. Is milk intolerance and lactose intolerance different? (Luke has had no formal testing just observational). 

A. First of all Luke should be tested for a milk/lactose allergy as observation only gives part information. Cow’s milk allergy involves the immune system, babies who are allergic to cow’s milk protein will also show allergy symptoms like an itchy rash, wheezing, or runny noses and coughs. These aren’t seen in lactose intolerance, as this condition doesn’t involve the immune system.

Q. Luke will often accept some food one day and then completely refuse it the next (purse lip and turn his head) is this common and how can I tackle it?

A. It’s really common. Babies will often be happy to try a new taste and even if they pull a face at the first attempt it will be more from surprise more then anything else. Your baby may react differently the next time they experience the same food

You need to persevere. It can often take up to eight attempts for your baby to accept certain foods or tastes, so give them plenty of chances to try again.

But don’t worry is all else fails go back a step to foods with a mild flavor to tempt their taste buds.

Q. I don’t want to rush through stages but I do feel like we are a little behind which may have led to Luke refusing new foods. How can I tackle that?

A. Don’t rush but also don’t miss cues. Your baby may soon stop accepting things from a spoon and this is ok, it’s a sign of independence.

Click here for a further Q and A with Julia Wolman.

 

 

Le Raaj curry

Every night is #currynight at Le Raaj.  And me and Suzanne do love a good curry. We have our firm favourites, always mild and creamy and I have eaten the same meal for about 15 years, but Le Raaj in Chester-le-Street brought out Suzanne’s adventurous side!

BubblesLe Raaj is a lovely restaurant. Clean and fresh, it’s tastefully decorated and the ladies toilets are very nice too (these things matter).  The first thing you notice when you walk through the door are the water panels and the bubbles. They’re dotted throughout the restaurant and are strangely hypnotic and very calming.

It was a Tuesday night when we visited so we weren’t expecting it to be super busy but were pleasantly surprised at the amount of people eating; always a good sign, and the atmosphere was happy .

An extensive well priced menu had little impact on me, the usual onion bhajis and korma (chicken not veg this time for a bit of variety) were swiftly ordered, but Suzanne struggling to choose, took the recommendation of the lovely Ahmed and ordered a Chingri Mirch, lightly spiced prawns served in a whole grilled pepper and a Makhoni, a creamy tikka chicken with a really fruity kick.

And then, she asked for a cheesy naan. Now, I love cheese. And I love naan. But together with a curry? I assumed that the bubbles were influencing her decision making capabilities but I went with it – variety is the spice of life after all (dreadful pun I know).

Starters = Lush. Fresh, tasty, well cooked and plated. Couldn’t go wrong.  And the main courses ditto. The korma was as creamy and delicious as it should be and the Makhoni was as beautiful in taste as it was in colour. There’s something about a vibrant bright red curry that’s very exotic, making you dream of warm weather and travelling around far away countries.

Suzanne devoured the cheesy naan. It was very cheesy. I hastily ordered some additional rice and left her to it!

Le raaj icecreamAhmed convinced us to try a sweet. We wouldn’t have ordered one and were already onto coffee, but we’re easily persuaded.

Cheesecake topped with ice cream and a wafer, ‘monkey’s blood’ (raspberry or strawberry sauce for those outside if the North East) and a dash of cream. Devoured.

We sat in the restaurant for a fair while chatting away after we’d finished. We weren’t hurried out but rather left in peace for some rare best-friend down time. Very much appreciated.

The question for us when visiting new places is always ‘Would we return?’.  Great food, lovely staff, hypnotic bubbles, a resounding yes for Le Raaj.

Check out their full menu and price list and they even do take away!

You can follow them on twitter, facebook and instagram.

 

River Beat Asian Tapas restaurant, GatesheadOh yes. Tapas. Asian food. Could there be a better combination?

It’s 15 years since I visited Thailand, a country that’s stunning, eclectic, busy, quiet, frantic (Bangkok literally overwhelmed my senses) and relaxing at the same time. The food is no different, spicy, sweet, mild, hot and always tasty.

Food and importantly sharing it with family and friends, is at the heart of Thai culture and River Beat owner, Andy Drape set out to capture that essence of sharing great food with great company at his restaurant situated right on the south bank of the River Tyne.

Calming and blue River TapasSuzanne and I decided (on a random whim, as you do) to pop into River Beat for a Saturday lunchtime treat. As soon as we walked in, the great atmosphere hit us. It wasn’t busy but the calming blue decor and the view of river relaxed us in an instant.

Tapas (the Spanish variety) is one of my favourite foods; it such a good idea to be able to try lots of different types of dishes rather than be confined to one, although Suzanne isn’t often one for sharing.

But neither of us had ever had tapas influenced by Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai & Vietnamese cuisines. We were in for a real treat, the menu caters for literally every taste and we love the ethos:

“Salty, spicy, sour & sweet, enjoy them together, your dining experience can be as relaxed as you like”, have what you want, when you want it”.

Our absolute favourite dishes were the Cambodian yellow curry with cauliflower pakora which you can see at the top of this blog post. The quick seared scallop and pork belly (top) and the fig and blue cheese filo tartlet with dukkah crumble (bottom), in the image below.  This food is seriously well cooked. Really, really lovely. Andy (owner and chef) demonstrates his passion for this area of our world with great skill. The portion sizes were spot on, if you have a couple of dishes you’ll be satiated but not stuffed. And the presentation was really pretty too.

scallops on pork and fig blue cheese filo

We contemplated a sweet. We weren’t hungry. We’d eaten enough.  But. Lemon posset with a raspberry meringue won us over and was worth it. Tangy, tangy lemon cleansed our pallets and was the perfect end to the meal, the meringue had an unusual consistency which we couldn’t quite put our finger on but was yummy.

lemonThere’s something about water that just makes me relax, wind down and switch off. As we sat sipping coffees, we chatted about coming back to the restaurant in the late spring, and summer when the sunshine will be beating down on the outside terrace (we hope).

This restaurant may be a little off the beaten track, but it only takes a minute to park up at the Swing Bridge and walk across, or along from the car park under the Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side.

And it’s well worth it. Suzanne and I could have sat looking out at the river until we were hungry enough for round two.

Check out their full menu and simply enjoy x

Menu
This weekends coffee and cake stop was the beautiful Bradley Gardens . This destination lays 4.7 miles from my mum and dads home where I lived for 30 years but it was so well hidden behind an 18th century walled garden that I have only fell upon it one other time but that was only in 2015.

The current owners, Mr Crichton-Jones and Mr Robinson have done a fabulous job of bringing the establishment back to life and in turn giving a je ne sais quoi that seems to be ever growing, just like the garden. 

As I mentioned this is my second visit to Bradley Gardens as I fell in love with it the first time round. My daughter and I were on the hunt for a new place for our mummy and daughter dates when I saw signs for Bradley Gardens and I followed them without any understanding of what we would find. Emily even rolled her eyes when I said we were visiting a garden.  ‘Boring’ was her reply.

You enter the gardens via the car park and are greeted with a nursery and a very cute shed like shop. The path then leads further towards three boutiques which unless you are nosey like me could be missed. The first is the small but perfectly formed Bradley Cook-shop, then there is the Garden Room a jewellery and gift store. When you come back out turn left and enter the next building a most gorgeously inspiring interior design boutique named the Bridgewater Home-store. This was flourished in Neptune bespoke furniture .

Next came the restaurant aptly called ‘Glass House’. We were very pleasantly surprised.

The restaurant was bustling with a great atmosphere but after selecting our goodies we actually sat outside and enjoyed the weather.

Whilst watching my little girl frolic in the grassed area next to our table, collecting dropped apples from the apple tree a smile then a little tear welled. The tear was because I could see that this would make an excellent wedding reception venue. Relaxed but not too relaxed, pretty but not too pretty. formal but not too formal. I asked there and then if it was possible but alas at this point no private hiring is on the cards. Maybe one day?

garden1

Fast forward to visit two, Mother’s day. Since becoming a mother myself and of course having a partner who is close to their mother, Mother’s Day has become a little stressful ensuring everyone is left happy including myself. My morning was spent with my daughter and the afternoon with my mum.

I asked Emily where I should take Momar for the afternoon she whispered in my ear so daddy didn’t hear, “You can take her to our special date place mummy, don’t mind”. This is quite a big deal for her as she likes to keep our secret places ‘secret’.

I collected mum and whisked her off. I hadn’t booked a table, this could have been an epic fail as the Glass House was heaving with many parties of mummies with their families. All of the vacant tables had reserved signs, oh no (especially when mum suggested going to the Metro Centre instead)! The lovely staff came to the rescue and found us a table that was available for the next 90 minutes which is the perfect amount of time for coffee and cake.

Bradley Gardens

As a creature of habit I chose the coffee and walnut cake which I shared with Emily on my first visit and it was moist and yummy and neither flavour outweighed the other. Mum aka Maureen chose a cheese scone which she had warmed with lashings of butter and home made chutney. Both of us had a huge glass of water and two lattes. There was a special Mother’s Day menu alongside the traditional menu and everything that was being brought to the tables was received in delight.

Tummy’s were sated and shopping bug satisfied this is a definite place to revisit but I can’t bring daddy, that’s an order.

You can find Bradley Gardens on Facebook , Twitter  and Instagram. 

I’m looking forward to visiting for a restaurant evening very soon and I’m sure I will tell you about that too.

Love from Suzanne x

Dans le Noir - Dining in the Dark

We’ve recently head about a fabulous event that’s been arranged for 50 of Centrepoint‘s vulnerable 16 to 25 year olds.

Dan’s le Noir? whose concept is to dine in total darkness, while guided and served by blind people is a truly unique experience which, fingers crossed will change your view of the world by reversing your perspective.

The concept have teamed up with Centrepoint and have arranged a Gastronomic Dinner with Michelin Star Chef Julien Machet. The dinner will be held for 50 of Centrepoint’s vulnerable 16-25 year-olds to celebrate Dans le Noirs 10th Anniversary and decade of successful charitable ventures.

50 homeless young people will experience heightened flavours by enjoying a gastro dinner in the dark. The menu at Dans le Noir? has evolved over the past 10 years and in November 2015, Michelin star chef, Julien Machet, was hired to consult and help John Houel, the London Head Chef, create the four eclectic menus. Chef Julien will be present to assist with the creation of this spectacular dinner.

Dans le Noir? and Centrepoint support those furthest from the jobline to help them get into work. The two companies are joining forces to maximise awareness of the difficulties that blind, and homeless young people, face when trying to get into employment.

A statistic by gov.uk estimate that 16 percent of working age adults are disabled. Recent statistics show that only 46.3 percent of disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4 percent of non-disabled people, making it a significant social issue.

Edouard de Broglie, who founded Dans le Noir? in Paris in 2004, says

50 percent of our staff have a high disability, yet we still operate an efficient and profitable company. We have an incredibly low staff turnover which shows the dedication of our long-standing team. We want to show big companies that those with disabilities shouldn’t be limited to performing only menial jobs. Our guides are incredibly skilled and challenge the perception that blind or visually impaired can serve in a restaurant. Who could have said that 10 years ago?.

Sadie Odeogberin, Head of Skills and Employment, at Centrepoint, says:

The number of young people rough sleeping in London has more than doubled in the last four years, but providing a safe place to stay isn’t enough to solve the youth homelessness crisis. That’s why Centrepoint supports each young person staying with us to find a job or a route into education or training. Like Dans Le Noir?, we’re committed to helping those furthest from the world of work achieve their ambitions. It’s not an easy journey for a homeless young person to make and thanks to the generosity of Dans Le Noir?, we can reward them an experience they will never have had before. Homeless young people are every bit as talented as their peers and with the right support and hard work they can fulfil their potential.

We hope everyone has a fabulous evening!

Suzanne x